Ironman Arizona Training Weekend

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There is the dining room.  Eight triathletes training for Ironman Arizona and that’s the dining room of the condo we rented for the weekend.  Excel & Beyond Coaching put on a supported ride on Sunday Oct 26th on the IMAZ bike course.  So a group of us being coached by the same coach got told that we should head out there and do it.   At first I was against it, I had a race I wanted to do in Oceanside.   However my coach threw some facts at me and it’s hard to argue with that so off I went.   Now going into this weekend my confidence of finishing   So I wondered what I would really gain from going out there. 

So before this group ride had been brought to my attention I wanted to race in the Lifetime Tri Oceanside.  Lifetime Tri puts on amazing races with cool swag and it’s always a fun time.   I had done their Minneapolis and New York City triathlons so I’d done 2/3’s of the their Triple Crown.  It was a bit of a mental battle to tell myself I had to sacrifice the B race for training for the A race.  I’m glad I did.   With all the TCSD people and local triathlete’s who have done IMAZ they all said the same thing about the course… Flat and windy but it’s really a false flat like the 56 bike path.   Everyone had their own mix and based on riding ability they all had their own version of if it’s easy or hard.   One thing I did learn though through the years is that if you have the chance to train on the course you shouldn’t pass it up.

Everyone arrived Friday at some point and the girls ran Friday evening after 10PM in order to beat the heat and get a feel for what it will be like for them since they will most likely still be on the run course at that time.   I thought they were nutz, and I decided I was going to run in the morning as planned, early morning.   As we got to the run course in the morning there was a Cancer Walk going on as well which was really cool to see everyone in pink supporting a cause.  The air was cool and the sun was just coming up.  As we set off on a run/walk of 8:30/2:30 the course is for the most part., flat.  There is a hill at mile 9 but it really wasn’t bad at all and it’s short.  We ran 2:30:00 minutes on the course and I have to say that I was having fun.  I was enjoying the course and god forbid I say it… I was enjoying running.  Now will I be saying that after a 112 mile bike ride, I don’t know.  So what was it about the run that was so enjoyable?  Maybe it was the company, maybe it was flat, or maybe it was a new place I hadn’t run before.   After some rest and recovery we all went swimming later that day to get our swimming in.  I did about 1500 yards and called it a day and went to coach some of the girls with some quick tips.

Sunday was the ride and an early morning.  Everything was great up until it was time to ride and for some reason I had a flat and a hole in my tire.  Not sure how or why it happened but thankfully I had 2 spare tubes and a spare tire.  So already through the ride that is known to produce flats I hadn’t even started and gone through them.  Riding out to the BeeLine it was pretty uneventful but I did notice not a whole lot of space for a bike or bike lanes.   So it was at that time where I told myself that once I get to the BeeLine I’m just going to do laps and not head back to Tempe Town Lake.  Plus since it was an unofficial ride no roads were closed off so I really just didn’t want to deal with the traffic either.   The ride was nice the wind wasn’t that bad (yet) and I just kept plucking off the miles while keeping a solid 19-20MPH average.  No flats all day, nutrition was messed up as I lost 2 bonk breakers and didn’t have 2 of my APX bottles.  I resorted to the on course perform with ice water since it was starting to heat up and I really wasn’t sweating much that I felt which really concerned me.  Vitals looked good though my HR wasn’t out of my Z2/Z3 and my power output was still in Z2 with some Z3.  I was popping salt sticks every 30-45 minutes.  Finished up 103 miles in 5:15 which is a solid bike ride with a few stop lights that kept the clock going.

So what did I walk away with from the training session?  Confidence!  I know I’m going to finish, I know the run is going to not be soo bad, and I know that I’m going to make it off the bike and not bonk.   I know the course and mentally I feel prepared.

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San Diego Triathlon Challenge–The Best Day in Triathlon

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I heard about this race from a friend of mine Jeff, and something in me said that I had to do it.  I fundraised to get into the race, $600 dollars to be exact.  Let’s just say that this race wasn’t about winning.  To me it was about being inspired by others, the athletes who have the heart but didn’t quite have the tools and that’s what makes CAF so great.  The money we fundraised went to help getting them what they needed to compete.

The weekend started with a race simulation for IMAZ but 1800030_335860976586302_3630944204652367980_oonce I finished I had to get to my packet pickup for the race.   I really was not expecting anything but the usual expo with the usual packet pickup stuff.    But who did I just happen to bump into right as I stepped foot?  It was Karen Aydelott who brought me to tears watching her in the 2013 Ironman World Championships as she was struggling to cross the finish line.  Talk about inspiration from the start.  It was incredible.  As I went through the process and watching all the people out here especially the kids it really brought things into perspective.  How fortunate we are to be able to do what we can do.  How many people don’t realize how good they have it and complain every single day about how hard life is to them.  I grabbed this picture from a friend because this is what our packets came in.   You can read what our fundraising efforts brought to these athletes.  Now at every packet up there is the swag bag.   I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to get either.   At every other race we get a cheap bag with flyers in it and then maybe a super WP_20141018_18_47_37_Prosmall cliff bite.  Nope I turned the corner and there were rows of Xterra transition bags with CAF imprinted on the sides.  When I got home I emptied it out on my bed and holy cow!  The best swag bag I could have asked for.  Converse, Hoodie, Flip Flops, Nutrition items, socks, running gear, shirt, and special rainbow socks in honor of Robin Williams.  I need to find a way to get more involved with CAF.

Race morning..
I got there a bit early so that I could try and find decent parking.  I figured it would have been a total mess seeing as the even is in La Jolla Cove and parking sucks there to begin with.   I found awesome parking though and got into transition and setup right at the end with great real estate.   I ran into Alexis, Pam, Audrey, and Erika who were volunteering so it was nice to see the friendly faces.  I didn’t really get anything prepped like my stickers and such till I was in transition because I didn’t do em the night before and this wasn’t a serious race.  I walked over and talked to some buddies also doing the race as always.  The best part about racing is the amount of friends you see and cheer on.  At 7AM they gathered us all up to the watch the jumbotron where they had the parade of athletes along with a tribute to Robin Williams who I didn’t know till he passed away they he loved cycling and gave back to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Truly a selfless man who passed too soon.  With that I got to see and speak with a little bit from some of the pro’s like Meredith Kessler, Luke Mackenzie, and Paula Newby-Fraiser.   These are celebrities amongst the triathlete community and it was great to see them out here for a good cause.  I will note that I got dropped on mile 1 of the bike by Luke… it wasn’t fair cause I got the red light!

Swim: 20 minutes unofficial… I say that because the stairs up to the timing mat was congested and took 1-2 minutes to get up it.
The horn went off and had a very smooth swim, however it was hard to site with the smaller buoys and the rollers coming through and I was off course by a lot.  I was still making good time and rounded all the buoys in what seemed like a super fast swim (I was right).  Water was blue and could see the sea life.   As I was swimming past the other athletes missing limbs I was honored to be out there sharing the experience with them.  In fact I wish I could pull them behind me.   Coming out of the swim and up the steps was a bit congested but ran into Jeff and we chit chatted.  Then I hear in the background from Bob Babbit… Chris Holley what a hell of a swim.  I was 5th out of the water of 87 people.

Bike: 2:32:xx
It was a little odd with this bike because they didn’t close off the roads so we had to stop at all the stop lights and signs.  Oh and there were hills.. hard ones.  La Jolla Shores Dr was nothing but up hill and then on the way back we had Torrey Pines.  Surprisingly though it wasn’t as bad as I had though… that training is really paying off but I need to train some more.

Run: 1:59:31
By this time the sun was getting to me and I just kept on moving.  I tried to maintain the run 4 minutes walk 1 minute which worked for the most part but going up La Jolla Shores Dr took more out of me than I had though.  I had to walk the 2nd half up.   The upside is that there is a sidewalk there so it looks like I”ll be running up that street for a while now.  The volunteers at the aid stations where awesome and at mile 3 and 6 there was this kid who was just amazing and brought a smile to my face.  It was going down La Jolla Shores that I tried to open the stride up more but my legs felt like concrete blocks and I really didn’t want to fall on my face.  At mile 7 I had a visitor who ran/walked with me the entire time and cheered me on.   Then around mile 8.5 on the final hill upwards I walked it and we started talking with a guy named Dan.  He was doing the individual race as well and I noticed he was missing his hand.   We talked all the way through to the finish line.  His legs were cramping and mine where blocks… It was a nice reminder that it wasn’t about winning.  It was about having fun.

InstagramCapture_96c98d0d-0345-4a65-aae4-3fe61601416ePost Race:  Cookie’s
Carrie was there and I basically ate the rest of the cookies she had in her bag.  Yup I’m a cookie monster.   Rhonda was there which was cool, she had never seen me cross the finish line.  My company helped me grab my stuff in transition and then I was chatting with Jeff and Brian.  We talked about the race and IMAZ and how we’re both feeling really prepared for it.   He then introduced me to Eric who was a challenged athlete who also did Kona with the refuel chocolate milk team.   That was awesome since I watched his progress through the Got Chocolate Milk videos with Hines Ward.   I will do this race again either as an individual or as a team.   It was nice to go out there and not have the pressure about who’s first, second, or third.

Living Instead of Existing: Creating a Triathlete

RhondaAs the year has gone by I’ve become a mentor to Rhonda guiding her way into triathlon and becoming a triathlete.  She will be the first one to tell you that is hasn’t been easy and she’s even hated me several times.  What started out as me just wanting to be there for questions has turned into something more than either of us expected.   One day Rhonda wanted me to write about what it was like to mentor her.  I was planning on doing it so here is our story and what it was like for me.

I met Rhonda through her Facebook page Living Instead of Existing.  I found her story of weight loss truly inspirational and I found myself wanting to follow her journey.  I didn’t know she lived in San Diego at the time, and I certainly didn’t know she had wanted to do a triathlon.  As I was wrapping up my running and triathlon season myself I noticed she posted about wanting to do a triathlon.  I felt compelled to be a support resource for her.  She wanted to do the Mission Bay Triathlon in October.  She had plenty of time to train for it and since triathlon has helped me with weight loss and fitness I knew she could do it.

See to the outside people triathlon can be intimidating.  When you hear the word triathlon the first thing that typically comes to mind is the Ironman World Championship held in Kona, HI.  They immediately think thin people with 5% body fat that can do super human things.  No there are shorter triathlons out there and sprints are the shortest held around the nation with few super-sprints available.  As I got into triathlon as a beginner I wanted to make it my way of giving back to a sport that helped me find where I belong and helping beginners is it.

One day I was looking at her workouts and I sent her a message I think that was along the lines of… You can do a triathlon in May.  At first she didn’t think she could (little did she know that she could and she would find that she could do a lot more than she “thought” she could).  In March though I met her in person at the Hot Chocolate 5K while I was doing the 15K.  Here before me was this probably 5’2” woman who could barely say a word to me.  I didn’t think I was too intimidating but come to find out that’s just how she is.  She still to this day doesn’t speak many words to me in person.  We do 99.9% of our talking through Facebook.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.   It can be challenging at times getting the full meaning of things but if that’s what is easiest for her I’m not going to force it.   Finally the Sprint Sprint was here and she got out there and did her first triathlon 5 months early.  I was doing a relay at the same time as I do now with some of the shorter triathlons and I was able to cheer her on.  She caught the bug and before I knew it I was mentoring her.  Since that first race she has improved in every race getting a 3rd place in the San Diego International Triathlon and 2nd place in the Mission Bay Triathlon Aquabike.

During that time it wasn’t always easy.  She always had questions about everything which is good.  She also had to deal with self doubt in which I had to promptly give her a pep talk that wasn’t always nice but she needed to hear it.  See I wasn’t just trying to mentor someone into become a triathlete.  It had blossomed into showing her that she is capable of so much more than she though.  She just needed someone to believe in her and keep her from entering that comfort zone that she had been in for so long.  In the long run I knew it would pay off and when I look at how far she’s come in just 1 year it’s nothing short of amazing.  She’s now a brand ambassador for Pedigo E-Bikes and doing stuff she never thought she could.  She’s now a triathlete, and she’s now an even bigger inspiration to many others.

What Would I Tell Myself Before This Started?

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That was me back in 2009 before making any type of lifestyle changes and on the party have fun train.  It was a friends birthday party in Las Vegas and it was fun and a memorable trip.   But this blog post isn’t about the trip or the party, it’s about the guy that you see in the picture.   As some of you guys know that currently I’ve helped mentor Rhonda from Living Instead of Existing into the world of triathlon and believing that she is an athlete .  I recently asked her what would she tell herself hears ago before starting her lifestyle change.   So it’s only fair that I answer that same question.

First I’d wait till after November 16th and this would be my speech/lecture (I’d view it as a lecture and get defensive about it).

”Chris, you are an Ironman (Yes that race you watched on TV years ago)   You’ve done it.  You’re something more though.  You’ve become an inspiration to many people.  Quitting the party/drinking every weekend lifestyle has opened your life to more than you thought possible.   It’s not going to be easy and you’ll lose some friends along the way.  Don’t worry though because those negative people will be replaced a hundred fold in people who help bring out the positive in you.   Be strong and be courageous cause it won’t be easy and you will doubt yourself.  The rewards will be worth it though.

In 5 years you’re going to lose over 170lbs not through surgery but through true lifestyle change.  You’re going to eat right, exercise, find that competitive spirit that you thought you lost back in High School, and you’re going to become a triathlete.  You will find it rewarding to help others out who have dreams but don’t think they are able to do it.   You’ve changed peoples lives for the better through your actions.   You lead by example, and those actions inspire others around you.  You’re going touch the lives of people around the nation that you’ve never met before.  You’re going to tell people that you believe in them and mean it.   You’re going to meet people who inspire you through their actions.   You have a wild crazy adventure ride coming up so buckle up.”

Yes, that is what I would say to myself.  I’m sure my old self would get defensive and rationalize every possible excuse to stay on that train track.   However now I can inspire and motivate him so that they aren’t excuses any longer.   On another note it’s actually really hard for me to look at that picture.  On the outside I was happy but on the inside I was wasting away.

1st Place in 120+ Relay 2nd Over all Relay and 100 Mile Bike 12 Mile Run.

WP_20141005_10_00_28_ProWhat a weekend!  Biked over 100 miles Saturday in 5:30:xx mins.  Took 1st place at the Mission Bay Triathlon 120+ relay division and placed 2nd overall in the relays only losing to the first place team by 1 minute Sunday morning.  Ran 12 miles Sunday night and a 4 mile recovery walk.  Let’s do the race first.

Mission Bay Triathlon: 1st in division and 2nd over all relays.
It was a new course this year and we had a new cyclist since Chris has booked a trip on the same weekend.  I was 1st out of the water by about 30-45 seconds and then I handed it off to Kevin who cycled his way to keep the first place alive with only about a 2 minute lead.  Jeff ran his tail off with a 21 minute 5K.  The guy on the other team who’s half Jeff’s age ran a 19 minute 5K and over took Jeff for their overall 1st place.   Good thing they were in a different division!  The new course was fantastic and it was super flat.  It was nice to keep that gold coming in at the Koz Event races and I hope to keep them coming in.  I was also racked next to Sonny Garcia which was pretty cool as well.WP_20140922_002

Saturday Training: 110 miles on the bike
After learning last weekend that I cannot do just liquid nutrition on the bike I resorted back to what I knew worked… bonk breakers and APX.  It was hot of course and the heat was brutal but I nailed my nutrition so much to where I felt like I could keep going for another 50-100 miles.   I also tried out my new Fusion Sports US Speed Suit which was simply amazing.  Can’t wait to use it at my races from here on out.

Sunday Training: 12 mile run
I really didn’t want to do this, I was kicking and screaming and didn’t want to go but ended up going regardless.  The legs held up ok with soreness and spasms in the hammy’s around mile 8.5 but finished off the 12 and then walked another 4 miles.  It was a little strange running in the evening and watching PB’s Sunday fun day go from wrapping up to totally dead by 10:30.

Overall I’m happy with the weekend.  I survived it and pushed myself past limits that I previously didn’t think I could handle.  In terms of my weight loss to be honest I haven’t even bothered looking at the scale lately.  I know I can still drop 20-30lbs of fat and it’s extremely difficult to do so while staying fueled for my workouts so I’m just not focusing on it till after IMAZ.   At which point I’ll try and focus some more on building my aerobic base so I can burn fat more efficiently.

2 Weeks of Up’s and Down’s 100 Miles in 5 Hours and 1 DNF.

imageYes you’re reading that right 100 Miles in 5 hours of moving time.   I did stop to vent some frustrations with some of the drivers going around Fiesta Island.  That was my training highlight of the weekend training followed by a run from Del Mar to Carlsbad with the woman I’m dating.  Yes you’re reading that right I said I’m dating a woman but more on that in another blog post or maybe later in this one.  The downfall of the weekend of training was my DNF at TikiSwim.   I joined the San Diego YMCA and stopped my 24 Hour Fitness membership as well.   24 Hour Fitness just didn’t suit my needs anymore since I’m no longer a casual gym person.  The “Y” as everyone calls it has spin classes that work with my training schedule along with a Masters program that works with my training schedule as well, so it was a no brainer.

Thursday 9/25/2014 marked the “40th Anniversary of Triathlon” and Triathlon Club of San Diego along with the San Diego Track Club put on a race in it’s honor in it’s same format of “run > bike > swim > run”.   I took the day off from work cause I wanted to take part in this event.  I love being a part of great experiences and this one was amazing.  Got to race with some pro’s and some more triathlon icon’s. I can’t wait for the 50th!  I didn’t bring my Garmin with me and I wore a loaner chip however I don’t know my time yet since they haven’t been posted and really I don’t care.  The experience of Tri’ing with everyone was worth it.

So Saturday I told myself I wanted to hit the 100 Mile mark on Garmin so it could be “Official” and I circled around Fiesta Island more times than I could count.  I started around 6AM and little to no traffic with very little wind and the first 50 miles felt great…  Then the traffic picked up cause of an event on the far side of the island so I couldn’t get going too fast cause I just don’t trust the drivers around San Diego, they are clueless.  Then around mile 70 the winds started to pickup so the long part of the island had a headwind which brought me down to about 17 MPH but at the short side I got up to 28 MPH which was great.  I kept everything in Zone 2 with the occasional Z3’s then finally made the last lap to 100 and called it a day.   I learned 2 very valuable lessons that day.  One is that I can’t go off liquid only carbs because I can’t take them in as easy as some bonk breakers in my bento box.  I found that I just didn’t need grab them as much as I should have.

Sunday started out hectic and disappointed but ended on a good note.  I left for TikiSwim and there had been a fatality on the freeway which left me no time to get mentally prepared for the race.  I got there with 3 minutes to spare before the race started and grabbed my packet and grabbed an old pair of goggles cause I couldn’t find the other pair in my bag.   With no time to warm up just as I got to the beach the gun went off and out I swam.  The surf was rough with some huge sets coming in.  Some people panicked and I just kept swimming.  Had this not been a race with life guards I normally stop to WP_20140928_001help them out but they were going to be fine with the on course help.  However swimming out I was kicked in the face and a flow of water started to come into my left side of the goggles.  I thought just my goggles were knocked down so I adjusted them and started to swim only to have to stop 5 seconds later and empty them out.   That’s when I discovered that I could put my finger right through!  I was only at 1/4 mile when I just said this isn’t going to work and swam back to shore.   Could I have toughed it out and swam without goggles probably and my eyes would burn and pay dearly for it the next couple days.   I based my choice on the facts that this was a training race and not an A race.  Some people have called me a quitter for not toughing it out but those same people didn’t pay over $1000.00 an Ironman race too.   Either way I was more disappointed that I couldn’t finish. Went ahead with a point to point run from Del Mar to Carlsbad.  I had never done such a thing and I had my doubts about it.