Category Archives: Triathlon

Getting the Fire Back.

Last year after Ironman Wisconsin I was totally burnt out.  I had my best Ironman finish that race even with some injuries including getting ran into on the bike.  I had already accepted the fact that I had to fundraise $50K for Smile Train for the Ironman World Championships.  I had 1 more 70.3 and Ironman Arizona still left on my plate and I really didn’t want to do either of them, but I didn’t want to defer them a year either, so I pushed through them.  After IMAZ I walked away from structured workouts and signing up for any races, I wanted a break, I needed a break.  Someone once said that “When you stop having fun, you need to walk away.”  Well, I had arrived at that destination. The fun was gone from the training and the long racing.  Mentally I was drained, and physically I just needed a break.

So here I am 6 months till the Ironman World Championships and I’m ready to get back to it.  I still have about $44K to raise to even toe the line and anything that I don’t raise, I have to pay for out of my pocket.  I’m not totally out of shape but I have a LONG road ahead of me.   The road to the Ironman World Championship isn’t just about completing a race, it’s about so much more.   When you’re trying to raise money for a cause it’s about making a difference in the world.  Did you know that globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Clefts are the leading birth defect in many developing countries.  Yes this includes the United States.   Yet in the news you can bet that we heard about which couple in the entertainment industry are breaking up, getting together, or who wore what better walking down the red carpet.   So even before starting the training for the IWC my supporters been able to make a difference in raising 28 smiles for children with cleft.   That’s 28 children which might just be a drop in the bucket, but that’s 28 children who are going to go on to have a better life than before.  I have about 176 more smiles to go before I can go to the IWC and it’s by far the toughest thing that I’ve chosen to do.  Yes, I’m very well aware that I could fail at it and I will tackle that if it happens.   What I can keep doing though is giving my best effort and keep accepting help from people that I wouldn’t have thought of being those to help out.

If you’d like to help support me in my quest for the Ironman World Championships, but more importantly give a child the gift of a smile and a better life you can donate using the link below or by clicking on the Smile Train picture on the website.  Your support is 100% tax deductible.

my.smiletrain.org/fundraiser/chris2kona

 

Better than Racing? Ironman 70.3 Oceanside Captain’s Report!

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Saturday was the official start of the Ironman race season as Ironman 70.3 Oceanside kicked off.  Athletes train for months at a time for these kinds of races and give it their all while they are out on the course.  This year was my second time volunteering for this race, but my first year as the captain.  We (Volunteer Captains & Staff) put in months of preparation for this race as well.  We don’t do it for a spot to go to worlds to volunteer, we don’t volunteer because we expect to be awarded, we do it because we enjoy it.  I volunteer at this spot because hearing an athlete say “Thank You!” is worth more than anything.  You don’t know what they are thinking, but I know that they just swam 1.2 miles, they really just did it.

This is the 2017 Ironman 70.3 Oceanside Swim Exit/Entrance crew (minus the ones with a wetsuit) who without them I wouldn’t be as successful as I was at captain.  Everyone braved the 48 degree weather at 5AM to be there early so that the athletes could get the attention from the staff.  We were there for the athletes and not us.  Our spot fills up fast since we are at the water and get to see friends who might come in, as well as be up with the Pro’s.  So with that we might not always get some of the recognition that goes with some of the other area’s, but our area is by far the BEST.  As a captain, I’m responsible for the area which includes the swim areas and making sure the athletes know where the start is and the warm up.   It was a new start this year so we wanted to make things as easy as possible.  All my volunteers absolutely nailed it.  I was complimented by the staff at how well organized we were and how clean the area was once the swim was over.  On a larger scale there was not one single complaint from the City of Oceanside about any area.  Everyone on my team had their spots and owned it as their own.  As a captain I have to be able to be fluid and go where the need is, as well as make sure my volunteers are ok and if they need anything.   Everyone was fine through the entire portion and we were out of their by 10:30AM.

The best part about being at this spot is that you are right there for the athletes as they are coming out of the water.  The energy is high and you’re swept up in the excitement of seeing everyone coming out of the water and you’re smiling which is really contagious. Even the athletes who might not have had their “best” swim smile instantly when they see you smiling and you’re helping them.  This year because of the rolling start it was a steady stream of swimmers coming through.  This was a good thing since there weren’t any big clumps and we didn’t get overloaded.  However, when you’re in this spot you know there is the inevitable last few swimmers that are swimming against the clock.  We are all there cheering for them to swim and make it, but the clock is relentless in it’s countdown.  There are no timeouts or stops, you just have to swim for your life.   Even though we already knew those who wouldn’t beat the clock every volunteer in the area (even from other teams) were on the docks cheering them in.  I however had one of the toughest spots to be at.  I had to be up with the race director letting the athletes know they didn’t make the cut off.  Some people cried, and some people just shrugged and said “I gave it my all”.  It’s still hard to hear that being told to someone knowing that I won’t ever know what that feeling is like.

I’ll be back again next year as a captain and I can only hope that I get the same amazing team year after year.  Being the captain this year cemented what I thought when I first volunteered at this spot back in 2015.  Volunteering at this race in this spot is without a doubt better than actually racing it, and I know a few people who feel the same after Saturday.

It’s Your Life, Live IT!

2017-02-22_21-46-31It was around this time 3 years ago that I made the biggest choice of my life.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I didn’t know where I was going to end up.  I just knew that I needed to change.  I made the choice to walk away from the drinking and drug scene that was gobbling up my weekends and my wallet.  When I look back at the time, I was in total denial of where I was and what was going on.  I was self-medicating for my own choices that I had made and in denial that it was up to me to change it.  I blamed others and I rarely blamed myself for the bad choices.   Why, because I had essentially given up on my life.  I was trying to convince myself that this was the best my life was going to get.  I was fat, unhappy with my career, and inside felt powerless and trapped to change it.   Like many people out there, I was afraid to quit my job.  It was my income source, and when the economy was in the dump it was difficult to imagine myself being 37 and jobless.  So I stayed stuck and it was eating me alive.  I had the victim’s mentality.

Some people will say that it was because I had an addictive personality, but let’s be honest for a minute.   There was no addiction about it, I just didn’t want to accept the responsibility that I had to be the one making the steps to change it.   I wasn’t addicted to the drinking, the drugs, I wasn’t addicted to going out every weekend.  I was making the choice to do it, because I wasn’t in the right mindset to break the cycle.  There was no drug out there or treatment program that could have righted that ship.  It’s my belief that you can get all the help in the world to take control of a ship, but if you don’t take the wheel and start steering.  You will never correct the course.

You could say that change happened overnight, but many people will not understand it was that easy and I’ll explain why.   Change is the action of doing something different, and when I looked at myself and decided that I was going to do something different I “changed”.  I ditched the victim mentality and went to a victor mentality.  Now that doesn’t mean it was easy, but I started the moment in the other direction.  I had my doubts and I had my distractions.   That image of me in the mirror though is still fresh in my mind as to who I didn’t want to become.  As I started accepting that I was at because of my actions and no one else, life started to change and I started to find ways to succeed.  Steve Jobs once said “You have to believe that the dots are going to connect down the road in life.” and I heard that earlier this year and he was absolutely right.  When I look back at the choices I made there is a deliberate path to success with where I am at now.  Triathlon, tri club, beginner open water swim, volunteer swim coach, adult learn to swim coach, to volunteer captain for the swim area at the local races, and triathlon coach.

So the moral of this blog post is that it is your life and up to you to LIVE it.  Be the victor in your life and not the victim.

 

Chance Encounter, Changed Forever.

Travel back in time to last year.  I had just agreed to fundraise $50,000 dollars for Smile Train to go to the Ironman World Championships.  It was a regular Sunday where my fiance and I were out shopping.  We stopped by a Lululemon store in La Jolla and met a young lady who happened to have cleft lip and it was repaired.   Now at this time I only knew about cleft lip from what I saw on TV and my friends who had fundraised for Smile Train, so I didn’t really know about it first hand or what someone goes through other than what I was told.   Now I was intrigued to hear more about her story so before I even had the chance C was already getting her information.   Months would go by as life happens and I reached out to her back in December but we finally got in touch as she is an ambitious young lady so she is always on the go.  I wanted to capture her story on video so that I could share it with my friends and tribe.  We had to do this in 2 takes because the first time I forgot to turn on the microphone.   Please watch and share this video.

The people here in the states we see stuff like this on TV or in books, but rarely do we see cleft lip in the US because the surgery is performed when they are young just like in Amanda’s case.   What I really had no clue about though was the amount of care and follow up surgeries that would go into it.  Hearing Amanda tell her story was very emotional but at the same time it was wonderful to see how much she was smiling through the whole interview.  It was very moving to hear her talk about her struggles growing up with things that most of us don’t even think of as we are going through high school.  I had my challenges going through high school since I wasn’t popular by any means and thought I was too fat, I didn’t have the best most popular clothes, but she was able to overcome bigger hurdles and that we take for granted like our smile.  I hope you’re as moved as I was by her story.

Ironman Arizona: It’s About Them

Catching up with my blogging before I move to a video blog.   My Ironman Arizona wasn’t about racing, it was about supporting others and being there for my friends.   I had athletes there racing and several friends from Facebook, Team Challenge, and TCSD all out there doing their first Ironman.   I was there on the course for them.  I made it a point to always make sure that if I saw them I was cheering for them.   Hell, even when I couldn’t see them I was always cheering for them or thinking of them with each stroke, peddle, and footstep forward.

My swim was 1:16 minutes.   I knew my swim was going to be slow because I haven’t been swimming.   I think my total swim training was 6 hours if you include Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Arizona 70.3.

My bike was 6 hours, but I also got off several times to talk to the volunteers and use the bathroom.   I legitimately took it easy and I felt awesome!   There was some winds but nothing like my first year which made it a bit more enjoyable.

My Run was an absolute walk, but I knew it was going to be this way.   I was having some nagging knee issues and with me doing Kona next year I didn’t need to damage anything beyond repair.   I was cheering everyone on that I saw and having some wonderful conversations with people that I had never met before.  On the 2nd lap I ran into fellow Base Team member Kris and we pretty much chit chatted the rest of the way and got each other through it.

This race wasn’t about being fast or performance, it was about being selfless.  I was able to watch those first timers become Ironman’s and discover that it’s not always about racing.

 

It Happened at Mile 53…. Crash

Ironman Arizona 70.3 is in the book and I fundraised for Team Challenge, which provides funding for Crohn’s and Colitis.   When you are out there racing for a cause it brings something special to what would be another day.  I thought about writing up a race report, but quite frankly I’m tired of writing them.  They seem to follow the same format, and for the most part they have their place.  However this race, wasn’t about racing.  It was about bring a part of something greater.

The race didn’t go as planned, but I found inspiration where I least expected it.  As you can see from the picture something happened and that something was a bike crash.  I knew there would be one day that I’d have a bike crash, but you never really want it to happen. So anyways the Arizona 70.3 course was very technical with turns and with it being 3 loops it gets crowded.  I was on the last loop of the course and took a turn at over 20MPH which I’d done 2 times before.  The air pressure in my front tire wasn’t high enough from a slow leak and it couldn’t hold up… and down I went.   As I went down I kept saying “Please don’t let anyone hit me from behind”.   As my thoughts went answered and no one else was involved in the crash I was grateful.  It was bound to happen at some point where I would crash my bike, and I’m just glad it wasn’t serious either.  Just a couple of flesh wounds… lol.

I couldn’t help but to start with the negative self-talk.  I’ve always been one to say that you need to control the self-talk.  Self-talk is one of the only things that we have complete and total control over in any situation.  That self-talk can either inspire/motivate us, or it can deflate/demoralize us.  I got up and immediately started to question if I should even bother walking up to the aid station.  I started to talk myself out of racing and just say “I Quit”.  I ran through all the “if’s, what’s, reasons” that I could think of, all while I was walking up to the aid station.   Then I saw another Team Challenge kit go by and it reminded me of something I had heard the day before at our team breakfast.  The manager talked about how when we race and we cross the finish line, or race is done.  Yet for people with Crohn’s and Colitis their race is never done.   The part that really struck me was that their race is never done.  I was still walking forward towards the aid station and I that one moment turned the negative self-talk to a more positive tone.   I thought, that I’m still walking forward.  I’m still able to walk and I got 3 miles to ride into town.  If I could keep moving forward then how on earth could I tell someone who is battling any disease or any physically challenged person that I quit.   What would I tell the people who donated to my fundraising?   I was still able to move, I was bloody, but I could still walk forward.  My bike wasn’t broken and my helmet was intact.   My body didn’t want to quit, so why was I trying to talk myself into quitting?

I went on to finish the race bloody, bruised, and during that walk I remembered another thing that our team manager said during that breakfast.   She asked the team who inspires them to race.   Well on this day it was everyone who’s fighting Crohn’s and Colitis and all of my teammates both in San Diego and across the US.  I don’t know where my mind would have got me if I didn’t see that other Team Challenge kit ride by.

Ironman #3 Wisconsin

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Here it was…  Race Week!  The weeks leading up to race week were busy with the day job, coaching, swim lessons, and trying to plan a fundraiser for my Arizona 70.3.  It (race week) snuck up on me like Ashton on Punk’d.  This Ironman was different, I was having a hard time overcoming some nagging injuries and for the first time, my work really affected some of my long training days.   Anyways, we flew into Madison on Thursday and stayed with family outside of the Madison.  This was awesome because I rarely get to see family in the midwest.  It also kept me out of the excitement and I was able to focus on things for the race and stay off my feet for the most part.

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Sunday morning I arrived early and got everything situated with my bike and my bags.  My race support crew had already begun her plan for the day of spectating and supporting me.  What was cool about this race is that everything is inside.  That means no dirt or grass, but it was a long run UP to transition.  I got into the chute early so that I wouldn’t be just getting into the water as the gun went off.  As we made our way out to the start line there was a 9/11 tribute and the national anthem was playing.  I was getting ready to get this show on the road.

The Swim: 1:13:xx
56_m-100735778-digital_highres-1364_104123-3746856The cannon went off, and whoa.   This mass start was a washing machine the entire 2.4 miles.  From the start I had some people not just brushing my feet, they were grabbing them and holding (WTF?).  So I kindly kicked them in the face.  I’m sorry (#notsorry), but you don’t need to be holding onto someone’s feet when they are trying to swim.  It’s dangerous for them.  So for 1 hour and 13 minutes I endured a constant body to body contact sport.   Thankfully I am very confident in swimming and didn’t have any issue’s of panicking.   I can see how beginners hate the mass starts, it can get downright insane.  From the swim I had a nice run up the parking ramp up to transition.

The Bike: 6:26:xx
8_m-100735778-digital_highres-1364_022787-3746808There really isn’t much to write about when it comes to one of the best supported bike courses by the community other than, it was fan-f8ckin-tastic.   Getting out the doors and finding that a volunteer had my bike ready to go was awesome.   I rode it down the helix and got my Edge 1000 situated and my HR turned on.  The first thing I noted that was missing was my power was gone.  It wasn’t pairing or something.   So I took 2-3 minutes to mess with it, and then said F it.   I was to ride this old school by HR zone and feel.  Humming along at an avg 20 MPH my HR didn’t go above 141-150 much and I didn’t feel like I was over-extended which was good.  The hills were rolling and the climbs were easy since you had a really good downhill leading up to it.  There was only 2 hills that presenting a challenge:  Barlow and some other.   I had driven the course the day before with my family.   I knew what to expect so I tried to conserve leading up to it.   Then finally it where there.  Both sides of the climb were lined with fans cheering everyone up the hill.  There were people unclipping at the bottom and mid-way through.  As I approached the guy next to me looked at the hill and said F-This, and unclipped.  I powered up it out of the saddle and felt surprisingly good.   The other hill wasn’t as bad, but again it was Tour De France style cheering which helped out alot.  I got to special needs and as I was swapping out my bike bottles I was hit by another rider.  I went to the ground pretty hard and was totally unexpected.  Could tell that something was wrong once I started pedaling again and my entire right side of my butt started to really hurt.  Thankfully I didn’t have to ride up Barlow again, but loop 2 had more wind.  As I headed back to Madison, I was really worried about being able to run.  As much as I wanted to let the crash disrupt my race and get frustrated, I kept remembering what I tell my own athletes:  Don’t waste anytime worrying about stuff you can’t control, all it does is waste time and energy.   So I kept my head up and hit T2.

Run: 5:33:xx
As I set out on the run I didn’t really know what to expect since I did virtually no research into this course.   I wanted to be healthy enough to run it.  I was a bit concerned about my legs from the bike accident but I set out anyways.  At this point the course was very high in energy as we ran through the capital area and out around the University of Wisconsin campus.  Soon we were on the field of Badger Stadium which as awesome.   It’s been a while since I was on the field and it was great to relive some of the memories of being a football player under the lights.   I was cruising a 10-12 min mile as I was walking up the hills and had a positive mindset the entire time.   As I approached the first turn around I was able to see my family out there cheering me on.  This was a welcome sight since I’m normally doing these things with my main girl as my on-course support.  The Base Performance tent is always the life of the party out on the course.  Matt Miller and Tony Demakis always have the energy to get everyone going, and being a part of their team is a blast.  The 2nd loop I decided it was time to enjoy some of the scenery, so I walked the entire field of badger stadium.  When’s the next time I’m going to be on the field?  Here I was at mile 20 and it was still light out and I was feeling really good still.  Everyone has read stories about the finish line at Wisconsin, it’s what sucked me into wanting to do it.  As I approached mile 25, you can see the energy on both sides of the street.   As you’re running through it, you suck the energy in and you turn the corners to the chute and it’s nothing short of amazement.   The community there is fantastic and the best that I have encountered at any of my races of any distance.  As I was running down the finish chute I made sure that there was plenty of time between me and the next person.  I was pretty happy to have a 5:30 marathon time after everything.

I really recommend this race to any athlete who wants to do an Ironman.  I believe the course and the community really set this race apart from all the others.  Yes there are so many other races out there that have scenic courses and great community support, so what makes this one different?   In my opinion having Mike Reilly there and the transition being inside really bring it out, but what brings it over the top is the bike course support from the community.  Having them out there on those climbs kept us all going and lifted our spirits.