Category Archives: Volunteering

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.

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Legacy? What Is Yours?

The other week I was given a content plan from a training series I was in and I didn’t think anything of it.   The top question though is something that I have been pondering for the last few days and I still can’t seem to get a clear vision of it.   I feel like it’s staring me in the face yet I can’t quite see it from all the blurriness of everything else.   Of course the generic thing to say is help people, but that’s an automated response and not specific.  This seems to be a thing though with people like myself who seem to be hovering around somewhere in the middle.   We aren’t quite at the top and we aren’t quite at the bottom either.   We’re kind of at that comfortable stage but not at the take action stage.  As I listen/read several mindset books it comes down to one thing… Legacy.   What do you want to be known for and what do you want to leave behind as your mark on the world?

I never really put much thought into what MY legacy would be once I’ve died and gone. I’ve always lived for the moment and tried to make a difference in the moment.   After all life is but a series of moments that are all put together.   What do I want to be known for, what do I want to leave behind, what do I want for the future?  It all got me thinking about this as I was watching the movie “Mr. Church” and I really wasn’t expecting it.

Let’s start with what I have done that have changed people’s lives.   I’ve taught people how to swim.  I’ve helped people lose weight.  I’ve helped people improve their blood markers.  I’ve spoken to others about my struggles in not just weight loss but overcoming my mental state of having given up on myself.    However I’ve also since felt that I removed myself from my core supporters or my roots.  Last year was a big growth with swim lessons and not being able to get to some of the things I enjoyed the most like TCSD Beginner Open Water Swim which I’ll be returning to this year and hopefully in a higher capacity.

Nautica Malibu Triathlon & 3 Weeks to Ironman Louisville

12002488_10153709407493274_4471941097899110989_oFirst and foremost, sorry it’s taken me so long to blog.  I had a change of work laptop that I used to publish everything and the app that I used didn’t update with Windows 10 so I’ve had to try and find other ways, since I hadn’t used the website to write a post before.   Turns out, that it’s not that bad.   So since my last post with metabolic efficiency I’ve dropped down to 213lbs.  Then I remembered I signed up for Clydesdale at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, so I had to actually put on some weight… funny I know.  Friday at packet pickup if they would have weighed me I would have been right at 225-227lbs since that’s what I weighed in at in the morning.   They didn’t and after the race I was probably 218-220lbs.   It’s the very last race I’ll race Clydesdale, or so it better be.

So this was an important race for me mentally, the other short races that I kind of laid the expectation that I need to be a podium finisher failed… I was 4th and 5th at them.  I thought to myself… great I’m not the fastest fat guy anymore.  It was to be expected though.  When you train for Ironman distance events you lose a lot of that top end speed and the sacrifice of endurance.  So while I couldn’t go as fast as they could in the sprint… I could certainly out swim, bike, and run them in an Ironman.   Anyways the Clydesdale’s here was a huge field for us, there was 21 of us.  I beat the 2nd place guy by seconds time wise…  I saw him pass me on the run around mile 2… he was already hurting and I cruising in my Zone 3 HR while trying to keep cool.  With the sun just beating down on me, I couldn’t risk injury or blowing up to early so I slowly reeled him in, and around mile 4.5 I finally passed him for good.  Not to mention I wasn’t really getting passed by anyone on the run other than some of the top females.  It was great to be able to run and not get passed by everyone like I had grown accustomed to.   It was also a great confidence booster for Ironman Louisville which is right around the corner.  Three weeks out and I’m feeling really good about it.

On the other non-triathlon racing side of life school has been crazy.  Between my Health & Wellness Coaching Class, Advanced Nutrition Class, and trying to finish up my Ironman University Test it’s been a mental challenge.   The upside is that I’m helping people achieve their goals, and slowly setting both my Health & Wellness Coaching and Endurance Coaching business.   More to come as I get close to Ironman Louisville and I get this website authoring squared away.

Oceanside 70.3–Volunteer Race Report!

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Well, here we are at the end of our shift.  We all volunteered to be swim handlers at the 2015 Oceanside 70.3 Half Ironman.  I wanted to race this race but I missed the signup, so I went with St. George instead.  The next best thing to racing is volunteering.  It’s my chance to give back to the sport and to the racers.  In my early days of racing I never really paid much attention to volunteers, in fact I really didn’t care about them.  I paid my money and most of the time I was out there suffering just trying to finish.  Then after my first volunteer gig as a swim buddy I started to really take notice and start thanking them as I’m running or biking.  I’m usually a swim buddy and out there swimming with the slower swimmers.  At Ironman events that’s not allowed, so I took the next best thing.  Making sure everyone gets in and out of the water safely.

Race Day11068401_10205307342034859_4408981667675072733_nHanging out with TCSD before reporting.

The best part of being in the water is that you have access to transition and you don’t have to be down at the entry/exit till 20-30 minutes before the pro’s start.  So I was able to wander around T1/2 and talk with some friends and give some final words of encouragement to other first timers I knew racing.  Before I knew it, it was time for me to head down to the swim entry/exit.  I really wasn’t expecting anything since when I’m running out of the water I don’t take any assistance and I’m off down to transition.  However, I got to talk to some of the pro men and women before they got into the water and they thanked me for volunteering.   Andy Potts is a nice guy on top of being fast in the water, and Jesse Thomas is flat out funny before the swim.  I couldn’t recognize the women with their goggles on already and caps, but that’s ok.   The gun went off and the mass flow of racers entered the water in waves in what seemed 3 minutes apart.  All the swim handlers cheering them on as they marched towards the water.  They even had the seals to cheer them on and provide some entertainment while they made their way to the start line.  About 22 minutes after the start the pro men started to come in and I had to go over to the exit for safety reasons.

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As the pro’s came in the mass of age groupers were not far behind.  At about 45 minutes after the start it was madness.  I was assisting swimmers up and unzipping wetsuits.  I pulled up several of my friends swimming and cheered them along the run.  Then I felt someone grab my hand and as I turned and looked at her she said, “I have no legs, will you help me?”  I got down and picked her up and carried her to her chair that was waiting on the ramp with her legs.  She was an amputee racing with CAF.  Everyone was clapping for her and she was smiling.  I was moved and inspired to be sharing her moment with her.  Every day I listen to people complain about how bad of a day they had or are having, but here is a woman with no legs out there swimming and enjoying the simple things that we often take for granted.  It was an honor and privilege for me to assist her.  In a moment that seemed like it took 20 minutes had only taken a couple and I was back to action holding up swimmers who couldn’t find their land legs after being in the water for so long.  As the slower swimmers started coming in we started seeing a lot of people disoriented so we spent some time walking up the ramp with them till they found their land legs and knew what was going on.  I saw an older man who waved me over and I grabbed his hand.  He really grabbed on strong and started to shake as I pulled him up and he stood up.  He looked at me and said “I did it, I didn’t think I’d make it, but I did it!”  I said “Congratulations, the hard part is done right!”  We both laughed but when he took off his goggles he had tears and a smile ear to ear.  He gave me a big hug and said thank you for being here, and said “I did it” one last time as he went up the ramp.  I started to get teary eyed.   (I’m starting to get teary eyed just writing this).

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As less and less swimmers came in we know the swimmers coming in now were at risk of not being able to continue.  Then the race official appeared and there were 3 swimmers who weren’t allowed to continue.  It was a little heartbreaking to see.  Some of those swimmers were in the water well over 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Then the floatilla of boats, SUPs, and wave runners came towards the dock.  It was the last swimmer in, and everyone gave him a cheering welcome back.  We all knew he wasn’t going to make the cut off but he at least finished the swim which is a great achievement.

last swimmer out

As I was helping him up since he couldn’t stand on his own we got to the race official and I heard the official give the DNF speech.  It’s not one that I ever plan to hear for not making a cut off.   I really hope he comes back next year and finishes the entire race.  I could feel how deflated he got after receiving the news.   Once all the swimmers were out we got the dock all ready to go for use again and I was off to the TCSD and FilAmTri tents to cheer on the racers.  All in all for the day I walked/ran over 12 miles and cheering is a workout on it’s own.  I was exhausted all evening.  I tried to get my 8 mile run in but got 2 miles before I was done.   I was sleeping by 8:30PM… ZZZZZzzzzzz

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.

It’s Been a Week of Hills!

GiroMaybe it’s been 2 weeks of hills, I’m not really sure at this point as everything is running together.  There have been both physical and mental hills that have brought me up and down, but it’s all part of becoming an Ironman right?  You learn to juggle the demands of your work, social, and training lifestyles as volume pick up and move you to what you once thought those limits are.  Slowly as you approach them you start to feel that you get that anxious feeling in your gut and you press on.  You slowly move past your previous limits and the confidence builds as you start to explorer the space you didn’t know existed.

So last Saturday I swim buddied at the San Diego Triathlon Classic.  I was supposed to race in this race but after careful thought with my Ironman training it just wasn’t a good fit.  Especially since I had a 105 mile ride from Solana Beach up Mt. Palomar the following day.  So putting the pride aside I went and rode with this great girl who is also training for IMAZ at a slow pace for a few hours (probably not the brightest thing cause of the 105 mile ride the next day).  Either way we had fun and it was great time…… I guess you might call it an Irondate!  Then later that night I got my run in… again this was not a good idea.  The upside was I ate a TON of carbs!

WP_20140906_003My athlete Rhonda who just did her first ever triathlon back in May finally reached the podium Saturday as well.  She took 3rd in the Athena division which she earned.  The Tri Classic was her A race and she even surprised herself.  You can follow her journey on her Facebook page “Living Instead of Existing”.  She didn’t know it at the time but I decided to stay and watch her finish and cheer her on going across that finish line.  I’m proud of her her finding this new found love of not just triathlon but being competitive.  As I’ve been a mentor for her the goal for this season was for her to just have fun and enjoy the sport, clearly it is.   Next season will be pushing a bit more (like I haven’t done enough of that) for some possible podium spots in the Athena Masters and also increasing 1 or 2 races to Olympic distances in her preparation for a 70.3 early 2016 with possible IMAZ 2016.

palomarSo now to Sunday’s fun…it really wasn’t much fun.  It sucked and it sucked a lot.  Started at 6Am 1 whole hour early and I knew there would be hills and a damn mountain so I used my road bike (I think I should have kept to my tri bike).  My road bike is an aluminum frame which I refer to as a tank.  I’ve had that thing for almost 5 years and never once had to change a tire or tube.  I put thousands of miles on it and it truly is a tank.  I knew I was going to be slow and I knew it was going to be a 9+ hour ride.  Yes you see that big mountain in the middle of the elevation chart that was a 7-8% grade for 11+ miles?  I had to ride up it and the gearing on my road bike in it’s easiest gear was a lovely 4 MPH avg going up it.  I’m not going to lie I wanted to quit going up and just go downhill.  My brain was telling me to quit and just turn around but my legs just kept peddling up even as I saw friends of mine going down.  I stopped and let my HR go back down since the sun was beating down on me and climbing up hill keeps me in my Z4 and Z5 for long periods of time.  On these stops I made the mistake of looking at my map on my phone and talk about the longest mile.. I thought to myself man I’m going 4 MPH this is going to take me 15 damn minutes to get to the top this is just dumb and why did I do this.   It was about this time that my legs wouldn’t let me turn around that I finally caught up to my buddy Marcus and I thought to myself that if he can do this than so can I.  Finally made it to the top with him and another guy named Steve.   10702229_715504185206710_5231643471898073495_nWe caught the girls just before they went down it was a fun quick reunion (I hated all of them at this point because they beat me and weigh half of what I do.)  It was at this time where mother nature decided to shower on us.. A LOT!  Yeah that wall of rain was what I went through on the way down.  My friend Carrie happened to snap this picture as she was going up and I was going down.  At the end of the day we all got across the finish line we got our medals we endured mother nature’s 100+ heat and flash flooding.  Congratulations to everyone we made it out alive and our legs truly do hate us now.

I heard someone say that after 6 hours of straight exercising something happens to you.  They are right and it’s different for everyone and for me it was interesting that it was my legs that kept me going forward and not quitting when everything that I read and listed to told me it would be my body that was telling me to quick and it would be my mind telling me to stop.  I felt that urge to want to keep going, that confidence that you can do this.  You can finish it.  People still call me crazy and say that this is not normal behavior.  I would have said the same thing 3 years ago as well.  But for me this is becoming the new normal and I like it.  One of the best choices I made in my life was losing weight and getting outside of my comfort zone of inside the bar.

Giving Back, Looking Ahead

Here are some pictures from my first triathlon back in 2010.  My how times have changed.

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It’s hard to believe that it was 4 years ago I tried my first triathlon and I just had the basics.  I had desire, motivation, and excitement.  I remember this race like it was yesterday.  I remember worrying about everyone looking at me like who’s this fat guy in no wetsuit.  I felt like a beginner swimming in a sea of seasoned triathletes.  I was intimidated.  Those feelings helped spur me into volunteering for the Tri Club’s Beginner Open Water Swim (BOWS) group.  It’s beginning triathletes who are new to open water swimming and/or triathlon.  It’s been very rewarding every time I’m out there and can’t wait as the years go by..   Arnold once said that one of the secrets to success is to always find a way to give back.  He’s right, I can’t wait to see this group complete their first or any triathlon.

I’ve started following more people trying to lose weight on Facebook while sharing my story and how I’ve kept it off.  This has been a great way to inspire others that no matter how hard it seems, it’s possible.

Looking Ahead:
As I move towards that Ironman staring me in the face in November time is flying by!  Before I know it I will be on flights to different cities and racing across the United States.  It’s like a dream but it’s something that I’ve earned and worked hard for.  Life is short so you have to enjoy it.  I’ve begun looking at races for 2015 starting with IMOO in Wisconsin come September and who knows what else.  I’ll be doing another 70.3 just not sure which one.  I’m always looking ahead, but enjoying what’s in front of me.   I know I haven’t even completed my first full Ironman why on earth would I do another?  Well cause I want to.  It’s important to have personal goals and not to get too caught up with waking up every morning to just go slave away at work and then come home to exhaustion every day.  You have to wake up everyday and want to live.  We’re all stuck working but work should support how you want to live and not the other way around.  So go out and work to live, not live to work.