Tag Archives: Focus

Starting the New Year

Well, 2014 was a blast of the year.  For the most part I’m 2 years into my lifestyle change from a fat bar hopper to a competitive triathlete.  I’ve been able to inspire those around me to achieve what they didn’t they could.  Been dating a great gal, and I finished my first ever Ironman.  I’ve been able to keep the weight off for the most part, I did put some back on after the Ironman and holiday season.  That’s how it goes though when you’re training 16-20 hours a week and eating 6-8K calories a day to almost nothing for a month.

So what do I have in store for 2015?  Well, I’m agreeing to another race a month of some form.  So that mean’s that once a month I’ll be doing anything from a 5K to an Ironman.  Swim, Bike, or Run race of some type.  I’ve got my first half Ironman in St. George, UT on May 2nd and a full Ironman 140.6 in Louisville, KY on October 11th.  On top of that I’m the proud Ambassador of SunRype!  SunRype is a fruit drink and snack company that uses 100% fruits and juice in their products.   I’m super excited to represent them in 2015 and hopefully longer.

Weight goal wise I’ve slacked a bit.  I’m not under that 220lb mark that I wanted to so this year, so I’ll be trying to get under that mark.  I’ve had quite a few people talk to me about becoming a life coach which I’m looking into along with finally getting my personal training certification.  Then look into what I need to do to become a life coach and possible pursue it a bit more when I’m not on my day job.

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Ironman Arizona Race Report

0823_098542Here it is my race report.  First I’d like to thank my coach Julie Dunkle and the group that I trained with.  Without you girls it would not have been as much fun.  Also want to thank my parents for supporting me through all this and my kid sister Jill who was my sherpa and handled a lot of stuff for me on race day.

Arriving in Tempe on Thursday allowed me to handle a lot of the athlete requirements before everyone got into town.  This helped keep a lot of pressure off of me.  Saturday was gear check day for my bike and my gear bags which helped even more come race morning.

Race Morning:
Thankfully I got to bed early and I slept like a rock!  Woke up and ate 3 peanut butter and banana sandwiches while sipping some water.  Got the rest of my special needs bags set to go went through my race checklist and once everything was good my sister and I went down to the race venue.  It opened at 5AM and we were there around 5:15AM.   Once down there I had to get my nutrition into my bike and everything all set that I couldn’t leave overnight.  Got my special needs bags dropped off, dropped my friends off at the pool, and completely forgot about putting my salt sticks into my bike as well putting on my HR monitor.  Said good bye to the kid sister and got in line for the swim start.

Swim:0823_076121
I positioned myself up towards the front to avoid having to swim over people.  As I treaded water and waited for the gun to go off I was anxious to get started.   The excitement in the air was astonishing.  As the cannon (not a gun or horn) went off the washing mashing began and for me it didn’t stop till I got out of the water.  I swam a 1:10 which I was pretty disgusted with but I also wasn’t swimming as fast as I could.  I held back some because I had a 112 mile bike and a marathon to do.  So I wanted to conserve some energy seeing as though I’d never gone so far in my life.  I settled into a good rhythm away from some people and just kept swimming.   The turns got a bit crowded but nothing crazy.  On the return there was some waves pushing from the rear which helped and the sun was not in our eyes anymore.   I didn’t wear my Garmin this time around I kept it on my bike.  I didn’t really have any issue’s exiting the water but once I was out finding a wetsuit stripper that was available was a bit interesting.  Finally after that was done I trotted into the transition tent.

Bike:
0823_020538I was fully expecting to get a 5 hour ride with at least 20 MPH average here.  I jumped on the bike feeling great   It wasn’t till we got to a clearing that I had felt the wind gusts and knew it was going to be a long day…  Once I turned onto the Bee Line Hwy it was 11 miles of straight headwinds all the way out and then tailwind all the way back.  I didn’t have my HR strap on but I don’t use HR when riding since I have my Power2Max Power Meter.  I kept my watts under 214 to keep me in Zone 2.  Even going downhill I didn’t want to hammer it out too fast and not have any legs to battle the headwind going back.   With each successive loop the winds kept getting stronger and stronger eventually slowing me down to 8MPH at some points.   During the bike I also had 4 damn flats… 4 of them.  As that 5th hour ticked away I just kept riding to get to the run.   My nutrition was dead on (could have used more salt sticks) but I felt great getting off the bike and ready to hit the run.   The change to the speedfill bottle on the frame and the aerobar bottle holder worked out great!  I kept my APX in the bottle and then the water bottles from the aid stations in the aerobar holster.

Run:WP_20141116_15_39_57_Pro
My plan here was to run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute all at an easy pace for the first loop and then crank out some more intensity.  Grabbed some water at the first aid station along with Gu Chomps (Not sure I should have).  Then ran into Stuart from the Tri Club and we chit chatted and both were along the same run/walk plan.  We were cruising a nice 11 min mile pace which I was OK with.   At the 2nd aid station I took some cola (I wanted a caffeine pick up after the head winds.  Well the cola was not flat by any means and right around mile 3 I started to feel gassy… very gassy.  I was burping hoping it was just gas and then you have that ah-ha moment where as they say “Don’t trust a fart”.  I told John and Stuart that I’d catch up to them.  I spent the next 10 minutes or so in that porta-john.  Then it seemed I would repeat that for the next 10 miles except only taking in water, pretzels and grapes.  I didn’t know if that combination would help but in my mind my thought process was like this.  Pretzels to help absorb any carbonation, water to help dilute the cola more, and grapes for the sugars.   I don’t know if it was the “best” thing but for me it worked.  I started to feel human again around mile 12 and I was off to run/walking with enjoyment (Yes I said enjoyment).  I saw my parents when I started the 2nd lap and asked where some others were and they said they are out there running.  I was relieved they made the bike cut-off.  I stopped at my special needs bag and changed out my shoes (I shouldn’t have done this either).  Why did I change out my shoes when the one’s I was wearing seemed perfectly ok.  Either way I started running again with my 4/1 ratio.  Around mile 16 I was in a daze of things tunnel vision to just make it to the far turn around and that’s when I asked a volunteer for some water and instead she gave me perform.  Well, after that perform went down the hatch in about 15-20 seconds it was coming back up along with everything else in my stomach.   I took some water and tried to jog it out a bit which was fine for a bit and ended up puking a couple more times.   Finally at the mile 20 or so turn around I had been feeling really good.  Then my coach Julie started running with me for a bit and we had a chit chat.  She asked if I was alright and I said not really.  Explained the stomach stuff to her.  She said I was going to make it, even if I ended up walking the rest of the way I was going to make it.   By this time by feet were really starting to hurt (damn shoes, I knew it was the shoes).  I should have never changed them out.  I hit mile 24 and I could hear the finish line.

The Finish:0823_090644
At mile 24 once I started to hear everyone being called an Ironman everything kind of hit me.  I really was going to make it, I really was going to become an Ironman.  I didn’t care about the time I was going to make it.  I started thinking about how many people supported me through this.  How I wish my father could have been alive to find out that his oldest son had turned his life around from a heavy drinker to an Ironman and an inspiration.   I wished my grandparents were still around as well.  Finally as I turned the final corner down the finish chute I remember seeing the lights.  I remember seeing all the hands wanting hi-fives.  I remember hearing “Christopher Holley, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.  I couldn’t tell you my emotions at that moment.  I can’t tell you what else I heard.  I can’t even tell you at what point I got my medal.  I don’t even remember taking the finisher picture.   I remember seeing Rhonda at some point which surprised me that she made it out.  I remember my parents meeting her and not much else after that.

Coming Too:WP_20141116_21_21_58_Pro
My parents went back to the hotel they were tired, I could tell by their smiles that I made them proud.  I still had to watch the rest of Team Dunkle come in.  I heard some of the ladies and Henry finish but I couldn’t make it through everything in time to cheer them on going down the chute.  Nicole had finished as well but couldn’t move fast enough either.   Finally I made my way around everyone to the inside turn of the finish shoot.  As the final hour approached more and more of the ladies from Team Dunkle finished.  They had did it.  My certain someone had finished and I was so proud.   Finally Erika crossed the finish line all smiles.  She was soo excited she ran down the far side of the chute away from her dad and she hi-fived every single hand she could.  We all did it, we all become an Ironman that day.

Wrapping Up:
I still can’t believe it’s over just like that.  It was a 5 month journey that brought me to places that I’d never been both physically and mentally.  As I look back at the race day while writing this.  I had a LOT of fun.  At the end of the day that’s what being an athlete is all about… FUN.

Ironman Arizona–My Experience.

Just like that the race is over and the post race celebrations are coming to a close.  What started out as a childhood dream came true November 16th, 2015.  It was a year in the making though.  None of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for me asking my mom to help get me in through the online registration.   2014 has been quite a year and ending it by becoming an Ironman.

Most of the race was a blur so I’ll get to my race report later once the emotions settle a bit.   I’m not a Kona qualifier and probably won’t ever be, but when you decide that something is possible you need to go for it.  I trained under the same coach I used for Oceanside through her group special.   Some of the people I knew and others I didn’t.  We all embarked on this adventure to become Ironmen together.  Triathletes of all shapes and sizes all out to achieve what many people say is nothing short of crazy.   We trained together, we traveled together out to AZ a couple weeks before the race and we all kind of bonded in a special way.  The memories we will cherish and remember forever.

I signed up for this race on a whim of believing that it’s possible that regular people can do this and it’s not just for pro’s.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I knew it was going to be hard.  I found new limits for myself that I didn’t think possible.  With all my weight loss I wanted to prove to myself that I could go out and do something great.  They say Ironman is a drug and in part they are right.  You get this high going into race weekend and then once it’s over you go through a down period.   Everyone goes their own ways again back to their regular lives or in my case my off season.

Once in Tempe I was excited to be a part of the experience.  Go down to Ironman Village get my athlete check-in process done and check things out.   Lots of vendors, lots of athletes but not much of anything real like clinic’s or things for inspiration.  The underpants run was fun to take part of and Friday was getting a tour of the transition area’s with places to spectate at.  There is so much more to think about while doing an Ironman verses other distances.  That time my parents were in town and the excitement started to really build.  We went to the opening ceremonies that evening which just fueled the fire of inspiration.  Saturday had a great swim with the group in the morning and gave my parents the same tour I got.   Having my family there really meant a lot to me.  It’s important to me that they see that anything is possible no matter what age.  We saw a 72 year old woman who was doing her first ever triathlon finish the race.

After the race was over and everyone who finished was still on their highs the village seemed to take on a different excitement.  The previous day was done and everyone was already looking at IMAZ 2015.  Different athletes looking at their previous days race in different ways.  Some were happy to be done with it and never do it again.  Some looked to their Garmin data to already start looking at what they could have done better.  Some started to compare races year through year.  I already know I’ll be volunteering at 2015 so I’m not signing up for it.  I didn’t have my HR monitor on during the entire race (major fail on my part) so I don’t have much data to analyze for the race.  At mile 22-23 though is when I could hear Mike calling people an Ironman.  I knew that I was going to be an Ironman and while I was overcome with emotion the rest of the race was just enjoying my accomplishments.

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.

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.

TriRock San Diego 2014–It’s Not Always About Winning.

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It was this race 1 year ago that I told myself that “If I train hard enough that I can win 1st place in Clydesdale.”  You can read about it here.  It was at that race that my sister asked if you could do portions of the race and if you could can she do the swim?  My friend Jojo promptly said yes and she would do the run.  That means that I would do the bike.  Going into this race I will admit that it felt a bit strange not  being the one doing the swimming for a relay since that’s what I usually do.   However this race wasn’t about me, it was about my kid sister who set out to achieve a goal and something that I could be a part of her doing.  Through my weight loss and race last year it sparked her interest in possibly doing something she might enjoy.

Jill was unsure of the distance and I told her we would do the intermediate distance which meant she had to swim 1500M in the San Diego Bay.   She was a water polo player and swimmer in high school as well.  Like her brother though she was a sprinter, so the longer constant swimming can be a bit taxing finding the right cruise control.   In the end though she finished in 53 minutes and she was proud of herself and proud of the accomplishment.   She was all smiles through the whole thing even at the end.   I’m proud of her.   My bike on the other hand I was very happy with.  I hammered out a 1:00:52 22 mile bike ride.  It was great to be out there testing out the new aero helmet and cheering on my friends while out there passing them.  Not in disrespect but in a positive way saying you can do this, you’re almost there.  Thanks to the ambulance that caused me to totally go over the 1 hr mark as well.  Jojo finished off the run strong.   No podium finish but we were all smiles.  My buddy Josh finally got out there and did his first ever triathlon as well.   Josh did the TriRock as part of my relay back in 2012 and did the bike portion.  It was great to see him out there doing the whole thing.

The best part though was cheering on my friends from the Tri Club and Team Challenge.  I honestly had more fun out there cheering for everyone then racing.   It was a good reminder to me that triathlon isn’t about winning.  It’s about the experience, it’s about watching people achieve something that they didn’t think they could do.

59 Days and Counting till IMAZ… WTF IM #2?

Time is flying by and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts that I am ready for this.  The days are slowing ticking away and my mantra lately has been “This Ironman isn’t going to train for itself buddy.”  I’m biking longer than I ever have before  and enjoying it.  This past Saturday while I was out on a 4.5 hour bike ride it was around mile 70 where I thought to myself that man 20 miles seemed so long back when I signed up for IMAZ.   Now 20 miles just seems like a warm up.  Now with me really having the confidence in not blowing up on the bike I can start getting in more running as well which I’ve totally been slacking on.

I really need to break this mental barrier of running is punishment again.  Today after a 75 minute spin class I went out on a 2.5 mile run and had the best times in a long time and surprisingly in the heat and humidity I felt great (Yeah I just said that).   I opened up my stride a bit more but watched my cadence go from 79/80 to 76/78 but my HR instead of riding that 147 BPM line dropped to 138/140 BPM.  I was lower in my Z2 and my avg times per mile dropped from a 10:30 min/mile to a 9:31 min/mile.  Now I did have to walk once to stretch the hip flexor a bit but then chugged along.   It kind of has me wondering now if trying to get the shorter steps and higher cadence was back firing for me since I have longer legs.   I’ll monitor some of the longer runs to see what’s going on with that.

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On another note yes I signed up for IM Canada as well.  WTF was I think is the first thing that comes to mind but I must be honest.   The course looks absolutely awesome and I’ve heard excellent peer reviews of it.  So why not?   This is in July so it works perfectly for my St. George 70.3 in the beginning of May.  At first I didn’t think I’d like some of the longer IM training but it’s kind of growing on me in a sadistic way.