Tag Archives: possible

$50K to Kona in 2017.. #50k2Kona

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It’s most Ironman triathlete’s dream to go to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.  Some triathletes are fast enough to qualify year in and year out, and others will do 12 Ironman triathlons and try to get into through the legacy program.  Then there are the charity fundraising slots.  It was my plan to age up into a slot where I could be fast enough to qualify and be an old guy who thinks he could race.

A good friend of mine ran it by me that I should try and raise $50,000 to race in Kona.   That’s right, the Super Bowl of triathlon.  He was able to raise it for his 2016 race, and immediately thought of me for 2017.  My first thought honestly was, why me?  As we spoke it became clear that my story is such an inspiration to many, and that I deserved it.  As we spoke more I shared my concerns in that $50K is a LOT of money and that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it without A LOT of help.  I’m just not a good fundraiser.  We spoke some more and I told him that I would think about it and get back to him.

SmileTrain is a charity that fixes cleft palate for children around the globe.  I mean who doesn’t want to help kids smile?  Shouldn’t everyone have a smile?  Those of us without cleft palate take for granted what a smile does for us.  A smile tells others how we feel without having to physically say anything.  A smile that we see on others makes us feel better when we’re having a bad day.  Personally, I love making people smile.  It doesn’t matter what the age is.

The seed was planted.  I immediately started to think about it, and weight out all my options.  I questioned myself, cause my gut feeling was to do it.  I was pretty much afraid of failing.  It was a huge leap, but I couldn’t ignore my gut.  I’m always preaching to my clients that they need to get outside their comfort zone.  You can’t let the fear paralyze you from making a choice.  I spoke to my mom about it, she’s always been my biggest supporter and she mentioned that I’ve always found a way to overcome every challenge that I’ve taken on.  She was right.   I’ve overcome obesity, alcoholism, self-confidence problems, and most anything that I’ve put my mind to or decided to accomplish.  I’ve got a killer team helping me with this and plenty of support.  I deserve the chance to continue to inspire others and embody the mantra of Ironman “Anything is Possible”.

So what’s next?  Well, first will be a strategy pow-wow with my team.  First though I still can’t believe what I just did.

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Oceanside 70.3 2016 – Race Report

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There I am running with Shangrila Rendon on my 2nd loop at the Ironman 70.3 California race.  For those of you who don’t know who she is… she is a Guinness World Record holder for the fastest female to race a Quintuple race (5 Ironman Distance triathlons in 5 consecutive days).  It was a pretty defining moment for me to see her out there and her cheering me on as I raced by just struggling to keep my body going.

Leading up to the race I was feeling confident that I was going to have a breakout race and finally be able to actually run the entire half marathon.  My running has improved, I’m leaner, and over all I’m feeling great about my nutrition since moving to being more metabolically efficient.  Then around Tuesday night my stomach felt a little iffy and I spent most of the night sitting on the toilet.   That’s right I either caught something or ate something bad.  I wasn’t holding anything in, and I felt fine otherwise.  Fast forward to Friday morning I still wasn’t 100% but I told myself and C that I plan to race.  If I have issue’s Friday night or Saturday morning, or anything during the race. I’m going to not race or I’m going to stop.  Her condition was only if I go to the medical tent after I finish… Deal.   The problem isn’t so much being sick, it’s the amount of fluids you lose during the process of sitting on the throne and the lack of nutrients in your body.    It was simply the smart thing to do, and that’s live to race another day.  I had consulted with 2 doctors who have my best interest at heart so I knew that I wasn’t making a blind choice.  I told myself that I was ok with the outcome… If I DNS or DNF it wasn’t cause I wasn’t capable or didn’t have the drive.

Race Morning:
I got about 8 hours of sleep that night, thanks to some essential oils from some friends and some Imodium.  I was weary to eat anything for obvious reasons so I skipped my breakfast of eggs, bacon, sweet potatoes, with butter.  I preloaded with some pedialyte as we made our way to transition, and physically I was feeling fine.  I got into transition late so I had to do the fastest transition setup known to mankind before they closed it.  I’ve really simplified my transitions to where it takes me about 5 minutes to get everything in place and out I can go.  I was in the second to the last wave, so I still had a whole hour before I started.  I spent some time chatting with some Team Challenge friends and team mates before they had to march off into the Oceanside Harbor to start.  I chugged my 2 scoops of UCAN 30 minutes before the swim start, threw on my wetsuit and it was time for me to march down that same plank into the harbor.  The best part is that even with the pro’s already out of the water and you still being in that 2nd to the last wave, there is still a great amount of energy to keep you pumped.  So I was able to feed off it all and stay collected.

Swim: 36 mins
BOOM the horn goes off and out I go.  The water temp was 62 degree’s race morning and I LOVED it.  There was plenty of swell to go around and plenty of people who kept stopping in front of me.  I had no problems sighting the buoy’s but swimming around/over people got tiring.  My stomach though at the time was starting to wobble and I was wondering if I was going to have an accident in my wetsuit (that would not be good).  I was able to finally find some calm water out of the pack of people and cruise to the swim exit.  I felt at this point that I had a better swim that I did, but my stomach and my calves and core were cramping a bit.  As I was jogging back to T1 I saw C and she gave me some more pedialyte.  I told her that I’m was done, my legs just aren’t there, and my stomach was feeling woozy.  I remember her telling me that maybe I just need to sit down in transition and see how it goes.  I had plenty of time, but nope I told her I was done and she was going to meet me at the exit.   WELL, I did what she said and as I was sitting there gathering myself and looking at my bike, I decided I should give it a shot.  I’m feeling a bit better, and if I can make it off the bike I can walk the half marathon.  It wasn’t going to be pretty but I could do it as long as I kept it easy.  So I put my big boy pants on and helmet and went out the bike exit on the bike.

Bike: 03:55:19
I remembered this course from my first go around with it in 2014 and knew I had to keep it calm and easy the first half.  I did exactly that and felt great, I took a third of a bonk breaker bar down at the 30 minute mark and 10-15 minutes later I felt my stomach kind of curl again and I thought, oh no… this isn’t going to be good.  However I kept riding and it went away.  I always grab water at the bike aid stations and the volunteers at aid station 1 are always a blast.  This year it was some sumo wrestlers handing out water and Gatorade which made me laugh as a I whizzed by.  I chugged my third of a bottle with UCAN and MCT Oil and I was feeling pretty back to normal keeping my watts and HR in my fat burning zone, saving my carbs for those hills.  Then around mile 25 I notice my rear wheel bumpy and I think I just have a flat.  I pulled over and sure enough, not only did I have a flat.  Something shredded about 3 inches of my tire!  I don’t carry a spare tire for a 70.3, GREAT.  Thankfully it was by a volunteer captain who was able to radio for the bike people to come out.  About a hour or so later I was on the road again complete with a new tire and tube.  As I sat there waiting and watching people whiz by, several people offered me a tire and tube.  I didn’t take it, just because they might need it.  I’m not trying to qualify for worlds and I knew I had plenty of time.  Yeah there was a part of me that felt that maybe this is a sign and I just need to stop, but I kept moving on.  Into the next aid station it was bathroom time or so I thought anyways, and then again I thought that maybe this is it and I had to stop.  Maybe it was just my body telling me that it wants to stop.  I stood at my bike questioning if I wanted to battle the hills today.  I told a volunteer who wanted to give me Gatorade that I was done, I didn’t need any.  So I sat on my bike for about 5 minutes waiting to see what my stomach would do, and sure enough it calmed down.  I was good to go, and off I went.  I could see the hill in the distance, the same hill that I almost had to walk up a couple years earlier.  The same hill that intimidated me so much to where I didn’t ever want to do the race again.  The same hill that is claiming these cyclists and forcing them to walk.  I was able to power up and not be totally dead afterwards.  Mentally this was a huge boost and exactly what I needed.  I cheered everyone else on around me to not give up and to just keep at it.   I’m sure some of them might have despised me for zipping by them as they where walking and I was cheering for them.  I was sincere since I was in their shoes before at one point.  I know how difficult it can be, and I know that when I was in their shoes, it helped.  Finally piled up the last climb and made the final right towards the coast into the headwind and just held on for the rest of the ride.  I tried to keep things steady as she goes, and I knew my run was going to be horrible.  Finally as I rode into transition there was a small sigh of relief that I was almost done.

Run: 2:42:xx
I took my time in transition again to collect myself and wondered if I should even bother running out.  I didn’t know what time of day it was or if I’d have enough time to walk a half marathon after the bike wait.  I didn’t want to be walking and then be told I didn’t have enough time.  After a few minutes of drinking more pedialyte and gathering myself I set out on the run course.  It was great to see all of my Team Challenge teammates as I set out on the run, it really lifted the spirits.  I really enjoyed the change to the 1 spot transition and the route it took us on.  By this time I had friends everyone on the course to cheer on.  After all the reason I signed up for the race was to be out there with them cheering them all on.  I was an hour late to the party but still got to see a lot of them out there.  It was right after the turn around that I had to use the bathroom again… thought it was going to be the final straw… but thankfully it wasn’t.  This time though I was riding that line of not having anything left in the tank.  I was taking some gel’s at the aid stations with some water and base salts. Just anything to get some energy going.  I was reduced to a walk/run as the reserves were running out.  I was still maintaining a 12 min mile so I felt good about things.  Running through the Fil-Am-Tri area was always a huge lift of spirits as I heard my name called and everyone cheering.  I should have stopped and asked for a donut or 12.  It was around mile 8 or 9 that I ran into Shangrila and we chatted.  I couldn’t tell you about what though.  It was nice to see her out there cheering for everyone.  I gathered myself even more for the final push.  At this time my calves were pretty well knotted with some cramping here and there.  Kept taking the salt and water in, pouring water down the back and putting ice in the hat.  I was happy to still be able to keep passing people.  Finally the last 2 miles were in sight, and I could see the FAT’s (Fil-Am-Tri) banner and told myself I just have to make it there and I’m home free.  The tight calves were causing my left knee to hurt and as I was approaching the finish chute my left hamstrings started to cramp up.  Luckily there was a woman in front of me, so I thought to myself… Let her get her moment.  So I slowed it down to a walk so that I wouldn’t it for her going across the finish line.  This gave me a small rest.  Then she slowed to a walk.  When I asked if she was alright and she replied “yes”.  I took off running through the finished.  My finish time was over 7:31:xx and I knew it was going to be ugly.  As promised I found C and we went to the medical tent to be checked out.

Finishing up:
Every race is different, even if it’s the same course.  The day is different, the weather is different, and the moment is different.  Now some people will say that I made a stupid choice to race in the condition that I was in, and that’s ok.  It’s their opinion.  I consulted 2 doctors, 2 RN’s, and I was in good hands through the entire race.  I had a plan in place if I got into trouble, and there were people on the course who knew my condition and would have stopped me if they felt that I wasn’t able to finish.  Having that level of support from the tri community is simply amazing.  With that said, I was fine in the medical tent.  They just made me get some more fluids in and rest a bit.  It was all precautionary.   Even checked in with my doc buddy later that night and he said if I needed anything let him know and they’ll take care of me.

The race really tested my body, my patience, and my perseverance.  It was a constant battle of quit or should I keep going.  It also shows that no matter who the athlete, sometimes you just have to slow it down and collect yourself.  It’s these kinds of races where everything seems to go wrong that you find out what type of athlete that you really are.  Do you keep getting up when it seems you’re always falling on your face, or do you just stay down.  We are capable of more than we think we can do.  We just have to keep getting back up.  We need to have faith and you have to believe in yourself that we are going to get across that finish line.  It’s been a while since I was in that position, so it was a nice reminder out there that I still got up, and crossed that line.

 

Realizing the Past, Reaching for Tomorrow

This past week has been nothing short of amazing.  Most people who know me these days know very little of my past before my weight loss and life transformation.  They only know of my earlier years of my Transformation Tuesday posts, or reading my blog archives.   Looking at me today, you couldn’t even tell how troubled I was inside.  I’ve been very public with everything that’s gone on in my life, and it’s really helped me move forward through everything, and not feel shamed by any means.  If it’s one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t please everyone, you can only do your best and have faith that in the end you’re going to end up where you thought you were.

Back in the mid-2000’s to 2011 I was running my own IT consulting business working insane hours sometimes up to 90 hours a week.  The weekends would come and I would do what most single adults do.  Go out with friends to the bars to unload from a hectic weekend.   It was like that old Bill Cosby standup routine when he talks about the weekends.  I’d get totally smashed, and not have a care in the world what was going on around me.  I had this who mentality that I was king of the world and that everyone liked me, because I was funny.  This also made me forget about the fact that I was overweight and unhappy with myself.   Now, I didn’t blame being unhappy or overweight on anyone else.  I knew I had control over both and I chose not to do anything about it.  In the process of this perpetual cycle of mine I made the choice to drive home under the influence.  In fact most adults who get behind the wheel after 1 drink and not driving for 1 hour after drinking it, are driving under the influence.   I just got caught, not once, but twice.   I make no excuses of it, it was my actions and my choice no matter how poor it was.  Even after that 2nd DUI I continued to drink, just this time I didn’t drive.  Insanely enough I moved to Pacific Beach where I partied and I just walked home instead of drive home.  There were times where I’d wake up in bushes and in bed wondering, how on earth I got here.

It wasn’t till about December 2011 that I woke up one morning in the hallway that something happened.  I managed to make it to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and I asked myself “What the hell am I doing?  There has got to be more to living life then being happy with your job, going out and getting smashed, and waking up not remembering what happened the following night.”  The following day, I started looking at other possible career fields where I didn’t have to work 80-90 hour weeks.  I started using my 24hr Fitness membership that I’d been paying for, for the last 5 years.  I was up at 4:30AM and in the gym at 5-6AM so that I could get it in before work.   Most of all though I quit drinking, cold turkey.  It was hard, ok it was really hard.  I stopped meeting my friends at the bars and in doing so I often wondered if I was being selfish.  At first it really bothered me that maybe they would hate me or look down upon me for making the choice to not hang out with them.  Then finally I hit a break with a new job, it was a step down in terms of where I was on the IT world, but at the time I didn’t know the wealth, and the profound life change that I was about to embark on.  I took the leap of faith and took it.  All of a sudden I was working an 8-5 job Monday through Friday.  I took a big pay cut, but I got a personal time raise.  By now I was a few months sober, I’ve done the time for my DUI’s to the State of California, and I was a much happier man.  With all the changes going on, I was down an incredible 50lbs and back under 300lbs (again).  Over time I’d lost contact with the people I went out with all the time, but yet new people found their way into my life as I made other things more important in my life.  I was on my way to the next chapter of my life.

In 2013, thanks to a friend that I met on one New Year’s Even night, I signed up for my 2nd triathlon in my life.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this race would change my entire life from the moment I walked out the door.  It was the ITU Triathlon in San Diego, I had so much fun, and I found my calling.  Some people call it the bug, but there was just something inside of me that knew I had to be a part of this sport at some capacity, even if I was just a slow fat guy.  I joined the local triathlon club, Triathlon Club of San Diego aka TCSD where to this day I have met some of the best people on this planet.   I got involved, and began volunteering as an Open Water Swim Coach with their BOWS (Beginner Open Water Swim) group on Thursdays.  I started volunteering at races as a swim buddy to encourage those afraid of the water that they could finish the swim and be a triathlete.  I’ll remember my first time swimming with someone.   She finished the swim, took off her googles and tears came down her cheek and then she gave me a big hug and said “Without you there, I don’t think I could have finished.”  I had to tell her to go finish the race, and off she went.   That moment was more rewarding than all the nights out drinking combined.  I got teary eyed from it and knew that I found where I belonged.  Since then it’s now 2016, I’m still a volunteer swim coach with TCSD, I still volunteer at races when I’m not racing.  I’ve found that watching people achieve their dreams of completing a triathlon when they didn’t think they could.  So when I found out that because of my past DUI’s that I couldn’t get the some of the coaching certifications, I knew it was time to see how I could get them removed.

At the time when I got the DUI’s it really didn’t impact me much, so I didn’t even worry about getting them expunged as it’s called.   I looked into what I had to do, and I had to get some letters of support from my peers.  So I asked on Facebook of people who’d write letters of support.  I figured I’d only get a couple of responses, but what I got was completely overwhelming.  People I hardly knew to people that I went to high school with have come out in show of their support to have the DUI’s expunged.  I knew that not everyone would agree with me asking to have some wrong choices removed so you can get to a better future.  However, you don’t know how far you can go till you try, so that’s what I did this week.

2015 – A Look Back

It’s been a while since I last wrote and for good reason there has been a lot of things going on since I did Ironman Louisville.  Moved into a new apartment with the girlfriend, finished my IRONMAN Certified Coach certification, finished up my Advanced Nutrition Diploma, enrolled in my local community college for their nutrition program, and got signed up for my US Masters Swimming level 1 and 2 certifications.

What a year 2015 has been.  Back in January I had a general direction of the year I wanted to have and I knew there would be some choices that I had to make.  Some where easy, and some where hard, but I didn’t have any idea that I would end up where I am now.  I am ending the year as an IRONMAN Certified Coach, USMS ALTS (Adult Learn to Swim) Coach, and soon to be Holistic Health Coach.  Through my weight loss and life transformations of being a drinker to now I’ve inspired many people to take control of their own lives and that it’s possible.  I have a great girlfriend whom I love and we recently have our own place.   Now I didn’t have an exact plan for anything, but I had a nice general direction.

I lost a good friend this year Darryl and while we lost contact as I tried to get my life back on track and he was getting his life on track there I’ll always remember his laugh.  I regret losing contact with him, but sometimes things do happen and you can’t beat yourself up over them.  I had to get my life in order for me, and the important part is that each one of us is better for knowing each other.   As long as I can remember his laugh, he’ll always be around.  I also had the chance to visit my dads grave when I did Ironman Louisville and say some final thoughts to a man I didn’t really know, but felt that there was some closure to an unknown and unfinished chapter in my life.  Thankfully I don’t let things get me down, and I’m able to keep myself up and keep going.

When I look back though I can only see so many positive things that have happened to me, which has been a direct reflection of the positive things that I’ve tried to do for other people.  My mentality has always been “Lead by Example”, and so far it’s inspired more people then I could have ever imagined.  As I slowly start to build my coaching business both for health and wellness and endurance multisport the basis for everything I do is to stay positive and have faith in yourself both mentally and physically.   In the words of the late Greg Plitt “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is just enough!”

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.

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.