Tag Archives: rewarding

$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.

 

Believe in Yourself… ACHIEVE GREATNESS

Base ProgressionFirst half marathon ever back in 2008, couldn’t run 1 mile without having to walk.  Took me over 3 hours to finish… 3:16:09 to be exact.  Every step I took was filled with a constant battle of a version of myself saying “This is stupid, I’m no runner.  I’m Fat, these people are fast.  I don’t belong here.”  The other version saying “If that guy can do it, you can do it.  It might take you all day long, but you will cross that finish line.”  Back then I couldn’t run 1 mile without having to walk.  So I walk/ran, I ran what I could and then walked till I could run again.  I did a 5K earlier that August in my quest for weight loss with a time of 37:45 and I wanted to die afterwards.  In fact after both races even though I finished, I let that negative self-talk tell me that in fact I was not a runner.  I made up my mind that I hated running.  For 2 years I let this train of thought derail my weight loss and I stopped running all together.

Then in 2010 I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon again (pictured above on the left).  I had some friends sign up and they wanted me to run it with them.  I agreed to.   Here I was faced with the same voices in my head, negative and positive.  This time I couldn’t run at all… I walked my way to a 3:49:01 finish.  That’s right, I walked all 13.1 miles.  There was a level of dissatisfaction in knowing that I couldn’t run a whole mile.  I felt deflated and let down.  I wasn’t proud of finishing in a little under 4 hours.  I let the negative self-talk win again for years to come.  I didn’t have any guidance from anyone.  Social Media was just starting to take off, and it’s nothing like it is today for people.  I kept telling myself I have to try harder, and when I failed I’d beat myself up over it.  Most people know how it goes… I’m not good enough, I’m too fat, I don’t belong here.   Almost everyone who’s overweight knows that mentality.  We believe that this is OK, and that if we aren’t hard on ourselves no one else will be. We see what the fitness industry puts out as the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality, or the CrossFit mantra that you need to have bloodied shins or hands.   No one tells us right off the bat, that this is wrong and destructive.  It’s not just destructive to our bodies, it’s destructive to who we are.

I let this mentality drive me to the gym every morning.  I lifted the weights, I ate according to what the “experts” said in the articles.  Nothing was changing, the scale was the same number week in and week out… 270-290lbs.  My body fat% was stuck in the same rut of 21% to 25%.  Like anyone who’s trying to lose weight, this infuriated me more than someone cutting me off.  I’d frantically look at what I was eating, what I was doing to work out.  I know I chatted the ears off some friends over it as well.  None of it made sense, and I didn’t pay any attention to it at the time.  I neglected how I thought of myself and how I thought of how I approached things.  I not once thought of how my negative mindset was like shooting myself in the foot on a daily basis.  Sadly this was not the defining moment where my life changed and I had that a-ha moment.  I let this continue into triathlon training.  It got me through training, racing, and training.  Inside it was the same frantic beat myself up over it.  The search through the data revealed nothing, so I’d train even harder.  I knew the saying, you need  time to recover yada, yada, yada, but I didn’t believe it.  Remember… no pain no gain.  I knew the workout smarter, not harder stuff.  I didn’t believe it, and I made the excuse that it didn’t pertain to me because I was fat.  Fat people didn’t have the luxury to recover.  We can rest/recover when we’re dead.   I rationalized it all with “I’m harder on myself than anyone else.”  I didn’t do it publically either.  I did it when no one else was watching.  We and I, in my opinion make/made up reasons to keep thinking that way and give us a way out, “I’m trying to, I’m a work in progress, or I can’t”.  Les Brown has a saying that when we fight for our limitations, we can keep them.   That is what I have done and many others continue to do.

Finally, at some point down the road I started to embrace that I wasn’t ever going to be a fast triathlete.  Yes, I was a fast Clydesdale triathlete, but I wasn’t a fast triathlete.  It probably was the best and most profound choice.  It was around this time that I actually started to believe in myself.  I embraced “I might not be fast, but I’m doing it, and I’m having fun!”  I was able to change my entire mindset towards everything.   When I stopped worrying about how fast I was, it was a whole new world that opened up.  I stopped worrying about being lean and thin, and just let my body do what it was going to do.  Sure enough it did, I changed my diet to be more metabolically efficient.  It really aligned with how I look at food for fuel now, instead of some having to be some pleasurable experience.  Good things were starting to happen.  It might have been while I was training for my first Ironman that I started to really believe in myself.   There is something to be said that changes you when you start physically going farther than you thought you could.

When you realize there is good in you, you start to see the good around you as well.  Then good things start to happen TO you.  It starts with realizing that there is good in you.  You can hear it from all the people in the world, but if you don’t believe it, it won’t mean a thing to you.  Why is that?  Because you’re so blinded by disbelief that you can’t see it.  As a friend says “fantasy land”  I had that frame of mind as well at one time.  We call it fantasy land because we are so blinded by our ways that we decided that we can’t accept it another way.   It’s not a fantasy land at all.  We see it all around us in every day life.  Facebook is really big with this we see a wilderness picture with a nice saying on it, then a few thousand likes.   What we need is a believe button, how many people believe this?  Embrace your faults, be kind to yourself, be positive, the list goes on and on.  It’s POSSIBLE, for you to love yourself and NOT be seen as a narcissist or self-centered.  It’s NOT bad to love yourself.   All of a sudden more weight started to come off more as I stopped fixating on what I ate to what the experts where saying, and I ate according to what I felt was right for me (#metabolic efficiency). Just so you know I just ate 2 whoopee pie’s from last night all at once (yes I enjoy food at times).   My training started to get better and better.  I finished my 2nd Ironman slower than my first and with an injury.  I didn’t beat myself up for it, I didn’t look at what I didn’t do, I didn’t have that negative mindset through the entire race.  There was no voice that was saying quit, you can’t do this.

Then last month I was surprised to find out that Base Performance had chosen my Ironman Louisville finisher photo to be used in their ad in Triathlete Magazine (pictured upper right).  It wasn’t till I was writing this blog post that it came to me.  I DID achieve greatness that day.  I shed some of the demons that really plagued me through training, through racing, through weight loss, through diet missteps.   The ad is for Base Performance products, but for me it’s something completely different.  It’s the defining moment to date for all the blood, sweat, tears, and mental fights I’ve had with myself to overcome my own hurdles.  That picture and phrase together, show me that no matter what comes my way, I will over come it.  It might not be easy, I might fail a few times, but I’m going to overcome it.  I just found out that they are going to be using the same ad in next months magazine as well!

As several people have told me, and I believe them now.  You can tell by your smile that you’re a great person.  The picture in the lower right that I’m using for my book and I use for my health coach site (www.chrisholleyhealthcoach.com) really show that I am happy with myself, I don’t obsess over the negative around me, I look at the positive around me, and that I care about people’s health.

 

 

 

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.

Metabolic Efficiency Part 2–The Weight is Coming Off!

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So I started this whole Metabolic Efficiency thing at 243lbs back on July 21st and since then I’m down to 226lbs.  I knew the basics to it, burn more fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate.  I knew that it didn’t include counting calories.  I knew that it included the whole low-carb high fat diet.   I had my doubts about it, because it went against everything that you learn from personal training and in terms of fueling the body during long endurance sports.   I also know that 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories of energy and 1 gram of carbohydrate gives you 4.  So you have more than 2 times the amount of energy in fat then carbohydrate.  However, your bodies preferred method of energy is carbohydrate.

So how am I going to get my body to burn more fat and less carbs… well decrease the carbs and increase the fats!   Been doing this for 2 weeks now, and surprisingly I’m eating more spinach, squash, zucchini, and kale then I ever have before.   I’m eating more fish (I try not to eat beef, pork, or chicken), and I’ve reintroduced actually bacon and butter back into my diet!   Little did I know that even though I’m eating tons of greens/carbs I never really knew how low value of carbs they were and filling.   Stuffing my face with spinach and kale (about 2-4 ounces) every day is hard work.  You can see from my MFP (My Fitness Pal) screenshot that I eat… a lot.

MFP

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In doing so, I’ve actually started to become accustom to finding that I’m enjoying cooking more, and looking at more veggies, and the side effect is little to no sugar!  So you can see that even with 80 grams of carbs I’m still getting most of my energy from “healthy” fat sources.  You can see on there avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.   Now keep in mind yes I’m under my calorie goal by MFP… I don’t count calories so I couldn’t care less about it.

So what about my performance during my workouts?  Let’s just say that I can go 2 hours without needing anything besides maybe water and electrolyte salts on a hot day.  How do I know this?   Well I got a Metabolic Efficiency Profile test does that tells me what % fat vs carbohydrate I’m burning at various intensities.   I now know that if my heart rate is cruising at 151 (Z2) I’m burning roughly 75% of my calories from fat… and with 2000 calories of stored carbohydrate I’m going to go for a while.  If my HR is racing at 155 then I’m reaching that 50% cross over area where I’m getting half my energy from fat and from stored carbs.   So since I’m a slow runner I can now start increasing my effort while trying to maximize my fat burning engine so I don’t need to worry about all those sugar based drinks and gu’s out there that could cause all those wonderful GI issues.  So what do I take on those long training days that are 2+ hours?   I hate Generation UCAN, which is a super starch designed not to spike your insulin levels so you can keep burning fat, and not sugar.  Yeah it can get a bit goopy but so far, it’s working out great!

So now that the science behind it is out of the way, I’m 2 weeks into it.   I haven’t felt any energy crashes.  I raced Solana Beach Triathlon on nothing but water and felt great the entire time.  Took 4th in my division, I’m ok with that cause once again I’ve been training for an Ironman, not a Sprint.  I’m down almost 14lbs, mostly fat.  I’m sitting at approximately 18% BF and I’m feeling like things are falling into place.  Putting on some muscle to get some power back on the bike and I’ve never really ran at this weight for a long time so I’m going to be curious to see how my body adapts to being not just lighter but leaner.

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

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.