On Wednesday this past week I opened the paper to see an article that highlighted the staggering number of obese persons in the U.S. That number has increased in dramatic proportions over the past 10 years. I began to wonder if I would have been included in that statistic had I not made that decision to go "all in" back in 2008. It is why Jen and I are adamently supporting the cause called "Live Uncommon". We hope to inspire people in our community and beyond to live active and healthy lifestyles while maintaining balance in a busy life. Visit http://www.liveuncommon.org/ to see what it's all about. You can make a difference. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!
Monday, July 11, 2011
Time to reflect...
On Saturday I was out for a 106 mile bike ride and as I made a turn in the last 20 miles I crossed paths with local triathlete Tom Fitzpatrick. Tom and I rode together for about 15 miles and as we talked he shared a story with me that made me reflect on how far I've come in the past 3 years. Tom recalled a story from 2008. Going into the summer of 2008 I had always trained and raced in the summer but really let myself get out of shape during the school year. I was teaching full-time and coaching 3 sports which was basically the entire year. Jen gave birth to Payton on June 1 of 2008 and I was in pretty sad shape. I was weighing nearly 200 lbs. and I thought I was in such bad shape I should probably not race that summer. I got a phone call from a guy named Stephan Marsh who had recently graduated from the University of Iowa. Stephan had been doing triathlons for 1 year and wanted to get together for some training in 2008 while he was home for the summer. I told him I was in terrible shape and didn't think I would race that summer. He said, "You don't have to race, but at least come train with me so you can get back in shape." I reluctantly took him up on the offer. I vividly remember the first time we got together to ride. I asked him how far he wanted to go and he said, "50 miles." 50 miles!! That was about 20 miles longer than my previous long rides in the years past. I went with him on this early June ride and made it all 50 miles. I had a sense of accomplishment...doing something I didn't think I could do. After training with Stephan for a week I decided to sign up for the QC Triathlon. The next week I recall going to the track with Stephan for 8x 400 meters in 85 seconds. I was hurting so bad I had to abandon the workout mid-way through and just cheer him on. I went into the QC Triathlon weighing 196 lbs (as you can tell from the picture...and yes, I know I should not have worn the short jammer). My wetsuit was only supposed to fit someone up to 188 so it was a BIG stretch to fit in it. Tom recalled that during the race he got on the bike and could see me up the road. He reeled me in and passed me and went on to beat me by about 30 seconds in the race. I finished 17th. Results from that race can be found by clicking here. Over the next 4 weeks I trained like crazy with Stephan. I gained lots of confidence. I changed my eating habits. My good friend Chris Coon had placed 4th in the QC Triathlon and told me if I wanted to lose weight I needed to start running more. I took his advice and the weight started coming off. I was losing 3-4 lbs. each week. I went to an Olympic Distance race in Burlington, Iowa about 4 weeks after the QC Triathlon. I had lost about 15 lbs. I was feeling much better. I placed 4th in 2:07:44. Although this was a big improvement for me it was still 11 minutes behind rookie pro triathlete Daniel Bretscher from Indiana. Tom Fitzpatrick was also at the race. He was ahead of me after the swim but I passed him early on in the bike portion and went on to beat him by about 20 minutes. He recalled how he couldn't believe in a month's time he had gone from beating me to finishing 20 minutes behind me. Results from that race can be found by clicking here. After this race I recall some guy I didn't know coming up to me at the end. He said, "Wow, that was an incredible performance!" I said, "No, you must be mistaking, I didn't win. Those guys over there all beat me." He said, "I know, but look at you...I don't want this to sound bad but you are a big guy. You are carrying a lot of extra weight. Those guys are all 5% body fat. What are you?" I hadn't thought about it because here I was in a race where I had just lost 15 lbs. and yet I was still overweight...and it was noticable." I was probably still near 20% body fat. He asked me if I had ever tried losing weight...not realizing I had just cut 15 lbs. over the past month. That conversation stuck with me. I talked briefly with Daniel Bretscher about being a pro triathlete. He is still a pro triathlete and one I really look up to. All of a sudden the wheels in my mind were turning. I knew how much improvment I had made in just one month. I started to wonder how much improvment I could make if I trained every day through the year like I had over the past month. How fast could I be if I ate healthy and didn't get fat through the year. The more I thought about this over the next couple weeks the more obsessed I became with the idea of giving it a shot. I had a vision of how fit I would be...how different I would look. I knew it would mean that I would have to resign all three of the coaching positions I had. I began to look up results of pro races and I thought..."This is something I can do if I devote myself to the sport." I had this BIG DREAM of becoming a professional triathlete..and it seemed so far away. In early August I went to meet Jen at lunch at the Arsenal. I was as giddy as a teenager who had just talked to a pretty girl. As we were eating lunch I shared with her what I had been thinking about the past couple weeks. I asked her what she thought and she was 100% supportive. I was in. Following the fall cross country season (my last in coaching) I began the journey on November 3 with a goal of becoming a professional triathlete. The next October I won the Longhorn 70.3 amateur race earning the right to turn professional. I knew there were many people who questioned whether or not I was really good enough to belong in the professional division. It was then that my goal turned to proving that I belong in the pro division. To date that goal has not been achieved. Next Sunday, I'll be competing in the Ironman Racine 70.3 event and I intend to prove I belong. I am currently as confident as I've ever been going into a race. My fitness is beyond anywhere I've ever been. I am where I envisioned myself being fitness wise 3 years ago when this crazy idea was going through my mind. Now it's time to execute. I just finished another great week. 60 miles running, 287 biking, 16,500 yards swimming. I did my tempo run with Super Mom during a 4 mile race in Eldridge on Saturday called the Moonlight Chase. She set the course record by about 25 seconds running 23:14. My tempo pace is about 5:45/mile right now which happens to be my goal 1/2 IM run pace. We were a bit fast through mile 1 (5:34) and then ran about 5:50's the rest of the way. It felt so relaxed and easy. I kept thinking if I can get off the bike with decent run legs I can sustain this pace for the rest of the race next weekend. My goal for the race is to swim 28:00, bike 2:12, and run 1:18. Adding in transition times that would put me in the 4 hr. 2 minute range. If everything goes perfect I may be able to be a little faster than that but expecting a perfect race is tough. The race can be tracked at Ironman Live at http://www.ironman.com/. On Sunday you will see a link for Racine and if you click on the Live Results they typically update the splits as the race is happening. Some of the races have multiple timing mats during the bike and run portions so you can track the progress through the race. If you click on my name in the results it should give the splits. I'm doing a 5 day taper for this race which begins on Tuesday. It will be the most rested I've been in 8 weeks and I expect a good result.