Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Road to my First IM..........Part 2

29 June 2011-

If you didn't read PART 1, here is the link: PART 1 LINK

As I sit here already packed 3 hours early for the departure back to Korea I figured I could knock out Part 2 of the 3 possibly 4 part series. So lets see, I left off with China 70.3 and leaving Korea. Seems like that was forever ago and in reality it was just 2 years ago, guess that is quite awhile.

So in transit from Korea to Turkey I had planned to come home and race some race called "Wildflower". I had heard so many great things about it I figured I should throw it on the schedule and go experience what everyone was talking about. OC had left Korea a few months before me and was out in Idaho. He made the trip over and we headed to WF to experience it the "right way", I say this because all first timers to this race should have to camp, but some people get RV's and live the "rich and famous" lifestyle while most people just camp. During this experience, which is by far one of the greatest races around the world, I met some great new friends. I had previously met someone in China just a few short weeks before the race and she was going to be there at Wildflower. We all camped together and I met one of her really good friends Amy. Amy has ended up attending WF the past 3 years now and has become a great family friend. The great thing about triathlon is all the great people that you meet along the way. So Wildflower was awesome and then off I went to Turkey.

WF #1, camping and this is OC crashing out in the camp site.....With aero helmet and all!

I had done a lot of research before getting to Turkey, and to my dislike there was not much of a racing scene. There were a few races on base here and there, and then I managed to find one triathlon about 7 hours away from base. I started up a local Time Trial series while there and we had a small group of riders and it was always a good time. I had 2 friends, who I became good friends with over my time in Turkey and we primarily trained together just running. So I was left out on the bike and the swim on my own. With the small amount of racing in Turkey, I managed to get into IM 70.3 Germany even though it was sold out. It was a great opportunity to travel up to Germany and stay with a previous friend from Korea. Shauna opened up her house and was my first official "home stay", her and Lucy were super excited for the race and were a huge help. It ended up being quite the journey as this is when I broke my radius in my right arm and Shauna had to play Dr. post race. This is when you know you have great friends, not only do they open up there home they take care of you when you get injured and then end up being high on percocet (Dr. prescribed of course). I would of been SOL if I was there in Germany all on my own, so I owe a huge thanks to Shauna and Lucy for taking care of me.

Leaving the race site I was able to grab a sign, definitely a race I will never forget! Thanks Shauna for taking care of me, O the memories of Germany!

After arriving back from Germany an advertisement popped up on the base website saying that USAFEurope was looking for runners for the AF Marathon and it was a paid trip back to Ohio. How could I pass up an opportunity like this? Well being young and dumb, marathon 4 weeks out, broken right radius, sure why not lets apply and see what happens........I go in way under trained but luckily had some early season miles in the legs and came out with just missing a Boston Qualifier Time, 55 seconds to be exact, but managed to be the #1 runner on the team. Awesome opportunity met some amazing people and had a great time.

Team USAFEurope at the AF MarathonBerlin and me with the guy that carried the flag for the whole marathon!

Then came my trip to Florida for the 70.3 World Champs, another great experience. Mom made the trip out from Cali and we got to hang out in FL for a few days. I also met up with Eric who I had met in Korea and raced with in China. Then there was Gary and Petra, who were out in Germany for the 70.3 who also made the trek to FL. It is amazing how some relationships are formed in such a short time and you can become great friends. Florida was a real eye opener for me showing me just how good the best in the World are at our sport and how hard you have to work to get to that level. Completely got my butt handed to me, but still walked away learning some key lessons.

Gary, myself and Petra in Florida!
After that winter hit and training became pretty boring. I had to commute 10 miles each way through some crappy parts of town to get to the university to swim. I rode my bike and it was always an adventure. I needed to stay motivated so I signed up for Wildflower Long Course, and planned my vacation around that race so that I could make it home for it. I had convinced Gary, who I met in Germany and then hung out with in FL to make the trek out for WF. It was a race that was on his to do list. Gary is in his mid 50's and is quite the inspiration. If I can be in shape like him when I am "that young" I will be very happy! Then Amy also joined in on the fun, she didn't like the camping scene too much the year before but luckily my parents came out and camped this year so we did it up like the "rich and famous" and went with an RV. It was actually quite nice to have a bed to sleep on, but like I said the first time WF people have to camp so they get the full experience. So back home to Cali and once again another eye opening experience getting my butt handed to me. I had heard the bike course was hard on the Long Course, but it wasn't the bike that was bad it was the pure misery of the hilly run course. All in all another great WF experience.

WF #2 with an RV and all! Myself, Amy, Gary

I got back to Turkey and well just when I thought the whole tour was a lost cause an awesome runner showed up. I already had Seth and Berlin to run with, but they were both married and I have a firm belief that family comes first and I completely understand that so there were times when they couldn't run due to family duties. Well Elissa showed up and she was single and an awesome runner. She has ran for the AF Academy and then for the AF Cross Country and Marathon Team. It was amazing to have someone with that kind of talent and experience on base to train with. I only had 3 months left but to be able to pick her brain on training ideas and actually be able to run with her a few days a week made things a whole lot better. When you have someone holding you accountable to show up it always makes getting out of bed easier. I was able to have her sit me down and lay out a training plan for my next marathon, which was suppose to be AF Marathon but that got changed due to having to head to Korea. We made some adjustments to the plan when AF Marathon feel through and I headed back to Korea to do my 3rd marathon with a goal of breaking 3 hours (if you don't remember how that went, it will be in part 3).

So all in all Turkey had its up and downs. It was not the best place to be for training/racing, although I met some great people out there. I was able to focus on school and take quite a few classes due to having a pretty laid back job. I was also fortunate to have a very supporting chain of command which allowed me plenty of opportunities to train and race and follow my passions.

Thanks to all of those people that were along for this part of the journey:

Family- You guys are there 24/7-365, anytime I need someone you are just a phone call away. You have been so supportive through this whole thing it is amazing!

Seth- Thanks for always giving me a run for my money and kicking my @SS! I will never forget us bartering with each other on what race to do so that we could both walk away with a new pair of shoes ;)

Berlin- Man did we have some good adventures, wish AF Marathon would of worked out for 2010. But I think the first one was quite a good time and then your first triathlon experience was another great adventure. All the best to you and your family and I look forward to training/racing with you in the future.

Elissa- What an awesome opportunity to be able to train with you and pick your brain on everything. It was amazing to be able to train with someone of your caliber and have someone constantly pushing me! Right now you are "faster" than me with your Marine Corps Marathon time, but I tell you I am gunning to take that record back ;) Keep up the hard work and look forward to our paths crossing again.

Gary- Pretty amazing how in less than a year we can race 3 different races together and become good friends. You are a true inspiration and I look forward to future races with you. I might just have to put IM Wisconsin on the list ;)

Amy- Pretty crazy how we met, but you are an awesome person. It is always great to chat it up with you and share stories. Thanks for filling in for me this year at WF and taking care of the family and sharing a few glasses of wine with my mom. Possibly next year I will be out for it??

Here are some pictures from this portion of the Journey:

Wildflower Prep race, UVAS Olympic distance race. Getting the bike ready with dad.

Part of the Incirlik crew at one of my last races before leaving. Berlin, me, Chad, Elissa, Jim.

No comments: