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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Road to my First IM..........Part 1

21 June 2011-

With IRONMAN Korea just 12 days away I figured I better get started on this blog that I wanted to post before I started my first IM. I think I will break it up into 3 or 4 parts and explain where I came from and where I plan on going. I will break it down into the last couple of years of training and where it all started. I figure the easiest way for me to reflect back is to do it by military assignments, and fortunately there has only been 3 since I started all this craziness. One of the most frequent questions that I get is, "What/How/Who got you into this?"

So the journey began in December of 2007, well that is when the thoughts of doing a tri crossed my mind. I got a random email with a flyer about a tri on base in June of 2008. I thought perfect, I have leave planned to go home in June and I was getting on the chunky side, yes for some of you that is hard to believe but I was close to 185lbs. I was staying somewhat active my first year in Korea, well if you consider playing Volleyball once a week and then drinking 2-4 nights a week active. Yes, Korea is known for its drinking, I can tell you skip 4 years of college partying go to Osan for ONE yes ONE year and you will get 4 years of college partying out of the way. So I drank quite a bit, wouldn't say I had a problem, but I was just tired of waking up hungover wasting the days away and not being productive.

I found a beginner tri plan online, picked up a cheap $250 bike and it all began in March 2008. I started riding with the local group of roadies and was getting my legs torn off for the first couple rides, well months. They all feared the beater bike that I had as the rear wheel was so out of true it wobbled from side to side and creaked like crazy. No one wanted to ride behind me as they feared this wheel was going to just come apart right in front of them. I finally upgraded two weeks before the first tri and did my first century on the Trek 1200 that I had purchased used. On that first century, me being the newb I was fell over about 25 miles into the ride, since I wasn't use to being clipped in. Pretty comical as everyone looked at me like I was a complete idiot, but I guess everyone has done it at least once ;)
Really, Who rides in basketball shorts, a t-shirt and reflective vest? I am surprised they even let me ride with them ;)The first bike, AKA A POS, A CLUNKER!

The first tri came and went and then I really got the bug. I went home on leave and lined up a bike to borrow from my uncle and signed up for another tri. That was my first open water swim, and both of my parents feared that I was going to drowned, well I thought it was a possibility as well as I was out there doggy paddling, side stroking, treading water and so on. Yes the swim has been my weak point since day 1! I got back from leave and met an awesome guy, which I have referred to before as "my logistical manager", Des. This is when all hell broke lose. From June-November I raced 16 different events, which included my first Marathon. To look back on that experience and how DUMB it was, click HERE. I didn't include it in there, but the longest run I had before that Marathon was an 18 miler, 4 days before. Then other than that was a half marathon the weekend prior and a few 5-6 miles run before that. Yes, I was young and dumb, well I still am, but I am slowly learning ;)
The first race, really who races topless? What a newbie!

All of my races throughout 2008 took place in Korea with one race at home while I was on leave. I was scheduled to depart Korea in April of 2009, so I signed up for my first Half IRONMAN with China 70.3. I came across a great deal over the winter and picked up my first tri bike with the Cervelo P3C. I got it on closeout and could not believe the deal I got on it and was really happy to be on a fast bike for my first big race. I went to China somewhat prepared as I had been training with some great people all winter long and was probably not properly trained, but I followed once again an online beginner plan and then did some other stuff on my own. I went to China really wanting to qualify for the World Championships, I had no idea how hard or easy it was going to be. I just thought I was in good shape, little did I know how rough of a day it was going to be and in what decent shape I was in. The one thing that saved me is that it got HOT, if you don't remember check out the race report and pictures. So I got that slot to the World Champs and had a great race for my first 70.3, well a great finish, I wouldn't call it much of a race.
Picking up the AG Win in China and the WC Slot to Clearwater!

So with all of this time spent in Korea there were some very very inspiring/influential people that impacted me and that have contributed in someway to where I am today. I owe it to them for shaping me into the athlete I am today, this has been a journey and without them it would not have been possible. So in no particular order, the people that were along for this portion of the journey:

Family- You guys have been along for this crazy ride the whole time. The support that you have provided is amazing and of course I would not be where I am today without you!

Col Becker (now General Becker)- For starting the sprint tri on base and being a mentor for me throughout the whole stay in Korea. Truly inspiring to see you at your "young" age still take it to us young guys and tear our legs off. To have a second family in Korea was really nice, for you and Sherri to open your house up for the Holidays really made me feel like I was at home, Thanks!

Mark- Once you arrived in February, everything went into fast forward and we trained HARD. You pushed me day in and day out and it was always a guarantee that you would show up for a workout. Crazy how fast two people can become great friends, but I guess when you spend crazy amounts of hours putting miles in that tends to happen. You and your family are truly amazing and you are an awesome role model that I look up to!

OC- Man o Man did we have some journeys throughout Korea. For making the trip out to Cali for WF and for all the memories, it was a good time.

Super Dave- For kicking my rear end on the bike day in and day out and teaching me the beginnings of becoming a cyclist.

Jeff- Man I was scared a few times you were going to run me off the road. You had to been tired of my newb ass the first couple rides always asking dumb questions ;) Thanks for making some awesome journeys throughout Korea and mentoring me on the tri scene!

Des- Dude you have been along on this whole journey. You have to be tired of all the favors I ask from you, but a lot of this wouldn't of happened without you there at Osan. I mean not being able to walk for a few days after my first marathon, I can thank you for that. Who convinces someone to run a marathon with no training...........YOU!

Eric- For making the journey out to China with me and experiencing that hell of a race. You have been a great mentor throughout this whole journey, thanks for all of your knowledge and expertise! Hopefully someday we will both be racing Kona together!

Tim R.- Once again another roadie that taught me about biking. Always good to share the road with you and enjoy some of Korea. I will never forget our stop at the Korean soup place out by the Ocean and how you didn't like sea food but still ate it.

Jess- For showing me what it was liked to constantly get "chicked" on group rides as you would tear my legs off. I was scared to go ride with you as it was never fun getting my legs torn off by you!

Shauna- For trying to make me a swimmer, I have come to the conclusion that it is a lost cause ;) I will get more into how great of a person you are in the next blog. But thanks for the great memories in Korea, and always telling me to get off the wall and swim more!

Tim L.- For being like Shauna and trying to make me a swimmer. I have come to the conclusion it is a lost cause!

Pyeongtaek Tri Club- These guys have been a huge help throughout all of my travels and racing in Korea. Without Mr. Yu and Bobby I would not have made it back from a few races or of gotten into some races. They have been an incredible group of people!

The Girls ;)- I won't name any names, juts that there were a few, very small number that put up with my craziness. I mean what kind of guy gets out of bed to go ride his bike and leaves a girl in bed on the weekend? Well I can say that the stupidity of that has paid off with the training and results, but not with the girls as obviously I am still single. But for the ones that put up with it for the time while I was in Korea I appreciated it!

Anyone else that I left off, I am sorry. It was a few years back and I am getting old so my memory is slipping me. The first couple of months were really just a blur as it seemed all I did was just race, well more than train, it has been said that when starting out you can race your way into shape, and it seems that I successfully did that without getting injured, lucky me!

So that was the first portion of the journey in a nutshell. I tried to keep it short and sweet and I am sure I left out some funny stories, but man it seems like that was a long time ago.

The group ride where everyone got to see me topple over. For some reason whenever we would have a century ride massive amounts of people would come out. I don't think we have this many roadies at Osan right now. Maybe all it takes is putting together a century and they will all come out.

Meeting Triathlon Olympic bronze meadlist Jan Rehula.
My first podium and AG Win!

Myself and Mr. Yu, this man speaks very little English, but he has taken me in as one of his own team members and has helped me out throughout all of my time in Korea. Great man and kick as Triathlete!

Well until I get around to typing up Part 2, this will have to do...........

Monday, June 13, 2011

Silicon Valley LC RR- All for the Family!

11 June 2011- Silicon Valley Long Course Tri-

So with IM China being canceled it meant a change to the schedule. I was able to come home early and get in one more race before my first IM. The race was a little akward on distances but it worked out quite well for me and suited my strengths. It was a 1 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 9 mile run. They had a military discount and on top of that I was able to use a discount code for 15% off. So all in all I ended up getting into the race for $142, which isn't too bad for a long course race. It was also only a few miles from my brothers new condo so I stayed the night there and then got a short warm up ride to the race start the morning of.

I have been racing all of my races now with a purpose and it makes them so much more meaningful and gives me a reason to push myself. Before this race I wanted to race for my family, for the simple fact of how much they support me. I also knew that all of them were going to be there for the race and that meant a lot for me. It is very rare to have them at my races since I primarily race out of the country. Knowing that they were all going to be there for some reason made me nervous, I have never been nervous before a race before. I didn't sleep all that well the night before and maybe got 2 hours of sleep.

So race morning came and I woke up and hung out with my brother and had breakfast bright and early at 4am. I got a good meal in, the typical cup of coffee, 2 instant bags of oatmeal, a banana and a sports drink. Also kept the streak alive and took care of business. So the morning went well and the short 15 minute ride to the race start was nice and loosened up the legs a bit.

Swim- 1 Mile-
It was a 2 loop swim course with each lap being .5 miles and going around a small island. It was in a lake so there was no chop and it was smooth water. I was in the first wave with 18-34 Males and we had a decent size wave. I came out of the first loop in 2nd place, which I didn't know till after the race. I was kind of shocked by that as my swim is my weak point but is slowly improving. After the second loop I came out with 2nd and 3rd place swimmers and was in 4th. A few other guys from later waves got around me and smoked the swim so I ended 18th overall with my swim time.

Bike- 56 Miles-
It was a good ride with some great scenery. It was a little windy though and had 2 good climbs which had some switchbacks on it. Overall it was a good bike and there were 3 of us that legally worked with each other for a majority of the ride. I ended up dropping the 2 of them around mile 40 but then at mile 45 I had to stop and pee and they got around me. Took a couple more miles down the road and I ended up re passing them. Overall I felt really strong on the bike and was happy about my time and 5th fastest split on the day.

Run- 9 Miles-
With the run being 9 miles I was a little bummed as the full 13 would of been better suited for me as my run has become quite strong. The plan going into the run was to negative split and build into it. This is something that is pretty difficult to do but some of my run training has included some training with negative splitting the run so I felt like I could do it going into the race. The first 4.5 miles I went 28:18 and then for the second half I went 27:26, for a total of 55:44. I was able to run down 3 of the 4 guys that were ahead of me and crossed the line in 2nd. But due to the wave starts there was a 47 year old that finished within 2 minute of me but he started 9 mins after I did so he ended up winning the whole thing and then the guy that had crossed the line first came in 2nd overall. I ended up being 3rd Overall and running hard of the bike was a key to the successful day.

Swim- 23:51/18th

Bike- 2:25:50/5th (23mph/avg)

Run- 55:44/3rd (6:12min/mile)

3:47:28/3rd Overall out of 307/1st out of 21 in AG

I felt like this was my best race to date and I was able to put everything together and have solid performances in each event. I felt like I had nailed my nutrition as well which was something that I wanted to make sure was squared away before IM Korea. This was definitely a huge confidence booster going into my first IRONMAN and I can not thank everyone enough for all of their continued support. My family has been great, my coach has been there to keep me going when things got tough and then all of my friends, you guys are truly amazing!

The bike all setup in transition area.

Coming out of the water 2nd in our wave on the first loop, the guy right behind me was in 3rd.

Coming out of T1.

Headed out onto the run...

Bottle of wine and a Clean Water Bottle......Hopefully wearing that bright blue shirt on all these podiums will get us some more triathletes into the AF ;)

Mamma Weez and myself.

Bryan, Steve, Mom, Maddy and Me

Brenda, Me, and Dad

The 3 of us. Man I miss these 2 when I am gone! She can be a typical little sister most the time but I still love her to pieces!