May 8, 2014

Flying Pig Half Marathon Race Report

Cue Music:  "The Hills are aliiiiiive, with the sound of...people passing out because they can't take one more step up the mountain"...but we'll get to that!

Mowed the grass Saturday morning, had lunch and then made the drive to Greensburg to meet up with Chuck and make the drive to Cincinnati.  Packet pickup was downtown in the Millenium Hotel and the expo was across the street in the convention center.  I can get to Cincinnati, but can NOT get around it very well.  We circled the block a few times before taking our chances on a $5 garage and made the healthy walk to the hotel.  Still not sure why packet pickup is in a separate location as we had no problem walking right in to the hall, right up to the table, being handed my packet and walking out.  Across the catwalk and into the expo we met up with Amy who had just arrived shortly before us.  We milled around the maze of tables and booths, but bought nothing.  Picked up our shirts, poster, special gift and were on our way.  The shirt was nothing special.  White Asics tech shirt with small font and not much color.  I liked the option to personalize the bib and I went with "TEAM REFUEL" when I signed up.

Drove 15 minutes across the river into Kentucky and met up with Mark, Janie and Parker.  Their friend Marty, along with TJ and Jennifer and Chuck's wife Staci filled out the reservation for 10 at the Knotty Pine on the Bayou!  Not sure how to classify the restaurant.  Looks like a dive bar on the outside, but priced like a specialty restaurant on the inside.  A menu dominated by deep fried, cajun style seafood was passed up for the only carb-heavy item on the menu.  And indeed more than half the table enjoyed the Blackened Chicken over Pasta!  I doubled down on the bread, skipped dessert and put away enough water to meet my steps goal for the day going back and forth to the bathroom. 

Chuck and I had arranged to spend the night at Mark and Janie's place, so we followed them back to their place and got settled in for the night!  (Thanks Team Culp)  Alarm was set for 4:40 a.m., but I couldn't wind down fast enough.  Watched some TV and finally dozed off somewhere south of 10pm.

RACE DAY!  I never get tired of that anxious, butterfly, morning of, feeling!  Doesn't matter how big of a race it is, I always feel the same way.  Putting on the race shirt, body glide, timing chip/bib, Garmin watch, calf sleeves and lacing up the shoes!  Awesome feeling.  (TMI warning)  The only better feeling on race morning is...that race morning poop!  (I warned you!)  And when you don't get to enjoy that moment...that's a problem...especially when you ate as much as I did the night before.  Oops!

No worries, we're off on the short 10 minute drive to Newport KY and surely the 2 mile walk to the start line will help this cause!  Mark assured us that this was the place to park because it would be easy to get out after the race, and it's closer to the finish line.  All great, but this was a LONG walk before you're about to run 13.1 miles!  We walked across the bridge and left Janie and Parker with our non race gear.  The crowd thickened as we got closer and closer to the start line.  At some point, we had to split up as Chuck and Mark were starting in a slower corral (or pigpen as they call it).  As I got into pigpen E, I found Amy who was looking relaxed as always getting ready to run the full, but left her quickly for the nearest port-a-pot.  No relief.  Dangit!  (Runners, you know what I'm talking about)

I had arranged to meet my college friend Jayson at the 4:20 pace group as he was running the full.  We met as planned and wished each other well while we took in the National Anthem and the countdown to the start.  I let him walk away from me so that I could start closer to the 2:15 and 2:20 pace groups.  My goal for the day was to go out around 10:00 pace until we hit the hills and just try and survive until the last 5k.  I really enjoyed the loud music and overall hype of the start line and felt very strong starting off despite being at over 5000 steps for the day already.  GO!

The first mile runs from Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Bengals) to the other side of Great American Ball Park (home of the Reds).  Doesn't sound that hard except the route turns a couple blocks North on a slight up hill where I watched my pace drift from 10:00 to 10:30s, but a nice downhill brought my first mile back to a 10:07 pace.  Mile 2 starts out Heading South across the bridge and into Kentucky.  The rise of the bridge required some work, but the fall on the other side made up for it.  Found the first water station and hit mile 2 with a solid 10:10 pace.  Right on track!

The Kentucky side of the course is quite boring.  Crowd support is dismal, and the scenery going away from Newport is quite drab.  A little rise and fall over a smaller bridge and I was already feeling a little winded with mile 3 dropping to 10:35.  Mile 4 brings you back across a different bridge (CW Bailey Bridge) and back into Cincinnati very near the start line.  Again the rise of the bridge was really exhausting me and the fall was welcome to get me back to a steady 10:37 on mile 4.

Insert imaginary wall!  And boom...hit it!  That's about all I had.  I found an aid station here and walked it for the first time while I downed my first gel.  Sure enough, just as I resume my stride, here comes Amy right by me.  A pat on the back and a how-de-doo, and she just motored right by me like I was standing still, and it was starting to feel like it too!  Mile 5 was a disappointing 12:17.  Not that there's anything wrong with 12:17, I just wasn't expecting to have that much trouble that early.

This is as good a time as any for me to mention my playlist for the day.  My music is one of the biggest motivators for me when I run.  I use many songs to match my cadence to (I prefer 150 bpm) and of course certain songs just "speak" to us.  I had spent a good hour adding new songs to the playlist this week and was excited to hear them come on throughout the race on my X-1 earbuds!  Problem:  When I started the race, it was stuck on "all songs", and I couldn't get it to changed to "Chris' Run" playlist.  Yes, all songs.  That means EVERY song that my wife and I have ever downloaded!  Let's just say, my wife and I have slightly different preferences on musical selections, and by this point in the race I thought I was about to start my period.  I can only handle so many slow mushy love songs and Glee soundtrack mash-ups on a normal day, but there's no room for that on the race course!

The 6th mile was one of my favorites.  The route takes you straight through the HEART of downtown Cincinnati.  We're on 7th street working between the skyscrapers and the crowd is THICK.  It reminded me of the Chicago marathon.  Shoulder to shoulder and three to four people deep gated off on both sides of the road.  Fans are screaming their heads off for you and you can't help but feel like a rockstar.  For as great as I felt at that moment, I felt twice as bad as I emerged from the other end.  I could see the mile 6 marker as we worked our way past the new Horseshoe Casino, but just beyond it I could see "the hill" waiting for me.  11:32 pace was all I could muster even with the boost from the crowd.

The area on the map is listed as Mt Adams.  I don't know who Adams is, but the Mt part was appropriately named.  I'm not sure I can put mile 7 in to words.  Keep in mind I had only done one 8 mile training run so far this year, so naturally I would be exhausted at this point, but I knew from the first step of the hill that I had nothing for it.  I immediately shifted into powerwalk mode.  My long legs are great for this and as I worked my way up the hill I got no relief from the slower pace.  Quick check of the watch has me walking at a good clip, around 14:00 pace, but quick check of the heart rate has me at 170 bpm and holding!  This is where my HR usually sits while I run a 10:00 pace.   If I'm walking, shouldn't the HR be falling?  Nope.  Straight up, just like the hill!  This was no small hill!  It just kept going up and up and up, until around mile 6.8 we got a slight break as we entered the park.  This was also the area of the relay exchange zone.  An impressive number of people doing the relay and therefore lots of cheering.  The course turns very scenic as we enter Eden Park, but the hills are relentless at one point bringing me nearly to a standing halt.  My Garmin shows mile 7 as a 161 foot elevation gain and 14:07 is as good as I could do!

But we're not done yet.  Mile 8 continues the climb.   A few more "landing areas" if you will, but no real relief.  It's honestly a bit fuzzy to me, but I think this is where I saw Elvis.  Seriously.  He was singing along side the road and many were stopping by for selfies with him.  Lots of fun.  Also remember a group of school girls playing violin that made me smile.  I was going slow enough I was able to take in a lot around me.  Again, my Garmin shows mile 8 had a 101 foot elevation gain and that explains why I could again only manage a 13:51 pace.

I found a little motivation over the next mile as we entered a small community.  The crowd thickens again with some of the best support of the course as the half and full courses split.  This is one of those areas I wish I had a video of.  The course literally Ts right into a large beautiful Catholic Church with the half going to the West and the full going to the East.  There are many ups, but just as many downs and with the increased crowd support, I picked up a little time on mile 9 with a 12:54 pace.

Believe it or not, we're still not to the TOP of the course yet, but we do get there during mile 10.  From the lowest elevation point near the river of 461 feet to this point at 816 feet!  I've climbed over 360 feet just in the last 4 miles.  Total exhaustion has set in at this point and I just couldn't make my body go.  Mile 10 matched my worst mile at a 14:06 pace.

Remember that big hill I had to climb at mile 7?  Well, now it's time to go DOWN the hill.  Seriously, as I round the corner and see the downhill, I smiled a little.  My long legs and heavy body literally began FALLING down the hill.  It was easy at first, but became more difficult the further down I got.  My toes began jamming into the toebox of my shoe, and my quads right above the knees were taking a pounding trying to control this fall.  As we neared the bottom it did flatten out a bit, but Garmin showed the elevation drop as 188 FEET!  At the earliest point of this mile I was running a sub 9 pace for nearly 4 minutes, but as it flattened at the bottom I turned in an 11:07 split for mile 11!

Mile 12 continues the descent.  In fact there is literally ZERO elevation gain in the last 5k.  ZERO!  It is ALL downhill!  Another 109 feet of elevation loss during this mile, you'd think I could keep that same kind of pace, but no.  I'm spent.  At this point, it's all a blur.  12:47 for my efforts of walking and running and I'm ready for this race to be over.  Just a little over a mile to go, and the course takes a disappointing out and back on Central Parkway before making the final descent toward Great American Ballpark.  Part of me thinks, "let's go, finish strong"; while the other part thinks, "what's the point?"  I check my watch and decide if I continue to alternate run/walk, I might get in under 2 hours and 40 minutes.  Not sure that was much motivation, but at this point, I'll take what I can get.  Of course my Garmin is measuring a good 0.2 long, so when mile 13 clicks off on my watch at a 12:30 pace, I've still got 0.3 miles to go.

I must say though, I love this finish line.  As you make the final turn on to Pete Rose Way.  You can see the "Finish Swine" (clever) ahead and the crowd is as loud as the music.  The entire last 0.2 is gated off so there's no risk of spectators running out in front of you, and you can really take it all in.  In addition to the shoulder to shoulder and 3 to 4 deep crowd on both sides, there are also many lining the catwalks, bridges and overpasses all around.  A literal stereo effect of cheers embrace me as I commit to jogging it in. 

When my foot hit the mat the clock read 2:39:59 (12:13 pace)  Again, not overly proud of this effort, but given the lack of distance training and hillwork, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

The post race celebration began with the bling.  I love the medal.  I needed the space blanket quickly as I felt
my body temperature dropping as the adrenaline left my body.  I was cold.  I worked my way around the corner to the recovery area.  Grabbed a banana and water but passed on all the other food...until I found SOUP!  Yep!  A Zoup booth was serving HOT chicken noodle vegetable soup!  Never seen that after a race before, my Lord it was GOOOOD!  And the 2nd bowl was just as good!  Yep, I plopped my tired butt down on a curb and helped myself to seconds!  (No Chocolate Milk, was a HUGE disappointment! - But they did have port-a-pots...YEP, FINALLY!)

Allergies were the other big issue of the day.  Much of my breathing problem came from the constant draining and blowing of my nose.  I had run out of dry corners of my shirt to blow my nose, and as I recovered it seemed to get worse.  I was blowing and blowing like crazy in the 30 plus minutes that I hung out waiting on Chuck and Mark to emerge.  When they finally did I learned they too struggled and fell short of their goal, and we were all ready to call it a day and get out.  Chuck helped me out by offering to go with Mark to find Janie to retrieve my belongings, and I happily let him as my legs were mush. 

So the Flying Pig lived up to its reputation.  HILLS!  I was shocked.  I ran the Geist Half Marathon in 2011 and thought that was hilly.  And last year when I ran the Nashville RnR Half Marathon, I thought that was hilly.  Both of those races had a higher total elevation gain, but each uphill had an equal downhill for your legs to recover and you could run the hills.  At the Flying Pig, I had nothing for THE HILL.

Now for the rest of the story.  It's the first weekend of May and I'm still carrying an extra 20 pounds from 6 months ago, and an extra 30 pounds from my lowest almost 20 months ago.  My clothes are not fitting as well, and I'm simply not happy with how I feel at this weight.  I returned home and immediately asked my wife for her help in holding me accountable to losing this weight starting NOW.  My good friend Pete is holding my feet to the fire on stepping away more and more to reset my mind and body, and I'm still torn over what to do next.

I have yet to sign up for Ironman Muncie 70.3 - The monetary expense is significant.  The time expense is significant.  The continued abuse of training is significant.  And yet, it still sounds "fun".  I need to make up my mind soon as we're nearly 2 months away from race day.  There's still time, but some decisions have to be made soon.  Stay tuned!

April 13, 2014

Carmel 8k Race Report

First thing first - THANK YOU to Indiana Vein Specialists and Dr. and Mrs. Jeff Schoonover for sponsoring my entry into this event for the second year in a row!  Your sponsorship of this event is appreciated by the event coordinators, community and athletes like myself. 

This race is first class and if you have yet to do one of the distances at the Carmel Marathon weekend, you simply must.  After having done the full marathon last year, I was content to do the 8k this year.  I didn't want to train long miles over this winter, but didn't want to miss this event, so the Carmel 8k is my first race for 2014!

Packet Pickup was Friday and Team Olson took care of that for me.  The shirts are great this year.  Tech as always and almost like a soccer jersey look to them!  I was impressed with how comfortable they are.  This one may go in my "just wear it, don't workout in it" pile!

Saturday called for a YRC 5:30 meet up and caravan from the Yorktown Middle School parking lot, and it was smooth sailing all the way into the Palladium parking garage by 6:35!  Gear up, stretch out, and hit the port-a-lets before the 7:30 start of the full and half marathons.

The usual suspects, Pete and Amy Olson, along with YRC president Ted Johnson lead the charge.  Shared our prerace rituals with John Mickle, Brad Wilson, Matt Harber, Mike Shunneson, Chris Smith (his first half).  We were able to meet up with Chuck Alfrey and his wife Staci, and I ran into my local friend Ryan Doyle as I checked my bag in prep for the 8:00 start of the 8k.

Once the half and full athletes clear out, there is plenty of room and time for another bathroom break and stretching.  The sun was now fully up, and I felt as good as I have felt in weeks at this hour!

Not the most dramatic start for the 8k, but we're off and with nearly 600 in this race, it is pretty tight on the short uphill start, so I took to the grass, but got back on the road before the first turn which is onto a nice wide roadway as we wind our way around to the monon.  It does get a little congested here as locals are coming at you on the trail, likely training for the upcoming Indy Mini. Mile 1 is here and for me a 9:12 mile, is about what I expected.

A water stop coming off the trail and onto a familiar road that I recall running in the opposite direction last year.  A roundabout and a couple hills including a nice downhill to the Bike Out of the Carmel Sprint Tri (been there, done that) help me hit mile 2 at 8:56.

The plan for the race was to negative split, and as we had to climb the hill to get to the downramp onto Keystone (yes, they ran us on Keystone), I struggled a bit.  And we climbed the offramp to get off of Keystone, I couldn't hold a strong pace for mile 3 at 9:36.  (If I had this mile back, I would have pushed harder on the downramp and watched the watch closer on Keystone instead of letting my mind drift into this "why does Carmel have so many roundabouts and exit ramps, get the idea)

Mile 4 is a literal out and back.  Half mile East to the last water stop at 3.5 and half mile West right back to the the Keystone interchange.  No serious hills, just some gradual inclines, and in my effort to negative split, I had my heart set on that 9:12 from mile 1 and clocked a 9:15.  Good enough!  Now all I need is an 8:53 last mile and I'll be there.

At this point my Garmin is measuring almost 0.1 long already and so I know it's going to be over 5 miles (and 8k is actually 4.96) - Again, I let my mind wander and started looking around, and by the time I looked at my watch with a half mile to go I was averaging over 9:30 that last mile.  I picked it up and could feel the legs resisting, but pushed all I had to get mile 5 back down to 9:14.  The remaining 0.06 on the Garmin had me screaming into the downhill finish at a 7:38 pace.

Garmin finish time 46:40 and a 9:14 pace.  (Since I've never raced this distance, that's a PR, right?) The results website has me at a 47:08 (9:29) pace.  I believe that is my gun time, not my chip time.  Doesn't matter much, except that this is the first race in a 3 part 8k series (Hoosier Park Triple Crown) that I'd like to continue with and they total my times.

Into the finish line, got my medal and looking for my chocolate milk!  I love it when the local distributors see me coming up with the REFUEL Team Chocolate Milk race shirt on.  They smile big, and high five and ask about it!  Got a wave from Ryan Doyle who bested me by a few minutes while I grabbed all the goodies offered and went straight to gear check to get my stuff.  I was anxious to see my text message updates for all my friends out on the long courses today.

Snapped a few photos and headed back to the finish area just in time to see Sophia Liu finish 3rd for the women's half (1:24:xx) - She was winded but looked like she could turn around and do it again.  Then ventured up to the VIP area (yes, I got the hookup again) and found my hometown friend Scott Caldwell helping in that area).  Spent some time catching up and saw Doug Elliott and Amy Ramsell finish.

As Amy finished I could see she was struggling and I ran to the finish area just in time to see her collapse into the arms of a Medical rep.  Helped her to the tent and stayed with her until her husband arrived.  She PR'd and gave it ALL to get there.  She was doing fine shortly after.

Saw Mike and Chris finish up the half as I checked my GPS to find Pete and Amy.  Pete was hoping to help pace Amy to a PR, but as he rounded the corner for home, she was no where in sight, and he said they didn't make it.  Pete finished around 2:15 and I jogged in with Amy shortly thereafter.  They both did great given the tough course.

No other PRs today.  Chuck's day ended early with a blood pressure issue that he's been dealing with lately.  John battled through a tough last 10k, but still impressed the heck out of all of us!  And Matt and Ted ran together the whole way and seemed pleased.  A handful of other facebook friends report being there and having great days too.  The Carmel marathon weekend is alive and well!  A beautiful course and city.  Looking forward to doing it again!

Legs didn't tighten up too bad all day and this morning feel pretty good.  We had great weather and I enjoyed this distance quite a bit.  I can see myself maintaining a base mileage to do this distance for many years.  I do wish I could have gone faster.  I was able to run a 8:24 pace in November over the 4.7 mile Drumstick Dash, and I could barely muster one mile under 9 today.  Now I need to focus on going further again as the Flying Pig Half Marathon is just 3 weeks away!

Thanks for all the support and love yesterday.  Was great to see and hear from so many of you!  Chocolate Milk Cheers!

March 30, 2014

To tri...or not to tri?

Cheers to a great Spring Break vacation week!

I've had a week away from reality to think and believe it or not, I'm debating retiring from the sport of triathlon...  Hear me out...

There are three primary reasons.

1)  Drive - The truth is I am lacking the desire to do the workouts.  I enjoy the sport, but it can't be accomplished without proper training, and I always promised myself that when it "stopped being fun", I'd give it up.  Have I done it all?  Well, I am an Ironman, and no one can take that away from me, but sure I could do more.  Varying distances, varying courses, and the ever present desire to PR, but...yeah, I may feel like I've done all that I want to do at this point.

2)  Time - They say time is money, and that is quite true for me in a commission based career.  If I leave work early to get that bike workout in before dark, or I'm late to the office because my swim workout ran long, I'm potentially losing money; taking food off my own table!  (and this sport is not cheap)  It potentially hurts me, and my family.  The Ironman experience last year took a toll on my family.  They sacrificed a lot for me to do it, and I owe it to them to "be there" this year, and every year going forward.  The kids deserve their father and my wife deserves her husband.

3)  Injuries - It's well documented that I have been dealing with back and hamstring injuries for over a year.  I pushed through them last year to realize the Ironman dream, but at 39 (and holding) it's time to get smart about the longevity of my knees.  I will likely remain over 200 pounds for most of my adult life, and at 6'2" I am just not the ideal size of someone that can do this for a lifetime and expect to avoid injuries to my lower body.  Big picture: I would rather have the ability to walk 9 holes in my seventies with my grandson than to PR my next race.

The argument exists that the third point relates more directly to running, and this weighs heavily on my mind too.  Should I give that up too?  I could, but that scares me!  What scares me the most?  Gaining the weight back.  I've packed on a good 25 pounds since Ironman Louisville.  That scares me.  But my wife has taught me much about the magic of "portion control"

This week I was declined entry into the NYC Marathon for the third straight year.  I am currently registered for the Indianapolis Marathon on 10/18 and want desperately to go under 5 hours at this race.  If successful, I may very well call it a career on the marathon distance as well.

In the meantime my plan is to continue my Muncie 70.3 training through the month of April and race the Flying Pig half marathon on May 4.  I am withdrawing from the RnR Nashville Half to save the legs for the Flying Pig, and after that race I will make the decision about the triathlon season giving consideration to all 3 of the above factors.

And now you know...

February 17, 2014


Start the train.  Fire up the engines.  Last call.  Fasten your seat belts.  It's time!

Well, not quite.  One week to go, but my body might be twitching with excitement.

I've gained several unwanted pounds since December and am anxious to watch them disappear.

I've been running well (for the most part) but have yet to spend any significant time in the pool or on the bike.

I literally have every mile/minute of the plan written down on a calendar covering every single day into November!  Triathlon training is the first focus gearing up for Muncie 70.3, then it shifts to all running.

Time to stock up on chocolate milk!!  It is an exciting time.  It is a stressful time.  It will require hard work and discipline.  There will be pain.  There will be tears.  There will be sacrifice.  But when it's's always worth it.

So, get ready!  The obnoxious daily posts are forthcoming.  If you find them motivating, then get after it with me!  If you find them annoying, there is a handy little "unfollow" button on facebook.

But first....VIVA LAS VEGAS!!  Yep, I leave Wednesday for one last hoorah in Sin City with the boys! 
When I's all hands on deck.  Full speed ahead.  No looking back.  No regrets.  No excuses.  Are you ready?  ALL ABOOOOOARD...Let's go!!

January 28, 2014


First thing, first - THANK YOU!

For as boring as my story is (guy gets fat, guy gets fit), it seems to resonate with many.  The number of folks that have contacted me in search of assistance and motivation makes it worth it.  (And being in decent shape isn't bad either)

Also, I've added another race to the calendar.  Thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Schoonover for allowing Indiana Vein Specialist to once again sponsor my entry into the Carmel 8k on April 12.  After doing the Carmel marathon last year, I've become a fan of this event, and just wanted to be a part of the weekend again this year.  By doing the 8k, I'll be eligible for an additional medal as part of the Triple Crown Series when I compete in the Hoosier Park 8k on May 24.

Sadly, I have opted to decline my entry to the RnR USA half in Washington DC on March 15.  It just hit to close to Spring Break to try and pull off that much travel away from the kids.  No worries here though, this allows me to keep working on my base work as we're just about a month away from the serious training schedule.  The back is feeling decent, but I will once again have to be careful this year.  Thanks as always to my sponsors Got Chocolate Milk/Team Refuel and Team X-1 Audio for the ongoing support.

Finally, thanks to my readers.  I will hit 12,000 lifetime views with this post today (my 141st post)  Pretty cool.  My blog has really taken off this last year with 8,000 of these 12,000 views in 2013. Here are some more interesting stats:
*Only 9500 of these views were in the US - Apparently I'm also popular in Russia, Latvia, Germany, UK, France, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, and Romania!
*The most popular post was "What is the Price of Being Healthy/Molly's Story" with almost 1000 views
*The second most popular was my Ironman Louisville race recap with barely 500 views (puts things into perspective - perhaps an update on Molly should be in the works)
*August 2013 was the biggest month with over 1500 views

Again, I'm so thankful to stay healthy enough to share my story, and I appreciate you all taking an interest in my life.  I welcome your comments and suggestions for improving this blog.  While it is my "public diary", there are surely ways to make it better.  Currently the kids and I are home on a "snow day" with a forecast high of 0 degrees today while Molly is "working" in Tempe, Arizona.  Looking forward to getting back to routines and seeing what we can all accomplish in 2014!

Cheers to making this a great year!

January 26, 2014

New Sponsorship

Sometimes, it's as simple as asking!

I am so excited to announce my newest sponsorship with X-1 Audio!  X-1 is a company I became familiar with last year when they offered Team REFUEL a free sample of their sweatproof and weatherproof in-ear momentum headphones.  A year later, I fill out a short application, and BOOM, I'm on Team X-1

X-1 is becoming very well known for the WATERPROOF headphones.  Yes, that's right, completely waterproof.  I know what you're thinking..."what's the point in water proof headphones if my music playing device is not waterproof?"  Guess what...they make a WATERPROOF case for that too!

Water proof case + water proof headphones = MUSIC WHILE I SWIM!  Seriously!  How awesome is this!  Check out the X-1 Interval 4g Waterproof headphone system for swimmers!  And yes, I get one of these with my sponsorship!!

Stay tuned for updates and product review of my favorite X-1 products!

January 11, 2014

What is Luck?

For Colts fans gearing up for the big game today, you probably think I'm referring to Andrew Luck!  And while I type this with my #12 jersey on, that's not what's on my mind.  In fact, the rest of this post will have nothing to do with sports, running, biking, or swimming (I know, right?)

Seneca once said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity".  I couldn't agree more. 

I've said for years, "I'm one of the lucky ones".  But as luck would have it, I spend more time stressing over things that are out of my control than I do counting my blessings for the things I'm lucky enough to have.

So how lucky am I?  Well, have you seen my wife?!!  But aside from that, I've never won the lottery.  Oprah never gave me a car.  I never spun the big wheel or placed a bid in the showcase showdown.  F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck".  I don't fully agree with that given that I've never survived a near death experience or escaped a burning building in the nick of time.  Those that have had that kind of luck need to look to a higher power instead of counting their lucky stars.

Perhaps my luck is what some would call "dumb luck", and I choose to believe as Douglas MacArthur said, "The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself".

So I share all of that to reveal this.

For the last 6 months I've been in ongoing talks with leaders in my firm to "go home".  Literally, I was born and raised in Connersville, Indiana.  An Edward Jones office has been in that town for my entire life, and this year, the long time financial advisor in that office will retire.  The office itself has played host to a legend in our firm, our own Managing Partner, James Weddle.  Jim was my grandfather's advisor and when he left, the current advisor came in and has been there nearly 30 years since!  I'm flattered to have this opportunity!

It's been over 20 years since I've lived in Connersville and it's not the same community it once was.  A declining manufacturing town with high unemployment and low socioeconomic undertones.  Yet, I'm proud.  Proud to be from Connersville, and proud to be a Spartan.  So when the opportunity came along to follow in the footsteps of many great advisors, I was more than tempted, I was ready to go!

Molly and I began our debate of pros and cons and she quickly informed me that she had no interest in living in Connersville, and I agreed.  The only way I could do this would be to commute...65 minutes one way...every day!  Ugh!  But for the right opportunity I would still consider it. 

Molly and I have lived here in Yorktown for 11 years now.  We are both deeply rooted in this community.  It is quickly becoming what we may forever call "home".   Ever had that conversation with your spouse about "when we die, where will be buried?"  yeah, me either, but when we do, I've got to believe that it could very well be right here in Yorktown.   I was a Spartan.  She was a Golden Bear.  3 children in 3 different school buildings, all on their way to graduating as Tigers.  How do we pick them up and walk away?  Away from our friends, their friends, and this community?

At the end of the day, every one has a price and, after 6 months of negotiations, I've decided my price is pretty high.  If they want me to move and take responsibility for this branch, I need a significant step up from my current situation.  I have an amazing job.  2.4 miles from my front door.  I can come and go as I please.  I can help my wife with unexpected mid day problems because I'm right here.  I can attend my children's school functions during the school day and after school.  I can take the day off and play golf or I can burn the midnight oil working late...and get compensated for the extra work I put in.  It's not an amazing's an amazing CAREER!  And you can't put a price on the freedoms that come with the position. 

Those freedoms didn't come easy.  I worked hard to get to this point in my career.  What I've built here in the last 12 years is not something I'm willing to walk away from easily.  It goes far beyond money.  It runs much deeper.  The relationships that I've built with clients.  The trust that they've put in me to help them.  I've watched clients move from a stage of loyalty to a point of dependency when they look to me for advice.  That's an amazing feeling.  A huge responsibility, and not one that I take lightly.  It didn't happen by accident, and it certainly wasn't luck.  It was hard work.  Dedication.  Discipline. Commitment. 

So at the end of the day, yesterday, I've made the decision to officially remove my name from consideration for the branch office in Connersville.  I've made the decision to stay in Yorktown.  Indefinitely.  This is where I belong.  And I'm thankful to have gone through this decision making process to realize that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.  Doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. 

Garrison Keillor said "Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which, once you have got it, you may be smart enough to see it's what you would have wanted had you known."

Yep, I'm still one of the lucky ones!

December 30, 2013

2013 Recap + 2014 Goals

2014 is just around the corner.  Someone can walk on a wire across the Grand Canyon, but we're still waiting on flying cars!?  I'll assume that someone else is making that their resolution, but I'm focusing on other things this year.

1/1/13 - I posted on New Year's Day my recap of 2012 with no mention of a resolution, but I was already in week 3 of marathon training for the Carmel Marathon, so I suppose I was already focused.

1/1/12 - I did post a resolution for 2012.  It was simple from the standpoint of training over 2012 miles, and I crushed that by going almost 2800 miles.  However, part 2 of the goal was to race Muncie 70.3 at 200 pounds and I missed that goal by 3 pounds!  (Spoiler Alert Hint)

1/1/11-  I truly made specific resolutions and was perhaps my most focused resolution, and I crushed every one of those!

So, what should I do this year?  How should I spend my time and what will I focus on?  I mean, once you've completed an Ironman, you kinda have that "I've done it all" attitude and ultimately the drive can easily disappear; especially when dealing with injuries like I have the past year.  Despite, that pain, it was an awfully good year.  Here is a recap of the recaps...

March 23 - Sam Costa Half Marathon - 2:05:46
April 6 - Henry County Half Marathon - 2:04:09
April 13 - First Choice for Women 5k - 25:25
April 20 - Carmel Marathon -5:02:20 (PR)
April 27 -Nashville Rock n Roll Country Music Half Marathon- 2:21:59
May 11 - Muncie Olympic Triathlon - 3:10:46
June 8 - Muncie Olympic Triathlon - 2:56:50 (PR)
July 4 - Chesterfield 5k - 26:17
July 13 - Ironman 70.3 Muncie - 6:16:10 (PR)
August 25 - Ironman Louisville - 15:15:23 (PR)
September 28 - Chase Charlie 5k - 37:07 (paced my daughter Morgan to her new PR)
October 27 - St Louis Rock n Roll Half Marathon - 2:17:12
November 16 - Full Beaver Moon 5k - 26:08
November 28 - Drumstick Dash - 39:29 (PR)

For the data geeks (like myself) - here are the totals for the year!
Run - 819.25 miles
Bike - 1557.4 miles
Swim - 46.46 miles
TOTAL - 2424.74 miles
267 hours, 39 min, 12 seconds
over 217,000 calories burned!

And every one of those totals is LOWER than 2012!   Now, this may sound strange to many of you, but the first goal for 2014, is to continue that pattern.  I want to run, bike, swim, and in general workout LESS!  But at the same time, I want to lose weight!  Specifically, I want to weigh less than 200 pounds before Ironman Muncie 70.3!

I only have two races that I want to FOCUS and TRAIN for this year.  And the focus is on two very specific goals.  The first goal is to PR my 70.3 time over last year's Muncie 70.3.  I will do this by spending the first two months of the year focusing on weight loss, coupled with  increased strength and flexibility.  I will spend some time on the trainer, and in the pool as well as on the treadmill and lifting weights.  This will all be complimentary to my real focus of losing weight.  My mistake last year was gaining too much weight in the off season, and I can sense that pattern beginning already as I am a good 15 pounds heavier now than I was when I finished Ironman Louisville at the end of August.  The training plan for me officially begins Feb 24 based largely around the 20 week plan found here.  Spring break will be a challenging week at the end of March, but once we return, there should be very little to stop me.

The second race I will be focusing on is the Indianapolis Marathon, October 18.  The goal is simple...under 5 hours!  I missed this goal by less than 3 minutes in 2013, and firmly believe it was a lack of consistent long runs.  I believe I can commit the time to this in the months of August and September and be well positioned to PR this race.  I chose this race by total accident when I stumbled into a great pricing deal for it.  Only one thing can change this goal...THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON?!?  The bucket list race that for the third year in a row I have entered the lottery.  If I'm fortunate enough to get into this race, I will simply offset the training plan two weeks later and make it work.  I am intrigued by Hal Higdon's 30 week Personal Best training plan.  And while 30 weeks would have me starting on the return from my Spring Break week; those first 12 weeks are primarily increased speed and base building weeks.  The plan does not cross the half marathon distance until after Muncie 70.3, so I can use this as a cross reference on run days as I build my run miles to 13+ for the Half Ironman and then continue with long runs which includes two 20 milers in September.

Any other racing that I do will be purely for fun or as part of the training plan.  In particular if I'm lucky enough to grab a couple free sponsor entries in the RnR series thanks to my continuation on Team Refuel as an Ambassador for the Got Chocolate Milk campaign!  And so, I've marked those races as *applied for.  If things play out the way I hope, I should pick up 5 RnR races and grab Rock Star status with several "heavy medals"!  The schedule will be adjusted depending on if I'm picked for NYC or not.

*=applied for
 * Rock n Roll Nashville April 26 (I enjoyed this very much last year and want to return)
Indy Mini May 3 (Undecided, but if I do this it will be both the 5k and the mini back to back)
Hoosier Park 8k - May 24 (this is just for fun, but fits well with both plans)
Muncie June Olympic Triathlon June 7 (need this one to set me up for 70.3)
$ Ironman Muncie 70.3 July 12 (This is my "A" tri race for the year)
* Rock n Roll Chicago July 20 (Training plan calls for a 12 miler, perfect fit)
* Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Aug 31 (doesn't fit plan, but could be a fun family Labor Day weekend)
* Rock n Roll Philadelphia Sept 21 (I will do this if I don't get NYC it would hit between the 20s)
* Rock n Roll Cleveland Oct 11 (I will do this only if I'm in for NYC it would hit between the 20s)
$ Indianapolis Marathon Oct 18 (This is my "A" run race for the year)
* New York City Marathon Nov 2 (I'm in the lottery, drawing is in mid spring)
* Rock n Roll Las Vegas Nov 16 (This could be a great way to celebrate a great year)

So that's it.  That's the plan!  I'm confident I can stick to it...IF...I can stay healthy!

What about you?!?  What are your goals for 2014?  Set a goal, write it down, share it with a friend, and then make it happen!!  Let me know if I can help in any way!  Make it a great year friends!