Swim Smooth, Bike Smart and Run Strong!

Last run…

Ok, so it has been a long time since I have posted anything…and my last post was about triathlons.  Well, this post is about skiing…more specifically the last run of the day.  There is something so very special about taking that last run, even more so when you just caught the last lift of the day.

Riley, Payton and I had the pleasure of taking that last run today at Keystone Resort.  Being with them made it even more wonderful!  Sharing that last run, they sun is setting and already behind the mountain, the air is much cooler and the massive crowds are gone from the slopes!  At one point, it was just the three of us just carving our way down the hill!  The sound of your skis sliding on the snow, the laughter of your sons as they are goofing around, just pure bliss!

And now as I sit here writing this at 6:45 PM, Payton is passed out on the floor and Riley is zoned out on the couch…all signs of a great day!!

Thanks to my wife today for staying back with our sick little Aly, tomorrow is her day!!



In like a Lion

So, here it is March 1st and school is delayed an hour from the weather. It has been a few weeks since I have started training again and it is starting to get easier and easier.

On May 5th I am running the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon. My goal is to break 2 hours! My best half time is 2:01. This will certainly be a challenge but I have about 8 weeks to get my endurance and speed up.

Hopefully the weather starts turning as I start my longer runs, running outside is much more enjoyable than inside.

Triathlons and Rocky

One of my favorite movie series of all time is the Rocky series.  Yes, some of them are pretty dorky, but they have one theme…if you believe you can do it and heart is more important than talent.  OK, that was two, but whose counting!

In all of the movies, Rocky shows that he believed he could win, he had the heart and worked and he was also willing to endure the physical pain needed to win.

Triathlons are not much different.  Take an Ironman- you need to believe you can finish, you need the heart to stay dedicated to your training and plans and you need to be prepared to endure the pain not only during the race but also in training.

Another great movie that demonstrates the same three traits is Iron Will – in this movie, a teenager wants to do some long dog race…he father has just passed away and he is determined to win this race. He has never attempted a race of this distance, but he is confident he can do it.

Anyone who is stuck inside right now, looking for some great pain cave movies..check out Iron Will and Rocky…they will surely give you  the inspiration.

Back in the Saddle Again…

Well, the Aerosmith song rings true! After a couple month vacation from doing anything, I am officially back at it! I just knocked out 2 consecutive days of running. I need to prepare for the Bride Run half marathon the beginning of May and I desperately need to shed these 10 pounds I found!

Feels good to get back at it. Next week I will start biking some and maybe swim a bit! My wife is hard at, so hopefully I can keep up!

Life after Ironman

It has been two weeks to the day since I completed my Ironman and today was the first day I went out and did something!  My wife and I went mountain biking with a group of other die hards!  It was in the mid 40s but it was gorgeous!  There was about 13 of us who went out and enjoyed what could be the last great ride of the year!  It so nice to ride without worrying about what zone I am in or how hard I should go. I was just going and it was so much fun!!  This was only the 2nd time out on the my mountain bike this year.  While training for my Ironman, I was so focused that I never wanted to go play, a mistake I don’t think I will make next time!  I got so worried about not finishing that I was so focused on my training.  And when my training did slack, I didn’t do anything!  Riding again just for fun and pushing hard and just going with it was a blast!  I am so looking forward to next summer where I can do more riding like that, both on my mountain bike and road bike!

After the ride, we got home and I took my 8-year-old daughter out Christmas shopping for her two bothers and mom.  We had such a fun time, she is so cute and was so excited!  She had taken index cards and made a list of ideas to get each one.  We ended up at Walmart – man that place was a zoo!  There were so many people doing the same thing we were.  It was good cause I just followed her around and helped you make decisions.  She did great and was very happy with everything she got everyone.  I wish my Christmas shopping was that easy!

Once home, it was time to decorate our tree!  This is something the kids always get a kick out of and we love watching them!  With 5 people, it doesn’t take long at all.  We did the usual test the lights bit, but of course once we hung all the lights, we found out the first string we put on did not work!  Seems like that always happens!  

After, we all sat down for a nice family dinner that my wife had made!  During the last few months while training, family dinners were hard to come by.  Each night I had a couple of hours of training to get in so that often meant eating early or late and without the family.  My oldest did a great job of setting the table and helping with the cleanup.

My last project for the day was setting up a better system in my basement to hold all of our bikes.  The kids and I put up hooks on the ceiling rafters and hung all the bikes. They picked the order, smallest to biggest. This meant the kids bikes, my wife’s than mine.  It worked out really well and now our little room seems to have more room and looks pretty cool!

Next weekend we are planning on heading down to New York City and going to see Rockefeller Center and the big Christmas tree and hopeful get some ice skating in.  The kids are so excited.  Again, with training for an Ironman, I never felt I could miss a weekend for a trip like this.

Training for my first Ironman, I felt like a first time mom.  Not really knowing what to expect, so I planned for everything.  I was very disciplined on my training and making sure I read all I could to be prepared.  Now that the event is over, I certainly see how I could change things up and still get great results.

Then I did it – I signed up for my first race of next season – an Olympic distance triathlon in Ithaca, NY.  The Cayuga Lake Triathlon.  I was lucky to get in as this race sells out pretty quickly!  I am already get anxious for next season to start.  With two years under my belt, I am nowhere near a veteran but have learned plenty that will help me balance family life with triathlon life!

My plan for the rest of the year is to lay pretty low.  I need to make refresh mental and physically.  As I had posted before, I was pretty burned out on training leading up to the Ironman.  I need to allow time for my mind to recharge and my body.  I have no doubt that after the first of the year I will be ready to start swimming, biking and running more.  As I drive around I discover new routes that I am excited to ride!  My wife is starting a Chilly Cheeks Run that take place every Wednesday night at 6pm.  This coming Wednesday is our first one, should be a great time to get out and run with friends.  This will help me ease back into running.

You gotta believe!

I just got done watching a Hallmark movie with my daughter, “A Case for Christmas“.  Now, you are probably asking yourself what does  a Christmas movie have to do with triathlons and this blog.  Well, the theme to the movie is to believe.  Believe in love and the Christmas spirit!  As Santa states in the movie, “all reindeer can fly if they believe in it enough.”  The movie promotes the thought that we can all do what we dream of if we believe.  Belief is what gives us hope, it  makes the world a better place.  The power of belief is amazing!  People that challenge themselves in triathlons also believe.  They believe that nothing is impossible.

They believe they can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles then run a marathon.

Take Sarah Reinersten for example.  At a young age Sarah had to have her leg amputated.  She grew up hearing “you can’t”.  But she always believed she could.  When she played soccer, she would get so heartbroken when her coach had her do drills kicking a ball against the wall while the rest of the team practiced drills on the field.  But she believed!  Her story is amazing and you can learn more at her website –  In 2004 she decided to compete in the world’s most prestige Ironman – the World Championships in Hawaii.  Her adventure did not end as she planned – she missed the bike cut off time and was forced to end her day.  Heart broken and frustrated she promised she would return.  She believed!  In 2005 she came back to Hawaii with a vengeance and made history!  She is the first female above-knee amputee to ever complete an Ironman Hawaii.  She believed!  From there she went to The Amazing Race, author a book, and she even appeared in a Nike commercial! (you can view it here)

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Henry Ford said it best – “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”

Now what…

Here I sit, just 9 days after completing my first Ironman and wondering what next??  My wife is doing her first triathlon next June, not just any triathlon but a half Ironman in Syracuse!  So while she is busy training for her next challenge, I find myself wondering what will be next.  Then I came across this video today:

I have started a list of events that sound interesting next year, a mix of mountain bike races, triathlons, and Xterra races.  It won’t be possible to do everything on this, but just an idea of what is around:

  • HITS Cooperstown,NY – Sept 22-23 – Olympic on Saturday, Half Ironman on Sunday
  • Rev3 – Old Orchard, ME – Aug 26 – Olympic or Half Ironman
  • Bridge Run Half Marathon – Binghamton, NY – May 6
  • Timberman 70.3, Gliford, NH – Aug 19
  • 24 Hours of Great Glenn, Great Glenn, NH – Aug 11 & 12
  • Cayuga Lake Triathlon, Ithaca, NY – Aug 5
  •  Xterra Skyhigh, New Grafton, NY – Jul 17
  • Black Bear Triathlon Olympic, Lehighton, PA – June 3
  • 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey Mountain Bike, Quantico, VA – Jun 25
These are in no specific order and if I do two or three I will be excited!  Tiago Velo Club is a local group that puts one weekly time trials and road races that I may dabble in also.
Even with all this, I am still yearning for the Ironman!  During my training, I sore I would never, never ever do this again!  Well, there is an Ironman practically in my backyard – Lake Placid!  A small voice in the back of my heard is whispering “Dan – Ironman Lake Placid 2013!” over and over.  Then I get this email from a guy I met on the plane on the way home from Phoenix (he just completed his second Ironman) stating this is the campground he and his buddies are staying at for Lake Placid 2012 and that we should come up and watch!  Man – talk about temptation!
One thing I know for sure, next season, I am going to be doing more than just racing to finish, but now I will be certainly racing for meeting specific time goals.  That is my one regret for this past season, I was so worried about just finishing my races that I did not push as hard as I think I could have.
I am certainly enjoying the rest right now, a chance to focus on the kids, work, things around the house and just relax.  It is such a nice feeling, but I need to make sure I watch what I eat and keep the weight off!

Long post for a long day!

As the sun started to set, it was becoming clear that I would be running for a few more hours in the darkness.  Once it was black, a strange feeling came over me, one of fatigue and loneliness but also of comfort as well.  You see, I was not alone.  There were hundreds of others running with me.  Some were passing and looking strong, while I passed some as they walked only to be passed by them when I walked.  A feeling of belonging – soon we would all hear those famous words as we crossed the finish line – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!

The day started by getting up at 4:30am, I had set the alarm but did not need it.  I slept great until 1:30am then I was restless till 4:30.  I got up drank some water then headed out the door for an easy 1.5 mile run.  After the run, some light stretching and breakfast.  Guess what I ate – a bagel with peanut butter!  After a quick shower (don’t ask me why) we were off!

I have completed three Half Ironmans and when you arrive on race morning it is always the same – go to your bike, check your tire pressure then put on your wetsuit then find the family until your swim wave goes off.  Well for an Ironman, it is a little bit different! Once Steph and I arrived, we made our way to the transition area and that was the last I saw of her…well sort of!  With a good luck kiss, I was off to do what I came for.

With almost 3,000 racers and an in water start, I was very intimidated at first.  My strategy for the swim, start towards the front and to the right and let the fast swimmers pull me along!  Well it sort of worked for a while. I remember people climbing over me, getting scratched in the face, kicked in the ribs and hit in the face.  Just a normal swim for an Ironman!  The water was a balmy 61!  It reminded me of the old days back on Lake Umbagog, the only difference, if the water was that cold Keith and I were wearing drysuits!

The hardest part of swimming 2.4 miles, well other than swimming 2.4 miles, is trying to stay focused.  You see, swimming that far and that long, it gets really, really, really boring!  I would do things like count my strokes but once I got around 100, I would lose count and start all over again.  Then it seems I have ADD and my mind wanders to stuff I need to do around the house – hang Christmas lights, get the snow blower out, get ready for Thanksgiving.  Then WAP I get hit somehow and my attention is quickly refocused.

I was expecting my swim to be about 1.5 hours and I did it 1 hour and 29 minutes – coming out of the water I felt good.  Swim Smooth!

Once on the road, my heart rate was racing, around 160bpm. My plan was to keep my heart rate between 130 and 140.  160 was not good but no matter how slow I went it was not coming down. So I did what any competitive person would, I ignored it!  After about 15 minutes, I finally settled down and my heart rate dropped into the 130’s.  The bike course was three loops of an out and back course.  The out was a long gradual climbing hill which meant the back was a long gradual downhill.  My strength and love is the bike and this course was just begging me to start pushing!  I wanted to so bad, but I couldn’t – I needed to save something for my run.  So I was played it safe and just let people pass me, knowing that I was not racing them but racing myself and looking to reach my goal.

Riding a bike for 112 miles is pretty interesting.  One think your bottom would get sore, well my neck was instead, which I would rather have than my bottom!

Stating the 3rd loop and feeling good!

The only trouble I was having on the bike is I had to pee all the time!  As you can see from the pic above, the idea is to stay in an aerodynamic position to make it easier – well try doing that with a full bladder! On the last loop, I had to pee three times!  While this was frustrating it was great news – it meant my hydration was really, really good.  In the past I have had issues with cramping on the run due to poor hydration on the bike.

I really happy as I stayed within my limits, well except once.  I saw someone pass me that I remember from the Colorado Springs triathlon club I belonged to.  After a lengthy conversation with myself deciding whether or not I should push to chase her down and chat, I decided that 5 or 10 minutes wouldn’t hurt.  So the chase was on and what fun it was!  It only took a couple of minutes and it was nice to have a little chat.  She was the president of the Pikes Peak Triathlon Club when we lived there and she rides for Team in Training which raises funds for leukemia.  After a nice chat, I dropped back to my targeted range and finished the bike feeling really good!  Bike Smart!

Ah the run…my favorite event – NOT!  I was worried as to how my legs would feel or if I would cramp or what it feels like to run a marathon.  My plan on the bike had paid off, my legs felt great and I was ready to finish!  My strategy for the run was to run for 5 minutes and walk for 1.  This would save me and keep me fresh to allow me to finish strong.  I actually got this from a guy on the shuttle bus from the airport to the rental car.  This will be his 11th Ironman so I figured he knew a thing or two.  I was planning on running 1 mile then walking a minute but his plan sounded better!

Running has never come easy for me, but I get by.  My longest run up to this race was only 15 miles.  The greatest thing about this race is how often you see the fans.  There is so much support from spectators, that you really do feed of it!  I got to see Steph’s smiling face and hear words of encouragement all through the run!

Feeling strong on the run!

Every time I would run by, she would run up to me and pat me on the back, and it would hurt!  She would later laugh that she was not hitting me hard at all!  I was tired at that point!  There were times where I just wanted to stop and sit on one of the nice benches that were all along side the run course.  I didn’t want to give up, I never doubted I was going to finish, I just wanted to rest, take my shoes off and sit for a bit.  Thankfully, I didn’t.  I never would have started again!

As the miles went by, I was lucky enough to talk with many people.  On my second loop of three, I caught up to a guy as we were both walking up the only real hill.  We started talking in the darkness, sharing how we got there and why we are there.  Turns out, his dad and brother were racing too!  This was his 3rd Ironman and he was hurting, but he only had 3 miles to go and off he went!  On the final lap I caught another guy and this one I stayed with for about 5 miles.  He is in the Army and doing his second Ironman.  He was deployed for the past year so all he could was run to train.  He was clearly tired but determined to finish.  His pace was slower than me but having someone to talk with in the darkness makes all the difference in the world!  With four miles to go, I wished him well and was off.  My soft goal was to break 14 hours and with 4 to go, I needed to go!  I found a burst of energy and started running for 2 miles then I would walk for 2 minutes. I finished my last mile with my fastest mile!

Then I approached it – the finishers chute!  I would see the sign on each lap, Finishers left, others right.  I made the left and I was smiling from ear to ear!  Then you made one final left hand corner and you see it – the bleachers on either side full of people and all the lights and the clock.  I could see 13:50!  I was going to make it!  Then I spotted my wife in the crowd as I crossed the finish line!  Run Strong!

What a day and what an event!  I am so very lucky to have the support of my family, my wife, my kids, my parents, to have the means to do this, and to be able to do this, it truly is an honor and privilege!

It was a great day!  Long, challenging and very rewarding!  Looking back at my performance and times, I do ask myself if I could have gone faster or pushed harder, maybe I just may find out someday….














‘Twas the nite before…

So, ever wonder what a triathlete is doing the hours leading up to their first Ironman?  Well, let me share some of what my afternoon has been like!

Headed down to Tempe Beach Park this morning around 11am to drop off my Felt B14 and check my bike and run gear bags.

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Once that was done, I dropped my gear bags.  A full Ironman is a little different than other triathlons.  For a shorter distance, you setup all your gear for the bike and run right next to your bike. When you come in out of the water, you go to your bike and get all your gear on they out you go!  For a full Ironman distance, you have nothing at your bike – you place all your gear in two separate bags, one for the bike and one for the run.  When come in from the run, you pick up your bike gear back and head into a very large tent (men and women are separate).  In there you get all your bike gear on then head out and get your bike.

Run gear bag drop

Bike gear drop

After this, my wife (my ultimate support team!) walked and checked out the swim exit and swim course.  Man, looking at the swim course and I realized 2.4 miles is a long, long way!  Then I walked the path from the water to the transition area.  It is a pretty far distance, but it should be good.

We then met up with a friend from Washington who is doing his first as well.  We chatted then met up with his training buddy and we all went to lunch!  At lunch, i ate so much my stomach hurt!  Trying to top off and get ready for a nice light dinner with some other friends we knew back in Montana that now live here.

In between all of this, I had the please of talking with a friend who did this same race last year.  We did the Phoenix Rock n Roll Marathon this past January.  (well he did the full the marathon and I did the half).  He gave me plenty of pointers on the swim and the bike.  Great pointers, thank Brian!

We discussed the starting position for the swim. I have read so many different theories, it is hard to know what makes sense.  For a full Ironman, everyone starts the swim at the same time!

As I sit here, less than 12 hours to the start, I feel very calm and ready.  Ready to embark in one of my toughest single event challenges!  With great respect for how difficult tomorrow will be, I am confident in my training and my determination to complete it!

Now, it is time for some rest – hopefully I can get some sleep tonight for tomorrow I swim smooth, bike smart and run strong!

Minor details

So – they time is quickly approaching – one week till Ironman Arizona!  In seven days at this time I will be running and hopefully about 6-7 miles left to go!  I have put my work in and my training is complete.  Now all that is left is to do it!

We leaving early Thursday morning and arrive in Phoenix around noon. Plenty of time to  go register then offer to my friend’s house to settle in.  We are so lucky – my Mom is coming out to watch the kids for us and a friend is letting us crash at his house.

Training will be very, very light this week.  The big focus will be the little stuff – packing and figuring out the minor details – the little stuff. I am not a very detailed oriented person – it drives me nuts!  I am a mess, total unorganized, I just pile things up.  But this week I really need to bring in my A game for planning and preparing.

An Ironman is so much different from a half Ironman.  For a half, you setup everything you will need at your bike transition or the run transition.  For a full, you actually are given five bags!  One bag is to put your dry clothes in – the clothes you are wearing or want to wear after the race.  The next two are transition bags – one for the bike and one for the run.  Everything you need you put into each of those bags – your helmet, bike shoes, running shoes and whatever else you need.  Then you get two special needs bag – one for the bike and one for the run.  You will have access to these about half way through the bike and run.

So here is my dilemma – what do I put in all these bags?  I am known for taking too much stuff, whether it be on a trip or for a long ride, I always pack too much.  I am always worried I will need something.  For my special need bags, I guess I am planning on packing extra socks, spare contacts, dry shirts and shorts, extra nutrition, and whatever else I think off.  I am sure my bags will be busting at the seems, but at least I will have what I need (I hope)!

I actually had a dream the other night where we were at the airport checking in and I realized I had forgotten all my gear, I had my bike but nothing else!  That is my biggest stressors right now – just getting all packed and organized!  First it was plane tickets, then a rental car – now it is making sure the bike is ready to go, I have all my gear and nutrition that I will need.

Once I land in Phoenix I will feel much better.  I will see what I have and make special runs to the store to get anything I forgot!

I never would have dreamed that the minor details (ok, not really minor) would be what is stressing me out the most, I am confident in my swim, bike and run!

Smooth, smart, strong – that is my mantra for the next week!

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