The Re-Bucket List

 

Back in 2008, I decided to cross off a some of my bucket list items.  First, I wanted to run a marathon.  Secondly, I wanted to do an Ironman.  And so I did.

My first marathon was along the Atlantic shore here in Jacksonville as part of the “26.2 with Donna – the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer”.  That particular race (which still runs every February) was a fantastic initial marathon.  Pancake flat.  A couple of miles on the beach.  Great crowd support.  Amazing women and men who had beat (or were in the process of beating) breast cancer.  My finishing time was not great (and really isn’t important)…but I was successful in crossing that item off my list.  Incidentally, back in 2010, I did a “Ten Questions With…” interview with Donna Deegan – the founder of the race.  Click HERE to read that interview.

JPS

On the run course at IMFL in 2009

Following that marathon experience, I signed up to race Ironman Kentucky, in Louisville.  I was severely underprepared for that race.  I tried to train without a real plan.  I didn’t think that the hills would be all that rough.  I didn’t devote as much time as I should have to training.  As a result, the race was a disaster!

I got into the swim expecting to have some downstream current.  There wasn’t any.  I sort of freaked out mid-swim and ended up having to do some backstroke and breaststroke.  I finished the swim in close to 1:40 and then headed out on the bike.  So….in case you were wondering….Louisville is NOT FLAT.  I was seemingly going up or down the entire time.  I tried to take my time and pace myself, but by the end of the bike, I was completely gassed.  I started out on the run and very quickly determined that that leg of the race would be a combination of running and walking.  By the time I got through 13 miles, it was more walking than anything.  I made it through 18 miles and got pulled off the course.

Upon returning to the transition area – completely devastated about my performance – I called home to speak with my wife.  Believe it or not, she had already signed me up for Ironman Florida – in just about six weeks’ time!  She really wanted me to cross off that bucket list item!

And so, in November 2009, I toed the line in Panama City Beach for IMFL.  The swim was much better than in Louisville – even despite the Gulf being seriously choppy.  The bike was great – much more along the lines of what I was accustomed to.  I did a modified Galloway approach on the run – running 3 or 5 minutes and then walking 1.  And best of all, I finished!  The time was not great (15 hours and change), but…..I FINISHED!

Cross that baby off the list!

Except that baby is back on my list again.

See, for the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about doing an iron distance race again.  Sometimes when I’m in a rough spot on a run, I call up a mental picture of crossing the finish line at IMFL or remember that feeling of accomplishment.  But, I’ve held off on actually doing another race.

Things started to get serious last year – my friend and I were talking about doing a full.  It was on his bucket list, after all.  Plus, he wanted to do one before he turned 50, and time was running out.

We had our eyes set on doing Beach to Battleship in November 2016.  This Wilmington, NC, race had developed a fantastic reputation for being a super-high quality independent iron distance race.  The price point was much lower than Ironman, the swim was current aided (and crazy fast), and the rest of the terrain was similar to northeast Florida.  Plus, the November timing was perfect.

And then, B2B decided to sell out to Ironman.  While I certainly am open to racing an Ironman event, to me it was difficult to reconcile spending $300 or so more on race entry fees for substantially the same race – just because of a name change.

Enter Rev3 Triathlon and their race at Cedar Point!

Cedar Point

See, I’ve been on the Rev3 age group team for a bunch of years, but have never raced at Cedar Point.  Honestly, I’m not sure why – other than the fact that Sandusky, OH, is about 17 weeks away by car and not super-easy to fly to, either.  I do love roller coasters, though, and by all accounts the course is quite similar to what I’m used to.

So….Rev3 Cedar Point is now on my 2016 bucket list!  The race is September 11th this year, and I’ll be ready to race.

And this time, it’s not just about completing the distance and crossing off a bucket list item.  This time, instead of “Complete an Ironman”, the bucket list item is “Race Rev3 Cedar Point”.  There’s a real, tangible difference there.

 

The Algebra of Triathlon

In many respects, triathlon is like a mathematical formula.  There are variables, constants, and degrees of freedom at play, all coming together to create a union of elements that hopefully leads to success on the race course.  Some of the variables are clear:  wind, temperature, race elevation, amount of climbing, personal nutrition, fitness, and so on.

For the vast majority of us, there is a whole different equation that must be factored in during our algorithm for success.  We must learn how to effectively balance other demands in our life – work, family, spousal duties, volunteer duties, parental responsibilities, etc.  Some are much more effective at solving the equation than others.  Others find that doing the math can be difficult. 

We’re all busy.  I certainly am quite busy.  I have three kids – two in high school, and one in middle school.  All of them are involved in out-of-school activities.  One’s a high school varsity cheerleader.  Another is on a high school swim team and is also a year-round swimmer.  The third is on a premier soccer team.  Practice demands are high for each of them, as are their games, meets, and competitions.  As a dedicated parent, attending these events is of paramount importance for me.  I love going to high school football games to watch my daughter cheer; that there’s also a football game is just gravy.  There’s almost no other place I’d rather be on a Saturday morning is the soccer pitch or poolside watching my kids.  Rarely does a weekend come to pass where there’s not at least one sporting event for my kids.  Often, weekends have several events, requiring my wife and I to “divide and conquer”.

We all are involved in volunteerism to some degree or another.  Personally, I lead a middle school small group at our church.  I sometimes teach Sunday School.  My older kids volunteer at a local retirement community.  I am also engaged in the parent advisory group for the local swim team.  My wife is the “uber-volunteer” – and is plugged in at school, with the cheer team, the soccer team, the swim club and so much more.

As a spouse, I like to spend time with my wife.  We’ve been married for almost 20 years (this October will actually mark 20!), and I still enjoy spending time with her as much as I did when we were dating.  Date nights, holding hands, even watching TV or reading together is so very important to us.

Like most of us, I have a career.  It seems like I’m always connected; I constantly am on my iPhone checking email.  I often have calls early in the morning or late in the evening in order to accommodate schedules of my global colleagues.  As a leader, I have a responsibility to my employees; their development and career progression are important to me.  And like many of us, I don’t work a “normal” 40 hour work week.  I often work upwards of 60 hours per week.  Luckily, I have the flexibility of working remotely from my home or from my office.

Here’s the rub.  I’ve written about six paragraphs here, and I have yet to mention triathlon training…or any sort of regular exercise in general.  I find that it’s really difficult to match my triathlon goals and desires (and expectations given that I’m on a national triathlon team) with all the “stuff” in my life.  It seems that if anything is to take a back seat in my life, it’s triathlon.  As it should be given where I’m at in life.

And yet, the conundrum.  Now that my foot is well on the way towards healing, I’d really like to do at least a couple of races this fall.  My plan at this point is to race a local event – called the Hammerhead Olympic Tri (or HOT) – in September and then Rev3’s Half Rev (70.3 distance) race in Venice, FL in early November.  The tough part?  Figuring out a way to get in all the required training such that I don’t enter these races and have them essentially be suffer-fests.  Frankly, I’d like to PR one, if not both.  To do that, though, I’m going to have to get really, really good at balancing the equation of life with the equation of tri.

Anyone got one of those scientific calculators I can borrow?

Goals. Not Resolutions. Version 2.0

So….Happy New Year, y’all.  I know that I’m a little late to the party in saying that, but it still applies, right?  It is, after all, a new year.  Plus, this is my first post of the year.  In my mind, it’s still kosher to say Happy New Year.  In fact, seeing as how yesterday was Epiphany, I suppose I could still say Merry Christmas and get away with it. 🙂

Regardless, it’s a new year now, and like so many others I’ve put my mind to thinking about what I’d like to accomplish this year.  Certainly you’ve done similar things.  Over the past month, I’ve assembled my team at work and we’ve come up with a very aggressive list of items we’d like to accomplish during the year.  It seems that my appetite for planning multisport activities is equally as robust.  The only difference, though, is that when it comes to multisport, I typically overshoot on my goals.  Another way of saying that is that I put my stretch goals way, way, way out there.  And then I do a spectacular job of not meeting those stretch goals.

Take 2012, for example.  In this post, I laid out some very tangible goals.  I thought that I had done a really good job of laying out targets.  They were measurable.  Attainable. Potentially realistic.  Time bound.  I followed my B-school teachings and set S.M.A.R.T. goals.  So, how’d I do against those goals?

TriMadness’ 2012 Multisport Goals:

  • Obtain a new personal best for an Olympic Distance tri.  Current PR is 3:00.  Target is 2:45.xx  Nope.  Didn’t race an Oly in 2012.
  • Obtain a new personal best for a half-iron distance tri.  Current PR is 6:37.  Target is 5:50.xx  Nope.  Thanks to Hurricane Sandy cruising by and stirring up the waves (hence canceling the swim at Rev3 Florida), my only half-iron race became a long-course duathlon. 
  • Run a sub-8:00 mile.  In training.  In a race.  Doesn’t matter where.  Just do it prior to year-end.  Check! (Almost).  I ran a 8:05 mile in a run over the summer.  Felt amazing.  Haven’t repeated it since, even though I’ve been close.
  • Break 2:00 in a half-marathon.  Target race is the Outback Distance Classic on Thanksgiving day – but would certainly take it in a half-iron tri, too :-)Nope.  Didn’t happen at Rev3 FL, and I didn’t run any other half marathons in 2012.  Save this goal for 2013.
  • Swim 50 * 50 before 4/1.  Check.
  • Swim 75 * 75 before 6/1.  Check
  • Swim 100 * 100 before 9/1.  Nope.  Not even close.
  • Swim at least 250,000 yards in 2012.  Got about half-way.  107,640 yards.  Need to be more diligent about swimming.  BUT, the silver lining here is that I got in more yards in 2012 than in 2009 when I competed in not one, but two Ironman races.
  • Bike at least 1600 miles in 2012.  Again – about half way.  835.5 miles.
  • Run at least 750 miles in 2012.  Woefully short.  399.14 miles.

So overall, not too bad I suppose.  2012 was a busy, busy year for me at work and with family stuff.  And frankly, in terms of pecking order – those two things come first for me.  I’ll gladly sacrifice a run or ride (or even a race or two – which happened in 2012) to do family related things.  It’s about doing the right thing and having the right priorities.

All that being said, and knowing what’s in store for 2013, I’ve again gone through the S.M.A.R.T. process for goal setting.  I’m carrying over a few goals from last year.  I am also adding a few race-specific goals that I’d like to accomplish as well.

So without further ado, here are:

TriMadness’ 2013 Multisport Goals:

  • Obtain a new personal best for an Olympic Distance tri.  Current PR is 3:00.  Target is 2:45.xx  (Carried over from 2012)
  • Obtain a new personal best for a half-iron distance tri.  Current PR is 6:37.  Target is 5:50.xx  (Carried over from 2012)
  • Obtain a new personal best for a full-iron distance tri (at Rev3 Cedar Point).  Current PR is molasses slow 15:17.  I’d really like to knock off 2 hours on that.
  • Swim 100 yards in 1:30 or faster on a consistent basis.  That would be a huge accomplishment for me, as it would take about a :10 drop to get there.
  • Break 2:00 in a half-marathon. 
  • Swim 100 * 100 before the end of the year.   
  • Swim at least 200,000 yards in 2013. 
  • Bike at least 1500 miles in 2013. 
  • Run at least 750 miles in 2013.

So.  There you have it.  It’s on paper (again), so I have to do it, right?

Happy training!

2nd Annual Tri Madness Christmas Eve Swim-Till-Your-Arms-Fall-Off Extravaganza

My family gets a little crazy when it comes to Christmas.  Especially Christmas morning.  See, my kids get a little excited about opening presents.  In fact, just three years ago, the entire family was up at 3:30am opening presents together.  My son could not sleep that year because he was so excited.  He kept calling us with his cell phone (we had threatened him not to come out of his room, and gave him a cell phone to call us so we could give him the all-clear….thinking that we wouldn’t get that call until at least 6am).  He literally called every 30 minutes, beginning at midnight.  Finally at 3:30, we caved and let everyone come down.  By 7, we were done opening presents, had played with everything (including being outside riding bikes or scooters) and were ready to take naps. 

Ever since that pre-dawn package opening session, my wife and I have been on the elusive hunt for something to keep our kids in bed on Christmas morning.

Last year, we found the PERFECT thing.  A super-long, swim until your arms fall off, session at the pool on Christmas eve.  You may recall that my son swims competitively year-round.

And so, Christmas Eve morning, my son, youngest daughter and I headed to the pool.  She swam about 2500 yards.  I did 5000.  My son swam 10,000 yards.  In fact, he was in the pool so long that I left, went home to shower and eat lunch and then came back to pick him up.  But the plan worked!  That night, he went to sleep without any argument.  We ended up having to wake him up on Christmas morning!  It was awesome!

Now, this is going to become a tradition for the Tri Madness family.  We’re doing it again this year.  And so can you!  You can join in and participate in the Tri Madness Swim-Till-Your-Arms-Fall-Off Extravaganza too!

Below, you’ll find my workout.  Roughly 5000 yards of sheer arm exhausting bliss.  Go find yourself a pool that’s open on Christmas Eve and give it a shot.  If you’re really adventuresome, double it.  Or, if your last name ends is Lochte, triple it.  Either way, I guarantee that you will sleep really well on Christmas Eve – and you won’t hear the reindeer trampling all over your roof.

Click to download a PDF version

Click to download a PDF version

My Diagnosis: Dunlop Disease

I have six-pack abs.

No really.  I do.  (Please quit laughing now).  It’s just that my six-pack abs are well insulated within a small cooler.  One might even say that instead of six-pack abs, I’ve been blessed with a 12-pack.  Or maybe a small keg.

I used to really have a six-pack.  Of course, I was in high school and running 40 miles a week.  And I weighed 130 lbs.

Fast forward 25 years, and 50 lbs, and one can understand how my six pack dissolved (or maybe grew) to the size of a small child.

Yes…it’s official.  I have the dreaded Dunlop Disease.  As in….my gut done lopped over my belt.  Others may call it the Muffin Maladie. 

Luckily, this disorder is not, in and of itself, fatal.  There’s a cure, but for some, the medicine can be bitter.

The cure?  Core work.  Lots of it.

Here’s the deal.  I HATE doing core work.  Probably because my core is weak and any amount of core work become a shaky, painful, out-of-breath experience for me.  But, alas, I’ve made a committment to myself that it’s time to focus on my core.

I’ve decided to incorporate a couple of different key workouts for my core.  Both came from Mens Health magazine. 

The first one is called “The Best Ab Workout Ever” – and luckily for me, doesn’t involve crunches.  See, I hate crunches.  They hurt.  They burn.  But….I suspect that this won’t be any easier on me.  In fact, it might be more difficult.  I’ll start on Level 1 – because I’m so out of shape – and do this on Mondays and Fridays.

On Wednesdays, I’ll actually do some crunches.  The second workout (which I will do on Wednesdays) is called “The Ultimate Medicine Ball Workout“.  It was originally published in 2008 as a favorite workout of the University of North Carolina basketball team.  You may have heard this workout called the Medicine Ball 200.  And since I love almost all things Carolina, I do actually like this workout.  I’ve done this exercise series more than once, and while painful, the results have been solid.  It’s actually a killer workout, and one that can be scaled up or down depending upon need and fitness level.

This might be a bitter pill for me.  But there’s no denying that I have Dunlop Disease.  It MUST go away before spring. 

The doctor has spoken.