Huge Announcement: I’m turning Pro!

After months of planning and preparation, numerous high dollar donations to governing bodies, and in depth negotiations with my sponsors and family, I’ve decided that – and am very proud to announce – that I am changing careers and becoming a professional triathlete, effective immediately.

Mrs. Tri Madness and I have recently sold our house here in Florida, and will be moving into a slightly used, 1968 VW bus camper van.  We will be home schooling our children while we travel the country to participate in races.  I have struck an agreement with Wal Mart which will allow us to live and stay rent-free in the parking lots of thousands of Wal-Marts across North America.

I will be competing in 100 events over the remainder of this season, culminating in my entry into both Kona this October and the Rev3 series championship in May 2015.  Both WTC and Rev3 have agreed to create a special professional category to reflect my unique abilities and skills.

Team TriMadness is very excited to further announce that as part of our sponsorship agreements with PowerBar, the TriMadness family will exclusively consume PowerBar product for the totality of our nutrition needs.

In order to hone my triathlon-related skills, Team TriMadness has entered into coaching agreements with a variety of world-class athletes:  I will be partnering with Ryan Lochte for swim coaching, Miguel Indurain relative to cycling, and Meb Keflezighi for running.  Additionally, I will be partnering with renowned physician Michele Ferrari to ensure that I am able to optimize my nutrition and physical capabilities.

I’m excited to launch into this new phase of my athletic career.  Please follow along as I expand my social media presence beyond this blog and Twitter.  As part of a new strategic relationship I have established with Google and Netflix, I will begin hosting a weekly broadcast and update of my race performance and life on the road as a professional triathlete.

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

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Turning an Ironman into ULTRA Steel

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In the world of triathlon, most people think that the pinnacle distance of the sport is the iron distance race:  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.

There’s no denying that the iron distance can be a beast.  I know from personal experience.  Having finished an Ironman, though, gives me confidence that I could likely do another one day (and with this year being the fifth anniversary of me crossing that bucket list item off, I’d love to do an anniversary version again).  Frankly, however, for many athletes, the concept of doing an iron-distance race is daunting.  Heck, for some people, even toeing the line for any triathlon is daunting.

Ultraman races are the extreme distance for extreme triathletes.

Wrap your head around this:  6.2 mile (10 km) open water swim, followed by 261.4 miles (420.6 km) of cycling and then 52.4 miles (84.3 km) of running.

Yeah.  You read that right.  320 total miles (515 km) of multi-sport madness.  Ultraman Florida was held this past weekend; 34 athletes participated.

Frankly, it’s difficult for me to comprehend even one component of that event.  The first person out of the water this weekend took 2 hours 22 minutes.  The last competitor pulled himself out of the lake in 5 hours 9 minutes.  What the hell does one think about while they swim for 4 hours or more?  For comparison sake the guy who was first out of the water would have averaged about 1:15 per 100 in a SCY pool!  I can’t even do that at my peak conditioning for any length of time – even one 100!  Cycling 261 miles?  Seriously?  I have a hard enough time riding 261 miles IN A CAR – forget pedaling that far.  Then, after all that, go and run not one, but a DOUBLE marathon.  All in the same weekend.  Yeah.  Right.

It’s pretty much unequivocal that the nut-jobs who tackled this distance are freaks.  I mean, come-on.  How many people would voluntarily submit themselves to this soul-crushing, toe-blistering, delirium-inducing event?

The answer, in short, is a few hardy, superbly conditioned athletes.  Ultraman isn’t about a race, so much, but about the ultimate cathartic event.  The community that is built at these events is apparently second to none.  The guys and girls who even attempt this kind of race are pure rockstars.  The creme de la creme.  The epitome of uber-athletes.

Carbon turns iron into steel.  Pure grit and a love of endurance sports turns an Ironman into an Ultraman.

My sincere congratulations to all who participated in Ultraman Florida this past weekend.  A special shout-out goes to Susan Haag, my Team Rev3 Tri teammate.  She was one of just six women who raced.  She is pure bad-ass.  And hilarious.  She literally danced across the finish line!

 

 

A Super-Inspiring Athlete

You know, as an athlete (a term I use loosely in relation to me) and sports fan, there are a wide variety of athletes that I hold in high regard.  Some of these athletes are famous and are in the newspaper, on ESPN, or online literally daily.  Others are athletes that fly under the radar.  It seems like it might be fun for me to write occasionally about athletes that have inspired me for one reason or another.  To showcase their performances.  Or their character.  Or their mettle.

And with that introduction, I’d like to start this on-again, off-again series by introducing you to one of my Team Rev3 Tri teammates, Susan Haag.

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Susan may not be the speediest athlete at a triathlon, but she may well be the most experienced one.  She has done a mind boggling array of events:  More than 70 full iron distance races.  Countless marathons and ultramarathons.  She did more than 75 events in 2012 alone!  I don’t know if I could even keep up with the overall number of events Susan has done in her career (and I’m not sure if she could even tell you).  Just a week or so ago, Susan ran in a 55 mile ultra to support the Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville.  In two weeks, she will be racing the Florida Ultraman (which, by the way is an iron race on steroids:  6.2 mile swim, followed by 261.4 miles on her bike, then a double marathon – 52.4 miles).

The sheer distances and volumes this woman races are staggering and mind boggling.  I frankly don’t have any clue how she trains and races, all the while managing a career as a local assistant district attorney.

Susan also volunteers considerably.  She’s on a variety of boards.  She is the Florida Region representative on USAT’s board of directors.

In a nutshell, this woman is B-U-S-Y.

But quite honestly, it’s not the prolific miles and number of races that inspires me about Susan.  Rather, Susan’s approach to triathlon and endurance sports in general is what really makes this athlete stand head and shoulders above others.  Not a race goes by where Susan doesn’t stop to pet dogs, great children or chat with volunteers.  For Susan, a triathlon or marathon is not just about the race; it’s more about the experience.  She epitomizes what endurance sports should be all about.  Togetherness.  Fun.  Loyalty.  Conviction.  Inclusion.

As an example, Susan shared an experience she had when she ran in the recent Ultra on behalf of Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital. This year wasn’t the first year she had participated in this event.  In fact, last year, she met a young man who was frankly pretty sick at the time.  This year, she came across him again – only this time he was competing as part of a relay.  He was struggling to run very far or very fast.  Susan connected with him and his mother – and ended up running and walking with him for an entire lap – lifting his spirits and confidence and mood the entire way.  It didn’t matter that Susan had several additional laps of her own to run; she selflessly gave of herself and made a lasting impact on another athlete.

It’s like Susan that I aspire to be.  To be able to participate in events, have a blast doing it, and making memories with others.  To me, that’s what I’d like to model each time I toe the line at a race.

A Great Day

Today I did something really great. I went to a funeral.

Now, I know those two sentences don’t normally go together, so I’d like to explain a little. You know how they say that funerals aren’t supposed to be about mourning, but instead about celebrating life? Well, it never seems that funerals actually end up being that way – at least for me. Every funeral I’ve ever attended…at least those that I can remember…were decidedly not celebrations.

Twenty years ago, when my mother passed, I was devastated. Her funeral was a sob-fest for me. I was heartbroken. I grieved as a son should, I suppose. Fast forward ten years, and my wife and I lost a dear friend to cancer. She was a bundle of energy, a great mother, and so young. Thinking of the family that she left behind – 2 girls who at the time were in elementary school – was gripping.

And so, as I drove across town today to the funeral of young Shawn Blatzer, I expected that I’d be an emotional wreck.

Shawn’s story is perhaps not entirely unique, but all the while, he was unique. Shawn had a rare form of brain cancer – a cancer that most children don’t get. Yes – Shawn was a child. Twelve years old. Thirteen months ago, Shawn received his diagnosis. He and his family were rightfully confused, scared, and upset. Then, he turned his back on the disease and lived life to the fullest.

Shawn had an intense love for the Florida Gators. He loved wrestling. He loved God. To say that he and his family are devout Christians is an understatement. Their faith was (and still is) overwhelming. He was so firm in his faith and his understanding and belief that he was saved. Shawn inspired others.

Today, as I sat in the pews during the service, I marveled at the stories his youth pastors and his father shared. Funny stories were told. One really got the sense of the man that Shawn had become. God’s man. I found myself shedding tears – but also an intense sense that Shawn was cured of his cancer, and had gone “home”. Shawn was a unique soul, and the world is a lesser place without him.

It seems to me, though, that Shawn is likely living it up in the “Gator Nation” corner of heaven.

So today wasn’t a joyous day, but a great day. A day to remember. A day to celebrate.

A great day.

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Helping Boston’s Victims

Without a doubt, you’ve likely seen a tremendous outpouring of support for Boston and the victims of the horrific attack last week.  There are so many people who were impacted and injured it’s almost unbelievable. 

All last week – and even as we headed into this week, local running clubs all over the country (and perhaps world) were holding solidarity runs for Boston.  People ran to honor those injured and killed. 

While each of those impacted certainly is worthy of being honored, I fear that so many of those impacted will have a greater burden to bear.  The sheer monetary cost of the crime will be difficult for many to overcome.  I can only imagine how staggering the medical bills and costs for ongoing care will be for the most injured.  Far too many will incur huge medical bills.  Many will be out of work due to their injuries.

There has been no shortage of fundraising efforts, either.  The One Fund was established as one way to get funds to the victims.  Announced earlier this week by Massachusetts Governor Patrick and Boston Mayor Merino, the fund was seeded with a $1,000,000 committment from John Hancock.

Closer to home, the triathlon community is stepping up to support victims of the bombing.

Rev3 Triathlon announced yesterday that it was partnering with the city of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Athletic Department and will be donating all proceeds from the Revolution3 Glow Run 5k – which will be held on Friday evening, May 3rd – to help fund the treatment and recovery of a former UT swimmer, Nicole Gross.

Nicole was near the finish line with her husband and a friend when the bombs went off.  She suffered a catastrophic leg injury – and has had at least seven surgeries already.  Her sister was also critically injured.

If you’re planning on being in Knoxville for Rev3’s race that weekend, hopefully you’ll consider also running in the Glow Run 5k on Friday night.  If you’re not able to race – or aren’t even going to Knoxville for the weekend, please consider making a direct donation to help Nicole with her medical bills.  You can contribute directly at www.bestrongstaystrong.net.

I’m encouraging you to help support those affected by this tragedy.  Please consider supporting Rev3’s efforts to raise money for Nicole.  Please make a donation to the One Fund.  I know that I’m going to do both.