The Music City Triathlon

Oh, I’m not really going to talk about the Music City Triathlon, but it’s a damn catchy title . . . especially since the race drew tons of people and . . . happened today.

I’m kidding!  I have a few things to say about it.

One, it was HOT!  Two, it was WINDY.  And . . . three, I doubt I could have done it today.

But, I went down to watch, which was kinda great because I was hanging out with Nashville Running Company (NRC) Kingpin, Lee Vip.  He’s really kind of a big deal, but he has no problem handing out water or wet rags.   And today showed his aid-station-generosity isn’t limited to “running only” events, which is quite the badge of character.

If it were up to me, I would consider giving NRC naming rights for the Music City Triathlon.  The NRC-MCT has a nice ring to it.

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I spectated last year, too, because I was training for Wisconsin, but once I got down to watch I was seriously bummin’ I didn’t do the race.  In fact, I think there is some video footage of me crying because I was going for a 3 hour ride instead of doing a well organized and fun triathlon about 10 minutes from my house.  Actually, that crying footage may be from today . . . and when I missed Hot Chicken Fest.

Lots of crying video . . . and I have made no attempts to hide this part of me.  In fact, I even disclosed that “I am sensitive” in my blogging application to USAT, which was promptly rejected, and now I’m starting to wonder if this could have been the reason for my stonewalling.

I guess you have to be tough to be a USAT athlete, or even their blogger?  I don’t think owning my sensitive side means I’m not tough.  Quite the opposite, really, but in retrospect, maybe I should have used “compassionate.”

Either way, I don’t think you can fully someone to be your blogger just because they declare their sensitivity.  Can you?

I mean, there are entire training courses dedicated to this issue.  If nothing else, USAT was putting money in the bank by omitting the need for blogger sensitivity training in the future.

So, back to the NRC-MCT.

There was serious pain on that course, and obviously I was reaching out to comfort many of the athletes.  Normally a little breeze is a good thing when it’s hot, but it was knock-you-over windy.  And I was literally overheating just watching Lee Vip dish out fluids.

It was a big day down on the Cumberland and I loved the new Transition set up right on Nashville’s most famous intersection.  I also heard the Olympic swim was about 200 meters long, and on a sweltering day like today, I think I speak for the organizers of the NRC-MCT when I say, “You’re welcome.”

————

Next time you go into NRC, tell them Crushing Iron sent you.

Here’s how my three hour ride went.  

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Is Trouble Lurking at Ironman Louisville?

I logged onto Facebook tonight and it seemed everyone in my feed was talking about their “long ride” today.  Not the best fuel for a rejected USAT blogger who is laying around in boxers after his 1:20 minute cycling meltdown.

My Ironman countdown meter shows 28 days.  I have plantar fasciitis in my right heel, a tender Achilles on my left, and I am battling a summer cold.  What’s Vegas showing as my over/under in Louisville?

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If I were a betting man, I’d be tempted to lay some huge scratch on the “over,” but, since I am not, I am cautiously optimistic about my chances.  But it has nothing to do with my mileage.

Ironman is a long damn ways and the furthest combination of any distances I’ve strung together in this training period is 77 miles on a bike.  In fact, I’ve rarely gone past 50.

My longest run has been 12 miles an it was relatively painful.

The upside to all of the injuries is that I have put in a little extra time in the water, but even those swims would be considered short by Ironman standards.

So, how will I pull this together?  Let’s add it up with 10 positives.

1.  I feel relatively good about the swim.

2.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be decent on the bike for at least 3 hours.

3.  My entire marathon at IM Wisconsin hurt, so I have experience battling the pain.

4.  I’ll have a lot of family and friends there to race for.

5.  Even though I am sick and have problems with both feet, I am pretty healthy.

6.  I love the energy at Louisville and usually perform better under pressure.

7.  By traditional standards, I will be undertrained, but should be well rested.

8.  All of these distractions have forced me to look inside and figure out solutions.

9.  Getting sick has put me on serious road to dialing in my diet.

10.  I will not go down without a fight.

If I know one thing about Ironman, it’s at least half mental.  I’ve been through the meat grinder and know how it feels.

I know the nervous energy of race morning.  I know the feel of an elbow to the face in the water.  The frustration of seeing the swim exit that seems to only get further away.

I know the pain in neck on a long windy roads.  The burn in your thighs as you climb a hill that never ends.  The unrelenting swell in your ass that eventually fades to numb.

I know the delirium of hobbling off your bike to do something that seems impossible.  The illusion of running forever before you see mile one.  The cruel Ironman joke of baiting you down the Finisher’s chute on your first lap.  I know the dark, lonely existence at Mile 18 when you forget who you are.

And I also know the taste of the finish line.  The unmistakeable energy that seems to be all for you.  I know the screaming strangers and the familiar faces that welcome you home from a journey you can’t put in words.  There are not many things sweeter.

 

I Got Rejected by USAT

About a month ago, USAT put out a call for an “Age Group Blogger” for USAT Nationals in Milwaukee.  I replied swiftly, with what I thought was the winning application, but unfortunately, I will not be your blogger.  Below is the letter I submitted, and I would love your input on how I could tighten things up in the event I get another chance.

Mike Tarrolly Blogger

This guy will not be your USAT blogger

Dear USAT,

Here are 10 quick reasons I think I would be an excellent blogger for USAT AG Nationals:

1.  I have no problem being referred to as a blogger.

2.  I am a marginal AG triathlete with just enough experience to be dangerous.

3.  I am originally from Wisconsin and my brother lives 3 blocks from the race.

4.  I am sensitive.

5.  I’ve worked in the news business for 14 years and (no thanks to them) understand what makes a good story.

6.  I’m a marketing director by trade, but don’t necessarily think that’s anything to write home about.

7.  I’ve been shooting and editing video for many years and have the ability to make age group athletes resemble Sebastian Kienle or Andrew Starykowicz (but not necessarily his run style).

8.  I’ve read a lot of books on triathlon and liked most of them.

9.  I have a strong command of taking and uploading pictures from my iPhone.

10.  My mother would likely come over from Beloit and supervise my writing.

Here’s a link to some triathlon videos I’ve shot and edited http://crushingiron.com/video/

Many more writing samples at www.crushingiron.com

Thank you for the consideration.

Mike

———-

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but they sent me a nice letter of rejection with a promise to keep me in their thoughts.

In the meantime I am second guessing myself in blogging and in life.

 

 

 

Battling Ironman Doubt #IMLOU

Never let the future disturb you.  You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” — Marcus Aurelius

Ironman training comes with a roller coaster of emotions, and one of the most prevalent is doubt.  It doesn’t help when you’re sick a month from the race and battling Achilles and plantar fasciitis issues, but I am remaining positive and in “everything happens for a reason” mode.

Yesterday was massage day and my  therapist basically told me, “my body is a wreck.”  Oddly, it was my back and shoulders that seemed the most jacked up as she wrenched on the sore tendons.  I told her to “Make me squirm,” and it was easy to oblige.

On top of that, I started getting a sore throat Tuesday night and spent most of the day inhaling fresh juice and tons of water.  It took about a day to release that problem, but I’m still weak and congested.  One month away from Ironman and I am not sure I could comfortably run a mile.

I keep reminding myself that Ironman training is a lesson in patience.  You can’t “always” be ready to race and a major part of training is breaking your body down, so you can build it back up.  Today, I have a great opportunity.

One thing I wish I did was keep a food journal because I think that is likely where my problem lies.  I get sloppy with my diet because of ravenous hunger and next thing I know I am plowing down tortilla chips.  That’s one place for change or I may soon be smiling on the open road behind the wheel of this truck.

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Nothing about Ironman says “moderation” and honestly, that is a major conflict with my training and racing.  I get to points where my body feels invincible and push it over the edge, only to wake up the next day feeling like I got run over by my own 18 Wheeler.

With that in mind, here’s my latest thought on training for Ironman with a month left.  I’m supposed to be in “build” phase, but since I am “building” from a trough of exhaustion, I have to be careful about my workouts.  Because if I have one mantra about racing an Ironman, it is this: “I simply want to feel great on race day.”

So, that could very well mean I won’t have a full distance swim, bike, or run under my belt when I toe the line in Louisville.  In fact, I won’t even really be close in any of the three.  My longest swim is around 3,200 meters, bike is 80 miles, and run is 12 miles.  How in the hell do I think I’ll be able to do a full Ironman on August 24th?

With patience and confidence.

This race is one stroke, one spin, and one stride at a time.  None of mine will (or should) be at max effort.  For me it’s about finding your flow and managing pain.

As I write this, doubt is all over my body and mind, but it’s because of how I feel right at this moment.  My opportunity is to listen to my body.  To start fueling, resting, and “building” within my limits.

With one month left, I have to let go of doubt and fear, trust where I’ve been, and believe I will be prepared to face that moment with the same weapons I’ve been using today.

30daysPatience

My Swim Coach Tied Me Up

I recently wrote about how I’m becoming a better swimmer, but apparently I have a ways to go.

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After our warm up swim, my coach walked toward me shaking his head and said, “I’ve gotta get you to stop your hips from shifting around so much, and your head is coming too far out of the water when you breathe.”

Then he through me a race belt.

“Tie that around your ankles.”

Uhh…. okay.

So I wrapped the elastic band around my ankles, then hopped back into the water and started swimming.  My legs immediately sank straight below me and I was cranking my arms at ridiculous speed to stay afloat.

I was in a mild state of panic, and of course, that is the last thing you want to experience as a swimmer.  I struggled out to the buoy and held on for dear life before sucking it up to swim back in.

Not gonna lie, it wasn’t easy, but by the time I got close to shore I was much more relaxed.  My stroke was longer and felt more powerful, which subsequently kept my legs and feet higher in the water.

Coach also told me that one eye should still be under the water when you breathe, which took me a while, but eventually I “sorta” got it down.  I was also swallowing less water . . . which was nice.

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In summary, this is a great way to work on body position and keeping yourself higher in the water.  In fact, I loved it so much I’m thinking about trying it with a potato sack down at the YMCA.

Is This Why Jack Bauer Lost His Tour de France Stage? #TDF

Maybe I’m overestimating how much speed you lose by looking away from your target.  And in no way do I think I know more than these guys, but when I was watching Stage 15 of the Tour de France I couldn’t help thinking Jack Bauer, who led the stage for 222km, made the critical mistake of looking back too much down the stretch.  The Peloton was bearing down on him, he knew that much, but he kept looking back, and I think it cost him.

Below are two stills I grabbed from the broadcast.  The first one is .4km from the finish line.  It’s on a corner and you can see Bauer (in the blue helmet) taking an “extended” look back to see where the pack is, and when you watch the tape he slows down considerably as he takes that turn.  I just don’t understand why you need to look for them at that point.  After 222km and with .4 left, don’t you just hammer it with everything you have left?

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This one below is with about 50 meters left.  Honestly, what is there to look at except the finish line?

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In the end, he didn’t have enough to close it out.  It was an impressive surge by the sprinters and Bauer had the lead until 10 meters before the finish line.  1o measly meters.  He will be thinking about this for a long time.

Finding Your Flow

Three things happened yesterday that reminded me that racing is all about finding, and keeping, your flow:

1.  I was swimming in a 50 meter pool, relaxed and beautifully.  It was my pace and something I felt I could hold and slowly build.  Then, someone in the next lane swam up and started passing me.  I lost my concentration and either consciously or subconsciously tried to keep up with them.  I started breathing heavy and lost my flow.  The swim was sunk.

2.  I have been building back slowly because of a sore Achilles, and yesterday was time to stretch my run for the first time in a while.  I felt good out of the gate and it set me free.  After a couple miles, I thought, “I’m back!”  I slowly picked up the pace, pushing to beat my imaginary competitors, and by mile 6, my Achilles was starting to scream.  I had a solid run going, but pushed out of my comfort zone, and lost my flow.  I was four miles from home and, instead of walking back, I decided to manage my pain by staying inside my box.  Inside my limits.  It turned out to be a tad painful, but I regathered my flow and it was a good lesson for how to stay in my zone.

3.  After my run I wrapped my ankles in ice and watched the replay of Tour de France.  Jack Bauer, from New Zealand, led from wire to wire.  He spent nearly 5 hours in front of the pack.  With 900 meters to go he had a 16 second lead and the race appeared to be his.  But the Peloton, fronted by the world’s fastest sprinters was closing in . . . and Bauer felt the pressure.  Even the announcers thought it was his race, but Bauer kept looking over his shoulder at the pending carnage.  He kept looking back . . . again, and again, and again, his bike swaying back and forth instead of straight.  Ten meters from the finish line, he was blown away by 9 other riders.

I’m not trying to pretend I know how to win a stage race, but it looked to me that Jack lost his flow.  His mind was reacting to others instead of trusting what got him there.  Protecting the lead instead of owning the win.  It was a heartbreaking finish, and I wonder if the outcome would have been different if he just put his head down and found the fastest rider inside of himself.

It’s easy to lose track, and once again all of these things reminded me of something that is ultimately the secret to endurance, and frankly life.  You will always have competitors, but the ultimate battle is always with yourself.  Believe in what you do, and trust your flow.

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Building Confidence for Ironman #IMLou

It sounds jacked up, but one of the most amazing things about doing Ironman Wisconsin last year, was just how fast that day went by for me.  One minute I was floating by the ski ramp, the next I was hobbling my way around the State Capitol.

Twelve hours passed in what seemed like an instant.

It’s really a testament to why I love endurance and training in general: It keeps you in the moment.

It’s also reminds you to slow down and enjoy the process.  Even when it’s painful.  Especially when it’s painful.  That’s the experience you will need the most on race day.

 

37days

 

 

The Hardest Parts of Writing About Triathlon

 

I’m closing in on 500 original posts about triathlon.  Seems like I would have run out of fuel a long time ago, but it proves to me this blog is about much more about the human condition than simply swim, bike, and run.

It kind of blows me away . . . mainly because I have stuck with it this long.  I haven’t made money, but I’ve gained a better understanding of myself and how to deal with the intense ups and downs of training for Ironman and how that impacts our lives.

My blog traffic suggests that a fair number of people have enjoyed reading about my journey, but the truth is, there are always questions.  Sometimes it’s like being all alone on your run at mile 19.  You question the point and want nothing more than for it to be over.  But as hard as that marathon can be, you have to keep moving.

I Don’t Know What I’m Talking About  

As I write about triathlon there is always temptation to “start acting like I know what I’m talking about.”  That’s what they tell you . . . “be an expert.”  But the truth is, I am not.

I love to get into the mind.  Play with the psychology.  Explore the limits of this crazy pursuit.  Find solutions and somehow get to the finish line.

The answers are never obvious and my opinions/strategies are constantly changing.  But, the one constant is, “My body knows if I listen.”  The truth is inside me fighting its way to the surface.  Some days it may be different, and, in the end, I am pouring feelings, often unclear, onto the page.

Staying the Course

I’ve watched a ton of music documentaries in my life and there’s always a point when the band is getting popular and the label starts trying to control everything.  But legendary groups stick to their guns and make the music that’s inside of them without compromise.  That is how I want to approach my writing.

They say, “write what you know,” and for me that is passion.  Passion for the sport, the lifestyle, and the quest to become a healthier person.

Do I want people to enjoy my website?  Yes.  Do I want to do whatever it takes to get the most views?  Sometimes, but I would rather grow organically than by using artificial tactics that lose focus of the reasons this blog is important to me . . . and hopefully you.

“Marketing is Everything”

Ironically, I am a professional marketer by trade, but the writer in me refuses to listen to that asshole.  Well, he’s not that bad, but like most executives, he has a tendency to overlook one very important part of the marketing mix:  the product.

In my professional life, I spend a great deal of time writing what are ultimately lies, or at best, illusionary truth.  Covering up flaws with beautiful words that hope to sway your opinion about something you don’t want.

That’s exactly the opposite of what I want to do here.  I am fallible, vulnerable, impossibly human, and everything in this blog is a true reflection of those flaws.  Those beautiful flaws that I believe everyone can relate to.

An Authentic Voice 

This is about being real.  Admitting my struggle, knowing that is ultimately the best way to get through it.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a ton of talented writers and musicians in Nashville.  Great, creative minds that push the envelope with their thought.  But often, that innovative soul is stripped in the name of commerce.

They pour music and words from their purest hearts, only to adapt mechanical approaches to please the masses.  Their original material becomes diluted in the process of chasing numbers.

They learn nuances of “getting attention” and “manufacturing fans,” but it’s often a compromise that leaves them unhappy.  This is where I struggle as a writer.

If we are quiet enough and listen to our gut, we instinctively know how to deal with any situation.  But when “influencers” start impacting decision making, we tend to lose our way.

Are you willing to throw away your lyrics and your soul just to get a little attention?  Are you willing to stop running just because it hurts?

WRITINGTRIATHLON

 

 

 

Cycling Etiquette – Please Don’t Do This . . .

Even though I am one, sometimes I hate cyclists. Especially when I’m running.

I grew up in the day when you just road your bike and didn’t run into people or in front of cars.  We sort of used . . . logic.  Sure, sometimes we crashed and did stupid shit, but for the most part, we just rode our bikes and it was all good.

I live near a bike path, which is more often suited for walking or running and many times I will take off on a run.  It’s really pretty serene and peaceful.  I rarely listen to music and typically drift into a meditative state, at one with my breath.

It’s very quiet and I can normally hear a cyclist coming up behind me if they coast a bit or change gears or talk, etc . . . Sometimes you’ll even get the guy or girl who is hammering away at 17 mph and they just cruise right by you in peace.

I have no problem with any of those scenarios because I am just running on the right side of the path and for the life of me can’t remember the last time I suddenly made a direct left turn to chase a squirrel or pick a mulberry.  I just go straight and if the bike goes straight by me on the left, it works just fine!

What I do have a problem with is the guy or girl hammering away at 17 mph who suddenly feels the urge to shout “ON YOUR LEFT” 10 feet away, subsequently scaring the shit out of me and forcing a quick right cut to the far side of the black top and further putting my tender Achilles tendon at risk.

Why???

Just make a little noise, coast, or shift your gears 20 to 30 feet back.  Now, if I have a dog or a child or something, it’s different.  But in that case you should really slow way down for your pass and use a normal conversational voice.  Please don’t be this guy!

bad cycling etiquette