The Simple Things In Ironman Are . . . 5 Bucks #IMLOU

I had a minor panic attack the other day when the clasp of my Garmin broke.  I called all over town to see if any of the running stores had replacement bands.  Nobody had anything in stock.

Today I was holding that same watch in my hotel and a wild thought crossed my mind.  “Maybe I should try taking it to a watch repair shop.”

Ha . . . yeah, right.  Watch repair shops went out of style in the 90′s, right?

I sheepishly asked the Concierge if there happened to be a watch repair shop in the neighborhood, and without missing a beat she started running her highlighter over the local map, then drew a big “X.”

“Yep, right here.  You’re about 4 blocks away.”

“What?”

This sounded too good to be true.  I took the map without asking for the name or address, and looking for the old theater this “watch repair shop” was next to.  I fully expected it to be some kind of surf shop/indiglo hipster place selling disposable neon watches, but then I saw it with my own eyes, “The Watch Shop.”

photo 2A tear dropped on my cheek as I swung open the door and heard it knock against a real bell.  Within 4 seconds an older gentleman with one of those telescope deals on his eye had sprung to his feet and was graciously asking how he could help me.

“Well, sir, this could be a long shot, but I broke my running watch and I was hoping maybe you could help me out for my race on Sunday.”

“Let me see what ya got there, son,” he said with the confidence of a brain surgeon.

He quickly deduced I had “broken off my tongue” and matter-of-factly asked if I cared what color the new one was.

“Heck no, any color is better than duct tape.”

He neither found that comment funny or annoying.  My baby Garmin was already under the bright lights of surgery.

Then he got a phone call and was rattling off “watch lingo” faster than an auctioneer.  He laid out 3 different scenarios to his inquisitive customer.

“You could go gold plate, or imitation, or 20th century gothic . . . ”

I scanned the room and all I saw were . . . watches.  This guy had brand focus down cold and I knew I was in good hands.

Suddenly I felt almost petty in his world.  Here I am bringing potentially the finest Watch Surgeon in the South a rubber wrist band and asking for a tongue replacement?  What a joke, he must have thought.  He was surely more caught up in his conversation about Gothic and gold.

Two minutes later he approached the counter, “Well, I can still talk on the phone and work.”

photo 1He handed me my watch and it felt like I was holding a priceless relic coming from his hands.  The man who has built and repaired watches for Louisville’s finest citizens.  I didn’t have to ask, but knew for certain he had repaired watched for Muhammad Ali and maybe even Colonel Sanders himself.

“Five bucks,” he said looking at my Muncie 70.3 shirt.

“Muncie Cardinals, huh?”

“Yeah, I said, but we all know the real Cardinals are in Louisville.”

“Yes, they are,” he said handing me my hand written receipt, “and they fly for the first time of the year on Labor Day.”

I fastened my watch, then heard the clang of the bell when I opened the door before turning around, “Sir?”

He stopped in his tracks, “Yes?”

“There are some fine establishments in Louisville, but from what I have seen, this is on top of the list.”

He waved, sat down, then started repairing another watch.

photo 4

 

 

 

Let Go Of Control #IMLOU

I’m staying with my friend Sarah, her man, and her two very large dogs.  We had a great time talking about our days back in Rockford, Illinois (where we met), design, and watching my dog feel out the giants.Ironman Louisville

Around 11:00 I went to the spare room and found a bed straight out of the woods, literally built from tree branches.  “Damn, this is like being at the cabin!”

I sat down, laid back, then realized we might have a problem.  While the frame was badass, the actual mattress felt like I would be sleeping on a piece of white bread.

For a brief moment, I gazed over the edge and considered sleeping on the floor.  The paranoia is stupid crazy the week before Ironman and I feared I’d wake up with a sore back.  But, I decided to give ole Wonder Bread a shot.

I did my best to relax, and melted into the mattress like Peanut Butter and Jelly.  The traditional scurry of thoughts about the swim, bike, and run rushed through my brain, then I drifted off to sleep until I woke to soft cries from my dog and her new friends at 7:35 am.

Not only did I sleep well, it may have been the best sleep I’ve had in months.

For years I worked in an industry that was fueled by conflict.  The argument, the fight, and good versus evil.  Slowly, I have been remembering that life is much easier when you go with its flow.

I am all for healthy discussion and search for the truth, but instigation and agitation are dead end streets.  I really believe that news, and talk radio are built to stoke your anxiety and reinforce conflict in society.

Over the last few weeks there is a building sense of calm building inside me.  Not only about the race or my lifestyle, but everything in the world.  Sure, there is a lot of fucked up shit going on, but the more I realize it’s out of my control, the better my mindset and more good I find in people.

And what’s the number one thing that is out of my control?  The weather.  News holds this one over you big time.  “We’ll keep you safe!  Be prepared! Blah . . . ”

The weather is what it is.  I knew this race would be hot.  5-10 degrees won’t make a difference.  I need to ingest a lot of fluid and make sure I don’t forget sunblock.  Other than that, it’s all pretty much what I expected, and out of my control.

And now I’m seeing reports of potential storms.  Bring it on!

Last night I didn’t have control, and this morning I couldn’t be happier about it.  I’m gonna carry that attitude into Sunday and accept whatever Mother Nature delivers.  I’m kinda even hoping Ironman adds a little burning coals section like those Spartacus races.

IMpatient

I Have Arrived In Louisville #IMLOU

I had only been running for about 8 months, I had done one Sprint triathlon, then watched Ironman Louisville.  I registered for Ironman Wisconsin two weeks later.

Now, I am back to where it all began.

photo-2

I remember the first time I looked from this angle.  Jim pointed to the Island just beyond the white bridge pillar and I just thought that sounded ludicrous.

“You swim out and around that island, then back to here,” he said with first hand experience.

I love moments like that because it truly seemed impossible to me.  I was so excited to see people do it in front of my eyes.

Today, I walked up to the same place as bib number 379 and stared into the distance again.  It’s funny how much difference a couple years make.

It still seems far, but I could feel my blood boiling inside.  It was all I could do to stop from jumping in just to feel the water on my skin.

I also remember the first time I saw this bike transition full.  It’s the kind of site that drops your jaw.

imageToday it was eerily silent.  Patiently waiting for frantic activity the next two days.

And there was this.  That strange, indecipherable gear-bag area to those who don’t understand.  It was a tad muddy, but I’m certain it will dry out by Sunday.

photo 1And yes, I am checked in.  Thursday is totally the way to go.  It took about 5 minutes to get my chip, which they tell me I will need at the practice swim on Saturday.

photo 2So now it is time to rest.  I’m pumped to see everyone tomorrow.  Please say hi if you recognize me.

 

 

 

The Real Reason I’m Doing Ironman Louisville #IMLOU

2daysTechnically there are still 3 days left before Ironman Louisville.  I’ve been counting down, but keep forgetting to add the hours, and occasionally, like now when it says 23, that number is substantial.  Hope I haven’t been freaking you out by leaving out a day.

Then again, many scientists argue that time is an illusion.  Which makes me wonder, if there is technically no countdown clock, what is the real reason we’re racing Ironman?

Slowly, I think I am figuring that out.

Last year I was racing for many of the “wrong” reasons.  Namely, I was trying to impress everyone, except myself.

I launched like a rocket at the moon, but when I got there, I didn’t have a plan.  I celebrated for days before realizing, all that drive and energy was burned seeking a symbol.  A time, a conquest, a medal.

IMWI-Finish-Small2I wanted to be an Ironman.

But then, I was an Ironman, and, that alone didn’t open my world to happiness and satisfaction.  I’d forgotten the real reason I signed up in the first place:  to break up the plaque forming in my veins.

I wasn’t going to do another Ironman this year.  I didn’t see the point in all the suffering.  I suppose, that is proof that I was learning.

But I kept working out on my terms and started to find joy in the training.  It was no longer “workout until I can’t move,” but exercise to unleash more energy.

Eventually, I registered for Louisville, but it still wasn’t for the right reason.  The “glitz” is what ultimately drew me in.  I wanted to be a part of the parade.  I wanted to matter.

Now, just under 3 days from the shot of the cannon, I am looking at racing from a completely different perspective.  I have accepted that I am simply excited to test my mind and body.

Ironman is one day and simply another in a long list of life’s deadlines.  It’s a test to see if we can finish what we’ve started.  A metaphor for all of those projects and dreams we want to complete.  The more we finish something difficult, the easier it becomes to fold your laundry.

Have you thought about why you are doing an Ironman (or marathon or whatever)?  There can only be one reason.  We do it because we enjoy the challenge, and ultimately believe the process will help us get closer to the person we haven’t quite uncovered.

 

3 Days Until Ironman Louisville . . . and No Job

Today, a crazy stillness overtook me.  The calm before . . . the fire.

It started while I was sitting around doing video work this morning and had an insatiable urge to go swimming.  I put up zero resistence.

I warmed up, then glided easily for about 600 meters to simulate the start of Ironman Louisville.  Settling into my race will be priority number one.  I don’t want to be breathing heavily by the time I turn to go down stream.  No matter how slow my pace.

newworkdayI did a few more 200′s, then casually ascended to land before climbing the stairs to the roof pool.  I soaked in the sun like a monk in meditation.

Later, I ran into a guy I used to work with, and that’s when it hit me, “I am finally turning into myself again.”

I worked in local television news for nearly 15 years and, for the most part, dreaded every day.  Sad, I know.

Nothing about it agreed with my flow.  The karma of negative news, the corporate environment, the regimented and endless deadlines.  It just keeps going.  You are never done.  Even a ridiculously long race like Ironman has a finish line.

By now it was noon and I had nothing but loose plans like packing for Louisville and finishing a video edit.  But I had all day and night to do them.  It was my decision as to when they would get done.  It was the freedom I have missed and cherished for so many years.

Today was the first day that I literally felt anxiety melting from my body.  It may have had something to do with the heat, but I’m pretty sure it was the realization that I am finally on the path I have wanted for my life.

Don’t get me wrong, Ironman has its own way of stirring the anxiety pot, and I can certainly feel it bubbling.  It has been a continual source of stimulation and a great amount of fear.  But somehow knowing I have a different life waiting after Ironman is a tremendous relief.

I know the release will help me on some way this Sunday.  I may not be in the shape I want to be in, but I can feel my mental pendulum swinging the right direction.  In the last two days I have let go a lot of premature goals that are out of my control and let myself be at peace with a race I have obsessed about for months.

This race will not define me.  It is simply something I want to do because it is taking me in the right direction.  Forward and free.

 

4 Days Out From Ironman Louisville #IMLOU

4daysoutSo we know the temperature may hit 100 degrees on Sunday, but how’s your mental thermometer handling that news?  Me?  I’m sitting here watching my dog lick her paws.

My first Ironman was a beautiful wreck and Louisville is about to whack me with the ugly stick, but in a perverted, kinda why-would-anyone-do-an-Ironman sort of way, I’m pumped.

It’s like a hyper-focus lens on my brain.

We know this week is for tapering, but 100 degrees makes you think twice before eating that extra Snickers.

This week is all mental and emotional for me.  It’s about staying level headed, eating right, and not letting the body get dehydrated.

I read a story once about a blazing hot Summer Olympics and the strategy of two different teams.  One was to stay outside a lot and in rooms with no air conditioning to get used to the heat.  The other was to stay cool in a plush hotel, relax, and get good sleep.  The latter proved to be the far better formula and that’s the plan I’m gonna follow.

 

 

100 Degrees At Ironman Louisville?? #IMLOU

Well, got some stellar news via the internet today:

100degrees

men-in-whiteWith that close to my heart and mind, this week of taper is quickly turning into a week of sleep.  I ordered my Sheik outfit today, so look for me in the flowing white.  Something similar to this, including the sandals.

I’m also drinking tons of cucumber juice and spending a lot of time in front of the grill when I cook.  And working on my tan by floating in the pool.

I showed the forecast to my buddy and he said, “Dude, that is just plain fucked up.”

Yeah, but if Louisville is moving to October next year, it might as well go out with a bang.  I will believe it when I see/feel it, but there is a small, well, actually large part of me that hopes it does hit 100.

In all seriousness, I hope they have doubled the water and ice order for this weekend.  I’ve heard of many races where they’ve ran out and this would not be the one to experiment with your inventory efficiency.

At least it’s going to be sunny.  Zero percent chance of precipitation is sweet.

I know a guy in Nashville who raced Lake Tahoe last year and don’t think it’s too late for him to go from ice to the fire of Ironman Louisville within a year.  His legacy is waiting . . .

There’s been talk that Ironman may shorten the race, but that is a slim to none possibility.  We’re all in this together, ready to drink the Kool-aid just like they did in Jonestown.

 

 

 

 

Last Week Preparation and Racing Ironman Louisville

My coach has graciously submitted his thoughts for how to handle this last week of preparation, and Ironman Louisville.  It’s us against the world, but there is a lot of power if we harness it well, and race smart.

COACHES CORNER:  YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE 

In 6 days myself and a few of my absolute closest friends will toe the line at Ironman Louisville.  The week leading up to an Ironman usually means more free time for each athlete as they taper down, freshen up and rest.

However, this time also allows for all types of thoughts to creep in.  The good and the bad.  Personally, I think the most important thought or belief you need to come to terms with this week is “I am who I am.”

Ironman is such a complex animal.  Many people sign up a year or sometimes more away from race day.  We look at the course, the temps, past results, how long we have to train, and then calculate what we think and hope we can do when that day arrives. That is where problems and potential failure arise.  

So many things good and bad can happen over the course of a year and every single one of them has an impact on your training.  This week it is CRUCIAL not too look back on your hopes and dreams of last year or even last month.  

Do not get caught up in “crushing” this time, or “crushing” this other person’s time.  Silence your ego and in that moment, get to know yourself in the present.  Get to know who you really are.

If you are racing on Sunday, the person you are while reading this is the person you need to be the most comfortable with on race day.  Recognize your strengths and weaknesses.  Be aware of what your fitness limits ARE and not what you hoped they would be.

For some of you doing this means you might need to be humble.  For others it means you may need to up the ante for race day.  

Regardless, being confident and comfortable in who you are on race day is more important than anything else.  It will bring you closer to executing your perfect race as well as fully appreciating the journey that got you there. For many athletes just getting through the year and making it to the start line is just as important as crossing the finish line.  In the next few days do the following:

Mentally and Emotionally:
 -Be kind to yourself.
-Get to know yourself.
- Be aware of your current fitness.
-Forget about what athlete #3704 is doing.
-Appreciate your journey and how you got to 4th Street in downtown Louisville. If you dont fully appreciate it then know one fully will either.
- Make a SMART race plan and be comfortable and confident enough to stick to it.
- Put your headphones away and keep your “serious” face in the hotel room. Enjoy the people and the atmosphere around you.
- No regrets on the course.
On Race day do the following:
Physically:
- Swim close to the island (left of the buoys)
- Take the first 20 miles of the bike to settle in and hydrate.
- Go for a negative split on the back 56 miles of the bike.
- Pace yourself at a speed that will allow you to stay aero for the last 20 miles
- Make your first 1-3 miles of the run your SLOWEST.  Hydrate and cool your body
- Use the first 1/2 to warm up (literally as well :))
- If you can run the back 1/2 of the marathon regardless of pace you will pass 200-500 people just on the back 1/2 alone.
- Soak in the best finish line in the world.
Good luck and have fun!

5 Days Until Ironman Louisville #IMLOU

Last year I went to watch Louisville two weeks before I did my first Ironman and it did two things:

1.  Pumped me up beyond belief.  There is nothing like watching an Ironman.

2.  Scared the living crap out of me.

It was the second time I spectated IM Louisville and both times I have loved every minute of it.  It’s in a great downtown setting, the waterfront is awesome, and the energy of over 2,000 athletes is incredible.

The pre-race energy really got me going.  I even rode the first 12 miles or so (and back) of the bike course and tasted the first climb.  I remember thinking how much I liked the river view as I rode.

The Swim Start is electric.  The music, the nervous energy, the friends and family all watching as one by one future Ironmen jump into the abyss.

The weather is beautiful at that hour, but as the day rolls on, you begin to meet the Devil.  The mighty Louisville rises and it takes its toll on everyone.

The first loop through LaGrange offers a lot of excited bikers, but stay long enough and the faces change.  The smiles become introspection as cyclists tuck deeper into their shell, searching for any form of aerodynamic that will get them back home.

You scramble for shade, just to watch, then drive in air conditioning back to the Bike Exit where the carnage becomes clear.

And the run…  oh, the run.

I was absolutely shocked the first time I watched and it seemed like damn near every one in that race was walking on the first loop.  And the second time was no different.  Throngs of lycra covered men and women taking a Sunday afternoon stroll on the Louisville Streets.

It was like a car wreck, and I couldn’t turn away.  Would that be me?  Will that be me?

You think you’ve trained enough, but could all these people be wrong?  They all trained, probably more than me. For the week after that race, I was genuinely psyched out about going to Wisconsin.  I thought I was doomed.

Eventually I forgot the faces in Louisville and got down to work.  The race has nothing to do with anyone else, it all comes down to what you have inside.

Hundreds of pre-mature calculations suddenly didn’t matter.  It was me against the course.

And something strange happened that morning of the race.  I stood in that swim line fearless.

It’s really the same as most things in life.  The anticipated anxiety is always worse than the reality of the event.

Hundreds of thousands have done the same thing we are about to do on Sunday.  They have worried endlessly, they have wrestled in their sleep the night before, then . . . they have gone out and finished an Ironman on their terms.

Why We Do Ironman (Video) #IMLOU #IMWI

I forgot I’d made this video last year as the 5 of us were training for Ironman Wisconsin, but it’s kinda cool.  There are so many stories behind why people do Ironman and the guys I did my first with have some great ones.

I really still do plan to put this all together in a 30-60 minute film sometime soon-ish.  Feel free to let me know if you like this kind of thing and think it would be interesting in a longer form.

Thanks.