More Flying Monkey Pics – 2013 Race

UPDATE:  All the “hundreds” of Flying Monkey Pics have been moved here:  Crushing Iron on Flickr

Here’s the second installment of pictures I shot at the 2013 Flying Monkey Marathon.  Sure, some may be repeats, but they will be better the second time!  Feel free to re-post them to your pages, but please credit crushingiron.com.  Also, if you would like the hi-res version, email me at mtarrolly@gmail.com.  Put “Monkey” in the subject line and file name in the body.  While you’re here, please feel free to read and share my post on why I think RUNNING IS KING, then sign up to follow me on Twitter (@miketarrolly) so you don’t miss any of this half-baked insight in the future.

2014-01-24 02.11.13 2014-01-24 02.05.55 2014-01-24 02.10.00

Flying Monkey Marathon Pictures 2013

UPDATE:  All the “hundreds” of Flying Monkey Pics have been moved here:  Crushing Iron on Flickr

I will upload more over the next few days, but for now, enjoy a few pics from the 2013 Flying Monkey Marathon. Feel free to re-post them, but please credit crushingiron.com. Also, if you would like the hi-res version, email me at mtarrolly@gmail.com. Put “Monkey” in the subject line and file name in the body. While you’re here, please enjoy my critically acclaimed post about how awesome runners are, then sign up to follow my blog for loads of ridiculous and fascinating insight about a bunch of nothing that may come in handy at some point.

2014-01-24 01.54.29 2014-01-24 01.54.09 2014-01-24 00.43.31

Like “The Flying Monkey” Isn’t Hard Enough

UPDATE:  All the “hundreds” of 2013 Flying Monkey Pics have been moved here:  Crushing Iron on Flickr

Tomorrow I will witness a legendary running race.   I will stand, shivering on the sidelines as a bunch of friends and other brave souls tackle one of the harder marathons in the business, the Flying Monkey.

It is a beautiful, yet brutal run that kicks off at 8 am with a starting temperature forecast of 25 degrees.  Making matters worse?  It’s not supposed to get above freezing.  I am totally jealous.

It’s easy to rock a race when conditions are perfect, but weather is the great equalizer.  Tomorrow, we’ll find out how tough everyone is and they will carry that badge forever.  It reminds me of the cold rainy day at my Rev3 race in this Spring in Knoxville, the blistering heat of Ironman Louisville this summer, and 30 degree air for the Ironman Lake Tahoe swim this Fall.  All three had very, very tough weather conditions, and tomorrow, Flying Monkey will join the club.IMG_4551

These are the races that create fraternity for the competitors.  Runners will forever be able to say “I ran the Monkey below freezing.”  Alumni will be able to spot each other simply by looking in their eyes.  A subtle confidence will emanate from their being.

“Hey, did you run the Monkey in 2013?”  “Why yes I did.”  “I knew it!”  High five.

So, if you’re running in the morning and are fortunate enough to read this post before the gun, consider yourself blessed.  Keep your form, don’t let snot freeze on your lip, and beat the shit out of this monkey.  It will suck for a while, but the legend of this race will live a long, long time.  That means years and years of conversation that will be much more enjoyable if you wipe the weather from your head, let go of the pain and leave it all on the course.

And if you want to feel sorry for someone, think of the unlucky spectators who are standing there shivering as you bathe in glorious sweat.  Or, even me, who will be crouched down with frozen fingers taking pictures of your happy faces.

Go get ’em you lucky bastards!
—————————-

2013 Flying Monkey Pics
2013 More Flying Monkey Pics
Even More Flying Monkey Pics

My 2014 Race Schedule

I’ve never been a big planner, but putting things “out there” keeps me motivated.  Ironman Wisconsin lurked in the distance for 364 days and it was something I couldn’t ignore.  I feel pretty good about how things worked out, but my hat’s been hanging there long enough.  Time to move on to 2014, so, as you’re reading this imagine it’s like the unveiling of March Madness brackets.1477363_10201532389004193_2142897409_nLouisville is the sight for my National Championship, but I’ll have to get through some tough races before then.  The road starts in Tennessee with the Dry Creek 1/2 Marathon in Nashville.  It will be a trail run, and I will be doing a lot of off- road training for the next couple months.

After Dry Creek, I’m heading to New Orleans for the Ironman 70.3.  I’ve already been approached by JW Marriott on Twitter about staying in their awesome hotel for that week, but I think $450/night is a little much for this struggling triathlete.  I would happily be their Ironman NOLA blogging correspondent and steer my dozens of readers to the French Quarter.  But, even if I end up staying in a brothel, my 2013 started with the New Orleans Half Marathon and I’m excited about my return.

In May, I will return to Knoxville and revenge at the Rev 3 Olympic.  It was an absolutely brutal race, but none have been so rewarding.  I’m hoping to see a lot of my new Knoxville training partners, along with find the podium after coming in 4th in my age group in 2013.

Then comes the big debate, that appears to be landing on the side of my home state.  My road to Louisville will likely go through Racine instead of Muncie.  I did Muncie last year and while it will always be my first, but it’s time to explore the bowels of one of Wisconsin’s most under appreciated gems.

Then, of course, Ironman Louisville.  This is the race that’s been on my mind for over two years.  I’ve watched it twice, now I cannot wait to run down that ramp and take off into the Ohio River.

sunset-1280I’ve stood and peered over that temporary fence in Lagrange until my legs wanted to melt — now I’ll take the easy route of riding 112 miles.

And now I will run by that infamous downtown corner near the end of the first 13.1 mile loop, where many have met their match.  I will have the advantage of support from aspiring Ironman Chattanooga friends watching as I fight cramps and heat rash.

It should be great because I know at least 20 triathletes doing Ironman Chattanooga and I fully expect them to treat me like a king in the Bluegrass State.  I’ve seen a lot of pain in Louisville, but that’s exactly why I want to race it.

After my “one shining moment” in Louisville?  Well, I have a distant gaze on a Hawaiian beach.

My Clandestine Affair With Ironman

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” — Leo Tolstoy

I grew up in little Midwestern town called Beloit, Wisconsin with a tenacious group of friends. We played until the sun went down, and often thrived under the moon.  Endurance junkies that didn’t know shit about hydration or nutrition — we just played until we dropped.

My knees throbbed, my ankles ached, and my hands . . . wrinkled like prunes.  I was too young to understand, but somewhere deep inside all of this toil, was a hidden love for Ironman.mike capitol

When I went to college, it was more of the same, but I quickly added drinking to my list of endurance routines.  An Irish Boy with a training base built over hundreds of years and I did my best to uphold tradition.

Competitive softball replaced college and took me all over the Midwest on a fancy tour bus.  Sometimes we played 6 or 7 games a day, all for the right to carry home a trophy nobody else cared about.

After softball, I went back to endurance drinking because it was easy.  The first step is always “take action” and for some reason pouring a drink is infinitely easier than tying a pair of running shoes or filling two water bottles.

Alcohol is patient and it prevailed for the next 15 years, but the “easy way” certainly wasn’t making life easy.  I wish I would have realized all of this waste, but time was the only thing that could heal my wounds.

Somehow I found the strength to change priorities.  My decline was imperceptible to the naked eye, but I was falling apart.  Not much was making sense and the deeper I went, the more confusing it became.  It all started to change when I discovered and accepted running.

And run I did.

For the next eight months, I found a new muse.  “One more beer” started morphing into “one more lap” and that simple substitution may have saved my life.

Eventually it rekindled my fascination with the Ironman I first saw as a child.  Who were those crazy bastards doing insane amounts of endurance from sunrise till sunset?  Their behavior was so unusual that it never occurred to me I could be one.  But I didn’t have a choice.

I signed up for Wisconsin on a whim.  It was my home state, and in some ways I looked at it as another chance to go back and showcase for the locals.  I’d left a mark in baseball, now I would leave one in triathlon.

The day after I signed up, I started writing about the quest.  Years of endurance drinking buried emotions and now they flowed like an all night keg stand.

Ironman branded my brain and I searched my soul for its meaning.  The frightening swim, the daunting bike, and the run I never really believed I could do, ever . . . let alone at the end.

The blog became a daily dose of convincing myself I could be an Ironman.  I served my thoughts on a platter for the world to chew and spit out.  I praised the race for setting a new bar, a new standard for a new person.

I shredded my body in a masochistic experiment just to prove I belonged.  Long, torturous swims, rides and runs that left me exhausted, yet inspired to grab that elusive feeling I couldn’t quite explain.

I’d raced Ironman Wisconsin countless times before I jumped into Lake Monona.  I’d finished the race in my mind, I just needed to deliver the proof.

The 11:58:58 next to my name in the Ironman annals proves we are officially “an item,” but the honeymoon is over.  Now, I must seduce her again.

The first thing I noticed after the race was a feeling of  extreme relief.  But that is what Steven Pressfield (The War of Art) would call “Resistance” tricking me into believing the job is finished.  A persistent voice in my head telling me, “You have nothing to prove, now go back to your comfortable ways of drinking late into the night, sleeping in, and making excuses.”

That is a battle I will likely fight to my grave.  That temptation to take the easy route.  The temptation to put it off to tomorrow.  The temptation to squash the pain with a drink, a nap, or an eating binge.

Life is never easy, but I have other plans.  I have seen how discipline, focus, and hard work can take me to a new place.  Now it’s about finding the time and patience to court Ironman again in 2014.  I look forward to the challenge, I just wish she wasn’t such a bitch.

I’m Number One!

Well, I’m actually number One . . . Hundred and Eighty Nine. . . but it’s a start.

I think these rankings for Ironman are a new thing, and for the U.S. in my age group I show up at 189 out of 2907, which I am both happy with and quite motivated by.

Here’s an explanation of the Ironman point system.

I’m planning to do a little more damage next year.  For one, I’ll be adding an additional race.  For two, I know what it takes and have already started working on the little things that will make a big difference.

I went to a physical therapist yesterday for a check up and he confirmed everything I suspected, which is . . . I’m out of balance.

I’ve had a bum knee, a weak achilles, a sore heel, and wank shoulder.  The shoulder has been screwed up for years thanks to a football game at work.  It really only limits my swim range.  The other stuff came from running.

My left leg and ankle are much weaker than my right side counterparts, so I over compensate and the result is more weakness . . . and pain.  This off season will be about symmetry.  Strengthening my left leg so I don’t have to baby it on the long runs while forcing my right leg to pick up the slack.  This is not going to be easy, however, because I’m kind of impatient with this stuff.  It took me an entire lifetime to build this ghastly inequity and it won’t correct itself overnight.

I could give you a long list of plans for box-step-ups and yoga moves, but it’s not the actual process as much as the mental motivation to do things that “feel” insignificant.  It’s hard enough to psych yourself up for workouts . . . but adding another 15 minutes before and after for shit that seems straight out of a senior citizen post-lunch/pre-nap conditioning hour?

“Grab those soup cans and hold ’em high!”

Anyway, now is the toughest time of the year for triathletes and it’s more important than ever to keep your head straight.  For me it starts with diet, hydration, and rest.  And while I do mean recovery/rest, I’m more concerned with actual sleep after strategic workouts because I’m still convinced a good attitude starts with sleep.

I was just talking with my coach, Robbie, over lunch and the last thing we covered was Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour theory,” which exerts that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert.  I think Robbie and I agreed that his theory is full of holes because you can do the same insignificant workouts for 20,000 hours and improve less than if you did intensely focused and more productive work for 5,000.  Hell, Navy SEALS claim they can master nearly anything in 24 hours.  There’s also David Epstein’s book, “The Sports Gene,” that questions Gladwell’s theory from an entirely different perspective.

So what’s my point?  (Besides the fact that I am 189th in the US in my age group?)  I have no idea.  Besides, it’s only a damn blog.

The Most Important Part of My Training

Sometimes we fly through life and forget the simplest solutions to nagging problems.

After writing about winter motivation earlier this morning it occurred to me that I had no carrot on my stick.  I’m just training to train.

My story is no different than most.  Did the 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, sprint tri, Oly, 1/2 progression at the start, but none of that would have happened if I didn’t put that 5k on the calendar.  I was quick to add another race after each one I completed until I jumped in the deep end with Ironman and that carried me for a year.

So, after lunch I sent a tentative 2014 race schedule to my coach, which he approved, and followed with, “Hurry up and sign up for NOLA.  Get your ass in gear.”  That’s all it took and 15 minutes later I was signed up for NOLA 70.3.

It’s human nature.  If we have something “out there” we subconsciously push towards that goal.  I’m sure there’s a big life lesson in here somewhere, but for now, I have a little more excitement about going home tonight and jumping on a hard bike seat. 9495223-standard ironmannola10jpg

Surviving Your Triathlon Off Season

It’s cold and dark.  You’re fatigued.  Your knees and feet hurt.  There is no race in sight.

I don’t know about you, but I’m digging deep for motivation.  The fear of losing what took me a year and a half to build helps a little, but the winter months are a totally different animal.

I’m hanging on by a thread with 3-4 marginal workouts a week, but if I want to make next year count, I’ll need to pick it up soon.  Last night was a typical get-home-from-work-after-dark-funk, but I forced myself to dig up the reflective vest and do some work.

Almost everyone agrees that triathlon is won on the run.  And after that short, but effective 4 mile run last night, I have convinced myself that off-season training is also won with the run.  One simple reason: you can do it outside.

Let’s face it, indoor triathlon training blows.  The pool, the trainer, the treadmill . . . all suck.  Being outside and moving with no boundaries and changing scenery is where it’s at.  Ironman Wisconsin Swim

Flowing with nature is why I signed up for this.  Six am swims in the lake, hell yes.  Endless laps in a pool?  Forget it.  Four hours on a trainer or Natches Trace?  Breathing fresh air in a beautiful and hilly park or jamming a treadmill for an hour?

Last year the indoor stuff came easier because my first Ironman scared the crap out of me.  Motivation by fear.  But my goals have changed.  I want to be faster and there are no shortcuts.  Life rewards you for putting in the work.

Next year’s races are won now.  The indoor work is monotonous, but triathlon is about building mental toughness.

Putting in long hours on a bike that doesn’t move or in a pool that won’t let you out is very hard, but it’s the primer that makes your work stick.  And while that kind of caged workout doesn’t make my mouth water, it’s good to remember I can break up the main course with a sweet desert called “outside running” over the cold months ahead.Prepare

Top 10 Crushing Iron Blog Posts

$650 for Ironman and All I Got Was . . .

Ironman Wisconsin Swim Start Video – 2013

Mom Figured Out Why I’m Doing Ironman

How I Will Cut 25 Minutes Off My 1/2 Marathon Time

My Ironman Wisconsin Race Report 2013

How You Can Swim Safer and Faster In Triathlons – Guest Blog

Swim The Suck Race Report – Guest Blog

Ironman Louisville Spectator Report

Gulf Coast Triathlon Race Report – Guest Blog

My 5K Face Off With Dr. OzCMWkona Oztshirt