Triathlon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Triathlon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Triathlon is a process.  We start with blind exuberance then evolve.

There’ve been many times when I’ve reflected and cringed.  I used to “say” I was doing it to become a better person, and that’s somewhat true, but not in the beginning.  I was doing it for my ego.

I wanted to feel a new excitement in my life . . . to feel relevant again.

It was a re-kindling of an earlier life in sports.  I was moving, thrashing, and looking in the eyes of my competition.  It fueled me like nothing had in years.  And I think that’s natural.

But, it was just the beginning.  After several months, and certainly after my first Ironman, the thrill wore off.  I was staring at emptiness in the mirror.  What now?

Well, “what now” was another Ironman that I felt obligated to do a year later.  A lot of it had to do with the fact that I had a blog and created a monster I didn’t want to tame.  The other reason was because I thought triathlon was the key to reviving my life.

Right before that second race I quit my corporate job of 14 years.  I was finally free to pursue the life I wanted and triathlon was right at the center.  And of course that was the problem.

Triathlon isn’t my life, but it’s definitely a vehicle for getting me to where I want to go.  That’s the challenge, and today I had a great discussion about that topic with my coach.

It’s all in the new podcast embedded below.  It’s a very open and honest discussion, which reminds me of something that would make my good friend Dr. Oz proud.  (You can read the semi-hilarious story behind this Dr. Oz interview here, and read Dr. Oz’s response to my post here.)

Below is the podcast where Coach Robbie and I talk about how we started, how we’ve evolved, and how we believe triathlon will fit into our lives in the future.

The Good: Friends, family, Fitness.
The Bad:  Ego, Arrogance, Excess.
The Ugly:  Regret, lies, and suffering.

Triathlon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Music City Triathlon – Race Preview

Music City Triathlon – Race Preview

I’ve had a lot of requests for a Music City Triathlon Course Preview so I thought I’d drive down to the river and take care of business.  Now, I raced the old course, so my information might not be totally accurate, but really the only information you need is that it is supposed to be 100 degrees that day.

I’ve compiled three expertly crafted videos, one for each portion of the course: swim, bike, and run.  Regarding the swim, I think you swim up about a 1/3, then a full length with the current, then 2/3rds back into the current… but please double check when you get there!  The bike and run videos are about 5 minutes long, and I know that’s time consuming, but those minutes could save you seconds on this course!!

Please share with your friends who are racing.  (That goes for you too Team Magic 🙂

Music City Triathlon – Swim Course Preview

Music City Triathlon – Bike Course Preview

Music City Triathlon – Run Course Preview

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Challenge Knoxville is Official

I’m officially in for Challenge Knoxville.  I’ll be doing the Olympic as has been my standard the last couple years and look forward to defending my PowerBar crown along with this outlandish 3rd place medal!

Me, Wasky, Jim, and Corey in 2014

Unfortunately the rest of this crew won’t be joining me, so if you’re going and need a friend with outlandish viewpoints on triathlon or feel like having some good old fashioned Knoxville fun, let me know.  I’ll be staying at the host hotel.

I’m really excited to see how the Challenge experience differs from Rev3.  I thought Rev did a great job and expect Challenge to take it up a notch.

If they do one thing, I hope Challenge delivers an international flavor to this race, and by that, I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Narrow roads with overly aggressive spectators, maybe?  Cornetto and cappuccino in the rooms?

It’s my first race of the year and I sit here in Beloit, Wisconsin with an anticipation-buzz.

Photo on 5-4-15 at 12.51 PM #2
After a 10 hour drive to Beloit, Wisconsin

In some ways, this race has made me as a triathlete.  It was my warm up race for IMWI two years ago and it was likely some of the worst conditions possible.  I loved it and really grew as an athlete that day.

Last year they moved the date back a couple weeks and racing conditions were solid.  It’s a great city to host and I love downtown Knoxville.  Read my 2014 Rev3 Race Report.

Coming next is a list of 10 ways I believe Challenge can take a dent out of Ironman in the 70.3 distance.




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

Many more writing samples at

Thank you for the consideration.



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.




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?





Day 2 of “10 Days of Rest”

The Blessing of Addiction

When you grow up in an alcoholic home, you have a tendency to crave excitement.  So, when I don’t start the day running through fires naked, it’s worthy of note.

A subtle, but valuable indicator is when I’m not actively thinking of coffee.  It’s a sub-conscious decision that I like to interpret as a symptom of balance.

I have to be careful though, because in some ways I fear that this newly concocted “10 Days of Rest” is the excitement.  Do I really feel more relaxed, or am I just more optimistic because I have a fresh stimulant?

This thought process is a blessing and a curse, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It’s a great base for being a triathlete.  You crave new challenges and push your ass to the limits.  You believe (or want to prove) you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  But, staying committed is the real battle.

Today’s “Workouts”

On “Day Two,” I eased in without anxiety of a missed or pending workout and I swear the calm was real.  I didn’t have my first sip of coffee until I got to work.  Often, that is time for cup number two.

The stretching and leg exercises from the day before helped, but I had an underlying feeling meditation was having just as much or more impact on my serenity.  I’ve also been reading a book called “Flow” which is a pretty intense dive into consciousness and how your state of mind can be controlled and not left to chance.  (More on that when I figure out what the hell he’s talking about).

Over lunch, I repeated the pelvis and hip flexor stretches from the day before.  After work, things got a little more physical.

I added push ups, pull ups, some dumb bell work, then swim catch and pull simulations with cords.  None of it was overly intense.  Simply a wake up call to unused muscles.  As the 10 Days build, so will the weight and reps.  I also did Beso ball step-ups and can feel it a little in my calves.

Race Schedule Options

After walking the dog, I pulled my new USA Triathlon card out of the mail and found some intriguing race teases in the package.  Louisville is my ultimate goal, but if I get done with these 10 Days and decide I’m gonna race short courses I have an alternative plan . . . that coincidentally could all take place in Wisconsin.

June 22 – Rev3 Wisconsin Dells (Olympic)
July 20 – IM 70.3 Racine (Half – most doubtful)
August 10 – USAT Olympic Nationals Milwaukee (Olympic)
September 13 – TriRock Series – Lake Geneva (Olympic)

In reality I will probably only do 3 of the 4, but it feels like a good plan considering I would have convenient lodging for most of it and I love being home in the summer.

If, I decide Louisville is my destiny, the schedule will probably look like more this:

August 24 – Ironman Louisville

Either way is a win and I’m just gonna let it play out naturally.  Of course, the third option could be spending a summer in meditative recovery, but that might make a blog about triathlon kinda boring.

Rev3 Knoxville




My First Day of 10 Days of Rest

I started my 10 Days of Rest yesterday, but that doesn’t mean I’m being lazy.  I think it’s important to restate that this will be intense mind and body work to rebuild my foundation.  I will be very active in my relaxation.

Last night I performed a fairly intense cycle of stretching and strengthening exercises.  The base of the stretching is from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body book, and can be seen performed by this young man or look at this picture for a sample.

Hip Flexor Stretch 4 hour body

The first thing I learned (which I already knew) was that I am super tight in my pelvis and hip flexors.  This is a major problem, and whether it’s true or not, I think it is basically the root of my plantar facetious (not to mention strain and stress in general).  It sounds strange, but my heel is measurably better today after spending about 30 minutes with these exercises last night.

I also did a handful of planks only to realize, not only am I tight, I am weak!  Crazy how you can workout so much and feel like a you can’t fight your way out of a paper bag.

Triathlon was the perfect cross train discovery for my running woes, now I realize I need to cross train the cross train.  Triathlon makes you very straight-ahead-easy-pace-strong, but doesn’t round out the body as much as I need.  It’s those same, repetitive motions that build the same muscles.  When I was going good last season, I was doing yoga at least twice a week, along with leg exercises that worked unused muscles.  But, time is a rare commodity in triathlon and something as simple as 30 minutes to invest in your long-term success becomes expendable.

So, I have no idea if this experiment will pay off, but my gut is telling me it will.  It’s a little risky to drop all endurance training for 10 days at this time of the season, but health is the key to fitness and I’m hoping this slight detour will get me there faster.

I’ll probably repeat this routine a couple times today, then add some Beso ball step-ups and balance stuff, along with a full round of yoga.  I’m also looking forward to incorporating a bunch of plank varieties along with push ups and modified pull ups.

Obviously this is far deeper than training.  Last year’s Ironman training knocked me off a lazy and directionless foundation, and now I’m working on putting these pieces together in a way that makes sense.  The “excitement” WAS Ironman.  Now, I feel like I’m looking for that deep and genuine place in training (and life) that fuels me on a more natural and consistent level.  Pure excitement for the day ahead, period.



10 Days of Rest Mid-Season?!?

The Way In is Out

I’ve been struggling again.  After the high of my Rev3 race in Knoxville, I’ve hit another wall.  I’m desperately searching for an answer on whether or not I should do Ironman Louisville, but think my best play is to take a step back.

There are many factors going into this decision, but the biggest is:  I want to race it well.  Wrong or right, I have no interest in going up to Kentucky to simply finish.  With that in mind, the only solution I have at the moment is to take a break from swim, bike and run.

I’ve decided to take 10 days to focus on the “little” things that will allow me to train with a purpose and hopefully race Louisville to my standards.  I will be spending a lot of time on the Beso ball, foam roller, and hopefully massage tables.  I will be doing yoga, planks, and glute/hip flexor exercises.  I will be walking, hiking, and skipping.  And quite possibly kicking back in a hammock.  Hammock_against_setting_sun

The Clock is Ticking

I already feel behind in my training and 10 days off will put me at around 10 weeks until Louisville.  Ten Days for Ten Weeks.

As I contemplated this decision, I scoured the web for info on rest while training and discovered a great article with this reassuring excerpt:

Both Kienle and Crowie rest for four weeks in their off-seasons with a little alternative activity. After that period of inactivity, they build back up. That might seem like enough rest, but for a top-level pro, a six- to eight-week period of rest would be more appropriate, as Allen has shown. Allen also took a full week completely off in early August, just eight weeks prior to Kona, something that would leave most athletes insecure so close to the most important race in the calendar. He would use this week to balance body and mind, and work on his strength of character.  Read the full article here
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.

Triathlon is 90% Mental, the Other Half is Physical

Of course I borrowed that from Yogi Berra and replaced baseball with triathlon, but the point is made, sort of.  I think the real point is, just like that quote, this decision is confusing.  I realize it sounds a bit ludicrous to take 10 days off right in peak season, but I also know it’s wise to stop building a house if you screwed up the foundation.

I really, really want to do this race, but it’s all coming from the ego.  Either to prove I can battle through another ridiculously tough day, or to be a mule on display for friends who will be there watching.  None of it is coming from the right place and the more I haphazardly train, the more jumbled the choice becomes.


If I can’t get serious about training, I’m not doing the race.  I really think backing off is the only hope I have for Louisville.

Take yesterday for example.  I went out for an open-ended run I thought might end up around 8 miles.  For the first mile my mind was screaming stop the entire time.  Somehow my legs fought it off, but that’s just not how I want this to unfold.

I did finish the 8 mile jaunt, but it felt more like survival than a training run.  It seemed just as hard at the beginning as it did at the end.  Not even a good hard.  And if that’s how it’s gonna go, I’d rather spend a little more time in this bad boy.


Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.