Changes in Training and a Tearful Goodbye to a Loyal Friend

I guess I should start this post with the sad news first.  I had to say goodbye to one of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had. Maverick, my Weimaraner, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on January 29, 2017.  The poor guy had congestive heart failure, valve disease, and arthritis, and still wagging his stubby little tail at me.  Try as we did, the medications and treatments were not helping.  One of the hardest things you have to do as a pet owner is to forgo your selfishness to hang on and let them go and be pain free.  Maverick my friend, one day we will be together again.  Please don’t forget me, as I will never forget you.  R.I.P. Buddy.


Training has been going well, even with dealing with the emotions of the past week.  We have a challenge at work where you get extra money placed in your health savings account for completing 2 hours of exercise a week for 10 weeks.  Guess what? I’m done . . . Before the end of week 2!  I smile when people say to me “How to they expect me to fit in two hours of exercise a week?”  Maybe I should tell them that this Saturday I swam for 1:10 and biked for 1:45 after that…and I’m not in peak season yet!  But I guess it’s a matter of what’s important to you . . . If you want it badly enough, you’ll make the time.  Which leads up to the next topic/challenge I’ve had to face…

My department at work moved locations, and it could have thrown my training into disarray.  See, I was right across the street from the YMCA, and could get a lunch workout in, and then only have one evening workout left.  It was a great arrangement.  But moving to the new location, with the work gym less than satisfactory for what I needed, a change was in order.  So now I’ve become a member of the EMC (Early Morning Crew).  I get up at 4am to get to the gym (which is a few miles away from my office, and a YMCA) which opens at 5am.  I am now one of the people I used to laugh at…standing at the door, waiting for them to unlock it and let me in.  But I can get a good workout in and still be at work well before 7am.  Then all that’s left is an evening workout if I have two scheduled.  If there’s a will, there is a way!

I mentioned last Saturday, and the swim/bike brick that I did.  While my coaches, Jennifer and Jeff Keil (seriously, go to elevenathletics.com and look them up…amazing people and awesome coaches) had a structured bike workout, the only thing in the swim was a ?.  I took it to mean maybe swim if I felt like it, but what to do?  So I got to the pool and did this..

1000 yards freestyle (non-stop) 1 min rest

1000 yards pull (non-stop) 1 min rest

500 yards free – :45 sec rest

500 yards pull 

It didn’t take long, and I just cruised, so I wasn’t worn out for the bike.  I dried off, changed, and hit the bike right away.  The problem with spin bikes are the are not accurate on the mileage.  So after doing a little research, I’ve determined that a 1 hour spin for me is approximately 17 miles.  So I rode approx. 30 miles after the swim.  Not a bad days work!  But I feel sorry for the buffet I stopped at after. LOL

So, until next time, remember to believe in yourself, dream big, and have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try.  You’ll never know how amazing you can be if you don’t try.


Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

So Much Fun Stuff Going On…


I passed!  It was one of the tougher tests I have ever taken, but I completed the two exams and I am now a certified triathlon coach.  The first exam was a multiple choice test, and although challenging, it went really fast.  I think that a couple of questions were arguable due to personal coaching philosophy, but that’s ok.  The main thing was I passed, and received my email on how to proceed to part two.

This is where the “fun” started.  It’s called a ‘short answer’ test, but the truth is, its nothing of the sort.  You begin by downloading all the necessary content: athletes bio, health assessment, assessments for their run, bike, and swim, base training schedule, the athletes availability schedule, list of goal races and their information, and the test.  Now you start and you use every sheet of paper you downloaded.  For example, I was supposed to come up with a three-week general prep schedule for my athlete, taking into account the athletes availability, particular weaknesses in each discipline and how to correct them, getting at least one intensity and one endurance workout per discipline per week, along with core/strength training.  That’s part ‘A’ of question 1.  Some questions went to part ‘F’, so you know that it’ll be a long test.  

The good thing is that it wasn’t a timed test, so you could stop, get a cup of coffee, review notes, bang your head into a wall, and return.  I decided to write everything out, and then when I was content with my answers, transfer it to the online format and send it in.

So I took my time, went over it again and again. Changed and corrected mistakes, and the spot on the wall where I banged my head grew larger.  Finally, after almost a week, I just wanted it to be done.  I knew that if I did not pass, that they would suggest areas to review to improve your score one time, so I decided that I would send it in, find out where I messed up, and focus on those areas.  So I nervously hit the ‘send’ button.  I breathed a sigh of relief; it was off.  I looked down and started gathering my papers when I noticed something….a mistake!  How did I miss that?!?  I could hear the laughter all the way from Kona.  Now I dreaded getting a response, because I was certain that I would be doing the entire test again.

Within the hour, I received an email stating that they received my test, and that it can take up to 14 days to grade and return it.  So, now all I could do is wait, and go over my notes to prep myself for the retake.  The next day, I received an email from Ironman University.  I was scared to open it, knowing I’d be knee deep in schedules and stretches, zones and threshold levels.  Finally, I opened the mail…..

I got 90%

I almost cried.  I was so worried, and yet I did really well.  I read that email over and over, making sure they sent it to the right person.  I was now a certified triathlon coach through Ironman University.  I have already started putting the knowledge learned into action, as I have two athletes that are beginning their triathlon journey that I am coaching.  While my primary focus is on the beginner triathlete, I hope to follow them as they grow and see how far they go in the sport. I enjoy writing the schedules, planning the workouts, hearing “Are you trying to kill me?!?” After they see the schedule, answering questions, etc.

But the thing I love the most is encouraging them.  Letting them know that they can do this, that they are amazing, and even though the workouts get harder, they in turn get better.  It’s fun to see them grow, not only in ability, but in self confidence.

So now I have coaching triathletes going on, and my coaching half marathoners is about to start up again.  Then you have to remember that I have my workouts to do to prepare for my first Ironman (Maryland, October 7, 2017).  The plate is filling up, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

When I chat with people about working out and hear them say “I can’t”, I just smile because I know they can, and I tell them why.

I did . . . and so can you!

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Exciting News!

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It’s time for a long overdue update. I finished my second Des Moines Olympic distance Triathlon recently, and set a PR (personal record) by cutting 37 minutes off last years time! That’s huge for me! Granted, it was a bit cooler than last years event, but I really give credit to my coach Jennifer (Jenni) Keil and the E11even Athletics team. Jenni trained me for my Ironman 70.3 in June, and during that training I saw what I needed to change to be successful in the Olympic distance. I learned to hydrate and refuel, even if I didn’t feel like it, and it paid off big at the Des Moines Tri. No sick, weak feeling, no hitting the wall, just a strong swim, bike and run! It was awesome!

 
So, now for the news! My coach and I had been discussing starting a group to train beginner triathletes in the sport, and to help them prepare for the sprint or Olympic distance triathlons. Jenni was also talking to my friend and fellow teammate Chris Matthews about this, and Chris and I were both excited to discuss it and wanted to be a part of it. Well, that time is now! E11even Athletics has started a beginner triathlete program called “Earn Your Stripes” (see image above), and it will take beginner athletes and guide them through the three disciplines as well as core/strength training to prepare them for their first triathlon. Coach Jenni has asked Chris and I to head up the program as the coaches! This is quite an honor, and I am happy and excited to assist taking E11even Athletics to the next level, and to help beginners find the same love for the sport of triathlon as I have! Many of you know that I currently coach runners training for their first half marathon, so to move up to training others for the swim and bike portions, as well as the run portion of a triathlon is exciting, and of course it makes me a little nervous. I want to do the best for the people who put their trust in me, and I want to be sure that, while triathlon training is tough and at times demanding, the athletes also have fun. You have to enjoy what you’re doing, or you won’t do it, simple as that.

 
My fitness journey has been an amazing adventure. From barely running a quarter mile on the treadmill to completing a Ironman70.3; from not knowing anything about the sport to helping others navigate their way through it. To make the news even better, I am currently studying to become a certified triathlon coach through Ironman University. I hope to complete this training soon, and put the knowledge I learned to work helping others.

 
So, if you are thinking “I’d like to do a triathlon”, look no further. Go to http://www.elevenathletics.com. Ask questions, sign up, and join us. You’ll be off to your own amazing adventure too! You will love the team at E11even Athletics, and you’ll be amazed at what your body can do!

 

Live healthy, be happy!
Travis

Looking Back While Moving Forward

To quote a famous song, “What a long strange trip its been”.  Looking back, I can remember sitting in the bleachers watching my friend complete an Olympic distance triathlon.  I remember thinking on how cool it would be to cross that finish line, to be in that exclusive club. Then I remember looking at my belly, knowing I was 40+ pounds overweight, and saying to myself “Who am I kidding? I’ll never do that”.  Well, with determination, and an attitude that I would not give up on myself any more, not only did I reach that dream of completing an Olympic distance triathlon, I shattered it by going to Raleigh, North Carolina and completing an Ironman 70.3!  Talk about an exclusive club.


Thanks to my coach Jenni and the E11even Athletics team, I trained properly and stayed healthy, and finished my race strong and ready to keep going.  After the race I had a two week break where I did no running, and only light biking and swimming.  Coach Jenni said the first week was to let the body heal, and the second was to take a little mental break before starting training again.  But, what to train for?  I completed my goal, and while I always have the next goal in mind, this was one goal that I could not decide on my own.  It required complete honesty from my coach, my wife, and myself, and after my “mental” break, it would be time to talk.

So I talked with my wife and discussed my new goal.  I had her blessing, so the only hurdle was my coach.  Jenni has always been up front and honest with me, even when the honesty can be hard to hear.  I trust her without question, and respect her opinion, so I nervously gave her a call.  What would she say? I was actually scared dialing the phone. Would she agree with me? Tell me that my new goal wasn’t obtainable?  What would I do if she said it wasn’t a good goal?  We talked for a long time.  I was surprisingly happy to hear that not only did she like my new goal and supported it, but she said she would be more than happy to train me toward making that goal.  She then asked if I wanted it, really wanted to do it, and I said “yes”. We talked about possible events over a couple conversations, and for right now we have penciled in an event for 2017.  It’ll be in early October (I hope) and hopefully much cooler than Raleigh was.  So I think I’ve stalled enough.  Here is the main goal penciled in for 2017:


If you noticed that there is no 70.3 at the end of the image, it is not a mistake.  Although at times I think about it and think about breathing into a paper bag.  The goal is to do a full 140.6 Ironman.  I have over a year to build on where I am now, but as Coach Jenni said “Your weekends are now officially over”.  They will be replaced with long bike rides (Jenni said that I will do several century (100 mile) bike rides during my training), more runs off the bike, although the swims won’t change that much.  Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to the challenge!  I’m looking forward to watching myself improve in ways I never thought possible.

I just hope I get in and get registered in time, and that they don’t change the date.  They are still prepping to run the 2016 Maryland Ironman, so the 2017 race is not open yet.  That gets me a little nervous, not knowing if you’ll get in until you do, and then freaking out yelling “Oh my God!! What have I done?!?”  But then you come down from the ledge, take a deep breath, and get to work.  After all, it just another 70.3 miles more than Raleigh, right?  Ok, where’s my paper bag to breathe in??

But honestly, I cannot believe looking back, at how far you can come when you don’t give up on yourself.  By constantly pushing to improve, you can do amazing things, even train for an Ironman.  I started by slowly running a mile, slowly biking about 5 miles,  and barely able to swim 25 yards.  In less than 7 years, I went from that to training to swim 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles.  What a (not so) long, strange (and wonderful) trip it’s been.

And it’s only just beginning….

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Raleigh Ironman 70.3

Before I begin my race recap, I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to my coach, Jennifer (Jenni) Jageman Keil and the awesome team at E11even Athletics.  Jennifer said that she would train me, work with me, and help me so that not only would I finish my first attempt at a Ironman 70.3, but that I would finish strong with gas still in the tank.  She was not kidding!  If anyone needs a coach for running, triathlon, swimming or biking, I strongly advise you to check out Elevenathletics.com. It was the best move I made in this adventure.

To anyone considering triathlon, join a triathlon club in your area.  I belong to the Des Moines Triathlon Club, and they have been a Godsend.  Between the advice, tips, camaraderie, and group workouts, they will have you up to speed in no time.  Also get a sports massage therapist, and go at least once a month.  My therapist, Amanda Lundstedt with Active Edge Orthopedic and Sports Massage, is not only a friend but also a fellow triathlete.  She asks what I’ve been working on, and knows where I need the most work.  Trust me, it feels good too!

I also want to thank everyone who cheered us on, helped us out, kayaked for us, or assisted in some way to make this dream a reality. You all know who you are.

So onto the race report. We arrived a week early to Raleigh, so we could get acclimated to the conditions, and to have a vacation (my wife Julie was attempting her first 70.3 as well).  We were getting used to the warmer temperatures, both on land and in the water, but started to worry that the race may not be wetsuit legal.  On Friday we attended the athletes meeting and our fears were confirmed:  the water temperature was 79ºF.  We left the meeting, toured the expo, and called our coach Jenni to see what should we do.  Do we try it without the wetsuits, or go to the back of the groups and swim with it?  We made a decision that if the water temperature did not lower by race morning, we would do our best without them.  Jenni warned us that we ran the risk of overheating in the wetsuit with water temperatures that high.

Saturday:  We went to Jordan lake for a quick 20 minute swim, 20 min bike, and 20 min run.  We swam without our wetsuits and it felt pretty comfortable.  However, the lake was calm and still, nothing like it was about to become.  We finished our workout, dropped off our bikes in T-1, along with our biking gear, and proceeded 56 miles into downtown Raleigh to T-2 to drop off our running gear.  The bike was a 56 mile one-way ride, thereby needing the two transition areas.

We decided to leave everything (bike gear or running gear) in their individual bags, because a storm was going to move through the area bringing a lot of rain.  We made sure that the bag openings were turned down, so they wouldn’t catch the rain.  We hoped that maybe the rain would cool things off, including the water temperature at the lake.

That night, the storm rolled through, dumping a large amount of rain.  We knew that the officials would make the announcement at 5:00 am Sunday, so we bagged our wetsuits to take with us just in case.  Now to try and get a little rest before heading to T-1 at 3:30 am Sunday morning.

Sunday:  It’s race day!  We ate a light breakfast, grabbed our carry bags (stuff for before the race and wetsuits), and headed to downtown to set up T-2 and get on the bus for the trip to Jordan Lake.  Even with all the rain, everything in T-2 was dry.  We set up our stuff and then got on the bus for the ride to the lake.


When we arrived at the lake, we found a very different situation: our bags were moved slightly, and the openings were left upward, so they were full of water.  My transition towel, socks, shoes, even my bike gloves were soaked.  I tried wringing them out, but they had adsorbed too much water.  They would never dry in time.  I decided to try my best getting dry and getting my socks on so I wouldn’t blister during the ride.  I wasn’t so sure that I wouldn’t blister because of the wet socks.   At 5am the official announcement came: the water temperature was 81º!  It actually rose two degrees even with all the rain!  That made the decision about the wetsuits an easy one: we were not going to wear them.

The Swim:  For some reason, Raleigh Ironman 70.3 lines up the swim groups by age: oldest first.  That meant I was in wave 4: first two pro waves, one 55 and older wave, and then mine.  Being nervous not having my wetsuit was hard enough, now I had the worry of all those 20 somethings swimming over me.  The lake, which was calm on Saturday, was now choppy and rough.  I tried to remain calm as we entered the water.  Suddenly the horn went off, and we were swimming!

It was a free-for-all.  People banging into one another, swimming over top of one another, no concern for others at all.  I tried to pace myself and stay out of the way, but seemed to get drawn right into the mix.  We had not reached the first buoy when someone’s hand went up, signaling for help.  All I could do was get out of the kayaks way and keep moving forward.

I made it around the first turn, and noticed that I had a little room to myself.  I knew it wouldn’t last long, so I enjoyed it.  The water was going in swells now, so I timed my breathing to be at the low point of the wave.  I would try to sight the buoys on the crest of the swell.  This worked until I was in another pack of swimmers, then I just did the best I could.

I finally made the second turn and headed for home.  A mad rush of swimmers started picking up the pace, and once again they were swimming over the top of me.  I actually had to shove one off of me!  During this, I tried to remind myself to stay calm and not freak out, but I don’t think anyone would have blamed me if I did!  I finally reached the shore, saw that someone hit my Garmin watch, pausing it.  I clicked it on for T-1 and made my way to the bike:  1.2 miles – 53:39


The Bike:  I got to T-1, tried to dry my feet off, and finally got my very wet socks and bike shoes on.  I ate a HoneyStinger gel and drank a little before applying sunscreen and donning my helmet and wet gloves and heading out of transition.  I mounted my bike at the designated spot and took off.  The roads were amazingly dry already, so there were no concerns about it being slippery. The course was not too bad, lots of rollers with a couple challenging hills.  But with every hill there was the opportunity to fly downhill, which I seized.  32 or 33 mph was easy for me to hit on this course, and would help boost you up the next hill.  I followed my coaches game plan to eat or drank every 15 minutes, trying to intake 250 – 300 calories an hour.  I was pretty close to that per hour, and could almost tell without looking at the time when I was due to eat or drink.  Before I knew it, I was in downtown Raleigh racking my bike and lacing up my running shoes.  My pretty bike ride had come to an end: 3:12:28.  Average 17.4 mph for 56 miles!


The Run:  The temperatures and humidity started to rise as we were on the bikes, but it wasn’t noticeable until we got off the bikes and started the run.  It was now up to my two feet to finish this.  I started out, and noticed that downtown Raleigh doesn’t have a lot of shade.  This course was deceiving, as it was a two loop run that showed going up and then down twice in stair step fashion.  It was anything but that.  It was a steady up, with rolling streets that made it feel like you were going up/down, not stair step.  Even the “downhill” had up and downs to it!  By mile three, I noticed a lot of people walk/running, and after a few miles I saw that logic in that.  Walk up the hills, run down the hills.  Stop at every water station, drink Gatorade, get ice for your core, front of shirt, back of shirt, and under your hat, and move to the next water station.

After the first loop, you turned down a long street.  In the distance you could see it! The finish line was there!  But, as if they were playing a cruel joke on you, there was also a sign that redirected people finishing their first lap around so they could start their second. It felt like they were saying “You can see it, but you just can’t get to it!”  So around the corner I went for my second lap in the heat.


On the second lap, I saw runners dropping out.  The paramedic carts were flying back and forth, carrying people to the medical tents.  I felt bad that those people made it so far, only to fall out on the last portion.  I continued my method of stopping at every water station, walking up the hills and running down them until I got to mile twelve.  I decided that I would build up my strength for .1 miles, then run the last mile in.

The Last Mile: When I turned the corner, there were people sitting at patio bars, drinking beer and cheering runners on.  They would see your name and cheer you on as well, and it felt good to hear it, even though you knew they were only goofing off.  Then came the sign, the one that told runners on their first lap to turn.  It also told runners on their second lap to move to the right. That’s when you noticed the chute you were to run in, and the hundreds upon hundreds of people standing in the heat along the fence line cheering on the runners.  These people were not merely goofing off: they were there with a purpose in mind; to get you to the finish line.  As I made my move over to the right, a large roar went up in the crowd.  “Here comes one!” I heard, and I almost started crying!  Then I told myself to get it together, you have to get to the finish.  The people in the crowd, none of them which I knew, were calling out my name, telling me how awesome I was, and that I could do it! “Only a few more feet to go!” “You are amazing!” “You’ve done it!” were just some of the encouragement the crowds shouted to me.  It became deafening, and I smiled as I ran past, but tried to focus on that black square finish area, and that red and black carpet with the red “M-Dot” symbols I had longed to be able to run across.

I hit the carpet, I heard the announcer call my name and where I was from. “Travis Kneale from Des Moines, Iowa” and I threw out my arms as if being welcomed by family.  Actually it is a family of sorts, and a very exclusive club as well.  Suddenly I was across the finish line, I was done.  I received my medal and finishers cap, took a photo, and got some water and stretched while I waited for my wife to cross.  I watched the volunteers catch people as they fell, or walk them immediatly to the medical tent, and I couldn’t help but thank Jenni because I felt like I could have kept going.  I felt good, tired yes, but good.


I finished the Raleigh Ironman 70.3 in 7:09:06. Not exactly the time I wanted, but with the heat and humidity, I will gladly take it.  I didn’t get any blisters from the ride or the run, even with wet socks!  My wife Julie crossed the line in 8:03:25.


That’s it!  Eight months of blood, sweat, and tears came to a conclusion in 7:09:06.  Hard to believe it’s over, that we did it. Now, we have a recovery period and then a sprint triathlon at the end of the month.  Hopefully it will seem like a short workout!  Then it’s time to discuss with my coach what lies next.  I trust her wholeheartedly, and know that whatever we decide to tackle next, she will make sure I not only finish, but finish strong.

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Countdown: T-Minus 10…

Ten days.  It hardly seems possible that eight months has went by since my wife and I toyed with the idea of doing a half Ironman, or Ironman 70.3. We were excited and nervous, but knew it was so far away, that we had plenty of time, so no need to panic. 

Ten days. Thanks to my friend and now teammate Chris Matthews, I made contact with and signed up with the most amazing coach, Jennifer Jageman Keil and her team at E11even Athletics. I knew we would need proper guidance to make this work, and Jennifer has been awesome, even when I was frustrated (which in the beginning was often).

Ten days. We started training in October, and training by heart rate. This lead to my most frustrating moments, and Jenni calmly talked me “off the ledge” as I grew irritated by my run times. I had never ran so slow in my life! It felt like I was going in reverse, but Jenni was the calm in the storm I was creating by letting frustration get to me. 

Ten days. One morning my workout said “Run for an hour. Not too hard but at a pace that makes you happy”.  Now I’m supposed to watch my heart rate so it doesn’t go over its maximum aerobic function (for me: 130), but she didn’t say to watch it, so I decided I’d run a great clip and watch her freak out over the HR. After an hour I had covered 6.5 miles. Proud of myself for jacking up the HR, I finally looked at the average: 131. I got a text shortly after from Jenni, it was a smiley face. 

Ten days. From freaking out over having to swim 1500 yards, then 2000, then 3000, then 3500, to calmly telling someone “I only have to do 2000 today”.  From being sore from sitting on the trainer for an hour, to going 2.5 hours and feeling fine. 

Ten days. We have leaned out but weigh the same. We found muscles we never knew we had. We discovered our endurance can continue to grow, and that never giving up, especially in yourself, reaps big rewards. 

Ten days. In ten days we will step into a lake in Raleigh, North Carolina and embark on a journey of 70.3 miles. If all goes well, we will cross the finish line with smiles on our faces. But if something happens where we do not finish, we will learn from it and try again. We already know we have the drive and dedication to do this. Now all that’s left is to wait ten more days. 

Before we start this adventure, I want to thank some people for everything they have done. To my wife, who is joining me on this crazy journey, we make a great team, even when we go off in different directions at the gym. To my coach Jenni, who is totally amazing. To the Des Moines Triathlon Club for their support and training. To Chris Matthews, aka Awesome Girl, for connecting Jenni and I, and for all the advice and support she has given. To Kelly Hill, for her constant support and encouragement. Glad to have you on the team! To Mel Cortez, Karen Smith, Jodie Dunker, and everyone that supported this crazy dream. And a big shout out to my friend and sports massage therapist Amanda Lundstedt. I’ll need to see you once this is done!  If I forgot someone, my apologies, but I’d be typing all day. 

Ten days. The culmination of eight months of blood, sweat, and tears is down to ten days. I’ll try to post more as the day gets closer, but if not, keep Julie and me in your prayers. Look at the beautiful charms we will be carrying on the bike and the run. Thanks again Jodie!! Hopefully when we meet up again, I’ll have another title: Ironman 70.3. 


Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Funny How Things Change…

It’s funny how life changes before you.  Sometimes it’s gradual, where you don’t even notice it until someone else points it out to you.  Other times it changes so quickly that you hardly have time to react.  In the past few years I’ve experenced both of these types during my lifestyle change, and noticed how my life has went from one thing to another, a nd what sometimes looked impossible was actually rather easy after all.

From late night TV binging to early morning rises to get a long run in; from seeing how much ice cream would fit in a bowl to how much protein was in my energy bar; from struggling to cross the line at my first sprint triathlon to training for my first 70.3; it has been an amazing change and quite an incredible journey.  There has been worry that I wasn’t good enough, struggles to get through, self-doubts, and sometimes even pain, but in the end there was always satisfaction, happiness, pride that I could do it, and that I didn’t give up on myself.

The other day I was looking at my workout schedule that my coach sent for the following week. On Saturday I had a 30 run that said “off the bike” but no bike scheduled.  On Sunday, I had a 3 hour bike scheduled and then an 11 mile run.  I wondered if it was a mistake, so I emailed my coach to ask.  But what surprised me wasn’t that I caught it, it was the following line I wrote with relative ease:

 “I’m game if you are, just wanted to clarify.”

Wow.  I looked at that line after I wrote it.  Did I really mean that? Was I really up to riding for three hours, only to jump off the bike and run for eleven miles?!?  There was only one thought that came to me:

“You can do it”

It’s funny, I would have never considered that a few short years ago.  I still feel like that overweight guy on the sidelines of the triathlon, watching my friend cross the finish and wishing I could do that.  Now, suddenly, I am beyond that.  With every new day brings new uncharted territory in my fitness journey, and I am the only person that can blaze the trail.

I have a running mentor who I love dearly.  She started to focus more on yoga, as I continued to run.  One day we ran together and she was asking questions.  Then she smiled and said “The student has become the master.”  I felt happy that I had learned so much, but saddened that I had grown beyond my mentor and was somewhat on my own.  She is still there cheering me on and supporting me, but she wanted me to know that I am no longer a “beginner” runner.  

Now I have been given a great opportunity. I am coaching a half marathon program at Fleet Feet Sports in Des Moines.  I set up the running schedule, workouts, map the runs, answer questions the runners have, pace the distance runs as well as lead the way for the Wednesday hill/speed workouts.  I have a lot of help from Andy, Claire, and the pacers, but it’s quite an honor to be asked to ‘coach’ the group.  That is something I would have never dreamed of.

Another way you change, sometimes without noticing, is your appearance.  The other day, I ran into a friend of mine that I have not seen for months.  He looked at me and exclaimed “How much weight have you lost?” I told him that actually I haven’t lost any weight recently.  He looked me over and said “Then you have added a lot of muscle because you have really leaned out”.  After he said that, I looked in the mirror.  It was true, I had leaned out a bit.  I hadn’t noticed it until he pointed it out to me.

Today we are running in the Des Moines Leprechaun 10k. It’s a fun run, and it’s my third year of running in it.  However, it should take me 50-55 minutes to finish the race, but my coach has me scheduled to run for 1:50 today.  So it looks like I’ll be pausing my Garmin long enough to cheer for my wife and my friends, and then running off again.  I would have never guessed that would be possible a few years ago. 

 Funny how things change…

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Christmas Gifts and the Year Ahead

Merry Christmas!  It has been rather warm in the Midwest this winter, however we received the gift of a white Christmas with a dusting of snow.  I got to enjoy the beauty of it without having to shovel it…yet another gift.  I actually took Christmas Day off from training, since I have not had a true rest day for several weeks.  But, the time is getting short for training, so every day counts.  More on that in a bit.

I Received another gift that was unexpected; I was sponsored by Honey Stinger!  You will now see the Honey Stinger banner on my blog pages, as I feel that it’s the least I could do for then since they accepted me into their group.  I am also the in-store ambassador for Altra shoes at Fleet Feet Sports in Des Moines, so their logo will also appear on my blog pages.  Please check out both of these fine companies.  Altra makes awesome Zero-Drop running shoes with a very comfortable and wide toe box.  Honey Stingers make some of the best fuel replacement chews, gels, waffles, and protein bars on the market. I have relied on Honey Stingers for both of my marathons and my triathlons, and I love the fact that they are also organic.

So when you see #HShive and #HoneyStinger, you’ll know that I’m including them in on my updates.  

   
I have to find the right hashtag for Altra Running Shoes, but here is their logo: 

 
So now on to the need to keep training and not miss a workout…I have 22 weeks until my first 70.3 Ironman.  I can’t believe I actually signed up!  I was scared half to death, hitting the ‘commit’ button.  But I talked to my coach, Jenni (who is awesome, by the way) and she said I would be ready and actually gave me four options to look at.  So my wife and I chose Raleigh, North Carolina on June 5.  While that sounds a long way away, it is only 22 weeks.  We have to get bike carriers, airline tickets, hotel rooms, and prep for the trip.  Plus keep up and ramp up the training!  I am really nervous, but really excited about competing and completing my first half-Ironman.  It is amazing what the last five years have brought on, and how wonderful a healthy lifestyle has enriched my life.

To top it off, I was offered the chance to lead a group that will be training for a half-marathon.  It will be at Fleet Feet Sports in Des Moines, and we will be getting people ready to run the Hy Vee Road Races half marathon at the Drake Relays. This should be a great opportunity to pass along my love for the sport, and will hopefully help me ramp up my running training for Raleigh.

If you ever think about training for an event such as a 70.3, please consider getting a coach to help you along the way.  I am so glad I did!  Coach Jenni structures my workouts, so I am sure I am working on everything I need to (even core, which I will not do on my own).  She is always a text or phone call away, and is watching even when I don’t think she is.  One night after a rough workout on the bike, I posted on Facebook that I had a long and frustrating workout.  I didn’t even leave the gym yet when Coach Jenni texted me, wanting to know what happened.  She reassured me that I will be ok, and that we all have good and not so good workouts.  It was nice to know that she was right there to support me when I needed it.  You cannot get that on your own, so please consider hiring a coach.

It’s time to relax for just a bit and enjoy the Christmas holiday.  Tomorrow will be here before I know it, and with it comes a lot of training.  I hope your Christmas, and your upcoming year, is filled with joy and happiness, and good health.
Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

The Turkey Tri45

I was on Facebook the other day, when I noticed my friend Meg sent me a link.  Meg and I belong to the Des Mooines Tri club, and she is one heck of an athlete.  I clicked on the link, and it was an invitation to compete in the second annual Turkey Tri45.  This is a fun event where athletes of all skill levels get together to burn off a few extra calories that we may have amassed duing Thanksgiving.  I immediately signed up, and told Meg thank you for thinking of me.

The rules were simple enough: it’s a fun event where you keep track of your own mileage, and it works on the honor system.  We swim in an indoor pool (it is Iowa after all) for 45 minutes, then you have 15 minutes to get ready to meet in the spin room.  We start together for 45 minutes of spinning, and then change and either run on the track for 45 minutes, or if it’s nice outside (it was cold, but dry) we run 5.5 miles outdoors.  So it’s somewhere between a sprint and an Olympic distance triathlon.

I have to give a shout out to Troy Thompson for creating this event, and for getting everything organized. It was a fun time, and I got a chance to meet a lot of great people; from ultramarathoners and Ironmen, to people who were scared of swimming!  After the event, about a dozen of us went out to breakfast and shared our stories.  I cannot wait to do this again, and when I spoke to Troy, it sounds like the event is growing.  The first year there was approximately 10-12 people.  This year there were over 30!  And this is invitation only!  Troy said to go ahead and invite people, as they will figure out how to deal with more competitors.

I was able to get a few prizes as giveaways, as it was mentioned on the tri’s Facebook page, and other people got items to give as well.  We even got gift bags with goodies inside!  And this was a free event!  It was amazing to see everyone working together to make this a successful and fun event.  

You have to hear the National Anthem. What an incredible voice!

  
Here is the recap:  We chose a swim lane to start (I chose the slower lane) and we had 45 minutes to swim as much as we could.  We had 5 in our lane, and while you would think that 5 people circle swimming would be a recipe for disaster, it was not.  No one overran the other, and people would wait at the end and let you pass if they were slower.  I ended up with 1725 yards in 45 minutes, which I was quite happy with.  Then it was off to dry off and change for the spin class.

   
 
The spin classroom was full!  And by that I mean every spin bike, and one bike on a trainer was in use.  It was an incredible sight!  Troy played Pandora radio while we passed a video camera around.  There was even a contest for a $25 gift card to see who could get the highest RPM in one minute.  I thought I did well with 180 RPM, but the winner was the one who hit 216 RPM!  Amazing!!   I ended up with 15 miles in 45 minutes, and was averaging 20 mph.  I was very happy with that!

 
Then we changed again and met outside for our run.  All paces were welcome, and it was a nice route with a few challenging hills. I ran with my friend Maria, and my new friend Debbie, and we chatted throughout the 5.8 mile cold run.  I mentor new runners with Maria at Fleet Feet Sports Des Moines, and it was nice to run along side her once again.  Before we knew it, we were back at Prarrie Life Fitness, where we started. We had a finishing time of 1:07:55.

 
We went inside to get warm, and prizes were given out.  I think everyone went home with something, which was great to see. Then we loaded all our gear and headed out to breakfast.  Trust me, after all that exercise, I was hungry.  One of the group was kind enough to pick up the entire breakfast tab!  What an amazing day, with a great group of people supporting one another and doing what we love…triathlon!

  
I cannot wait for this event to come around next year!  It was a wonderful day all around.
Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

The Hot Chocolate 5k, Training, and the New Math

It is absolutely amazing what you can accomplish in one year.  A year ago, my wife completed her very first 5k at the Hot Chocolate 5k.  I remember her saying towards the end of that race how she just wanted it to be over.  Well, we lined up again for the Hot Chocolate 5k one year later, and she has accomplished an amazing amount that anyone would be proud of.  In one year she ran a 5k, a 10k, a 10 mile run, a half marathon, a couple sprint triathlons, and an Olympic distance triathlon!  So it was a coming home of sorts, as we toed the line for the start of the race.

The race went well, even though we accidently started off with the 5-mile group.  The race was relatively flat and fast, and I was able to finish in 25:39.  Julie finished only a couple minutes behind me, and we met up and went to get our printout of the times.  Julie came in 5th in her age group!  This from a person who wanted to only finish just a year ago.  I looked at my slip, and asked if it was correct… I finished 2nd in my age group!  That was quite a surprise.  Here are a few photos of the event.

   
   
The other day I needed to run for 1:15 and to control my heart rate and keep it under my maximum aerobic level.  So I went to Gray’s Lake, where the path is nice with a 2-mile loop.  I have ran many miles around that lake and made many memories there.  I even posted that on my Facebook page, saying I was about to make some more memories, before starting my run.  I was surprised how right I was.  As I started out, there was an event where walkers were looping the lake.  As I got closer, there was the gingerbread man waving at the walkers.  It’s not every day that you see this, so I stopped and asked for a photo.

  
More happy memories made while running around Gray’s Lake.

The other day my coach had swim drills on my schedule. The calendar said 1700 yards of speed work.  I printed out my workout and headed for the pool.  I was about halfway through the workout when I looked at the distance on my Garmin 920XT.  Something wasn’t right: I was at 1000 yards already!  I counted the drills that I had completed, and it totaled 1000 yards.

So, I continued the drills, and I finished with 2200 yards.  I totaled up the entire workout, and it was 2200 yards.  So somehow the calendar was askew with the schedule, or it’s the new math.  Either way, I got a great swim in.

The training continues.  It’s amazing what the body can do.  I was frustrated the other day because I didn’t hit the marks on the bike that I was supposed to.  Then I started looking at the workouts for the past month, and that turned my mood around.  I run, I bike, I swim, and at times I do all three in the same day.  How can you be frustrated with that?  Today I swam over a mile, dried off and changed clothes, and got on a spin bike for over an hour.  I am blessed and amazed at what I have been able to do in five years.  You can do it too.  It just takes a goal, determination, a plan, and the desire to pursure that goal.

Live healthy, be happy.

Travis