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 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

How Do You Find the Time??

This question was asked of me the other day, “How do you find the time?”  They were referring to my exercise and training schedule.  It’s a valid question, and one that I answered quickly.  I replied “If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time to do it.”  That is true, as we find time to relax, inndulge in hobbies, go out with friends and family, if exercise is important to you, you will find the time.

The issue I am running into is finding enough time to do all the training I want.  I am not a paid athlete, so I have to have a job to pay bills, pay for insurance, and buy training equipment.  Training with my wife is a blessing, as she understands the need for working out, and we get to spend time together.  But with a house to maintain (or try to), three dogs, friends and family, you start feeling the pressure of trying to squeeze in everything, and you have to start getting creative in order to keep up the pace that you want.

I am currently training for my first Olympic distance triathlon and my third marathon.  I am heading into the long run portions of marathon training, and just last weekend I needed to complete a long run of 14 miles.  I mentor runners on Saturday mornings (which I love), and on Sunday we do a swim/bike/run brick.  So how do I fit a long run in with whats going on already?  It was pretty simple: get up early Saturday morning, run 8 miles to Fleet Feet Sports where the mentoring group meets up, stay loose and refuel and run 6 miles with the group!  As the miles increase however, that is goinng to get harder and harder to do.  But for right now it’s working.

We are also training on the swim portion of the triathlon without wetsuits from time to time, just in case the race is not wetsuit legal (due to the water temperature, according to USAT rules).  We are working on staying calm and just swimming, working on form and distance.  In fact, that is today’s workout since I have a day off from work.  I am taking my bike in for a tune up, and then hitting the lake.  When my wife gets off work, we may swim a second time.  

It amazes me and impresses me when I think of all those people that have completed a 70.3 Ironman or a 140.6 Ironman, thinking about how they found the time for all that training, and still tried to lead normal lives.  Hours in the pool, on the bike, running the streets, and still maintain a job and a family.  Where do they find the time??

They just do.  If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time.

It’s that time now.  Time to hit the lake.

 Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

The Ultimate Race to Give

The other day while reading Facebook posts, my friend Eric McGarrah sent me a message about applying for the Ultimate Race to Give, sponsored by BMW of Des Moines and Zoom Performance. What it listed seemed almost too good to be true. If selected, you receive training from a world-class triathlon coach from Zoom Performance, a open-water swim clinic, a transition clinic, running assessment, gear to wear at the event from BMW of Des Moines, paid entry in the Des Moines Triathlon, and a membership in the Des Moines Tri Club (I’m already a member!). You even get the use of a BMW for a weekend! Doesn’t that sound amazing??

Then there’s the “catch”. For my part, other than training is that I have to raise $1000 for the charity of my choice. Wait, what?? I get to choose what charity I raise money for?? That’s incredible! There was no thinking it over, I sent in my request to be considered right away! That evening, I told my wife about entering and she entered too! We laughed on how cute would it be if we both got accepted, then we discussed the charities that we wanted to work for. I chose the Animal Lifeline, a special needs no-kill shelter in Des Moines that Julie and I have donated to for years. We even adopted our Great Dane Murphy from the Animal Lifeline (Maverick the Weimaraner and Max the miniature Dachshund were adopted from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa). Julie selected the Heinz 57 Pet Rescue. So, now that we selected a charity, all we had to do was wait.

It wasn’t long before we received an email asking us to fill out a questionnaire. It asked your athletic accomplishments, who you wanted to raise money for, why did you pick that charity, was I on social media, how would I raise money for my charity, etc. It was rather short, and I was surprised that it didn’t ask a lot more questions. So we both answered the questionnaire and sent it in.  

A few days later, I got the news. I got selected!! I was so pumped, I emailed back thanking them and wanted to know if I could start the fundraising right away. Then I called my wife and told her to check her email…she didn’t get a letter. I told her to look again, and look for the name Cameron Denucce. She said she would look again, but had to get back to work. My heart sunk. I was hoping we could train together.

When she came home, I greeted Julie at the door with “Did you check again?” The look on her face gave it away…she got accepted!! She missed it the first time. We would be training together for a triathlon. I knew I wanted to do the Olympic distance, but what did Julie want to do? Her answer surprised and impressed me: she wanted to train for Olympic distance as well.

This past Friday, BMW of Des Moines invited us to a kickoff celebration. Unfortunately, Julie had to work, but I went and met Cameron and Craig from BMW, Matt and the coaches from Zoom Performance, and the rest of the team that I would be training with. They selected 8 people, and Craig said that they wished that they could have chosen more, but that they were impressed with our accomplishments and our charities that we selected. When Craig said “accomplishments”, it got me wondering. I’ve always set goals: run a half marathon, run a full marathon, run 1000 miles in a year (originally 750, but I had passed that mark before the year was out), things like that. Then it’s on to the next goal. I guess I never really looked at them as an athletic resume of sorts. Then Cameron asked all the athletes to gather for a group photo. I just stood there until Craig said “You better get in there”. They were referring to me?? I never considered myself an athlete, just someone who works out. We gathered for photos, and then a team meeting. It was exciting. 

Before we left, Cameron gave us these awesome BMW gym bags to store our gear in. It can also serve as a huge backpack! It has more pockets than I know what to do with! We also got our entry into the Des Moines Triathlon, and details on the use of the BMW for the weekend. Before you knew it, it was time to head home, but we were told that training started on Monday. I couldn’t wait!

Now, let me tell you a little about the Animal Lifeline of Iowa. One Christmas Eve, we stopped at the Animal Lifeline to drop off food for the dogs and cats. The volunteers asked if we wanted to see the puppies and kitties, and of course we did. There was a blind Bassett Hound that had great hearing and an even better sense of smell, especially when a treat was near! He was scheduled to be adopted, so that was good.

Then we were told that we had to be quiet when entering the next room, as this dog was hit by a car and had pins in her hip. They didn’t want to get her too excited. I imagined a poor dog laying in a cage, all alone and in pain, but what I saw shocked me. There was the poor dog, laying with pins holding her broken hip and leg together, gently wagging her tail. The reason why she was wagging her tail? Because a volunteer was sitting in the kennel next to her reading to her! We found out later that they took shifts staying with her until she was healed. That meant all through Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years Day that dog was never alone. She was loved and cared for like never before (she was later adopted).

I have a donation page at Gofundme.com Here is the link: 
http://www.gofundme.com/x3qhtg

It is listed under “Ultimate Race to Give”. Please consider a donation to help the Animal Lifeline continue to care for pets until they are adopted. If they are not adopted, they live out their lives at the Lifeline, never at risk of being euthanized because of time of space constraints. You can read more about the Animal Lifeline of Iowa on their website: http://www.animal-lifeline.com

Thank you!

  
Here is a picture of the awesome athletic bag that BMW of Des Moines gave each of us!

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

A New Way To Ride

I had last Friday off from work, and since I had some spare time I thought it would be a good idea to get a brick workout in (two different workouts back-to-back). I decided on a 35 mile bike ride and then a run. The ride went well, averaging over 17 mph, but some soreness in my left ankle limited me to a 3 mile run. It felt fine the next day, when I had two runs totaling over 7 miles.

But this blog post focuses on the bike ride, or should I say what went with me on the ride. I attached a GoPro camera to my bike helmet, and the following video is the result. You can get an idea of the area and how beautiful it is to ride in Iowa! So let me know what you think of the video, since it is my first attempt at it.  See if you can spot the following:

  • A dog running full speed
  • Marines doing a timed run
  • A wild turkey crossing the road
  • How many golfers are teeing up

 

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

iCan Marathon Training 2015

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 iCan Marathon Training Group.  Have you run at least a 10k race without walking, and dreamed of running a full 26.2 mile marathon? Well now is your chance. The iCan team will give you the tools you need to succeed in a athletic feat that only a small percentage of the population can claim they have achieved.  

You will get a training program for daily runs, including cross-training and rest days.  You will get assistance from Coach Loran Storts and a group of mentors who have been exactly where you are now. You will join in on weekly group long runs up until the big day.

But wait!  There’s more!  Did I mention the cost of all this training and mentoring?  How much would you pay for a package like this??  The cost is an astoundingly affordable … free!!!  

So, if you live in the Des Moines, Iowa area, or know someone who does, please send them this link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/13veBKhiZxrJ_YdQIXHwKZsUxRX2AX1SLtr8oEGdYT3E/viewform?c=0&w=1

I will be one of the mentors in the group, and I look forward to seeing you cross the finish line of your 1st marathon, and be able to say “I Can!”

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Hot Chocolate 5k

The Hot Chocolate 5k was Sunday, and while it would have been a normal race with the exception for the chilly temperatures and the wind, there was something remarkable about this particular event. It was the first 5k race for my wife Julie! She has been training, and while running is somewhat hard on her due to back pain, she has pushed on and been running three miles with me in our neighborhood.

A couple of weeks before the 5k, my friend Stephanie texted me and asked if I wanted to do the event with her. I jumped at the chance, as Stephanie and I have logged in many miles together and I consider her a mentor as well as a dear friend. I failed to mention to Stephanie that my wife was running, and after our conversation I asked Julie if she wanted to run with us. I was excited when she said “yes”. We decided to surprise Stephanie and kept Julie’s running a well guarded secret until we were to meet up with Stephanie on race day.

We agreed on a meeting spot before the race, and when we arrived I asked Julie to hang back a little in hopes that Stephanie would not see her right away. That didn’t work, as Stephanie spotted her right away. Then she noticed Julie was wearing a bib number! The surprise on Stephanie’s face was priceless. She hugged us both and after chatting for a bit with Stephanie’s husband Paul, and our friend Justin who was running the 5 mile event, we lined up and got ready to run.

The race went well, and Julie stayed consistent throughout the run, finishing with a time of 38:50! She stopped only to sneeze because of the cold, and to grab a water, and pressed on. To say I am proud of her is an understatement. It took a lot of courage to train with a bad back, yet she did and she succeeded! I hope that she joins me in other runs in the future.
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Julie and I crossing the finish line together at her first 5k.

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Stephanie, Julie, and I at the Hot Chocolate 5k.

Thank you Paul for making us all breakfast after the run! What a great Sunday!

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis