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

Training, Mentoring, and the Blood, Sweat & Beers 5k

Time for an update.  Training is going well, although at times I think my coach is conspiring with my wife to knock me off for the insurance money.  Ok not really, but if they are my coach better get a 60-40 split.   The training is going well so far. I like the structure, but worry every time the new workout schedule is posted thinking “how the heck am I going to get this done?!?”  But somehow it does get done, and I feel a sense of accomplishment on knowing that I am committed to this plan, and put it above a lot of other things.

For example, we just ran the Blood, Sweat & Beers 5k for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to support Team in Training. It was held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, and it was a nice course with quite a few hills (short and steep) to make it challenging.  Julie and I ran it together, and when we finished, we received a cool mug, a bowl of chili or a corn dog (I had to get a corn dog), and all the beer we could drink for free from Exile Brewery.  Exile Brewery is a local brewery that has amazing beers with names such as Ruthie and Hannah, and they have donated a lot to events such as this one.  So please support them by stopping by and tell them thank you, that way they know its appreciated.

Now, having explained that there was free beer involved, you would think that we would have stayed until the well ran dry.  This was not the case.  I had a beer and a half, and we decided that we needed to go because we still had swim drills to do sometime that day.  So we said goodbye to our friends and headed home to grab our swim bags and hit the pool.  That is what I mean about putting our workout commitment above other things.  One friend said to me that “the beer isn’t even close to running out”, but that didn’t matter to us.  What did matter was getting our training in and to focus on our long term goals.

Mentoring is about to wind up for the season, and the groups graduation run is the Hot Chocolate 5k on November 1.  It’s a fun run, pretty flat, and some pretty nice swag at the packet pickup.  We decided to take the group on a pre-race run of the course so they would know what to expect.  It’s been an amazing experience watching these people develop their abilities in running, and I hope that they continue long after the class is over.

Here are the totals for the week, and a photo of the cool mug we got for the 5k yesterday.  I have a bike ride to get in today (1:30 total) so I better get moving and get the tires aired up.

Running – 6 workouts – 19.59 miles

Cycling – 1 workouts – 26 miles

Swimming – 4 workouts – 3.35 miles

Strength training – 2 workouts – 1 hour

  
Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

Time to Move to the Next Level

It’s been an amazing year!  After completing my first open water triathlon and my first olympic distance triathlon, I can only dream of what the next year holds.  I still have a half marathon to run (I dropped down to the half so I can run with my wife while she runs in her first half), and several 5k’s left before the year ends.  But it’s time to start getting ready for next year, to improve on triathlon times and distances, and to be fully prepared for whatever challenges happen to pop up.

So the other day, my friend Chris Matthews (she has a wonderful triathlon blog at http://watchchristri.blogspot.com) mentioned that her coach at Team Amazing Day had some openings, I immediatly started peppering her with questions.  Since Coach Jenni Keil is in the mountain time zone, and Chris is in Florida, how does it work?  Chris was very patient and answered all of my questions so I wouldn’t feel so dumb when I actually called Jenni.  After discussing with Julie our goals for the upcoming year, we agreed that we could use a professional that will structure our workouts around us and our schedules.  So, very nervous and excited about moving up to the next level, we made the call.

Coach Jenni was patient and kind, listening to our concerns and explaining how coaching online works.  There will be phone calls, texts, emails, and workouts delivered via Training Peaks.  She explained the MAF (maximum aerobic function) method of working out as to not over stress the body, while staying in the maximun aerobic workout zone.  She asked about how many hours we could commit to our goals, what we expected, what worries or stresses we were feeling (not only in exercising, but in life in general).  She even said she could work our mentoring runners into the workout schedule. We asked for a little time to discuss it, and I called her back and asked if we could call her “coach”.  And with that, we got to work.

This past week has been about Coach Jenni getting a feeling for what we can do, and setting baselines for our workouts.  We had a large questionnaire to fill out that showed our abilities (distances completed, medications, health issues, etc.).  It has also been a week of me getting used to MAF running.  I found out that I have not been running at an aerobic level, but at an anerobic level.  I have to learn to run and not allow my heart rate to go over 130 bpm.  

The first run using this method left me frustrated, and I immediately texted Coach Jenni and asked her what happened.  I could not get my heart rate under 130, and even had to walk for a bit!  Finally after a mile I was able to run steadily.  Coach Jenni told me that since my heart rate would not come down quickly, it showed that I had not properly warmed up before starting the actual run.  She suggested that I run a couple laps first, walk and let the heart rate come down, and then start my run.  It worked!  The next day I sub 30’d a 5k and a heart rate of 130.

She had me do a bike workout where I had a 20 minute warmup, a 20 minute session where I stayed 5 to 10 points under MAF, 20 minutes at MAF, 10 minutes at 5 to 10 points over MAF, and a 10 minute cool down.  The picture below is just about 50 minutes into the session.  I’d say it’s working…

  
It also marked our return to the indoor pool, and to swim drills.  Coach Jenni gave me a workout totaling 1800 yards and had a 400 yard time trial and a 200 yard time trial tucked within it!  The next day was 1800 yards again, but it was drills only.  It felt good to get back in the water again, and it seemed as if the drills are helping, at least to boost my confidence in the water.

I can’t wait to see what the next week brings!  I really think we made the right choice in hiring Jenni as our coach, and by knowing that it was time to get assistance to reach the next level.

Totals for the week (Thanks to Chris for letting me steal her idea for posting totals):

Running – 28 miles (8 workouts)

Biking – 23.3 miles(1 workout)

Swimming – 4,750 yards (3 workouts)
Live healthy, be happy!

Travis 

Training, Training, and More training

I haven’t posted since I completed the Des Moines Triathlon, and I guess the reason why is that there hasn’t been much going on.  Just training, training, and more training.  Here’s a quick update of what has happened, what’s to come, and what the future holds.

My wife and I completed the Capital Striders Running Group’s “Capital Pursuit” 10 mile road race.  It is my wife’s longest run to date, and I was proud to run beside her all the way from beginning to end!  We completed the race in 1:46:53, which is an awesome time for a ten-mile run.

  
Here is a before and after picture of the Fleet Feet Sports Des Moines gang at the Capital Pursuit.  Looking at the top photo, there’s Heidi, Tom, Julie, Me, and Claire.  We had a great time, and we plan on doing it again next year.

So, what to do after a 10-mile run? Why, go on a 15 mile bike ride of course!  Our friends Karen and Mel met up with us, and we rode to lunch and then back.  It was a great day of working out and being with friends!

  
I have decided to drop out of the IMT Des Moines marathon, and change my entry to the half marathon.  There are two reasons why.  First, even though I could make the 26.2, I feel that I didn’t get enough long runs in to make a decent run of it.  I’d rather play it safe than to risk injury.  The second reason?  My wife has decided to run her first half marathon!  This from a person who said she’d never run THAT far!  She has amazed me.  In one year she has completed her first 5k, 10k, 10 mile run, sprint triathlon, olympic distance triathlon (open water), and now she’s going to run her first half marathon!  So very proud of her.

After the half marathon, we hit training mode once again.  We want to increase our swimming distance so that swimming a mile is easier than it is now.  We want to increase our biking distance, which means with winter coming, we need to get a second trainer.  We use “Sufferfest” videos for our indoor training.  If you haven’t seen these videos, look them up at http://www.thesufferfest.com.  They are awesome, advanced cycling videos that will really give you a hard workout.  The last one we did was called “ISLAGIATT”.  It was a two-hour hill training lesson in brutality that left me panting, sweating, and starving.  Only towards the end of the video did I realize what “ISLAGIATT” stood for.  It flashed on the screen just I wondered what the hell I got myself into… “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”.  As I wiped the sweat off of me and the bike, I knew it was a good idea, although after the first hour I would have doubted that. 🙂

We will also increase our running distances, so it becomes easier when we do our brick workouts.  As the temps in Iowa fall with the leaves on the trees, our open water swim time is growing short.  Soon we will be forced back to the shelter of the indoor pools at the YMCA, but that will make it easier for us to do our swim/bike or swim/run bricks.  It will also make being able to do a test triathlon easier, since we won’t be lugging all our equipment to the park.

I’ll end this post with some photos we took while on a bike ride the other day.  Be sure to look around as you exercise outside.  You never know what you’ll find, like a carousel!  This one is at Union Park in Des Moines.

   
    
   
Live healthy, be happy!

Travis

The Des Moines Triathlon

I guess it’s time for a race report on my first Olympic triathlon, so here goes…
My wife and I arrived to set up our transition area at 5:20 am. There were already lots of people there setting up. The biggest concern: water temperature. The announcement came over the speakers that the water was 81°. Not wetsuit legal if you want to win an award.
Julie and I stopped setting up for a moment to discuss this. We can swim a mile without the wetsuit, but that’s when it’s just us, not a huge crowd of people all swimming for the same markers. Did we really think we would hit the podium on our first try? Did we need the extra worry and anxiety? This was our first Olympic distance triathlon, so we were nervous enough. We made our decision: pull out of the age group division and enter the wetsuit division. We would still get our times and finishers medals, and we were here to just finish, after all.
After prepping our areas and chatting with friends, we headed to the other side of the lake for the swim start. Before we knew it, the first horn sounded and the pros were off. Then the age groups went, 8 at a time, then us. I was happy to see we weren’t the only ones in the wetsuit division!
I ran in the water and glided in as soon as I could. It helped me get into my rhythm and I reached the first buoy marker quickly. Now a right turn and down the length of the lake.
There were yellow turn markers and orange position markers. I swan close to the orange markers until I could sight the yellow turn marker. I sighted, and noticed everyone angling to the right. I spotted what they saw: yellow. I started that way then remembered when we walked the lake the day before that the buoy wasn’t that far to the edge of the lake. I stopped and treaded water for a moment and saw what it was: a volunteer on a jet ski wearing a bright yellow shirt! I re- sighted and finally spotted the marker. When I reached the marker, the crowd realized their mistake and was now all around me.
I made turn two and three without issues. One green marker to find and I’d be done! Suddenly someone kept bumping me to the point where I slowed to let them pass. He did, then he stops in front of me to sight! So I passed him again, and then he’s hitting my leg constantly. Finally he actually grabbed my leg, and I’m surprised he didn’t smack my family jewels. I shook hard and slapped the water with my foot really hard. He let go, and I could almost tell by the way he let go that he was saying “Oops! Sorry!” At that point I was glad I had the wetsuit because without it I would have panicked. Something to work on I guess.
Finally the green marker appeared, and I was out of the water. I finished the swim, and that was the main goal. I hoped to complete the swim in 45-55 minutes. Actual time: 35:32 for 1,837 yards. ✔️
T1 was 5:22. A little slow, but with taking off the wetsuit I’ll take it.
The bike was great. Some rolling hills and a couple steady climbs made me glad I bought all those “Sufferfest” videos. I passed quite a few people on those hills. I really pushed it on the ride and I would regret it on the run later. More bike/run bricks are in order. I wanted to finish the bike in 1:45 or less. Final on the bike: 1:25:42 for 40k. ✔️
T2 – the kiss of death. I knew better, and I even tell those I’m mentoring in running to eat little bits at a time and not too much, yet I was so hungry I slammed down as many Honey Stinger chews as I could and washed it down with half a bottle of water before I took off to run. In 90°+ heat with a heat index of 105°.

T2 time – 3:06 (cut all the shoveling food, and I would have been under 2)
Run – the first two miles were pretty good, with the exception of the inner part of my quads burning from the bike. This eventually went away, but a new problem arose: I had a knot in my stomach from pigging out in transition. The heat was unbearable and every time the wind would blow (which wasn’t often) I’d get chills. I figured I was dehydrated, but didn’t want to put anything else in my stomach because it hurt so bad. I finally tried to walk a bit to settle down and not throw up, then used a walk run method to make it to mile 4.
My friend and training partner Kara caught up with me, and together we would finish the last 2.2 miles together. It seemed appropriate, since we crossed the finish at her first marathon together, hand in hand. Julie calls Kara my running wife, and it fits.
We had one hill to go, then turn to the finish. We slowly ran up the hill and crossed the line, got our medals and hugged. Then we waited for our significant others to cross the line. I wanted to finish the run in 1:00:00. Final time: 1:22:10 ✖️
The goal was to finish, and I did. I was hoping for a time of 3:45:00 which I would think would be ok for a first Olympic Tri. Ideally if everything was perfect, I thought 3:30:00 would be amazing!
Final time: 3:31:51. Julie crossed the line at 3:56:28. I was at the finish line to present her with her medal and to give her a big hug.
Lessons learned: train harder without the wetsuit. Maybe train to swim 2+miles without it, so one mile won’t be bad at all. Also work on far distance sighting.
Transition: get in, get out, move on. This is no time for a breather, you have a race to run. And no pigging out and slamming tons of water. A little fuel at a time, and the same for water.
Train on more hills and more bike/run bricks. Although my legs felt pretty good after the ride, not the spaghetti legs I have had in the past at sprints.
So with the lessons learned, you should have guessed that I’m already planning on training for the next one. I loved it! Great event and a great group of people to be around!
That’s it! Let me know what you think, or if you have any tips or suggestions. Thank you!



  

Live healthy, be happy!
Travis

The Beauty of an Outdoor Workout

This morning, the alarm clock began it’s duty at 5:00 am.  The churchbell chime on my phone continued until I sat up to relieve it from it’s duty.  I sat in the darkness and enjoyed the stillness around me.  Soon my wife and I would dance around each other as we got tri-bags, swim bags, bikes, shoes, water bottles, bike carriers, wetsuits, and food loaded into the truck and headed for the lake.  It’s amazing that we don’t slam into one another or at least step on each others toes, but we’ve dancced this same dance a few times and seem to know the steps pretty well.  No one gets bumped, and after the last item is loaded, we sit down for breakfast.

The smell of waffles fills the kithcen as we get some water to drink.  Soon the waffles are covered in peanut better and quickly devoured.  We are both looking at the weather forcast, wondering what it’s going to feel like at 7:00 am when we hit the water.  Loading the truck gave us our first clue that summer was slowly losing it’s grip on Iowa, and fall was quickly mounting an early attack.  The temperature at 5 am was 55 degrees, pretty chilly for August weather.  So we ate, said goodbye to our sleeepy pups, and headed out into the silent, cool, dark morning to start our day.

The sun barely started to peak at us when we got to the waters edge.  The coolness in the air, along with the steady wind, made us wnoder if getting out of bed was the right thing to do.  We could start later, when it’s warmer, but that’s not the way we do it. If we delay, we will find an excuse; a long forgetten task that needs to be completed, or some other situation that suddenly gets pushed to the forefront in order to push this workout to the back of the line.

No, we were here, and this workout was going to get completed.  We donned our wetsuits and looked out over the beach and the moving dark water.  The wind was making the water choppy, but not so bad as to cancel the swim.  We braced ourselves and waded in, knowing that the water had to be a chilly as the air stirring it.  

It wasn’t.  In fact, while you needed to wear a wetsuit, the water was a lot warmer than we thought it would be.  We waded in, discussed our plans such as how many laps were we doing, what to do if we had trouble, etc.  We then wished each other luck and started off.  Now we were on our own, working until we completed this portion of the goal, or were forced to abandon the quest.

The darkness of the water removed any extra light it was displaying when looking at it from the beach.  From eye level in the water the whole lake got a lot darker, and the buoy lines were even harder to see.  But as I rounded the first turn, the sun decided that peaking was no longer enough, and raised it’s head for a better look.  Even a couple of curious fish jumped out of the water to grab a better view as we swam by. Lap after lap the sky got brighter and brighter, until I was done and heading for the shore.    1,493 yards later, and the air felt colder than ever.  Now, being wet and cold, I considered returning to the lake and avoid the air and its unpleasant bite, but I came to complete my workout not sit in the lake and hide from Mother Nature.  So we headed back to the truck to transition into our next phase of our Sunday challenge: the bike.

We removed the wetsuits, dried off the best we could, slipped on socks and bike shoes, strapped on helmets, grabbed some quick food for the road (and before the start of the ride), and headed out.  The trail was beautiful, with leaves hanging onto their branches for dear life, yet another reminder that fall was near.  The sun, now obscured by the trees, rose even higher for a look, it’s beams shooting through every crack in the forest.  We continued to ride, through water and mud from last nights rain, over old wooden bridges, under highways, alongside golf courses, the bike lane kept going, urging us on.  We got to the halfway point and marveled how beautiful the trail was, and then attacked it again as we headed back.  

For some reason, Mother Nature must have been offended by our lack of appreciation for the beauty of the trail, because she started releasing her winds directly at us almost all the way back  It was a battle of wills; on one side: nature, trying it’s best to keep us from returning to our starting point.  On the other side; us. Desperate to succeed, to push through, to win the battle.  In the end, we won.  We returned safely to our starting point, locked up the bikes, changed shoes, and headed out for our run.  25 miles on the bile was over, the only thing left was a 6.2 mile run.  That would show us if we won the battle, but lost the war.

As we have been training, I’ve noticed that the time it takes my legs to adjust from bike to run has decreased.  Today it seemed almost non-existent, which surprised and delighted me.  I was able to move along, sore but easily, and enjoy some of the beauty of the trail we were running on.  A lone dragonfly greeted us aroud one turn, and a pair of deer watched us from afar on another turn.  The sun, was now fully extended in the sky, and even through the wind you could feel the warmth upon your face and shoulders. You could now see hidden parts of the lake; little alcoves and corners that were covered in the darkness. We continued on, only stopping for a restroom break, before turning the last corner and heading for our makeshift finish line; our vehicle.

We completed 32.7 miles this morning, between swimming, biking, and running.  We got to spend time outdoors in the splendor of nature.  We felt natures’ warmth, it’s chill, it’s rath, and it’s blessing.  We saw it’s beauty in many ways.  We accomplished a goal, but enjoyed a show as well.  Here’s to many more beautiful workouts in the splendor of nature.  

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

Triathlon Training, the Ultimate Race to Give, and the Next Strides Group

There has been so much going on as of late, that I haven’t been keeping up on my blog!  There never seems to be enough time to do everything that you want to do.  When you add work and other commitments into the mix, the day fills up rather quickly.  I will start this entry in no particular order, with exception to the first part…

A huge shout out and congratulations to my dear friend and training partner Kara, who just completed her first open-water sprint triathlon at the Iowa Games this past Sunday.  Kara did amazing, and it sounds like she is already planning on the next one.  So very proud of her!  Here is a picture of Kara running strong to the finish line: 

 
She is an amazing woman, and I am honored to call her my dear friend.  Love you to the moon and back Kara!

The other day, Fleet Feet Sports (my favorite running store) had a social run where you get to try on a certain brand of shoes for a demo run.  This is not the normal “run on a treadmill” type of run, but rather a run outdoors with hills and such!  What a cool idea, to “try before you buy”.  This week, the shoe sponsor was Altra, which I am the stores “ambassador” for.  So I was pretty sure I had better show up for this run.  

I decided that I would wear my Altra shirt that was given to me (with a pair of ProVision 2 shoes) when I became ambassador.  I got there and there were several styles of shoes to choose from, in various sizes, and also watermelon for after the run.  Andy, the owner of Fleet Feet, introduced me to the Altra rep and started to say that I was the store ambassador for Altra, when the Altra rep quickly said “I knew that right away. That’s the only way to get that shirt.”  Good thing I decided to wear it!

I decided on a pair of Torin zero drop shoes for my run.  The difference in the ProVision 2 and the Torin is in the amount of arch support.  Some days I want it, and I wear the ProVision 2’s.  But it’s when I don’t want that much arch support that I have an issue.  Well not any longer; the Torin will be the next shoe style I purchase.  They were very comfortable for the 3.5 mile run, which inculded a lap around Capital hill.  They felt great the whole time, and is the style that I want to add to my running shoe group. 

 
The Ultimate Race to Give is underway, and I am at $450 of my $1000 goal!  Not too bad, almost halfway there!  The coaches at Zoom Performance have been sending daily training schedules, and thankfully I am allowed to switch them around to suit my daily life (today is a rest day, but I have today off.  So I went on a 24 mile bike ride to work on endurance… I finished the ride with an average MPH of 17.7).  If you have donated to my cause, thank you.  If you haven’t donated, there is still time, and here is the link: http://www.gofundme.com/x3qhtg

Please share this with everyone you know.  I am raising money for the Animal Lifeline of Iowa, a no-kill special needs shelter in Des Moines.  They are such a wonderful group, and do an amazing job caring for all the animals that come to the shelter.    Murphy, our Great Dane, came from the Animal Lifeline.

  
Training has been going well, but there never seems to be enough time to get in all the workouts that you want to.  Swimming in a wetsuit has went amazingly well.  I actually swam 1.2 miles non-stop in a wetsuit!  But there was an issue we were overlooking: what if a race is not wetsuit legal? If the water temperature is above a certain degree, then wetsuits are not allowed.  So we are beginning to work on swimming in open water without the aid of a wetsuit.  It’s hard, but in the end we will be ready, no matter what.

The Next Strides group I mentor on Tuesdays and Saturdays are improving in leaps in bounds.  It is incredible to watch these people transform into seasoned runners.  This Saturday was the halfway point in the training program, so most of them were signed up to run the Midnight Madness 5k in Ames, Iowa that night.  I could not go, as I had a wedding to attend, so I came to the morning group run to see who would show up.  Did I mention it had been raining for hours, with no sign of letting up?

Sure enough, two brave souls showed up to run 6 miles.  I gave them the option: run in the rain, or run in the parking ramp.  They chose the rain, and I am glad they did.  These are the types of runs where memories are made, and this one was no exception.  We selected our route and took off, only to find that The Color Run 5k was setting up.  As we ran past we laughed that surely they wouldn’t run the race in the rain.  Who else is crazy enough to run in the rain?  So we laughed and chatted and went on.

As we ran, we were getting soaked by the rain.  We didn’t care though, and we actually seemed to enjoy the coolness of the rain as we were getting warm from running.  As we headed back, we got a surprise: they actually DID start the Color Run 5k, and now they had the sidewalks blocked with stuff.  The only way to really get through was to join the run, so I said “Wanna crash their party?”, and the three of us ran through the yellow color station. We were the only three not dressed in white, but they threw powder at us anyway.  We had to run through one more station (pink) before turning for home.  Here is what I looked like from just two color stations: 

 
When I posted this on FaceBook, one of my friends commented that I had to be “one of the happiest people that I have ever met.”  That really touched my heart.  I hope that’s what people see in me; a positive, happy, caring individual.  Life is too short to be miserable, so enjoy it (even if it means getting pink powder thrown on you!)

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis