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

Triathlon Training, The Sandwich Run, Bike Rides, and Ambassadorship 

Hi everyone!  It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, and a lot of things have been going on.  First on the agenda: triathlon training.  The training takes up a lot of my time, as I am either in the pool or on my bike trainer. The swimming is by far the hardest part for me, and it still feels like I am not progressing as I should.  My swim coach says it’ll be ok, but I get impatient with myself.  My swim coach has completely changed my swim stroke in order to maximize efficiency while minimizing effort.  It does feel better, but I haven’t gotten completely used to it and have to think about what I’m doing.  I hope one day it will become second nature, and I can concentrate on what else I’m doing wrong.  

Our group meets on Wednesday nights, and after we get caught up on things, we hit the spin room.  After an hour of spinning (for me, about 23 miles), we hit the track and run fartleks for a mile or so.  Then we stretch, and head to the pool.  We do a warm up for a total of 400 yards, then do drills as the coach watches us.  We did a couple of new things in the last class; we treaded water while tossing a ball, and did a push war.  The push war is where two people hold a long pole with floats and face each other.  At the whistle, they hover and kick as hard as they can, attempting to push the other across the pool.  I enjoyed the push war, but found out I stink at treading water.

I also bought a bike trainer, along with some Sufferfest videos to use while riding.  Sufferfest videos are advanced training videos that will really push you to your limits.  I have yet to try the two hour video, as I am usually exhausted after one hour.  It is my hope that as the weather gets warmer, my riding times will greatly improve.

Saturday consisted of two runs: the Winter Warriors running group and the Sandwich Run.  We met up for the group run at 8 am, and had a great 3 mile run through the East Village and around Principal Ballpark.  Then, after a short wait, we participated in the Sandwich Run.  It was a race where we ran 1.5 miles to the B&B Deli, picked up a “Killer” hoagie, and ran back to the Fleet Feet store, who sponsored the run.  Then you had to eat the sandwich in order to finish the race.  Prizes were awarded for the first man and women to finish the race and eat the sandwich, and for the person who predicts the closest to the time that it would take them to run and finish the sandwich.

We took off, and I started off with a fast group.  Before I knew it, there was three of us and no one else around.  The guy in front was about a block ahead, and then it was a lady, Megan, who was keeping pace with him.  I decided to try to pace with Megan and hope that I could hold that pace.   We reached the store, grabbed a sandwich, posed for a photo, and hit the streets again.  I was hoping the pace would slow, but that was not the case.  It was the same all the way back.  Megan and I crossed the line close to one another, and the gentleman leading was about 1 1/2 blocks ahead.  We grabbed a plate, something to drink, and sat outside to eat our sandwiches.  We cheered others as they finished and then joined us.

Before long, the guy who led the race looked at me and said “I don’t think I can finish the other half of this sandwich”.  Then he looked at my hands, and said “Where’s yours?”  As I ate the last bite I smiled and said “I’m done”, and then went inside and checked in, winning the event.  When everyone was finished, the times were checked, and I missed my total time by 1.5 minutes which was the closest time.  So I ended up winning two gift certificates for more sandwiches.  It was a great time, everyone had fun, and new friends were made.

We are experiencing warm spring weather, so we decided to take the bikes out for a ride.  The bike trails still have sections of ice on them, and that caused some issues as we both crashed on the ice.  I think I got the worst of it, as I have a badly bruised hip.  I am hoping that it is better tomorrow so I can go outside on a run.  But the total ride was nice, it was great to be outside, and the first ride of the season was 42 miles.

Now on to the surprise news.  While waiting to start the sandwich run, the owner of Fleet Feet, Andy Roat, asked me if I had heard of Altra running shoes.  I told him that I had, that I had heard good things about them, and that they seemed to be moving up quickly among the running community.  Andy then mentioned that he knows I run in zero drop shoes, and would I consider trying on the Altra zero drops.  If I liked them, Andy said that I could be the ambassador for Altra Shoes for Fleet Feet Des Moines.  I told him that it would be an honor if the shoes felt good, as I would want to support something that I actually use.  So, I tried on the two styles of zero drops that Andy had, and they both are great!  One shoe feels like a true zero drop, as if you are running barefoot, and the other has better arch and side support, while still being a zero drop shoe.  Andy said that I would be given a pair of shoes for free, so I could pick either one.  It was a hard choice, but I picked the Provision (although I am considering buying the other pair as well).  I never thought I would be offered something like this.  I am not an elite runner, just a guy that loves to run, and loves to help others find the enjoyment in running and in fitness.  Now I am actually representing a shoe company!  It is an amazing feeling!  Many people would say “it’s just a free pair of shoes”, but to me it is something else entirely . . . it is the culmination of the hard work that I put forth from the very start of this journey.  I have went from only being able to run a quarter mile, to running a marathon. I have went from asking questions to mentors to becoming a mentor myself.  It is a wonderful feeling, and now the running store I love going to is asking me to represent their product!  It doesn’t get much better than that!



These are the shoes I will be sporting soon.

Live healthy, be happy!

Travis