Ironman Steelhead 70.3

Ironman Steelhead 70.3
Ironman Steelhead 70.3

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wife of an Ironman

Looking back I didn’t know how Thanksgiving 2010 would change the summer of 2011, I do now.  When Brad decided that the full distance Ironman was what he wanted to do, I was in.  I know when he goes after a goal it is 110%.  What I didn’t know in the spring of 2011 was the amount of time Ironman would require.  I was fully in support of Brad following the triathlon training plan, I wanted him to be prepared to compete at the mind boggling distance of 140.6 miles!   

The summer went by quickly his training time steadily increased.  We planned weekends and family events around training, we were both working towards Ironman.  Brad followed the daily training plan except for a few days.  On those days he didn’t follow the plan and we took the evening off!   We needed a normal evening of just us, thank you babe!

The week before REV3 was full of excitement and list checking.  It takes more to pack for a triathlon than a camping trip.  The morning of REV3 started at 3 a.m.  I was calm until we walked on the beach towards the start line.  Brad gets calm and focused at the start.  I looked at lake Erie and my stomach went in knots.  Having friends at the start was like a hug and that hug meant more than all of you will ever know.  I gave Brad one last kiss and his adventure began.
 Greg, Dee, us, Rabbit and John

I tend to worry, OK if you spent the day with me at REV3 that is an understatement.  I can’t help it, it’s a genetic defect.  I don’t do calm when Brad is competing, especially at this distance, this was unknow territory.  Brad knows I worry (and he still loves me) so before every event he tells me his predicted split times.  I always carry this list with me, REV3 was no different.  He was either exactly on time or a few minutes off over the 140.6 miles. 
 I carried this all day

The last hour before Brad finished seemed like a week, I just wanted the day to be over for him, I was worried he would be hurting from 14 hours of competing, I needed to make sure he was OK. I want to thank Brian, Ann Marie, Dee and Greg for being there for the entire day.  Dee and I walked toward the parking lot to try and spot Brad as soon as he turned toward the finish line.  When we saw him my heart started pounding he was still running and he was smiling.  He grabbed my hand and we took off.  Running in with him was a moment in time I will never forget, I am so proud of what he has accomplished he is my Ironman!
Thanks to Brian Coon for taking photo's!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Journey Complete

Thanksgiving Day 2010 started my journey to Ironman 140.6.  After enjoying a meal with friends Jason told me he was going to do the full Iron distance triathlon at REV3 next year.  He said “if I do it and you don’t you are going to wish you did.”  He didn’t know I had been thinking about the full REV since I finished the half distance at Cedar Point the previous September.  I had been going back and forth between yes I will do the full and no that’s crazy.  The yes part of my brain won and I registered for the full REV in December 2010.  I called by wife to tell her I was going to do it and then sent Jason a text.  As Jason says “game on!”

 Off season conditioning began January 1, 2011.  I ran all winter with the Y Run Club, spinning classes and swimming at the Y. I work best when I have a plan, training for a triathlon is no different. I down loaded a plan specific for this distance.  I started following the plan in April.  There is a science to training so I wanted a plan that was written by a coach, I did not want to try to coach myself.  Also part of preparing my body to compete for 140.6 miles was proper diet.  But nutrition to fuel my body during the event was a different challenge.  In June Rick a biking friend told me about Infinit a new nutrition supplement he was using on long bike rides.  Infinit is mixed specifically for each person, it is not one formula made for the masses.  I began using Infinit for nutrition when riding or running.  At REV3 Infinit, one Cliff bar, 3 gels was my only food intake during the 14 hour event.  I was never hungry, no stomach problems and no leg cramps, Infinit worked.

September 11th was my first Iron distance triathlon. I had been training for this race for months, I had been thinking about it for years. It all started when I ran my first sprint triathlon in Shelby in 2007, I was hooked. And now I was standing on the lake Erie shore at 7 am. My friend Jason and I shook hands and wished each other luck and waited nervously for the gun to fire. I knew Jason would do well, he had been training hard and he was ready. I didn’t know if I was ready. But I was about to find out.

There is not much to say about the swim, bike and run. I followed my plan for nutrition and pacing. My arms and shoulders got tired during the swim, my legs got tired the rest of the race. The volunteers were great, the spectators along the route were eager to lend encouraging words and the weather was wonderful. The unique thing that stood out about this event was competing with Jason again, and seeing my wife and friends John, Rabbit, Brian, Dee, Greg, Ann  Marie and Rick cheering me on at various places along the course, I have great friends and my wonderful wife!

As the sun was setting I was running my last 3 miles, I could see the lights from Cedar Point getting closer and closer soon I would begin to here the crowd cheering for the runners as they passed in front of the stands. I knew it would only be a few more minutes and I would be running in front of those stands and I would be an Ironman. I rounded the last corner and headed toward the cheers, as I approached I saw Teresa smiling. I grabbed her hand and we ran together across the finish line. In honor of 9-11 the runners were handed an American flag to carry across the finish line.  Other good friends Dee, Greg, Brian, Ann-Marie and Jason were waiting on the other side. It was a very good day. 

In the end I finished only 9 minutes after my goal of 14 hours and finished 4th in my age group. I missed third place by less than 10 minutes but this race wasn’t about the finish time or how I placed this race was about finding out if I could do it.  I did it, I have completed the journey from Fatman to Ironman, and will do my best to avoid a return trip.
Photo's by Brian Coon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ironman Muncie

Friday morning we woke up full of nervous energy. This was the day we were driving to Muncie, Indiana to participate in the Ironman 70.3. We had loaded the van the night before with everything except the cooler but I still reviewed my list one more time because I always feel as if I am forgetting something.

After a trip to Starbucks we were on our way. The trip was uneventful, nothing but cornfields. We arrived in Muncie, checked into the hotel, had some lunch then called our friends Jason and Ann Marie. Jason was also racing. We met them and went to the convention center where the Ironman expo was being held. This is where we picked up our race packets, timing chip etc. This was also the location of the athlete’s pre-race briefing, which we were required to attend.

As we entered the expo, we checked in, picked up our race packets which contained a bib number, a swim cap, a timing chip and some free samples of sponsors products. From here we entered the Ironman store. I bought a bike jersey, running shirt and running shoes. Before we left we attended the athletes briefing. They explained the course, answered questions etc.

Jason and I decided to go for one last bike ride that afternoon so we drove to the race venue, which was about 10 miles from town at a place called Prairie Creek Reservoir. We didn’t ride far, only about 11 or 12 miles then walked around the venue to find out which way to go in and out of the transition area during the race. We drove back to town, had dinner and tried to wind down for the evening.

Race day
The alarm was set for 4 am because I like to eat some complex carbs and some fat (bagel and cream cheese) 4 hours before an endurance event. I woke up at 3 am, so much for that extra hour of sleep. I went ahead and got dressed but wanted to stick to my plan so I waited until 4 to eat. We drove to Prairie Creek. I set up my transition area. This is where the competitors leave their gear, bike, helmet, bike shoes, etc. I was ready; all I had left to do was pace around nervously until the race started.

The Race
Just before 8 am everyone started moving toward the starting line. Someone sang the national Anthem, the professionals were introduced, a cannon fired. The professionals went splashing off into the water. My wave was next; I usually start at the back of the pack because I am a slow swimmer. This race was no different. I planned on swimming at a steady pace and try to stay on course; I did just what I had planned. I finished the 1.2-mile swim in about 52 minutes, slower than I wanted. I ran into transition, put on my bike shoes, helmet, grabbed my bike and was on my way.  Out on the bike I was feeling great. I drank my liquid nutrition about 2 swallows every 10 minutes. This is what I calculated I would need calorie wise to sustain me. I finished the 56 miles in just under 2 hours and 45 minutes at a 20.4 mph average.

Now for the run, this is where the plan fell apart. I had 2 bottles of my Infinit nutrition on a fuel belt lying in my transition area, which I planned to use on the run. But because it was so @#%&*! Hot from setting in the sun, it tasted awful. But in all honesty this is not what spoiled the run for me. There was plenty of food and drinks at the aid stations along the run and the volunteers working at the aid stations were enthusiastic and eager to help in any way possible. They were probably the best group of volunteers I have ever seen at a race. What spoiled the run was that the weather was so @#%&*! Hot and the run course was very hilly which together made for a very slow run, but I finished the run in 2 hours 42 minutes.  My Ironman finish time was 6 hours 32 minutes.

Overall I really enjoyed racing in this event, but it wasn’t the racing alone that I enjoyed. It was choosing which event to run.  It was figuring out the best training methods.  It was figuring out what to eat during the event.  It was the camaraderie that exists in a shared experience with friends. But most of all it was seeing Teresa’s smile when I crossed the finish line.

 Jason and I at the finish!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Forget the PR

Last weekend I ran a race called Forget the PR a trail run through Mohican State Park.  This race is very popular and sold out in just 26 days. 

One of the reasons I wanted to do a long event in the spring was to test a nutrition plan for my upcoming triathlons.  During the race I wanted to use Hammer Perpetuem, which is liquid fuel for endurance events, I just call it “mud”.  I wanted to use this as my only form of nutrition to see how my body would react.  Mud worked great, I never felt hungry and maintained good energy levels throughout the race.

I was new to this event and I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  I was familiar with some of the trails because I mountain bike on them.  The first aid station was at the fire tower which was about 5 miles in.  I told my wife I would get to this point in about an hour, it took me longer because I slowed down on the section the race director calls big ass hill and it was.  From there the trail made its way down to the covered bridge aid station.  Both of these aid stations were well stocked with food and friendly volunteers.  Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way.  My wife was waiting there with a wonderful smile and encouraging word.  I refilled my water bottles and headed out to the Lyons Falls loop; parts of this section were more like extreme hiking than trail running.  I made my way up a ravine to the base of Little Lyons Falls where I climbed up tree roots like a ladder to reach the top.  Next I ran to Pleasant Hill Dam, up the road then back on trails to Big Lyons Falls, returning to the covered bridge aid station.  As I was running towards the aid station I saw friends Greg and Dee taking pictures. 

Leaving the aid station I had to cross the Mohican River.  The water was thigh deep and startling cold.  As I started in the water I saw Samuel who was sitting on the rocks under the bridge watching the runners cross the river.  I walked carefully to maintain good footing to make sure I didn’t fall in.  My legs were cold I didn’t want the rest of me in the freezing water.   My wife was waiting on the other side with dry shoes and socks.  I quickly changed, drank some mud talked to Greg, Dee and Samuel before starting the last 5 miles.

Photo by Dee Brandes

I finished the 17.35 mile trail run in 4 hours 2 minutes.  This was a little slower than I thought I would do, but it was a very enjoyable run.  At the finish line there was hot soup, sandwiches and beer.  I am already looking forward to doing this event again next year.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Ride for ALL Ages

Kyrsten, Lucas, Evan and me

Most adults have forgotten what it is like to be a kid.  I had the opportunity this week to experience one of the simple joys of life; I went on a bike ride with my grandkids.  We started in Bellville and headed north on the bike trail.  We saw birds and a squirrel and rode over sticks and leaves.  Nobody was thinking of going to work or what we had to do tomorrow we were riding bikes.  The kids never stopped talking or smiling.  The youngest one, Lucas, started singing as he peddled his new bike.  His first ride was over 3 miles, not bad for a 4 year old.  Kyrsten wanted to ride fast; she was going 14 mph at one point.  Evan likes to mountain bike so he kept riding on the grass on the side of the bike trail.  The next time you pass a family on the bike trail, remember the fun you had when you were a kid.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chain Reaction Part 3

During 2001 and through early 2003 exercise and restricting my foot intake became more like work.  Between those dates my weight dropped from 300 down to 232.  One set-back came in May of 2002.  I was mowing the lawn, slipped on a hill and broke my ankle.  I did not exercise for the next 2 months.    Looking back I realize that taking 2 months away from exercise gave me the mental break I needed to continue, even though I gained weight during this time.  I realized I had to find a way to turn exercise into fun, something that I loved to do.  I remembered that I used to enjoy riding a bike; I had sold my bike at a garage sale when my weight reached 300 and I thought I would never ride again.  I decided to give riding a bike a try, I bought a Trek 7200, it was a heavy bike, but it was just what I needed to cruise up and down the bike trial.  I found my love of biking again and looked forward to riding and I did it more often.  Biking is still one of my passions; yesterday I rode 46 miles with some of my friends.  By the end of 2003 my weight was 203.

May 2002 with my Grandson Evan

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Good Run

Most local running events involve a charity in one way or another.  The 5k yesterday was no exception; this 5k was sponsored by a local rock band, thank you Red Ball Jets.  The proceeds went to a non-profit organization, the Area Agency on Aging (  This agency helps area seniors in many ways and I was happy that my entry fee went to them.  But this was more than just a good deed, this was fun, it was almost like a party.  Since it was a local event we knew many of the participants and many of the volunteers, including the race director who is the unofficial leader of our running group, thanks Bob we appreciate you bringing us these running events.  Friends and running, what a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  We even won new metals.  My wife Teresa placed second in her age group and set a new PR, I took third in mine, friends Dee and Greg took first in their respective age groups.  Teresa’s running partner Tammy also set a new PR.  It was a good run.
After the event me, Teresa, Greg and Dee