Monday, July 20, 2015

Running with the Iron Cowboy



If you don't know who the Iron Cowboy is or what he is doing, you should Google him.  Check out his 50.50.50 website HERE.


What's the 50.50.50?  

Good question.  James (the Iron Cowboy) is doing 50 Ironman distance triathlons in 50 days, one in each of the 50 states.  Take THAT Dean Karnazes!  But very much like Dean, James is doing an incredible physical feat for the purpose of raising awareness for a cause, childhood obesity including nutrition and of course exercise.

What is the Iron Cowboy doing every day?

He is swimming 2.4 miles either in open water or a pool (dependent on weather and conditions), biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles.  Then it's time to pack up and head to the next state.  To be honest, the exercise is the easy part.  It's the nutrition and recovery that is tricky.

Is 50 Ironmans in 50 days even physically possible?

When he started out, a number of us debated how probable it'd be.  As he went and hit speed bumps along the way, we continued to debate what might befall James.  However, once I met him, I was convinced that this guy could do 300 in a row and keep right on ticking.  Barring any accident or incident out of his control, James has got this thing wrapped up!  At the writing of this, James is on #45 in South Dakota and I am very much looking forward to him finishing.

Why is he doing all of this?

Great question!  I'll let James answer that for himself.

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How did you run with the Iron Cowboy?

While in each state, the Iron Cowboy crew is asking local athletes to come out and run a 5k with James.  Heck, they're asking athletes to come out and do just about anything they want with him - come down and do an Ironman if you want!  He'd love the company for sure!  But even for just the 5k, it's a great way to give James something to look forward to every day, an opportunity for some camaraderie, and a way to get his message out.  On July 5th, James was in CT, so a number of triathletes and I from HEAT (our local tri club) headed down to check it out.  Here's my largely pictorial recap of the event.



Driving up to the Iron Cowboy caravan and locale at Swim Seventy in Norwalk, CT.  "There's his RV!"


The Iron Cowboy RV!  This is their home for 50 days.  And there are 4 of I think 7 bikes!


The setup outside of Swim Seventy.  Free bibs to run with and t-shirts, hats, bags for sale.  James' kids were running the majority of the setup.  They've had plenty of practice over the last 30 days!



The required pictures next to the Iron Cowboy RV!  Everyone took turns!


A local tradition of "Guess whose shoe!"


And selfies!


There they come!  James had gone out to get in an hour of his run before we started.  Apparently he was not alone. 


This is what I love about James.  The very first thing he does as he gets to home base is bend over and listens to his son tell him all about his airplane.  His patience is incredible.  Yes, he could be a grouch for 50 days, but instead he has such an appreciation for being able to be out there and do what he's doing along with appreciating what his family is doing in order to support him.  Kudos!


James then addressed the crowd and gave a little speech (inserted at the top) to tell us why he's doing what he's doing.  Then we took a group photo and were off.


And we're off!


No traffic stops for us.  We have to wait at lights!



Made it to a local track to make the rounds.


Running with triathlon history in the making.


James will stop for any opportunity to encourage the kids!


Lots of great photo ops!



Thanks Test Field for the use of your track.


HEAT representing!!





The final stretch before making it back to home base.  Once we got back, there were a lot of pictures!



If you live in a state that James hasn't yet traveled to, or you can make it to one (there were some ladies we met in CT that had traveled from NY to spend the day with James!), I highly encourage it.  It is very low key, but well worth the trip.  As I said before, James has this thing in the bag and it is incredible to see him in action.

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Questions
1.  How many Ironmans do you think you could do in a row?
If you've done one, you know what the morning after feels like.  Doing another is not my first thought!  

2.  If you could do an Ironman in any state (or location for that matter), where would it be?
James said that he gets asked what state he's looking forward to most.  His response was that he loves wherever he is at that moment.  He is incredibly 'In the Moment' and loves every second of this adventure.


DREAM.  BELIEVE.  ACHIEVE. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

RACE REPORT: Lake T Sprint Tri #4 [2015]



Lake Terramuggus Sprint Triathlon
July 17th, 2015


This race series has always been one of my favorites.  You always remember your first (way back in 2010)!  And how can you turn down the home field?  This race never let's you down for a great Thursday night entertainment.  ...that is unless you dislike triathlons, athletics, or athletes in general.  If so, stay home.  Everyone else, come out and enjoy!!

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I showed up my usual just after 4pm (race start is at 6pm), talked to Dennis, a fellow Ironman, who was the cameraman for Spielberg (Incredible!!) among countless other big names, set up my gear, got a couple loops of the bike course in to warm up, chatted with friends (of which there are too many to name at this race), and was ready to see what I had in me.  

It's been almost a year since I raced a sprint.  After coming off of a great race at Musselman the Sunday prior, I had planned on bailing on this race until the morning of.  For whatever reason, after three days of fatigue and soreness, I woke up feeling great Thursday.  It was on!!  Even if I ended up pulling back part way through, it was worth the fun evening.

It was on!!

As we were prepping to race, the race director - Good ol' Billy! - came on and made an announcement that after running this race for 12 years that he will be leaving the state and handing the race off after this season.  While he has left the race in good hands, MAN will he be missed!  

Photo thanks to JS Photography

You will be missed Billy!!  Little did I know that this was the start of what was going to feel like a FULL CIRCLE evening for me.  Grab those tissues!  

SWIM
Before the start, I walked into the water and instantly regretted the wetsuit.  Yes, I'd be faster, but it was warm!  Turns out it wasn't as warm as I thought, but it was still warm.  Why can't we change the wetsuit illegal temp to something like 73?!  #SwimmerProblems

The women were off first   About 3-4 minutes later, the men were off.  I had lined myself up behind Matt, the guy who ALWAYS comes out of the water first.  My goal here was to attempt to draft him for as long as I could.  It gave me something to focus on and a hope that the focus would pull me out of my fatigue.  A sprint is just that, a SPRINT!!  There's no time to slow down!

Well, Matt took off and I couldn't hold him for long, but I did manage to slide in behind #2.  We kept a pretty solid pace past the first directional buoy and to the turn.  Then we hit the ladies and things slowed down a bit.  Once we hit the last buoy though, he kicked it up and I did the same.  All around, the swim was great and I came into transition in third.

Photo thanks to JS Photography
Matt, taking the swim with ease!

Photo thanks to JS Photography

Chris, today's "nemesis," coming up behind me.  
And Pete behind him simply bidding his years before he crushes us all!

TRANSITION
I'm loving having the wetsuit cut up shorter.  It comes off very quickly!  I struggled a bit with the clasp on my helmet, but headed out onto the bike in 2nd.

BIKE
The name of the game here is PUSH!  There are two loops and I rarely catch my breath before I finish the first loop.  This was no different.  It took me longer than normal to get my shoes on, but once they were, I cranked it!!  Unfortunately, I realized that Auto Multisport on the Garmin watch links to the setup from Bike 1 and I was riding "bike 2," so I didn't have my cadence data that I like, but oh-well.  It's a sprint.  Just GO!

About 1.5-2 miles in, I passed Matt and he confirmed that I was taking the lead.  That was earlier than normal.  Sometimes it takes me a full loop before I catch him.  That was my first clue that something was different today.

Photo thanks to JS Photography
Finishing Loop #1

I kept pushing the bike with one thought in my head... "Chris is coming up behind you!"  I stole a couple looks back at the corners, but didn't see anything.  I kept pushing on knowing it was only an inevitability.  

I had put Infinit in my aero bottle where I normally just leave water for sprints.  Turns out that was a bad choice.  My stomach wasn't too happy.  It didn't affect me on the bike, but it would come the run.

I came into the bike finish all alone.  This was a new scenario to wrap my head around.  I've always had to run someone down and I feel more confident in that position (at least depending on who it is).  I had no idea how far back Chris was, but with every shout behind me, I kept thinking "There he is!"

Photo thanks to JS Photography
 Off the bike in first.  That's a first.

Photo thanks to JS Photography
Chris coming in hot behind me!

TRANSITION
As I roll into transition, Henry from the timing company tells me there's only one person from a relay out ahead of me, so I don't need to worry.  I shout back, "It's whose behind me I'm worried about."  CHRIS!

I grab my gear and book it.  Every second counts right now.

RUN
Thanks to the T2 legs, I feel like I'm running at my normal long run pace.  I know I'm going faster, but MAN did it feel slow knowing that I'm getting chased.

I passed the relay in the first half mile and was all alone.  Then my stomach reared it's ugly head.  I don't know if it was the choice to have Infinit on the bike, my nutrition during the day, or gas, but MAN was my stomach unhappy, especially on the downhill.  I will admit that due to that pain, I slowed on the downhills.  Flats and ups were fine.

I stole a couple peaks at the corner.  I kept listening for cheers behind me.  Nothing!  I started wondering if Chris was too far back to catch me.  I couldn't let that thought sink in or he would for sure, so I pushed on.

At the 2nd to last turn, there is one mile left.  I started doing mental math as I had to slow for a downhill.  I've got at least a quarter mile on 2nd place.  If I'm running where I think I am (based on history, not current feel), then he'd have to run something like 4:30/mile to catch me.  Since I was convinced of that quick logic, I stuck to the pace I was at and didn't risk the stomach issue for pushing harder.

As is usually the case, my logic was flawed.

Photo thanks to JS Photography

There's me in the pink.  There's Chris running me down.  I've raced him at road races too and he has no trouble beating me.  Just before that hill, I heard a cheer and "He's catching up!"  I turned enough to see the green speedo, turned back, and BOOKED IT!  All my previous logic went out the window and I simply hoped I had enough in me to hold him off for another quarter mile.

Photo thanks to JS Photography
That look of pain!

Thanks to that mental push from Chris, the last quarter mile was under 5 min/mile.  Speed Work!!  But it worked.  After 5 years of racing, I finally won a Lake T Sprint.  Sure, plenty of other people could have shown up, but it made the night feel like a check mark on the To Do list.  Ultimately, I took away a great experience of staying ahead of someone chasing me down and will likely get to do that many times to come.

Photo thanks to JS Photography
Truce!

I have looked up to Chris for a long time as an athlete I could only imagine beating.  It is a very surreal feeling knowing that I've done it.  Mentally, that opens another door of possibility!  But I sure hope to have plenty of great races ahead with him!  I might have to get a speedo next time!

Photo thanks to JS Photography
Photobomb!  I can't help it.  I will always be a kid at heart!  =P  Nice job JD, Chris, and Pete!


FOR BILLY...

The Lake Terramuggus Triathlon Series was my first triathlon back in 2010.  It all kicked off when I crossed that first finish line and thought "Woah!  Wait a second!  I just ran a 5k.  I didn't think I could run, let alone that far...  I wonder how much more I can do."  The endurance athlete in me was born that day.  Billy had very little direct affect on that moment, but nonetheless without him it would not have happened.  I've done three Ironmans, a 50 mile ultramarathon, changed careers, and my entire lifestyle because of this sport and it all started at Lake T.  This is my 6th year racing at Lake T and on the day that Billy announces he is leaving, I finally win.  I've chased that small dream for awhile.  Somehow, it felt fitting; a sort of personal send off saying "Thank you Billy.  I got it from here."  As I look forward to plenty more in my own athletic career, I get to watch Billy head out on his own adventure. 

So thank you Billy and I wish you the best of luck with the next chapter.  And if you ever start another race series, let me know when I should show up to help set up the racks!

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To leave on a funny note, here's my favorite picture of the night!

Photo thanks to JS Photography
If you're in CT on a Thursday night,
I dare you to come out and have as much fun as Kai at Lake T!!
...or Cedar Lake!

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Questions
1.  Do you have a favorite race or series? 
Lake T was my first and the one I've done the most often.  I sharpened my skills there, made friends there, and had lots of great (and some bad) memories there.  As far as Triathlon goes, the Lake Terramuggus race series will always feel like home.

2.  Do you have an athlete or person in your life that you look up to?
There are a number of local athletes and people that I look up to both for their athletic abilities and their personalities.  I LOVE local races because you get so much more of a feel for local camaraderie and support.  I hope I secretly help pull someone else up to an athletic ability they dream of having.


DREAM.  BELIEVE.  ACHIEVE.