Friday, July 27, 2012

Thoughts about Chick-Fil-A Drama...What Would Staley Do

I may have mentioned before, but this blog is going to be about a lot, not just race reports....this is not a race report.  I have been amazed by how many emails I have been getting about my stance on the Chick-Fil-A drama.  I have no idea why you guys care, but I can't put all my thoughts on a Facebook status, so I will write it down on a blog.

First of all, if you don't know what the drama is...Google it.  I am not a national blogging icon, so I am not going to reference articles and all that junk.  If you don't know what the drama is about, I envy you.  I would love to be in the dark about this...better yet I would love to eat some chicken without someone telling me I stand for or against something because of it.  There are 2 sides to the argument about CFA and Gay rights, and frankly I am in the middle screaming, "I just want a delicious chicken sandwich!!"  So here we go, here are my thoughts....buckle your seatbelts and leave your bibles and rainbow necklaces at the door.  Come with an open mind and you may leave with peace.  HAHA, I don't have that kind of power:)  Lets look at the sides first and then expand from there.

Homosexual Side:

First and foremost I am not a Homosexual.  I know and have friends that are. I have listened to their side and understand their argument enough I will attempt to write it down.  However, please understand that I cannot express every single Homosexual's personal view on this, nor could I with Christians.  The way I have come to understand the views on this side are that this is a civil and or human rights issue.  That CFA is against homosexuality and should  be forced to change its view if it ever hopes to have another gay or lesbian patron.  They want the country to accept them as human beings and not as freaks, and to afford them the same rights as everyone else in the country.  They want the Declaration of Independence to be just as much for them, that it is for those crazy bible wielding Christians. 

I want to say as an American I agree with 95% of what the LBGT community feels.  We cannot pick and choose who gets rights in this country, and we sure as heck can't do it based on religion choices.  In college my girlfriend (now my wife) had a stroke.  Her family has not always been the great standard of excellence on nurturing, so 99% of the responsibility of caring for her fell on me.....Now mind you, I had only been dating her for around 4 months. My mother called me and informed me that if I, at anytime, did not give 100% of my support to Angie and my care for her ever lacked, then she would promptly remove my testicles and disown me.  I had a responsibility and I would be caring for her, not running away like most men in college would have done.  Her care was hard though, doctors ignored me, the hospitals would not talk to me, and in the end, I was going to be helping pay the bill.  I had no rights though, because I was not married to her.  I think about my LBGT brothers and sisters that have been with their partners for years and years and the pain and fear they must go through every time their significant other goes through a medical crisis....It would be hell.

Conservative Christian Side:

I want to intentionally say Conservative Christian here...or CC.  The reason being because somewhere over the years there has been a group of Christians that feel they are a political party, instead of a faith....these are CC's to me.  Their feelings are that a marriage in the bible is said to be between a man and a woman and that anything other than that is a sin, or even worse and abomination.  Now, to all my LBGT friends, as a Christian let me explain their extremist views here so you can kind of, at the minimum, understand why they think they have to fight against you.  You see the old testament is chopped full of stories on the wrath that God would display against His enemies.  There are stories of kings that would try and restore the ways of God, but wouldn't kick out and fully destroy the enemies of God and the people that worshiped other Gods in their chosen land.  They were and will always be written as kings that were not good in God's eyes because of those things.  Almost every prophet in the old testament talks about God's judgement and wrath upon the people that did not fully embrace Him and how He would smite them from the face of the earth because of it.  The bible tells us now that when the time comes for us to face judgement, then we will have to answer for everything we did on earth.  By the old testament alone it would make a Christian's butt pucker to have to go before God and tell him that he did not fully support that which God commanded us to do.  What will we say when he says, "Why did you support homosexuality?"  They believe it is better for people to hate them here on earth, than to have God send them to hell for eternity.

As a Christian, that was raised in what I will refer for now as an "Old Covenant" mentality, I will tell you that I get it, and would have stood for this just the same a few years ago.  However there is another point of their argument, one that every time I hear it, it baffles me to the point where I get that dog, cocked head to the side, look......BBBUUUTTTT this is actually the biggest point to understand in this CFA drama!!  There are a large majority of CC's that believe if you sit quietly and allow people to do as they please and go against Christian values, that eventually, Christians will have their rights removed too and will lose their rights to worship freely.  This is actually a very valid argument to a point.  In Arizona right now there is a man who has bible studies at his house and the city is fining him and telling him it is illegal to do so.  Also we cannot forget that praying in schools is practically illegal now.  History has shown that every time the country adopts something that Christians don't like, it becomes harder for Christians to worship.  So before I move on, we have to see that this is not a black and white issue for either side.  It doesn't mean you have to agree with either side, but you can't sit there and say its simple.

Staley's Side...PS, I'm Staley:)

First of all, I am a Christian, down to he very marrow in my bones, I worship Jesus.  I have seen and drank from His cup and my heart is full.  I have layed hands on the sick to pray for them, and seen them healed.  Broken bones, open wounds, all healed right before my eyes.  I have prayed for tormented people that don't speak a word of English, and had them look me in the eye and call me by name as the demon inside of them tried to scare me off.  BTW, those things shocked even me.  I know that God is real, I know that He is not just a fictional character in an old book.  I have gotten to know Him as a God, a King, a Father, but most best friend.  So the question of, "Is there a God?" is not a question or a thought in my life.  The question is for me, how do I love Him with every single fiber in my body, and how do I honor Him, as I would want my children to honor me.  I believe in doing so I need to adopt the 2 core things that Jesus taught.  See the bible tells us of a time, when the disciples were hanging with Jesus, and they just wanted to know, out of all the hundreds of commandments that they had been raised to believe and follow, which one was the most important to get right.  You see the "Old Covenant" led people to follow laws.  There was a direct consequence to the laws, and even more than now, you did not want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law.  So Jesus told them this...and I'm going to put it in easy to understand words..."First, Love God with everything in your being, Your heart, Your mind, Your soul, Your me." "Second love EVERYONE, as you would want to be loved."  A "New Covenant" Mentality, is that Jesus came to FULFILL the old laws and with those 2 commandments, everything in a nutshell would be fulfilled.  He did not abolish them, but instead fulfilled them.  He showed that down to the very seed and nature of his commands for our life, is love.  He later tells the disciples that if they go around healing, prophetically speaking over people, telling people about Him, but they don't have love, then He won't know them in Heaven.  They missed the whole purpose of creation.  God has done everything for us, because He loves us.  We are the imperfect ones, we are the ones that drop the ball, not Him!  

I once found myself sitting on a bench with a gay man outside of a Starbucks. I was close to 500lbs, and struggled with all kinds of sins, including the sins that caused me to be 500lbs.  The two of us were having a great conversation, when a couple of kids walked by us.  These kids were all "Gothed" out.  They had the makeup on, the crazy hair, and satanic based shirts.  The gay man looked at me and said, "Wow, now those kids need Jesus!"  What was my thought?  I thought to myself, "Umm, you need Jesus!"  The next day in my quiet time I was flat out, called out, for those thoughts.  God basically let me know, I needed Jesus as much as everyone in that story.  See He was blunt and let me know that there is only ONE unforgivable sin in the world and that is not accepting His love for me....Period.  I learned in that moment, that there is no special place in hell for people. Hell is hell, more than a place I look at it as a total separation from the One who created me. Therefore, I have worked the last couple years on looking at people with Christ's eyes and not my own.  When Christ looks at me, He sees my potential, He gets excited about what I can and will do. He does not look at me with judgement.  The bible is clear, there is 1 day, not 500, not even 2, just 1 day for us to be judged.  That means God is always looking at me in pursuit of greatness, not in disappointment.  I sin everyday, I'm not perfect, and I know that God does not hold it against me.  When I curse under my breath at the car that cut me off, He celebrates when I repent, but doesn't say, "Well maybe tomorrow I will love you a little more, if you are a good boy."  No, the power and love of God, is continuous and never changing.  2 Minutes after I sin, He may use me to impact someone's life.  Not 20 minutes later when I realized I did the wrong thing.  Therefore, how can I look at another of God's creations and judge them?  I can't and frankly, Billy Graham himself could not convince me otherwise.  I will love my LBGT brothers and sisters, I will love them so much it hurts.  I will cheer for them when there is a moment to celebrate, and I will hold them tight when they are in pain.  Why?...I love them, not because the bible tell me so, but because I somehow get God's love for me.  The world would look at me now and see a good Christian man, but I am not good.  Sometimes I treat my wife like junk, most of the time I'm selfish, Sometimes I throw cups of water down in aid stations to slow the runner down that's behind, I may go to hell for that one:)  However, in the end, I love, I chose love, I pursue love.  I have a friend named Richard.  I call him a friend loosely,  because I have never met the man.  He is a Facebook friend.  Richard is an openly gay man.  However, I have never once looked at him as a gay man.  See the reason I friended him is because of HIS love.  You see Richard was once obese like myself, and like myself he overcame it.  He, however, is an example to the formally obese community.  You see, he and his partner Carlos have made it a mission in their lives to help others overcome obesity and train them to be athletes.  He doesn't ask for money, he just helps.  In fact, if you get his help, he accepts you into his family!  You are welcome on he and Carlos' ranch, to laugh, eat, and grow together.  He does not look down on you for your choices, even if you are not training as hard as you should.  He meets his friends in their place of need and he walks them through it.  He is a perfect reflection of God's love....really, a gay man loves people the way God desires to love us.  Who knew?!?!?!  I believe that God is proud of Richard.  I believe that God looks at the angels around Him and says, "That's my boy!" Like any proud father would do. In fact I pray my children grow to have even a fraction of the love that this man has.  God does not look at those angels and ever say, "I'd be more proud if he would like girls."  That is human love, not Godly love to think that way.  I tell you this now, I guard my kids because I believe that it is my duty to do so.  I would let Richard and Carlos spend a weekend with my girls before half of the people I am related too.  I trust them, and I have never even talked to them in person.  However....what does this have to do with Chicken and Homosexuals, whats my thoughts on the CFA drama?......

Staley's Thoughts on the CFA Drama:

Both sides are wrong....period.  The owner of a business has every right afforded to him by the constitution to not like something.  As well as every LBGT person has the right to protest him not liking something.  Here is the problem....both sides are getting ugly.  As Christians, standing up for CFA and knocking Homosexuals gets you nowhere and only teaches people that God hates them unless they are perfect.  We are becoming a faith more known for what we hate than what we love.  Jesus told us that it is better that we are hated, because He is there.  We are to relinquish our rights and turn over completely to His trust.  Heck, he even tells us that its good for us to be persecuted, if we are He calls us BLESSED!  By fighting against Homosexuality and "Defending" Christ, we are actually removing ourselves from His will and evoking our own.  Remember this Psalm, in fact memorize it....."Be still and know that I AM GOD, I WILL be exhaulted on the earth, I WILL be exhaulted among the nations."  We don't have to defend someone that is greater than us, God is going to get what God deserves.  We need HIS defense, not the other way.  If you believe that God needs you to do His work, then you worship a small god. My God is mighty, My God is powerful, My God OVERCAME DEATH!!  Love and worship Him.  Do as you feel He is calling you to do.  When you stand before God on that day of judgement,and he asks, "Why did you not stand with the others and fight homosexuals."  I think you will be ok and make Him proud when you said, "You loved me, even though I was not perfect, therefore, I was just doing that which you taught me."  Don't be afraid of God, you will find he is a lot more gentler than you can ever imagine.  If a LBGT wants to be legally married, don't stand in their way.  Jesus told us when we feed or care for the needs of his children, then we are doing it directly to Him.  Allow them the rights, so that their needs can be met.  No man or woman on this planet can take away from the POWER of my marriage, so you are not loosing anything by letting them marry.

However to my LBGT brothers and sisters, there is a hitch on your side also.  In Chicago and Boston there are pushes by government officials to stop CFA restaurants from starting.  No CFA in this country has ever been accused of discrimination.  In fact the one CFA in Chicago has several Homosexuals working for it.  The same owners that are being stopped from opening another one are the same ones that own the other one.  You won't get anywhere in life by taking someone else's rights away from them, so you can get your rights.  We all lose in that way.  In fact it causes a bigger war than is needed.  Love has to prevail over this.  As a Christian I will stand with you and say that  what Cathey believes is wrong, however I need you to say that what Boston and Chicago politicians are doing is wrong also.  CFA has done nothing wrong. The man that owns the name has said misguided things, but no one has done anything legally wrong.  A LBGT person is freely allowed to work, eat, and patron any CFA establishment.  No one has been denied work or service because of who they love.  Therefore, CFA's rights as Americans are being withheld because politicians don't like the personal views of one of the people in its thousands of employees.  Frankly, in Chicago, we all know that the politicians are only doing it to line their pockets with kickbacks.  They did the same thing to Walmart a few years ago.  Now that they have millions of dollars in contributions, and Walmart is expanding everywhere.  They are using your pain for their gain.  In a time of financial hardship we are stopping others from getting employment....even LBGT people!  I'm not saying back down from your beliefs.  If you want to picket outside of every CFA in America..DO IT!!  In fact, I'll do it with you, but I will be eating a chicken sandwich while doing it:)  Just as we need to stand for Gay Rights, we have to stand for Constitutional rights too, or we are fighting for nothing.  CFA has rights, just as I believe every LBGT brother and sister has rights.

Final thoughts:

Its Ok, if you do not agree with me.  People on both sides are going to disagree.  These are just my thoughts.  I am open to comments for the time being.  I will not reply to them though, simply because I am not a debater.  People that debate are typically not doers.  You can sit and talk about it till you are blue in the face, but unless you get off the couch and do something about it, then you were wasting your breath.  Extremely negative comments will be deleted.  Hateful words towards others, will be deleted.  Attacks, will be deleted.  With that being said, feel free to share this with others....I'll brace myself:)  Finally, there will be typos.  Every blog I do, 2 weeks down the road I read it and it looks like a 5 year old typed it.  As a stay at home dad and a triathlete that trains, I don't have a lot of time for proofreading:) So forgive me please.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ironman 70.3 Racine. The Day I Overcame Obesity!!

Lets just start with this....This is going to be long.  I mean get a cup of coffee and cancel plans for the evening long.  This was the biggest and greatest event of my life.  2 Years ago I had to grocery shop with a little rascal and on Sunday July 15th I competed in an Ironman event.  So if you don't like long blogs, feel free to look at the pretty pictures and move on:)  I have learned a lot this year with triathlon, I won't tell you all of them because that is a whole blog in and of itself.  However I have now done every size except for a 140.6...maybe someday.  With everyone I was a little nervous and a bit scared.  I can tell you this, it was all the unknown.  After I do it, I know what to expect, and the fear falls away.  Going into a 70.3 I was going nuts.  On the Saturday 1 week before my race, I ran my last long run before my taper.  In total I did 11 miles, mainly because I ran too far and I should have turned around sooner to head back home.  That's the problem with training with time, not miles.  Anyways, the next day I was practically crippled with knee pain.  I literally thought I was going to have to pull myself out of the race.  After 6 ice baths, by Wednesday I was 100%.  I have had to accept that while I run with a minimalist style, I am no minimalist in long distances.  My Nike Free's are not as wonderful as I thought they were.  So they are now being retired to fancy house slippers and I am switching to a more neutral shoe.  

Another problem I had was nervous stomach.  This is a forum for honesty, so let me be honest....the whole week I had massive diarrhea.  I was eating great, so I knew it was just the way the nervous was coming out. That's a part of life, so I dealt with it:)  My wife and I decided to make the trip up on Friday instead of going Saturday like most people.  I wanted to get checked in and just look over the battle ground before Saturday.  I already knew that it would be nuts that Saturday with everyone from my team checking in and getting ready for the race, that there was just no time.  So we made the move up, I put my bike on the back of the Jeep and we started up around 3pm.  Then the first snafu happened.  A thunderstorm cell came though, stopping traffic on the interstate and worse of all drowning my bike!!  Shelia was going to be so mad at me for leaving her out there.  We got to the hotel and I knew I was going to have to clean her up, she got a lot of debris from the overspray on her and worse yet, my expensive ISM Adamo seat had been pooped on by some bird.  We got checked in to the room at the Raddison and I loved it.  It was right on the water.  a 10 minute walk to the south was the Ironman Expo and check in.  A mile to the north, was the race.  All the other hotels were 20 minutes away, cheaper, but 20 minutes away.  After getting settled in to the room we all walked to the expo to get my packet a shop.  That was quite the event, signing wavers, standing in line, getting my wrist band, then my shirt and my backpack.  As a quick side note, the shoebag backpacks they give out are awesome!  Perfect for taking your swim stuff to the pool....moving on:)  The next morning after breakfast we jumped in the jeep and headed down to the beach so I could test the water.  During my quiet time I had already walked down there, but now I needed to get in the water with the wetsuit.  The water was cool, but nice.  I was six thousand times more comfortable than Pleasant Prairie in the wetsuit and with swimming.  I swam with other racers for around an hour, just swimming a couple hundred yards, then breaking for conversation.  After that we went back to the room changed, then I headed to check my bike in with my friend Christine and her awesome family.  I had a great spot, right next to swim in and run out, like 15 steps... that's awesome!  After that we had a meeting with our team, put on by Adam Zucco and Scott Iott with Training Bible.  These guys are veterans of this race, In fact Scott came in 10th overall this year...pretty sweet:)  They taught us a few tips about the coarse and best of all taught us a little trick about taking our wetsuit off in the water....I will talk about that later.  That night I relaxed and went to bed early.  

Pre Race Nutrition:

I'm really going to spare you.  I ate well all week, proper hydration...blah blah blah.  The morning of, I had to switch out my usual routine.  No coffee, because there was no Starbucks, and no oatmeal, there was no microwave.  I did a Blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a Cliff Bar.  As well as sipping on my UR DRIVEN the whole time.

Race Morning:

Alarm went off at 4am and I was up and going.  I sweat so bad the night before, I needed to start up on DRIVEN immedietly.  I got dressed and headed for the door.  My wife drove me and dropped me off, so that was nice that I didn't have to walk an extra mile:)  Setting up transition was simple, I kind of chuckled to myself with how many people were over thinking it.  I layed out the T-Mat, put my bike shoes out and fully opened, running shoes next to them with socks rolled up, visor on top, sunscreen next to the shoes.  Helmet and glasses on the aero bars, fill my DRIVEN into my Speedfil.  The only thing I did different was that in my Transition bag I put a gallon ziplock bag filled with ice.  I set my Fuel Belt on top of that and I also had a 16oz water bottle with a cool lime Refreshers Via loaded in it for the run.  I just layed the flap of the bag on top of it all and I was done.  I found my friend Suzanne and we started off on the mile long beach walk to the start.  Now I want to say this....I will forever be thankful for Suzanne.  I had never met her before that morning.  She had been added to a Facebook group for my Tri Team, and she is not actually a part of the team. This was her first tri season too and she was nervous like me.  We walked down the beach getting to know each other and then helped each other into our wet suits.  Then we took a little warmup swim, and close to 7 they told us to get out.  Apparently that was just a suggestion though, since we were the only ones that got out:)  About 20 minutes after the pros started, that's when I encountered my first issue.  I was getting nauseous and wanted to puke.  I knew my wetsuit was cooking me and I was worried.  Suzanne noticed everyone else was still sitting in the water, so we moved back in.  My wave was the last one and I still had an hour to start.  Within 5 minutes of getting in the water I was feeling 100% again and that was a relief.  At 8am I wished Suzanne luck and she went and got ready for her wave to start.  As she began I cheered her on and prayed for her, then sat in the water by myself praying hardcore for me.

Swim : 1.2miles Time: 52.01

I placed myself in the back right corner on the swim, and I have never been more grateful.  When they said go, everyone was pushing and clawing to get in the water.  I ran to the swim comfortably and dove in when the water got just above the knees.  My swim was consistent and deliberate.  I was amazingly comfortable in the water and it was awesome.  I even drafted a guy for awhile till he caught on and started weaving to the point he got tired and called for a kayak.  I was amazed how many people I saw clinging onto kayaks.  The water was so clear and calm, I kept thinking, could it be ill training?  I mean I literally never felt like I needed a break.  The swim is a straight line and I knew once the buoys changed from yellow to orange, I was to the halfway point.  So halfway through I glanced at the Garmin and saw that I was at like 22 minutes...I was in good shape.  I made the turn toward the beach at 45 minutes and swam till my arms scooped up a handful of sand, that way I wouldn't run through the water much.  When I stood up I waited till I got to ankle deep water and took off the rest of my wetsuit.  This is where the trick comes in.  It was already in the mid 80's at the point I got out of the water.  There was a long quarter of a mile hike to the entrance of transition.  By then my wetsuit would be dry and the wetsuit strippers were right outside transition.  There is nothing as more difficult that taking off a dry wetsuit.  It came off like butter in the water and everyone that ran by me with their wetsuit on was still in transition when I was beginning my bike.

T1: 7:39  

My key here was to take it quick, but steady.  I did not want to expend energy.  I got in and toweled off the feet and arms while slipping into my bike shoes. Then sprayed myself with a healthy dose of sunscreen, put on the glasses and helmet and I'm off.  Now for a moment look up at the picture above and you can see the Bike out.  The worse hill on the whole course is at the very beginning.  So needless to say it was a treat, but I clipped right in and started the climb.

Bike: 56 Miles. Time: 3:22:28

The Bike was HOT!!  It was mainly farmland and no shade except maybe a 1 mile stretch of road.  At first I started off strong.  I was in the back of the pack and wanted to make up for lost time.  Mainly that 8 hour cutoff was scaring me and I wanted as much time as I could for the run.  So for the first 15 miles I was good, maybe 20 miles and hour, strong efforts considering the coarse is a gradual uphill for most of the first half.  The worst part of the whole bike was the broccoli fields.  You know that smell when someone is steaming broccoli?  Well Imagine that times 1 million in the 95 degree heat!  I was gagging it was so bad.  My nutrition on the bike was simple.  My Speedfill is 40 ounces.  I had 5 scoops of DRIVEN in it, that's about 580 calories...Good, but not enough.  I had put on a center tube bag and had 4 Chocolate Honey Stinger Waffles in it.  My strategy was every 11 miles to eat one....I needed 1 more..bummer.  I also had 2-24 ounce water bottles in the rear.  Next year I will leave those behind and just use what is on the coarse at the aid stations.I drank them, but they got hot and really the aid station bottle were good enough and always cold.  I did take a water bottle at the last 2 aid stations.  The first one I just grabbed it on the fly and drank some then showered myself through the Aquavent on my Lazer helmet....that thing is awesome and well worth the investment.  The last aid station I completely stopped.  It was at mile 50 and I needed a break.  I took in 1 bottle and bathed myself with another one.  I was hot and tired.  The guy helping me was nice enough to run and get me a bonk breaker bar, so that was nice to get in some more calories.  Now it is important to mention this.  Consistency on the bike is so key. Someone once told me, "Don't chase the Stink, make the Stink come to you."  That was so true on this race.  I let 3 people pass me on the bike.  Within 15 miles I passed all 3.  After mile 40, the only phrase in my vocabulary was, "On Your Left!"  I passed maybe 30 or more people the last 16 miles.  People that were just too pooped to ride hard.  I had slowed down to maybe 17 miles an hour myself, but I still had it in the tank.  some of these people were dead.  I later found out 400 people DNFed and 3/4 were during or after the bike.  With a few more miles left you start riding beside the runners, and I knew it was going to be hell.  3/4 of everyone was walking.  It was hot and the sun was baking humans for dinner.  I came down the hill and saw my friend, Guy and my 3 beautiful girls cheering for me and I moved into T2.

T2: 5.50

I was tired, like walking Zombie tired.  My plan was, rack the bike, then go to the porta potty and have a moment, then come back and get the rest of my gear on....That changed with the help of God.  About halfway back to my rack I heard a thunderous not God, I'm not Moses.  It was my friend Scott Iott.  I mentioned him before, the stud that finished 10th overall, better than a few of the pros.  His race was already over.  In fact he had changed his clothes and was walking back in to pick up his bike. He was screaming at me like a football coach, I won't repeat him....but it was basically the best mid game pep talk...EVER!!  I went and racked my bike and was starting to walk to the bathroom when he basically told me that I would not be doing that and instead I would be getting my booty on the coarse....NOW!!  I am saying this now, because it is important to know, that had I done my course of action, I would have had over 15 minutes in transition.  This pep talked saved my race!  So helmet off, socks, shoes, VERY VERY VERY cold fuel belt Starbucks Refresher, and I'm off.    

Run: 13.1 Miles. Time:3:24.34

The run was brutal.  It was HOT HOT HOT, with a little bit of HOT thrown in for fun.  At the point I started the heat index was in the hundreds.  All the nutrition in the world can't save you from it.  I needed more DRIVEN than what I had on the belt.  I tried to run, but I would go back and forth.  Run a bit, then walk a bit.  There was only 1 serious hill on the run and I had to do it twice, so I walked it every time.  I saw some friends in the run, but we were all too hot to talk.  Every aid station consisted of 3 to 4 cups of ice down the tri suit, sponges, 2 to 3 cups of water, and move on.  I realized after mile 4, I had a major problem.  My Achilles was cramping, causing my feet to curl up in a ball in my shoe.  The only way I could move was to walk and let it calm down while stretching it by pushing my toes straight up.  After a mile I could run for maybe half a mile, then do it all over again while I walked.  The coarse is roughly a 5k, then turn around and come all the way within a hundred yards of the finish, then go all the way back.  When I got back towards the finish I saw my family, did high 5's, and then was very lonely on the way back.  The first 10k there are a lot of people on the coarse, the last 10, the people were staggered every quarter mile.  After 7 miles I was officially on "E"  There was nothing left in the tank.  I was going to walk the rest of the race.  I finally resorted to drinking Perform at the aid stations, since my fuel belt was that is some nasty junk.  If you haven't drank it, think about urine with fruit punch...I'm being dead it didn't help they weren't keeping it cold.  Now I am going to hit you with the spiritual stuff...sorry, but I am head over heals in love with Jesus and I would not have done this race without him, let alone finish.  About 2 miles before the turn around, I started thinking...there are no timing mats, I could turn around right now and no one would know.  I clearly heard God say, "If you did that, you are right, no one would ever know, but you would live your life knowing you didn't finish what you started."  I struggled with the thought to turn around literally up to within 10 feet of the official turn around.  The moment I was able to legally turn around a started to cry.  I was going to do this, no excuses anymore.  I wish I could say though the battle was over, but something else needed to happen.  I was walking at a pace of 20 minutes per mile.  From the actual time I knew that I would finish 10 minutes after the cutoff.  I had nothing left, I cramped immedietly when I would try to run.  So did the only thing I could think of....Worship.  I didn't have any songs I could formulate a thought into words, so at the top of my lungs for a half a mile I just started screaming, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY ARE YOU MY GOD!!  WORTHY OF ALL HONOR AND PRAISE MY KING...MY FRIEND!!!"  Over and over and over again.  People walking the other way would just stare at me, one gave me a high five.  The medical cart followed me for awhile...pretty sure they thought I was delusional:)  Then I stopped and began to is what I said. "God, we began this battle 2 years ago, and you told me that this was my battle, one that you had to let me do on my own.  You have cheered me on, coached me through the battle with obesity and addiction, and I have been set free.  If there is one thing that I have learned through this, its that I cannot and WILL NOT do it without you.  I know that I will not finish this race and end this battle unless I run.  I cannot run without you.  I need supernatural strength right now.  You promised when your children call on you, you will answer.  I need more God, and I need it now!"  Then like out of a Rocky movie, it started.  I felt a cool breeze and my legs were a bit lighter.  I started to run....and running I did.  It hurt, but I could handle the pain.  I ran through the last 2 aid stations towards the finish.  I could hear the music, I could hear the announcer...I saw my time and I knew I was going to finish.  Then I saw my friends Dale and Carla and their son Nathan.  Carla is my coach too and I would not have been able to do this without her.  Dale is the CEO of UR and DRIVEN has fueled me tremendously through this. So it was great to see them, then they started running with me, which meant even more.  Then we got to the point where I saw my family and they all let me enter the finish line coral by myself.  I was overwhelmed...I have no way of expressing the emotions.  I saw myself in that little rascal, I heard the kids laughing at me because of how fat I was, I felt the pain and the shame of obesity.  When my foot hit the finish line...all went silent.  It wasn't about finishing a race....It was about standing on top of a mountain that I had battled my whole life.  I beat Obesity on July 15, 2012 in Racine, Wisconsin. I finished 7:28 under the cutoff time.  

Finish Time: 7:52:32

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012 Pleasant Prairie Olympic Triathlon

Yet another first for me.  There were many reasons for doing an Olympic my first tri season, frankly though it was a temperature test for my 70.3 Ironman 3 weeks after it.  First of all it was in Wisconsin just a little south of Racine, and second it is half the size of Racine.  I knew when I finished, then I would have a grasp of what Racine may or may not look like for me.

Going into the race I felt great.  I had been dealing with a lot of mental battles in my training, but the week before during my taper, I felt I had finally grasp how to fight through and had done remarkably well.  Physically, I had no issues and believed myself to be 100% ready.  My wife and I had made the decision to do this race alone with no kids.  Because of the 6:30 start time and the location away from the house, this was not the time to be cheap and not get a hotel room:)  So I spent Friday doing last minute maintenance to my bike and packing for the race.  My wife and I woke early on Saturday morning, ate breakfast, hit up Starbucks, and started on the short hour long ride to the race.  For once in our 10 years of being together, we were actually hours early.  That turned out to be a nice thing because we could walk around transition and check out the water.  Lake Andrea is awesome and the water was amazing.  I almost wanted to jump in and take a swim that very moment...almost:)  We left the race venue and ended up finding an outlet mall a couple of miles away.  After spending a disgusting amount of money, we decided to get back and check out the expo.  The expo was good.  There were a handful of vendors there selling last minute needs for unprepared racers and as always those "must haves" that we triathletes think we can't live without:)  There were some classes on transition and course advice talks also.  The transition class was great, but I found myself thinking..."If you don't know how to do a good transition the day before a race, then you skimped in your training BIG time." 

I did make the decision to check my bike that afternoon.  I felt so good that I wondered why not just take that little bit of stress away from me.  Luckily our shopping trip made that decision easy for me.  Since there was a 50% chance of rain that night, I wanted to cover the important stuff, Like my seat and handlebars...i used the plastic bags from the shopping trip to do that.  I had a chain condom on my bike, so I knew that would protect me from any issues also.  I spent the rest of the day just having a blast with my wife.  Honestly, this was a great trip for our marriage.  It was just me and her and no stress at all.  I would do it again all over if I could...not having the kids was awesome.

Pre Race Nutrition:

Basically, same as always.  For 72 hours before, 100+ ounces of non caffeinated beverages.  No greasy or spicy foods.  My wife and I found a place on Lake Michigan called the Boat House for dinner and we had a tuna steak and I had a beer.  I typically always have a beer the night before a race.  Its just my thing.  Now after leaving dinner, this is where I started to stress.  I had packed my oatmeal and banana for breakfast.  Our hotel was right next to a Starbucks, so I could get my coffee...I mean I was all set!...I thought.  Upon checking in, we found that the hotel does not have a microwave so I couldn't cook my oatmeal.  They also would not have the hot water out for me so that could be a backup.  I made the call that day that I would just get my oatmeal at Starbucks.  I have had Starbucks oatmeal the morning of a couple of races, and my body did fine with it.  So then my bases are covered!! so fast.  After dinner we began the trek to Starbucks to confirm the time they opened.  As soon as we pull up I almost began to cry.  They were still under construction and are not open yet!!  After my mental tantrum I threw in the parking lot, I knew I had to act quick.  It was 9:30 and I wanted to be in bed by 10.  We found a Target and I went to comb the shelves to see what I could find.  I ended up finding an individual ready made bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. that was 240 calories.  They had a Bowl of Kashi Oat Cereal, but it was only 120 calories.  For an Olympic Tri I needed more calories.  I picked up a carton of milk and we were good to go.

Race Morning:

I had a rough night sleeping.  I sleep with a fan, and in a hotel, no luck.  My body was also acting like I was in menopause.  I was hot, then I was so cold it hurt.  I sweat like a whore in church under the covers.  Oh, and my wife was snoring like crazy too.  In a quiet room...I was in hell.  At 4am the alarm went off and I sprang into action though.  I threw on my tri kit and sat down to breakfast.  I mixed my pre race Driven and began to sip.  No Starbucks meant no coffee...I will say now, I survived, but it sucked.  My wife had a Sharpie with her so I had her mark my numbers before we left the hotel, so there was no standing in line for that.  I got right into transition an set up my gear.  I decided after my sprint I could afford to take up a little more room in transition, so i bought a Blue T-Mat.  I will also say now, that this was a great choice.  The guys to the right and left of me were apparently Nomads and had brought all but a stove to cook their breakfast.  Needless to say they both took up a large portion of my area to put their hat and gloves and snowsuit.  If it was not for my T-Mat, then I would have had to get ghetto on their booties.  I once again put my bike shoes in the front fully opened and ready for my feet.  This time though I could put my running shoes next to them for ease too.  I decided to wear socks on the run, so I rolled them and placed them inside each shoe, visor on top of the and race belt behind my shoes.  I mixed up 5 Race ready packets of Driven and put them in my 40oz Speedfil, and I was set to get on my wet suit.  I lathered my neck, ankles, and wrists with Body Glide, to ease the situation on my body to get said wet suit off, and then headed towards swim out.

Swim 45:54

I was almost positive the swim was going to make my wife a widow.  I did everything right.  I placed myself in the rear of the pack and on the outside.  I would not be punched, slapped, or drowned.  I forgot though that no matter where you place yourself in the have to swim...doh!!  I made a major mistake and had never trained in my wet suit.  Unfortunately all of my attempts had been thwarted by hot water temps. So I now, in the midst of the largest race I have attempted to date, am learning to swim in a wet suit....yes, my mom my did drop me on my head.  I spent a third of the 1 mile swim with my head above water.  I mean, I probably looked like a 5 year old treading water.  Needless to say I lost my pack, but don't worry!!!....the next 3 wave packs found me....  Eventually after my second turn, I stopped kicking my legs, turned them off, looked down into the water, blew out and began to swim like a big boy.  Line of sight was key here.  I was having issues with my goggles yet again...on a side note I am retiring them now...So my right eye was in pirate mode, and I needed to count on the left eye to get me through.  I was positive I was on course, and I was, but I was conflicted.  There was 50 swimmer on my right side swimming about 60 yards away.  I have now decided that they played follow the leader with the wrong person. I almost turned and swam out to them...good thing I didn't! Eventually I ended up at the shore and busted out of that pop stand.  I was later happy to find out that 6 more men in my wave were still in the water.  However before we get into T1, Let me share the real battle....I had to pee, but my body refused to allow me that pleasure...lets continue to T1 now....

T1 3:45

The moment I got out of the water, I needed to pee, so I headed to the Porta Potty.  With a wet suit and trisuit on, this slowed me down, but it was worth it!  I luckily had schemed with my wife to stand at the fence next to my transition area, so I just ran from the potty, straight to her...Bliss!  Not that I needed it though, because there were only 7 bikes left in my age group.  The wet suit came off like a dream and I keep a small swimmers towel on my handlebars, so I ran it over my feet, popped them in the shoes, glasses, helmet, bike, and I'm off. 

Bike 1:07:02

I had decided to mainly work on nutrition this race, and not worry about speed.  However, that's like telling Einstein to just balance your checkbook and not completely reinvent how you do finances.  Yep, I just compared myself to Einstein....Lets move on.  This was a relatively fast course.  Not too many hills, and I had scouted it well enough to be prepared for what there would be.  I quickly learned that the USAT rules of "no drafting"  was mainly a nice suggestion they made.  I felt like the guy driving in the left lane on the interstate and there were all the semi trucks trying to pass.  I was keeping a good 20+ MPH, but I struggled when coming up to a group of people going 16+ trying to race each other.  Now I knew why the guys with full discs were cruising in oncoming traffic.  Still though, I was only passed about 5 times, by guys that had to be going 26+ MPH.  All I could tell you was that they were fast and had discs.  Too fast to see what kind of bike they had:)  I passed so many people I did not even attempt to try and keep count.  Basically, I was fast and they were not.  I had an interesting thing happen on the bike.  Towards the end I felt tired, and a fellow teammate passed me and I could see her water bottle was about to pop out.  I was mentally checking out for the last 3 miles to prepare for the run, so when this girl comes by, I had slowed to 18MPH.  After seeing sooooooo many water bottles and aero bottles on the side of the road, I knew I didn't want my teammate to lose a bottle too.  So I kicked it in and caught up with her.  I was surprised to find that it was someone who I knew well, and we do long rides together on the weekend.  In all my training, we had forgot to actually talk about what races we were doing....ooopps.  Well I decided to just finish strong and get ahead with my current speed.  My projected time pre race was 1:30, so 1:07 was nice.  When I came in my wife actually thought I was starting my second loop and was going to go back out.  ha!  I averaged over 21MPH on the bike this time out.

T2 3:16

I got lost.  yepp, even perfect plans fall apart sometimes.  My wife was thinking I still had more time on the bike, she was supposed to go back to transition after my first loop...doh!  The good thing about coming back was transition looked empty.  Apparently all those awesome swimmers that left me to drown, were still on their bikes...serves them right!!  The crappy thing was, I could not find my bright blue transition mat.  I ran back and forth looking, but came up empty.  Turns out a giant bright blue mat does no good when the jerk next to you throws his wetsuit on top of your transition.  I almost peed in his shoe, instead I chucked his wetsuit into the next rack.  Jesus, please forgive me...amen.  Rack bike, chuck wet suit, helmet off, visor on, socks, shoes, racebelt and I'm off.

Run 1:05:42

My plan going into the run was to run a 9:30 pace.  I did that to a dream for the first mile, the second mile there was some craziness going with the direction people were running and the guy telling people where to go was running with us confusing the crap out of everyone.  I actually heard one guy tell him to shut the bleep up, he was making things worse.  So for 3/4 of a mile we were running into the people making the loop back, it was terrible.  After mile happened.  I mentally lost it, let me explain.  Shortly after mile 2 I began to smell something.  At first I thought it was dog poo.  We were in a park, so this didn't surprise me.  After about another mile the smell got worse, it smelled like my 18 month's diaper after black beans for lunch.  So mentally I am thinking way too much about this smell that is making me ill.  I should of just looked at the Garmin and sped up, but I didn't.  I had officially checked out of the race.  Then my mind went somewhere else.  Since the beginning of the race I was behind a woman in a black and red tri suit.  She was about 10/20 yards in front of me and kept perfect pace with me the whole race.  Sometimes I would get within 5 yards, but quickly, she would speed up, or that dog poo would get worse and my mind would drift.  I suddenly noticed something on her tri shorts.  I think they were wearing out.  There were 2 spots on her leg on each side of her Chamois.  They were not black, but very worn out and an off color.  Sometimes this does happen with tri shorts, so it did not surprise me too much, but it was odd.  Then I had that moment.  The moment when the last few miles of thoughts come all into one thought and complete what I was thinking....the spots were brown....THAT WOMAN CRAPPED HERSELF!!!  I had to get around her, but every time I tried, I almost threw up.  My gag reflex had kicked in, I decided that the race was over, she won.  I held back and let her finish first.  

Finish Time 3:05:38

So I finished.  I was tired, exhausted, but not dead.  I enjoyed the race and I learned a lot.  I plan on doing this race every year. Mentally I need to do some work....oh and the swim too:)  Next stop 70.3 Ironman Racine....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 TriJesus Sprint Triathlon (my first tri)

Well Just let me start off by saying, this is my blog.  I'll do and say as I please:)  I created this to have a place to  put down my thoughts on races, training, but also life and my faith could get mixed in there.  I used to vlog (a video version of blogging) however the community had too many people acting like Junior High school kids, so I decided to walk away from that.  So forgive my rants, but here we go:)

This is primarily a race report post, so I will break it down starting briefly going into the race and then go through each leg and transition.  

The TriJesus was my first sprint.  I did not want my first tri to be in my hometown, however there are only 2 in Quincy, and the other one is the same weekend as my teams half marathon, the Peapod Half Madness.  I wanted to do one there, mainly so my father, who is too sick to travel to a tri, could see me.  He is the reason why I first got the tri itch...that sounds like a off to Quincy I went.  If I knew one thing about Quincy, that was the fact that Quincy is literally a city built on a hill.  That meant I would be battling hills.  I have trained on hills, so going into the race, I thought I was prepared.  I was definitely wrong.  

Pre Race Nutrition:

I believe that race day performance begins every day during your training.  No amount of carb loading or anything can take the place and substitute for good nutrition to fuel and recover your body while you train.  However, 72 hours before race day, there is little to no room for must get it right!  So food consisted of oatmeal & a banana with breakfast and a grande skinny latte everyday.  Lunch was a sandwich of some sort.  consisting of lean meat, cheese, avocado, greens, and tomatoes, on a whole grain or spelt toast.  All the essential, proteins, carbs, fats and nutrients I would need.  Dinner was actually much of the same too, usually a fish or chicken, green veggies.  I keep my grain carbs to a minimal for dinner, simply because I may have a beer in the evening or I am afraid to sleep and allow that to sit and convert to simple sugars.  Finally water is key.  I have a rule on race week, that I must make 100ozs of non caffeinated beverages...mainly water.

Course Scouting:

There is a good chance I drove the bike coarse 10 times in the 48 hours before the race.  I planned out every move on my bike.  The hills were terrible.  I knew a quarter of the race would be spent in my little chain ring on my was ugly.  There were only 4 miles total, out of 13 that I knew I could ensure a high 90+ cadence and 21+ mile per hour speed.  The rest of the miles would be spent getting really aero and shooting downhill and standing up and mashing up hill.  The bike was only 1/3 of the challenges though.  The pool was only open for a week before race day, so that meant possible cold water.  I went the day before and the water temp was 76 degrees...not bad. The only negative, was no pool lines.  I was having to mentally readjust for some line of sight work.  The run was going to be a struggle.  The hills did not scare me, but a mile and a half of the course was scary.  See they wanted to keep the entire run within the park.  Understandable, but to do that, meant the run could not be all on the road.  Right smack dab in the middle of the coarse was a trail run.  I am used to a little crushed limestone from the prairie path, I could even handle some hard packed dirt.  Unfortunately, no luck.  The park had just a couple of weeks prior installed brand new white stone, about 3 inches deep.  When I say stone too, I am talking about golf ball size stones.  It would be essentially like running in ankle deep snow for a mile and a half of a 5k.  I ran it, but could not figure a plan of attack out pre mind was baffled.

Race Morning:

The morning of the race was awesome.  It was in the mid 60's at 4 AM, the sun started creeping out right as I was loading my bike on the back of the Jeep.  I did my same breakfast mentioned before, only I began to sip on UR Driven about an hour before the race.  I was the 2nd guy at the race, first to be inked with my numbers, but I got the best spot in transition.  The first row next to transition was too close to the fence, so I knew that I would have to do a spin around to get out, so I chose the second row and on the end. I only had to grab my bike and take 10 steps out of "bike out."  After setting up a great transition spot, I grabbed my ipod and sat under a tree to get some "zone" time.  I was very excited when my eyes focused on a pair of tri shorts with the Multisport Madness logo on it.  I had a teammate racing with me in a small town over 5 hours from Chicago!  I had to contain my excitement and walked up happily, but really wanting to give him a hug and kiss:)  It means a lot when you see a teammate on the coarse and during some of my foot races I have experienced that.  It takes you out of the pain element and gives you a sense of camaraderie.

Swim: 10:49:30

Terrible time.  Ultimately, I learned a lot, but was extremely disappointed.  This was a 400 meter swim.  a 50  meter pool that you would serpentine till you got to the other side.  The participants were staggered in the start by projected finish time.  In training I finished 400 meters at 8:35.  So I put myself in the back of the 8-9 minute finish corral.  What I learned was some people that were faster than that, put themselves in the slower corrals, so the could feel good about passing people.  This worked against me.  After 150 meters the first guy passed me, but literally just camped out in front of me...then came the second guy.  The 2 of them just swam together side by side like they were out for a Sunday morning run group and talking about their work week.  I was either gong to have to fight them, or just try and make it up on the bike.  The nice guy in me won, and I let them have their, I passed them both in the first mile of the bike.  Coming out of the water I was not overly tired and ran to transition.  I was surprised to find that you are not timed out of the swim and into T1 until you get to the entrance to the bike transition area, which is 100+ meters away from the pool.  I would have thought the timing pad would be right there as you got out.

T1: 1:01:00

Great transition!  In fact one of the best out of everyone in the race.  I ran quickly to the bike, slipping my feet into my shoes....I do not fasten them to the bike....I believe you have to be great at this to make the time matter.  The only thing I will do different next time is put my glasses and helmet on first.

Bike: 43:00:55

Am I capable of a sub 40, 13 mile course...ummm yeah.  Remember though..hills!  For the first 3 miles I went back and forth with a guy.  I had drove the coarse enough, I knew how to make him pay for trying to pass me.  Because of my aerodynamics I would pass him on the down hills. He was not quitting though, so he would mash past me on the uphills.  By the end of 3 miles he was spent, and we were beginning a 2 mile stretch of flat land.  I never saw him again until the run where I ran by him on my way into the finish and his way out to start the run.  Sorry dude..its a lost mentally, therefore you lost physically.  I was only passed 2 times during the bike, and passed 15 or so myself.  The 2 that passed me were old guys...but they has some nice Red M Dots on their calves...So I was ok with that.  Also though, after passing me, they were always within eye shot of me, so its not like they smoked me:)  The hills were challenging, but overall I managed to average an 18:11 mile per hour ratio on the bike.  Along the way I took on about 30ozs of UR Driven to refuel and prepare for the run.

T2: 1:10:25

Not a great transition.  New Nike Frees, that are a bit snug.  I had just gotten them 3 days prior to race day.  I really struggled getting them on.  Hopefully I will stretch them out in the 2 weeks I have until my Olympic.  overall though I was not tired and did not feel I needed to take a second to get my composure going into the run.

Run: 30:18:85

TERRIBLE!  I am capable of doing a 26 minute 5k, and I run at an 8:30 pace during races. This was unacceptable!  I Started out strong.  I noticed My pace was a 7:30 and in my mind I saw my coach yelling at me and throwing her shoe at me to tell me to slow down....negative splits!  I slowed my pace to an 8:30 and ran.  I was doing great, all the way up until I hit the gravel path.  Then I noticed my pace slow to 10:22.  I found the best solution was to run in the grass next to the path, which still slowed me down from a normal asphalt pace, but sped me up from the gravel path.  I finished mile 2 with a 9:27 pace.  After coming out of the gravel hell, it was nice to see my MSM teammate there cheering "Go Madness!!".  His son was running behind me and he was following him on the run to keep him going.  It was a nice encouragement for me though too...i saw him 3 more times on the run, each time it was awesome.  Hills and fatigue kicked in quickly. It was all mental though.  I knew I was almost done and I was starting to go into celebration mode before the race was even done.  I finished the last mile at 9:43.  Now this is where it is the math...I should have had a sub 30 5k.  It takes around a 9:40 pace to do that.  Somewhere they messed up.  I have learned a long time ago not to zigzag on the coarse, so I ran straight and true.  Still though my Garmin said I ran over 3.25 miles. It should have been around 3.1, give or take a little with GPS failure.  Anyways it was what it was.  I have also learned not to worry and complain about discrepancies.  If I want to finish sooner then I should run faster.

Finish Time: 1:26:19:95

I had no finish goals, this being my first tri, so that will do.  next year I will plan on doing a 1:15 or less.  Overall I finished 3rd in Clydesdale division.  At the time of the awards ceremony, there were a few guys trying to argue their way into that division, so who knows if the ranking will stick.  I personally could not care less.  Mainly because I raced to be a Clyde's, they probably sucked in AG and decided to try and get into Clyde's.  I asked right before the ceremony if there were awards for Clyde's and they said only for 1st and 2nd, so I left.

Overall I had a great time.  My entire family came to cheer me on, and even for a sprint drove all over to cheer me on through out the entire race.  I love triathlon, and am glad after investing a fortune to do it:)  Next up is the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Triathlon!!