My First Half Iron Man

Image

My second half marathon run with family

 

Today,I made it official. I am going to do my first Half Ironman triathlon – the Route 66 Half-Iron Triathlon. Surprisingly, I am not nervous, rather very excited.  This milestone is what I have been working towards for the past two years.  It’s surreal to believe that not even two years ago, I was struggling with my weight at 240lbs.  Now, I am on well on my way to completing something I never thought would be possible.  The only word I can think of to sum it up is “Wow!”

 

When I started this journey, I would have to tug on my shirts and stretch them out with my knees just to get them to fit.  I could not run a mile, let alone run for hours.  Now my old clothes hang off me and I enjoy running and biking and none of this would have been possible if I did not have an amazing support system.

 

I read that one of the ways to be successful in your fitness goals is to find a good support group.  I could not agree with this more.  If it was just on me I would never have been able to do this.  My support group starts with my family – especially my wife and son. They not only see the good at the end of the race, but they put up with all the training – running for hours, biking in the afternoons and early morning swims. They are the ones that have to put up with my complaining about all the training and trying fit it all in, and the bragging when I feel on top of the world after hitting another milestone.  They don’t complain – too much – about getting way too early in the mornings to go the races.  Through it all, it means the world too me to see them at the race. The manage to find me and cheer me on at every transition and make it to the finish line to celebrate in my victory.  If they were not behind me on all of this, it would be impossible to complete.  My son has taken on the roll as my coach, encouraging me to keep going and keeps me grounded with words of wisdom that only a ten year-old can give, like “If you had shoes like mine, you would have run faster.”  

 

The mission to get healthy has truly become a family affair.  I am so lucky to have my sister race with me at almost every race.  She was with me at my first run, and I am confident that she will be with me for many more.  My brother and his family also encourage me in a way only a brother can, with an “IronMan” poster that hangs in our rec room as motivation for the hours I spend on my bike in the winter.  

 

The Feith Family YMCA has also been an amazing support group, even if they didn’t know at the time they were.  There were many nights, I would close down the YMCA trying to get my workout in.  I never felt like I was overstaying my welcome, and without fail even though they were closing, always asked how my workout was.  Having a safe place to work out was empowering.  I also met other people in the same boat working to meet their personal goals, which was motivation to keep working and work even harder.  I appreciated this so much, that I decided that I should get a job there, so I too could encourage others to make this journey worthwhile.  I owe a lot to the YMCA.  

 

It was through the YMCA that I learned about the Ozaukee County Tri-Club.  The person I talked to about it, acknowledged that I was probably nervous, but encouraged me to join because the people in the club are awesome people.  The rest, as they say, is history.  This group has provided me with so much in the way of encouragement and training.  I have found a network of friends who are working on the same things I am.  They had the same fears and issues I had.  Their constant encouragement has allowed me to expand things that were waaaay out of my comfort zone.  They provided the training I needed to to learn how to do triathlons, and continue to help me become a better swimmer.  They run with me, bike with me, swim with me, laugh with me and compete with me.  I know in this journey, I am never truly alone.

 

My family, friends like my fraternity brother Roz, who also races triathlons, the YMCA and the Ozaukee County Tri-Club have been such a big part of my journey.  Individually they give me strength, but together, they make me feel like I can do anything if I just try.  None of them will truly ever understand how much they have helped me on this journey, and will continue to help me, as my journey is not over.  

 

Sometimes, I don’t get to say thank you as often as  I would like, but let this serve as my thanks for everyone who has encouraged me.  I also thank in-advance, anyone who will join me on my journey in the future.  

 

In closing, remember, people don’t do these things alone.  Find a positive support group and that will make all the difference in your life too!  I thank you for taking the time to read this and encourage you to Like me on FaceBook to see my daily progress!  

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I Got By WIth A Little Help From My Friends

I Got by With a Little Help from my Friends

 

Once I was really into the idea of running and started having some success at speed and cutting time, I was more than happy to talk to anyone about running.  There were two conversations in 2013 that really changed things for me – one with the principal at my school and the other was with a total stranger.  

 

My principal, at the time, is a marathon runner.  I started talking to him about wanting to improve my time.  He said he had some books at home and he would bring me the one he felt was the easiest one to read.  This book completely changed my way of training for runs, and I recommend it to everyone now.  The name of the book is Run Faster; From 5K to the Marathon, by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald.  Aside from getting great tips on running, avoiding injury and reading about some of the best runners out there it has training plans that guide you day by day.

 

I followed the plan for the 5K religiously everyday to see if the plan would work or not.  So like P90X, it was hard but I worked through it.  The next time I ran a 5K, I was down to just over 26 minutes – just three minutes short of placing in my age group.  In September, 2013, just one year after I started running and six months of following the plans in this book, I set a personal best of 23 min 15 seconds which was ten minutes better than my first race.

 

In January 2013, I decided that I had was making good progress and needed to challenge myself even further, so I set a new goal – to run my first half marathon. So I followed the book’s plan again, religiously everyday.  There were many nights I closed down the YMCA and running in the cold, Wisconsin winter weather to get ready for it.  In April 2013, with just eight months of running under my belt, I was ready to run my first half marathon – the South Shore Half Marathon organized by the Badgerland Striders.

 

This brings me to the second most important conversation.  While after a long training session last winter, I went to the hot tub at the YMCA to relax, and started to talk with to a lady who told me about this group called the TrY Ozaukee Multisport Club.   I was intrigued, so I went to the introductory meeting for new members and listened to the everybody talk about their successes and watched the video they shared about their accomplishments.  

 

At the meeting, the biggest impact on me was how much fun everyone was having at the meeting, and how much fun it looked like they were having at the events.  Never before have I been surrounded by such positive people who are nothing but encouraging. This was all the motivation and encouragement I needed, as I had once thought that a triathlon would be fun, but at 240 pounds I never dreamed would be possible.


Once I joined the group, I was hooked so next on my list to accomplish was not only my first half but also, my first triathlon.  I knew at this point my family was behind me in my quest and I had all the support in the world to keep going!  

 

Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Am Doing This For Mom

I Am Doing This For Mom

 

Whenever I struggle on a training run, I always push my self with the same saying.  “I am doing this for mom”.  

 

I adopted this motto because the first race that I decided to run was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure along Milwaukee’s lakefront in September of 2012.  I chose this race because my mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. When I learned of the diagnosis, I decided that all this running and training I was doing, I would do it so I could run in honor of my mom.  

 

My parents are very simple people and need very little to be happy.  I wish I could be more like them in this regard.  As I get older, I realize how strong my parents really were for the four of us growing up and how strong they continue to be now that we are adults.  Without getting into all the things they have overcome-just know they are strong.

 

I knew that my mom wouldn’t take this diagnosis sitting down and would fight it with everything she has.  That strength that she has is in tough situations something that I admire about her, and something I’ve tried to emulate my entire life.  My mom proved again how strong she is as she kicked cancer’s butt and is doing quite well.  So I figured if she could become a cancer survivor, I could survive running a 5K.

 

The day of the race I was ready to go.  My goal for this race was to finish the race without walking.  I could not claim that I had run a 5K if I had to walk any of it.  This is not a judgement statement, just a personal one. The race started out slow because there were so many people, but eventually I was able to starting running – and I was off.  I felt good throughout the entire race and kept wondering how much longer I had until I reached the finish line.  I crossed the finish line at about 33 minutes.  I thought that it was a great time for my first race considering about a month prior I could not run one mile without feeling like I was going to die.

 

Almost immediately after that race I began to wonder if I worked at this running thing, could I improve my time?  So, I registered for a 5K in my hometown of Port Washington, WI called Pumpkins in the Park that benefits the Physical Education Department for the Port Washington-Saukville School District.  

 

The race was one month after the Komen Race and started up on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and ran down a hill, and for the majority of the race, I ran uphill for almost two miles.  (We also ran past a fish fry, which if you are from Wisconsin you know how evil that is!)  I finished the race in 30 minutes, shaving three minutes of my time in just about one month.  


I was hooked on the idea of doing the races faster and I wanted to place in my age division.  I started to do research on how to do that, and realized that sometimes the best resources can be right in front of you.  I’ll delve into that in my next post.  Until then, keep running!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My First Hard Learned Lesson

After I spent the summer proving to myself over and over how out of shape I was by doing P90X, I was ready to go out and run.  I was about a month away from my first 5K and was ready to see if I could make it.  I mapped out my route, a pretty flat 3.8 mile run.  The logic of course was if I could run 3.8 miles, running 3.1 miles would be easier.

 

So one fantastic Sunday morning, I decided to go out for my first big run and I was so excited – I had worked so hard.  I got up, put on my shoes, tied my laces and grabbed a quick drink of water.  I started running, or whatever you want to call it at this point in my training. I got about ¾ of the way through the first mille.  This is where everything started to go wrong.  I started getting out of breath and felt so sluggish and things were not going well. I called my wife for a ride because I wasn’t going to make it.

 

I was so bummed and disheartened that I could not do it.  Why? It made no sense to me. I worked so hard to get ready for this and I was no closer to completing the run than when I had started.  At this point, I could have packed it in and given up and said “you know what, I am just not cut out for this”.

 

In the past, I would have just gave up but this was a quest for me.   I started to think why was this not working and what was the problem?  I started to think about what I had done on Saturday that would have made this not work.

 

Here is the conclusion I came to:

 

We had a fun filled Saturday which included, not one, but two cookouts.  First, we went out to Sun Prairie for an annual summer picnic hosted by some of our closest friends that includes plenty of eating, drinking and being merry! After this picnic, we had dinner with my son’s best friends family and we had a very fun time.  It was an awesome food-filled fun day with friends. And the next day I was going to attempt to run 3.8 miles.

 

I thought about this and came to the conclusion that if I was going to train for running, I was going to have to be aware of what I am eating.  If I don’t fuel my body correctly, then this was not going to work.

 

On Monday morning, after I was not able to complete it I tried it again.  One day removed from some poor choices, I was able to make it the 3.8 miles.  Now I am not saying I set the world on fire or anything, but I completed it and at this point in my life that was a huge accomplishment.

 

I could not have been more happy and I learned a very valuable lesson.  I started out thinking that I would eat what I wanted to, but learned that I needed to start wanting to eat better food.

 

So did I lose weight because I went on a diet?  NO.  I lost weight because I realized that if I wanted to be a runner and be successful, I had to feed my body correctly.  People ask me if I went on a diet and I say I did not intend to the changes in my eating habits just kind of happened because of the exercise.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How It All Started

Like most things in life, I needed some inspiration to start running and this time my inspiration came from my mom (as usual).  Last summer, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and as sad and scary as it was – it was my hook. I finally had a good reason to work towards running a 5K, a goal I never thought would be possible.  If my mom was fighting breast cancer with everything she had, why couldn’t I fight towards marking one thing off my bucket list – Running a 5K.  But, as a guy who went almost 240 pounds, it did not seem like would happen anytime soon.  My mom’s diagnosis gave me that extra nudge I needed to get my butt off the couch.

 

One night after work,  I finally decided that I was going to go out and run a mile to see how I liked it.  I ran about three-quarters of a mile making it almost the whole way.  I marched into the house and fired up my computer and went on Facebook – because that’s what we do right? – and posted this:  

 

“So everyone on here is talking about running and how great it is. I thought must be something about running must have changed since I used to try it. So tonight I decide to go out for a run and you know what it still sucks I so prefer riding my bike can’t wait till I can do that again.”  

 

I was determined though to make this work and I signed up for my first 5K – The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure held in Milwaukee, WI.  The problem is that I had no idea how to do this, after all I could hardly run a mile let alone 3.  

 

This is when my wife brought up the idea that we should start doing P90X to help us lose weight.  So we tried it and I realized quickly that it sucked just as much as running.  I needed to do something, so I stuck with P90X and spent the next three months doing push ups, jumping and down, using bands and doing sit ups.  

 

P90X was the hardest thing I ever tried to do.  I started out and doing all the push ups stunk because my elbow kept hurting.  I would do the jump training and thought I was going to fall through the floor.  I got winded frustrated and wanted to quit many times but I was doing this for mom and I could not stop.  I didn’t either.  We kept at it and did not miss a day all summer.  When I would get tired, I would just get a drink and get back in there and do it.  Never before was I so dedicated to getting in shape.  

 

As the summer progressed, I had dropped a little weight but I was ready to go try running.  I had busted my butt all summer and now I was ready to run, and assumed the running would be better this time around.  The thing is, I hadn’t quite figured out the whole training thing, so the day before I my “big trial run before the 5K” we had not one but two summer barbecues at friends houses…That, my friends, is a whole different blog post, which I promise to post real soon.  

 

Until next time, keep running.   

Do not post:

Title for the next blog post:  

How My First Training Run Went and Why it Changed My Whole Way of Thinking.   

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To Tri is to Risk Failure, To not Tri is to Gaurantee it.

I was a fat guy

I was a fat guy

Now that I am well on my way to reaching my goal of participating in a Half Ironman Triathlon, and having lost about 50 pounds, I’m constantly asked how I did it.  Some have even said that my efforts are inspirational and encouraged them to get going as well.  I am not sure I buy it that I have inspired others, it definitely wasn’t the reason I started.   I started my weight loss journey after seeing pictures of me from my vacation in the summer of 2012.  I looked at myself and knew that I needed to make a change.  I truly was a fat guy weighing in at 239 lbs and I was unhappy with it.

I have always wanted to run and I have always wanted to start a blog but wasn’t sure what to blog about.  The proverbial light bulb moment came as I was preparing for my half marathon a few weeks ago, I have the perfect topic to blog about – My triathlon  journey…

People ask me about my story and enjoy hearing it, and mention repeatedly how incredible of a story it is. I want share my story out for one main reason – to show people that it can be done.  I went about this the old-fashioned way and just decided to exercise, so rest assured, I am not selling anything – just sharing a journey.  In fact, when I started I firmly held to my belief that if I was going to start an exercise program, I wasn’t going to “diet” – I was going to eat what I wanted.  I know from past failures, that IF I try to eat all that “low-fat” garbage, I would give up and gain the weight back.  And more.  Even on this journey, I have learned many personal lessons but the difference is that this time, I learned from them and continued to move forward.

One year ago, I achieved my goal of running a 5K.  In just over 1 years time, I have done so much more…about ten 5K races, three sprint triathlons and two half marathons thrown in for fun.

As I continue to share my story, I hope to share the three most important things I’ve learned along the way…

1. Set a goal and go for it.  You can do it and I will prove it.

2. Learn from your mistakes

3. It is hard but if you don’t quit on yourself you can do it.

Come back soon, and see how much fun it is to be a “Tri Guy”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coming soon

I will be starting this blog very soon writing my first column and will post as soon as it is done.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment