Three years ago, I got peer pressured into running a 5k. I “knew” that I would hate it. Today is the three year anniversary of when I wandered into a “running” store for the first time. I must have looked like a deer in headlights. I went after work, still wearing a suit and a pair of dress shoes. I remember sitting in my parked car across the street from the store wondering why I was doing this. I was not a runner. I hated running. I had bad knees. I had asthma. I would surely get laughed out of the store…
I eventually went in. They measured my feet, watched me walk and jog (I overpronate and have flat feet), gave me some socks to use as I tried various different pairs of shoes. Thirty minutes later, I was out the door with what I was certain was a complete waste of money. It turned out to be one of the most important purchases I have ever made. I think that I am currently running on my tenth pair of shoes.
I finished my 5k…and I liked it! By the end of the year, I was a marathon runner and a triathlete. Now, three years later, I have completed an Ironman Triathlon, five 70.3’s, eleven total triathlons, ten full marathons, ten century rides, nineteen half marathons, and dozens of shorter races. My closet is overflowing with finishers shirts. I have become members of the Marathon Maniacs and of the Half Fanatics. I have time-qualified for the Houston Marathon, and have also qualified for a few “A” corals. My shorter distance finish times (5k to Half Marathon) have moved me closer to the front of the pack and I now think that I may have the potential to podium someday at a shorter (and smaller) race. I have emerged from the back of the pack to middle of the pack in shorter distance triathlons and in 70.3’s.
Most importantly, I have finally come to accept myself as a runner, a cyclist, and a triathlete. And, yes, I finally feel comfortable claiming that “I am an athlete”. For the first 40+ years of my life, I would have laughed at the thought. Just goes to show that it is never too late to make a positive change.
I have all of my medals on display in my home exercise room. It serves as a constant reminder of my journey, and a constant inspiration for me to stay fit and healthy. I hope to continue adding to this collection for years to come.
This is my main medal display. The top row of the center rack displays most of my full marathon medals. The rack to the far right are my shorter distance triathlons. The rack to the far left are for my “ugly” medals (since they are mostly hidden). The photos above the display is a summary of my 2013 Ironman season. The brutally hilly but gorgeous Ironman 70.3 Muskoka bike, the sweltering run at Ironman 70.3 Kansas, and the “Swim Thru Hell” in Lake Michigan for Ironman 70.3 Racine. These events “forged” me So that I was prepared for Ironman Wisconsin the following season.
This is my favorite display…my Ironman medals. Five are for 70.3’s. The top center medal (and the ugliest of the bunch) is for my one and only full Ironman. It was a near perfect day (aside from some GI issues). I still wish that the bling was nicer (I loved the medal from the two previous years).
This is my Disney display. I completed the Coast to Coast challenge by running the Goofy Challenge and the Dumbo Double Dare in the same year. The medals are the nicest I own, and they deserve their own display. The photo above the medals is my favorite Disney running photo (I love Disney race photos!) Being a Star Wars geek, the shot of me being “detained” by Stormtroopers at the Disneyland Half Marathon was an instant classic…
This the only shadow box I have had made. It came with an extra finisher’s medal for the display. It includes my bib, split times, and some surprisingly good photos of me on all three legs of the event.
My Ironman Wisconsin poster (a little beat up from the journey home) displayed with my finishers certificate. I wish that I had taken better care of the poster when I got it, but the display looks better in person…
The pain cave. I spend many winter hours in here with the momentos of my three year journey all around me. There are two obvious themes…Disney and Ironman. The Disney banners behind me are event used memorabilia from the Disney 20th Anniversary Marathon. It was signage used at the marathon expo. Disney sold them in their merchandise tent when they were no longer needed on marathon morning. At $30 each, they were a steal! There are more Ironman Wisconsin photos in the background.
I am really pleased with the improvement in most of my PR’s. The marathon time is relatively weak (compared to the others) and shows no sign of improvement. I have had multiple breakthrough races in the past year and I am hoping for further improvements in 2015. I have used the Galloway calculator to predict my best possible finish times for all my running events based on my strongest finish time. I have put these projected finish times in brackets next to my actual PR. It gives me an idea of which PR’s are my strongest and which ones should fall. There is significant room for improvement in the 1 mile and 10 mile (neither are common event distances for me which is likely why that stick out). The 5k, 10k, and HM are all right on target, and the marathon is clearly the outlier…
1 mile-7:11 (TC 1 Mile-2013). Pace 7:11/mile (predicted-6:37-6:37/mile).
5k-23:49 (Lifetime Torchlight 5k-2014). Pace-7:21/mile (predicted-22:15-7:10/mile).
10k-47:40 (Flying Pig 10k-2014). Pace-7:40/mile (predicted-47:16-7:36/mile).
10 mile-1:27:50 (Twin Cities 10 mile-2014). Pace-8:47/mile (predicted-1:19:20-7:56/mile)
Half-Marathon-1:44:03 (Monster Dash HM-2014). Pace-7:56/mile (predicted-1:44:03-7:56/mile).
Marathon-4:26:15 (Grandma’s Marathon-2014). Pace-10:09/mile (predicted-3:45:31-8:36/mile).
Sprint Triathlon- 1:18:26 (Lifetime Trinona-2014)
Olympic Triathlon-3:14:36 (Maple Grove Triathlon 2012)
Ironman 70.3-6:13:51 (Ironman 70.3-Muncie-2014)
Ironman-15:42:11 (Ironman Wisconsin-2014)
I have traveled to a lot of events over the past 3 years. I no longer have a desire to complete the 50 marathons/50 states challenge, but it is fun to keep track of where this journey has brought me.
First, the marathon map. Seven states so far. Pensilvania, Missouri, and Iowa will be added this year. That will get me to 10 marathons/10 states which will qualify me for membership in the 50/50 club. Illinois (Chigago) and North Dakota (Fargo) are obvious contenders for following years.
I am also at seven states for half marathons. I usually don’t travel for a HM, so most of these represent the run portion of an Ironman 70.3. Florida and California were Disney races.
Over the last three years, I have purchased a lot of race photos. Most are terrible. But a few come out quite good. I thought that I would share of few of my favs. But first, here are three of my worst photos (and the story behind them).
This is me before I started to lose weight. There are very few photos of from this time of my life (for obvious reasons). This is a reminder to me of the results of my positive changes and serves as motivation to never, ever go back to this place.
Yep. I’m a dork. Pee Wee Herman would have looked less ridiculous. This is me six months after I bought my first pair of running shoes. It was my second triathlon…and it was an Ironman 70.3! I am rocking it on my hybrid bike (with reflectors!), toe cages, knee tape, and a Camelbak. I looked so out of place. But, I didn’t care. I felt fit and trained enough to be there, and I finished with over an hour to spare from the cutoff. I had a new positive attitude. I was going to embrace new experiences and push myself WAY out of my comfort zone. This was the day that I decided that I wanted to be an Ironman, and that nothing could stop me. As I am struggling with XC skiing, I think back to this event, and my belief that I could achieve anything that I wanted if I would just believe in myself. I never stretched myself so far out of my comfort zone as I did that day, which likely makes it the most important day in the last three years…
I tend end to be pretty reserved when I cross the finish line. At IMOO, I don’t even recall doing a fist pump when I finished. I had to look at my finishers video to see that a did a quick fist pump. It lasted under two seconds. The photographers managed to capture no less then EIGHT separate photos of that moment. All of them look ridiculous and this is the best of the lot. I still cringe when I see them. That said, it does capture the emotion of that moment, and the emotion that had been building for the previous two years…
Edit: What the heck. Here are all the other “Fist Pump” photo’s. I swore these would never see light of day…
Now for my “good” photos:
Coming out of the water at Ironman 70.3 Steelhead. Same race as the bike photo above. Actually not a great race photo, but likely the best from my first 70.3.
Ironman Wisconsin Mass Swim Start. All the little dots in the water are swimmers…all 2400 of them…
I love Mater and Cars Land at DisneyLand!
Just a local HM. Sometimes the photographers just happen to catch me at a good moment at the right angle.
I think this one makes me look a lot faster since its a little blurry…
Ironman Muncie. Love the head-on determination of this pic of me approaching the finish line. Shattered my PR by over 52 minutes!
Lap one at Ironman Wisconsin. I got my second wind back after the bike by this point in the race.
One of the few cycling side photo’s that I like. I can usually make out my unflattering rolls on these photos. This was a short 5k time trial, but 1.2 miles of it is considered to be among the toughest climbs in North America. 9.5 degree average grade. I was under 6mph and in granny gear the whole way…trying not to fall off the bike!
Ironman Wisconsin Bike Course. I was very weak and dehydrated at this point, but still managed to fake it for the camera.
The Monster Dash Half Marathon. Good shot of me “in the zone” This has always been a good end-of-season race for me. I first cracked the 2:00 barrier at this event, then I broke the 1:45 barrier at this same race 2 years later.
Pretty much how I felt by mile 19 of the Disney Marathon.
Idilic view during a brutally hard (and spectacularly beautiful) bike leg at Ironman 70.3 Muskoka.
Very hot run at Ironman Kansas 70.3.
Emerging from the water at Ironman Wisconsin. Amazed that I have decent swim, bike and run photos from this event.
One of the few “silly” poses that that I am not mortified looking at. I think I took the costume characters by surprise. Disney Marathon.
My OMG, what the hell just happened to me moment after the “swim thru hell” at Ironman 70.3 Racine. Just 1.2 miles of six foot swells, riptides, undertow, and me clinging to anything that could float. It’s also the only time I had an asthma attack during a swim. Good times!
Probably my best cycling photo. Great background and I actually look like a cyclist.
Yep! I actually broke the tape at Ironman 70.3 Muskoka! Kudos to the volunteers who attempted to restring the tape for every finisher…
I am a Star Wars geek. This photo was snapped at the DisneyLand Half Marathon when I was “detained” by a couple of Stormtroopers. Fortunately, the Force was not strong with them…
Never any question about which photo earned the top spot. For the years leading up to this race, I had hoped to finish and wanted a decent pic of me crossing the finish line. Great capture. Both feet off the ground, and I look happy, energetic and the photo perfectly captures the emotion of accomplishing this goal at the end of a near perfect day…