Wednesday, July 11, 2012

T-minus 46 days:  Hi there.  I hope you're doing well.  I'm doing a lot of firsts here with this Ironman thing (including first blog ever) so hang with me long enough to get into a rhythm.  Let me just start by saying that I'm proud to be a Colorado native.  And, as a native, I feel very fortunate to have lived a very high quality of life in an outdoor wonderland of mountains, pine trees, blue skies and fresh air.  When you live in Colorado it's hard not to take these things for granted.  The recent Colorado wildfires should serve as a reminder of the most important gifts we have in life - family, friends, and a big heart.  In my case I have family, friends, and work colleagues that were all affected by the Waldo Canyon fire and the High Park fire. Some lost there homes.  I tear up a bit when I think about how hard it would be to lose cherished pets, family photos, and keepsakes. From a more practical perspective the hard ache of moving on and rebuilding lives is equally hard.

With that in mind I'm training for the August 26th Louisville, KY Ironman to raise money for the American Red Cross, Colorado Chapter.  The funds will go to help fire victims rebuild their lives.  Please visit my fundraising site at and have a big heart by helping me reach my goal of $3,000 with a donation of $20 or more.

If you are unfamiliar with Ironman it's a grueling event that tests physical stamina, heart, and resolve.  We all know that a full length marathon is long (26 miles).  With a full triathlon, crazy people like myself tack on a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride before doing a full marathon of 26.2 miles... all in one day.  For those that follow the sport its affectionately referred to as 140.6 (total mileage of the full distance triathlon).  This will be my first marathon and first full distance triathlon. 

Now, for your reading enjoyment and laughing pleasure I present to you "Sol" the "Ironman"! Sadly this story doesn't start quite the way I would like.  You see, right now I feel the farthest thing away from an "Ironman" that you can image.  Right now you're probably thinking of that flabby 30-something computer geek guy that sits around in 5-day old underwear and a dirty T-shirt popping down Twinkies and Hostess Snowballs every 30 minutes in front of an over-sized 90's tube screen TV.  Okay, I confess to enjoying some computer gaming (and even playing in my underwear... when its hot) but by "far away" I mean feeling more like a bird without a wing.  You know how to fly but you just can't.  Why you ask?  Well, as it turns out, at this very moment your "Ironman" can't even run!

That's right, I said it!  An "Ironman" has to be able to run 26 miles and I can barely go 1 mile!!!  It's important that I share some recent history here so you understand the gravity of this situation and why your support means so much to me!  I'll share with you now that I've been training to do some 2012 summer triathlons since January.  I was thinking in the beginning that a half-triathlon (1.3 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13 mile run) in late summer, would be just the feather in the cap I wanted.  So for 5 months, 5-6 days a week, I was working out.  At first, most of the workout were about an hour.  Run, bike, swim.... run, bike, swim. Gradually as my fitness level improved I started including 1 to 2 workouts per week that were a bit longer (like 1.5 to 2 hours).  By May I was starting to do some seriously long stuff (4-5 hours of training at a time)  on the weekend and began feeling like my goal of doing a half-tri wasn't enough.

Here's where I let you know I've thought about being an "Ironman" since I saw the sports greats like Scott Tinley and Dave Scott winning World Championship when I was a child.  Thank you "Wide World of Sports" for planting this crazy seed in my head!  But while I wasn't confident I could make this goal there was a part of me that said, "You have to go for this!"  So, in May I signed up for the Louisville, KY "Ironman".  I'll get into the reasons for choosing that race in a separate post.  I felt great about the decision until the beginning of June.  That's when I began experiencing symptoms of "overtraining" that have left me with a knee condition in my left knee where I am unable to run!

The symptoms I have that prevent me from running match those of countless athletes who run known as "ITB" Iliotibial Band Syndrome (Runners knee).  I'm concerned at this point I may also have a cartilage injury so I've planned a trip to see an orthopedist.  However, ITB does appear to be a factor.  How can I be an "Ironman" when I have to stop running from the pain after 10 minutes?  So much work, so much time training.

The last several weeks have been hard for me.  I've significantly cut down on my training hours.  Largely from the fact that I feel like I might fail at this.  I hate that feeling and it rips my belly apart knowing there's the possibility I might not be the person I envision.  It's fear.  But, it's that same fear that drives me.  It drives me to overcome lack of motivation.... instinct... and even injury.   It drives me in everything I do.  Those that truly know me know I have problems feeling satisfied.  That's because when I accomplish goals I've already set bigger ones in place.

This is it!  My knee is a perfect, legitimate excuse to give up.  I feel like I'm at St. Peter's gate.  It's my moment of reckoning.  What do you do?  You can walk away wondering what might have been... or you can fight to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt you belong. My path is the righteous one! I can't stop.  I won't!  And I'll do whatever it takes to see this 140.6 through!  This week has meant 3 physical therapy visits to help me loosen the muscles in my left leg.  The physical therapist (PT) laughed at me by the way. The whole office did.  I'm sure the muscle tightness in my upper leg is bound to become legend there.  After the laughing stopped my crying started.  The PT worked elbows and fingers into my rock hard muscle tissue in order to begin loosening the muscle tightness responsible for my problem not being to run.  The end of each session has concluded with "dry needling". Another 'first' getting ready for "Ironman".  You have to experience the sensation yourself to understand what this is all about.  The basic idea is that the needling helps your body release toxins.  Right now I'm 11 needles in and what I can tell you is my leg is as sore as a mu@$*c@r and I still can't run.  I'll head back for more PT this Friday... "Thank you mam may I have another!!!" Forty-six days usually feels like an eternity but right now I'm wondering how on earth I'm not going to be walking 26 miles on August 26th wondering if I'll pass the finish line before the midnight cutoff.

In my next post I'll share a bit more about the current fire relief efforts underway here in Colorado, give an inside look at my training, and share more about my efforts to overcome injury.

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