On August 25th, 2013 I will be competing (completing) in my first Ironman. This has been a 10 year journey that started in the fall of 2003.
In September of 2003 I was in a relationship going down hill quickly. I can tell I wasn’t happy, I was overweight, and was suppose to planning a wedding for the following summer. I remember sometime in early October on a Sunday afternoon while watching some NY road race I said to my fiance I would like to run a marathon. She looked at me and laughed and said you’re to fat and lazy to run a marathon. I am paraphrasing what she said but that’s what basically came out of her mouth. She was right I was fat (weighing about 205) and did seem at times a bit lazy. But what she said to me has always stuck. To this day this is what partially drives me.
After I asked her to leave at the end of October I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I remember sharing my idea with my friend Nardy, a co-worker at the time and Betsy, a camp friend. I believe I started loosely training later that fall. I would spend hours reading running forums on Runners World.com. I remember talking to Betsy and Nardy about wanting to run a marathon and trying to understand what it takes to run that distance.
It was Betsy who talked me into running the Marine Corps Marathon. This marathon takes place on the last Sunday of October. Around February of 2004 I came up with a training plan and posted every month on a wall and filled it out on what I was going to run.
I was so naive at the time. I had a plan to run about 3-5 days a week. My history of exercising before this time was almost non existent. I will write more about this in another topic. Looking back I was doing way to many 3 mile runs and not enough 5-10 mile runs.
I ran my first marathon on October 31, 2004. I finished with a disappointing time of 5:10. Year’s later I realized I had my first episode of athletic induced asthma. I ended up walking the last 9-10 miles because I couldn’t breathe. I was so mad about how I did I decided to run another marathon 3 weeks later. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving. My time was about 4:20. In those three weeks I recalled never even training once but yet I was able to take off 50 minutes from my marathon time.
Between 2005-2007 I ran two marathons. I ran the Vermont Marathon on Memorial Day weekend of 2006 and then I ran the Hyannis Marathon in February 2007. The Vermont Marathon I had no business running and it showed in my result. The Hyannis Marathon I was very prepared and ran about a 4:11. During this time I would run a few 1/2 marathon’s and some 5k’s. I would improve a little on my times but substantial. This wouldn’t happen until I stopped running and took up biking.
I started biking in August 2008. At this time I stopped running for the most part for a few years. The first year of biking I mostly biked on my own. On occasion I would bike with my neighbor Andy. Andy taught me the basics on pace lining and the hand signals. He taught me the local 20-30 mile loops in the neighborhood. In August of 2009 I joined a local cycling club.
I joined QVV . This club taught me so much. They taught me how to ride hard (suffer), further distances, and what it was like to be in a club. I road with them at least twice a week. We would have a Wednesday A ride. We would average about 20 MPH with over 1,200 feet of climbing in a 30 mile ride. Then on Sunday we would do another 50-80 mile ride. This continued into early fall when the Wednesday ride would stop until spring. The Sunday ride was held until about mid-November. During these months while I wasn’t riding with the club I would ride another 3-4 days a week on my own. Mostly 20-30 mile rides to improve.
I remember that first winter I stopped training on the bike for about two month’s or so when I received an email in early February of 2010 saying we were going on a Saturday 30 mile ride. I showed up there fat and out shape. I remember struggling to hang on to any one in the pace line. I learned that day even if it’s winter and a club ride isn’t happening for a few months people are still training. This is what’s known as ‘secret training’. More on this topic at a later time.
In 2010 I put the most amount of miles on my bike than I have to this day. I road a total of 5,000. I noticed after each 1,000 or so the improvements I was making. Riding that much was enjoyable however, I learned it’s not ideal and way to time consuming. About 1,500 of those miles came during the winter and would learn later on that I need to cross-train.
In December 2010 I ran my first race since I took up biking. I trained a few weeks leading up to my 5K but wasn’t sure what I was going to run. My initial thoughts were a sub 23 since my previous PR was about 22:43. I ran the Providence 5K in about 20:14. I was shocked how much I improved and gave all of my biking miles the credit for this improvement.
I had initial thoughts of returning to running again and training for a marathon. I was still loving the bike way to much for this to happen. It would be another 18 months before I returned to racing.
Fast forward to early 2012 and I decided it was time to get back into running. I was asked to be apart of Reach The Beach 2012 (link is for 2013) and knew it was time to get back into training. I ran my first race in June with little outside training at my favorite course in Fairfield, CT. I ran a 1/2 marathon in 1:44. Overall I was pleased but I wanted to improve a lot more.
I spent the next two months cross-training and getting ready for RTB as well as my Mount Washington race in NH. Around this time I got the bug to consider getting into triathlons.
In the fall of 2012 I was getting serious about my training. I completed the Mount Washington Bike Race in 1:26:xx, I ran a 1/2 marathon on Labor Day, two weeks later I competed in Reach The Beach, and then 4 weeks later I ran my first marathon in over 5 years.
I ran the Hartford Marathon. I had a dream to try and qualify for Boston but with not enough training I didn’t think it was realistic. However, I thought I would give it a ‘Tin Cup’ try and run with the 3:10 pace group. I was on BQ pace until about mile 17 when I got sick. No excuses as I wouldn’t have broke 3:10 anyway. I finished in a respectable 4:05.
That fall I knew I was going to enter triathlons in 2013 and decided after Christmas I would take up swimming. One of my first swims I met with my friend Crystal who is an accomplished swimmer. I honestly met with her to soon but she gave me some great pointers and set me on my way.
My focus for 2013 was to get use to training 8-10 times a week and improve on my swimming. I hadn’t done laps in over 15 years and never was any good at swimming. I dedicated about 1-2 hours on weekends and another 1-2 hours during the week to improving my swimming in the winter. During this time I was also running and training for a marathon in May. I wanted to return to the Vermont Marathon.
In March I started to get the bug to attempt an Ironman. I had plenty of experience running marathons as well as doing several century rides. The only thing missing was the swimming. But after doing about 3 months of training in the pool I felt it would be possible.
In April of 2013 I signed up for my first Ironman with about 18 weeks to go before the race.
More details to come on training for Ironman….