Friday, August 26, 2011

Remember, I am aTimberman 70.3 Finisher

All I can say is dang! 70.3 half-ironman races are an entire new animal to conquer. Last Sunday, I competed in my very first 70.3 event and it was in one word incredible. If I look at all the races I've ever done, Timberman was the most humbling and an event with a myriad of takeaways. Let's cut the small talk and get down to the race experience!

I had been training for this event all summer and with 15 weeks of preparation recorded and with 4smaller distance triathlons in the books, I felt ready. The switch to training strictly CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance was scary for an event of this magnitude. In my last marathon, I was only out there for just under 3 hrs, in this event if I finished just under 5 hours (the goal), I would be completely stoked. For the preparation side of things, I successfully built up to 3 to 4 CFIT WODs and 4 - 6 CFE WODs per week. (When training only CrossFit its ideal to listen to your body from the intensity side of things... you have to build up to doing this many workouts) What's wild, is I raced almost every weekend even hitting an 8K the weekend before Sunday went down. This was the training and I felt good about it.

On race day, I woke up bright and early at my Grammie's home in Tilton, NH. I think my favorite part of races is doing them around people I care so much about. People I love. People I want to impress and inspire. I had to wake up at 330am just to make sure I got up to Gilford, NH for the 710am start. My Grammie woke up (such an incredible lady) made my patented Paleo breakfast: 4 Eggs w/1 Banana spread with almond butter. She fueled me up and as usually told me "If you feel bad just stop, be safe out there!" Knowing her and the rest of my family would be at the finish line made it all the more doable. Everyone always tells me I am nuts and I have to agree. Truly a few screws loose to put myself through such rigorous events, but man what I hobby!!

When arrived to the transition area, I had well over 2 hours to get focused. A lot of things went through my mind as I did my CFE Warm Up (Jump Squats, Pose Running Drills, Hip Mobility). I thought to myself you've been working so hard for this Jeff, "Today's Your Day." The most important thing going into every race is drawing on the voices and comments that are deep in your mind. You have to know that ever day you race is your day, ... again your out there for only yourself and my goal is always to prove to ME what I am made of. "Today was My DAY" to do so. Other thoughts came to my mind, "You can qualify for Vegas," "It's just a race" (heath), "You don't need luck, just positivity energy (Amber)," "You'll finish under 5 hours," "Trust your training, find your breathing" ... Man I think my mind is the most busy right before a race. It's really a time you can't recreate: nerves, excitement, goals in mind, and

As the time final came to head to the beach, I couldn't have felt more prepared. The water temperature was 74 degrees so wet suits were allowed. (any temp under 76) It was hilarious 5 minutes before getting into the water, I looked around the thousands and saw that I was one of two dudes out there without a wetsuit. I kid you not everyone else out there was wearing!! I was like oh man, its my first 70.3 no big deal. As we we're about to get into the water I chatted with a few of the other athletes. I told them is was my first one and what big smiles I received :) Right before we laid the goggles down Alex (one of the athletes I had talk to) said "God Speed Jeff" at that moment I knew it was on. The gun went off and from there I enjoyed a nice 1.2 mile swim. Kept a great pace and finished right at 37 minutes close to my predicted time ... Score!! And no wetsuit even better.

Popping out of the water was surreal already getting to the bike. I love to crush the transitions and literally sprint to my bike (most athletes don't haha). As you all know I am one speed. So I popped on the bike smoothly and out of the transition area no problems. I think the coolest part of this race was that it was like every other Triathlon I've done, but on STEROIDS in set up and of course distance! It was made cool every time we came back to transition.

Anyways, the bike was 56 miles - 16 miles further than I had ever gone. With CFE programming the most I ever do in one spurt is a high intensity 20 mile time trials. What's incredible is that my confidence was there as it should be in any race. Remember, "Its your day" Anyways about 6 miles in I wanted to make sure I started to fuel. Get this my water bottle filled with Paleo coconut water and SFH whey protein dropped after I got only a squirt. I hadn't anticipated transitioning the bottle back into it's holster to be a problem. Man it was! And I had lost my main fuel source only minutes into the bike. Ahh!! I knew I had to find an alternative so I grabbed a Gatorade at the next aid station. The course was rolling hills throughout, but wouldn't you know I lost the new gatorade bottle around mile 20, almost taking out a few of my competitors when it fell off. Man bad luck on the initial fueling.

Bouncing back, I took what gels I had (Chocolate #9 low GI recommended by BMAck) and just kept going, but was it enough? Solid pace throughout and maintained right where I wanted around 20mph and then get this my chain falls off down shifting up a hill at mile 42!! So I am almost done with the Bike and I start to panic. I'm thinking to myself "Why me, Why now?" There was certainly some pity going on. Quickly snapped out of it and new I had to make the adjustment on my own. You can only change the present! So I am sitting there on the hill working on the chain and just can't get it! 60 seconds go by and I am like oh snap this could cost me a chance at Vegas!! I'll never forget when this older age group athlete comes by and he yells "Are you okay?" I respond "Ya chain fell off, any tricks?" He could see my hands were covered in grease. Immediately this HERO directed me to the back trigger and instructed me to push it down. I had honestly only put a chain back on like twice before this happened!! After hearing this guys words of encouragement and advice, I got it right back on and only lost close to 2 minutes. During the final 14 miles I was pretty cautious with the shifting haha

Anyways, I was approaching the final leg! What's wild is how fast this race was going by. It always goes by fast when your out there. I hate it because I just LOVE being out there competing. I feel like I am where I am suppose to be, the rush is indescribable.

So then came the run, usually my favorite section of the Triathlon. Not today. I grabbed what gels I had left and headed out hard from the transition area. I was pulling close to 6:30's on the way out and felt strong, but I soo realized too quickly it wasn't there for me this race. From the different fueling lapses on the bike and a tight lower back from the 56 miles, I felt what's called the Wall coming on! I bonkeded on the run. My muscles were simply out of glycogen there was honestly nothing left and unfortunatetly nothing I could do. When you hit the wall you hit the wall and my splits show you what can happen. First 3 mile split: 7:04 per mile pace - 2nd 3mile split: 7:45pace - 3rd split - 8:38pace - 4th split 8:32 pace. After making some strong paces in the early miles of the half marathon, I soon realized I just didn't eat enough. I beat myself up while I was out there, but come the last mile I really snapped myself out of it. A strong older female triathlete was running by and we started chatting. At this point, I was trying to latch onto the faster runners to increase my pace for as long as I could hold it (I really couldn't believe I was being passed, it was an out of body experience.) Anyways, we discussed where we were from the obvious race small talk, and that this was are first 70.3. She was only on her first leg of the run and I was finishing up my second. What she said to me with 2 miles to go really resonated and helped me keep it together. She saved my roof from crashing and by simply telling me"Your looking so strong ... man, I hope I look as good as you on my second loop!" I was encouraged and for the first time, I snapped myself out of this self pity for not fueling correctly. I went charging into the finish line with the Ironman Banner over head and let me tell you it was INCREDIBLE. I got through the race, it may not have gone exactly accordingly to plan, but I got through it and am stronger today. I went 70.3 miles in 5 Hours 12 Minutes ... what an accomplishment.

Waiting at the finish line was my close family and unexpectedly my brother who wasn't sure if he was going to make it. To know my family was out there supporting me (for 5hrs haha) and watching the other triathletes really hits home for me. It's the best feeling knowing they think what I do is pretty cool and something they don't mind watching :) I really don't think everyone gets why I do what I do, but having this type of level of support has gotten me to where I am today. Not in races, but in the biggest race of all ... my life. What I failed to mention is that one amazing person popped out to greet me after the race. She drove up to NH out of the blue and came to see me at the finish. To know that someone would take these measures just to come see little old me felt unbelievable. It is something I will never forget and memory that will stand strong from my first 70.3 race.

So NO I didn't qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, but believe me after my next race (already thinking July 2012) I will qualify in!! Check out my takeaways from the Timberman below and let me know what you think. Above all keep in mind: "Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence (Colin Powell)" You'll only find your success if you continue to learn and PERSIST.

1) Give yourself credit - we are our own worst critics, we can't just be incredible, we need to believe we are and allow ourselves to see an accomplishment. Never dwindle it.

2) Fuel the beast -create a regimented fueling plan, how often you'll fuel and percise times throughout your race that you'll take gels or supplement. Your body needs 200 to 300 calories per hour in an event like a 70.3.

3) Listen to the voices - the ones in your head, your CrossFit coaches, all the warm FaceBook good luck wishes, the sayings that hit close to home and never forget to drive off the people around you. I consistently say to myself "Pain is temporary, Regret Lasts a Lifetime" (huge during any race)

I could go on and on, but finally it's time to cut this one off! Above all, I am writing this post thinking of all the people who contributed to such an awesome race experience. The fact of the matter is my roots run deep because of an amazing supporting cast. I am a Timberman Finisher not just because of the hard effort towards training, but because of you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Ever complete a 16 hour haul music less? This was a new experience ... road tripping without music ... really? My car battery died about a month ago and I've just been too slammed (or lazy) to take it in and get it fixed so a ghetto boom box with D batteries is what I am working with for time being. Long story short 16 hours provided perspective...

For the first time in many many road trips from Clemson to MA and now Hilton Head to MA it felt different than simply a grueling 16+ hours stuck in the car. My Dad happened to fly down to the Island and we made the trek back together. All I could think about during this journey to the 70.3 series (this Sunday) was how grateful I am. To be where I am at in my life and to have the people around me this ride gave me a chance to really think about it and above all appreciate it.
Right off the bat, I was thankful to have my Dad in the shotgun. I drove the first 6 hour leg and as he rested/napped knowing he'd be taking the graveyard shift, I just smiled as I looked over. My Dad and Mom have been a huge impact on who I am today. Throughout my life they have supported me and above all given me space. Space to grow, space to be my own person, and space to do what truly makes me happy. I owe much of my success to the many "spaces" they gave me.

As I drove more and more and across the North Carolina, I thought about my H3 family. Adam my boss and close friend happened to send a company wide email right before I
peaced out to let everyone know that I would be contending this weekend in my first 70.3 Triathlon. Amber sent me a follow up email that said “Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent”!!!! Thus, you already plenty of “LUCK” b/c you give over 100%!!! If I don’t need to wish you luck, I will wish you much positive energy! Manifest it! Use it to “GO TEAR IT UP" Its people like these two and all the staff of H3 that make these events for me so special. I know that each and everyone of them is excited on my behalf ... Dot, Allison, Katie, Kelly, Amy, Bob, Beth and the rest of whole gang really make thoughtful connections before I go on Vacation and headed into races. My vacations always involve a race, but hey they are always stoked for me!!

Not only did I think about my fellow staff, but of course many of the guests of Hilton Head Health. Probably my biggest supports and as I've said in recent posts providers of so much inspiration. Lyle Orr came to mind immediately last night because he broke 45 minutes on his 5K time trial!! Kelly Bunn then came up because she is doing her first Triathlon the same day this weekend!! Of course Mark Evans because he's gearing up for another season of half marathons and his first full!! Oh yeah and Andrea Mac who did her first Beach Bum flabbergasted by her accomplishment ... and Magliochetti whose been crushing sprint triathlons since Charleston and wait what about Stacia, Jill, Wanda, Chemain and of course Debbie whose doing her first Basra Swim on Saturday (a 1 mile swim in the Bahamas). As you can see so many people came to mind and the coolest part is even though I began as their biggest supporters (and still am to life's end) they are the exact same for me. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to affect these individuals lives and so pumped to see their accomplishments flourish in the future.

My Dad took over for the graveyard shift, but once again I began driving around 4am yesterday morning and had to complete thinking about all the key people in my life. Getting closer to home, I thought about my high school friends (many of my very best), Bknapp and Sandy who I left back in HHI, the college crew, my CrossFit Coaches Craig and Heath and how could I forget my grandmother and rest of the family. As these names and images of people continued to come up all I could think about is how Lucky I am. Grateful. More Privileged is probably the best word. To have these people around me, To have this opportunity to compete with hundreds of supporters behind me. Its a blessing.

All I can say to wrap this post up is that the people in my life are amazing. Racing difficult courses, pushing yourself to the very limits will no doubt make you physically tough, but as I mentioned to Coach Craig before leaving ... "I am the most mentally prepared "F**K" (excuse my language) out there on Sunday." With the tools I've learned from marathons, CFHH Wods, the Cremator Ultra haha and NUMBER ONE the people I have behind me. I don't think anyone is more prepared than me to tackle the Timberman Ironman on Sunday August 21st 2011 7:10 AM Wave Start Eastern time.

To all of you out there who make my life so special thank you. Know that every race I get to compete at is an accumulation of your support, excitement, and love.
Oh and 16 hours without music pretty enlightening haha go for it!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fountain of Inspiration

Inspiration. Is it the elite basketball player who scores 25 points a game? Is it the goalie who made the final winning save to win a Stanley cup? Or is it the soccer Mom that juggles taking 3 kids to their practice, gets dinner on the table every night and takes care of her sick Mother-In-Law?

The thing is Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. Its not something you that you say to yourself one day "Oh I'm going to get inspired because of that!" In all honesty, it can only come with time. Come with a connection and that sudden greater power that clicks inside each of us. A big fact of the matter is that we fail to see the inspiration that's right in front of us.

Unexpectedly, Today was a reminder of my true inspiration. For all of you guessing at home, It wasn't the likes of elite marathoner Ryan Hall or even Pro Triathlete Chris McCormick, but my inspiration are the Guests of Hilton Head Health. I can't lose sight of this fact. Waking up and having the opportunity to affect others lives is a privilege and it takes the right person. I know I am that person because every day I have been at H3 I haven't had a bad day. I can't chalk any day up in that category. In my eyes, People who motivate and commit themselves to a new way of life are the biggest inspiration of all. Seeing someone give up their fears and dedicate themselves to their most precious asset is gratifying. In my mind running a marathon is straightforward; however changing what you know, paving a new path and starting over is a whole other ballgame. Its these people that inspire me.

Knowing what inspires provides you the opportunity to be successful in whatever you put your mind to. If you can link that to any event or situation that comes up it all begins to feel like a breeze. Not a race goes by where I think to myself, "I know they are going to ask me how I did ... I have to push harder for them." Like this weekend at the Paris Mountain Triathlon, I was thinking "Man, I have to get up this mountain, 7mph just isn't going to cut it! (Lyle and Laura would be killing this!" Many would say I serve as an inspiration for them because of my unwavering training and dedication to my sport, but the truth is ... it goes both ways.

I wouldn't be where I am today without a solid foundation of inspiration. I'm convinced that finding your inspiration is one thing, but having a fountain of it flowing every day you wake up can really take your game to a whole new level. What about having it as your job? I'm speachless.

On a closing note, You never know who you'll effect each day ... Keep inspiring me and I will keep inspiring you. I am with one word ... grateful.

Cremator 50 mile relay experience coming soon!!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Front, Middle, Back ... Its All the Same

Another triathlon in the books and now I'm closing in on 19 days until my first 1/2 Ironman. Interesting things happen at every single race and that's the beauty of being a runner and a triathlete. Each race experience is never the same. With that said, I am positive that if you ask me about any race at least one unique moment still vividly stands out.

Let's talk Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series, which was held two days ago on Sunday. The Race began in waves and as I eagerly waited to get my go ahead (the very last start wave) I saw all the other athletes already in the water and a many pumping on the bike. As the race progressed, it wasn't my best performance, but because of the wave start I was able to spend time racing with the front, middle, and back of the pack athletes. I passed a few on the swim, along with the bike and run. They weren't in my age group category, but we were one in the same.

Not just on this day, but every time I've ever entered a race my theory is that every athlete is the same. No matter what place you finish or how fast or slow your race time is ... we are all programmed with the same drive and dedication to excel. Most of us are out there for the right reasons, not to win, but to be better than we were the day before. The most important factor in life, racing, and lets not forget CrossFit is to improve. To constantly progress and to have the will power to become a better person each time we step in the box, head to work, or toe the starting line. The person in the back of the pack is just as worthy as the person in front. Here's one more event that went down in this race that proves this theory all together...

As I finished up my race, I quickly glanced towards the run portion to see if I could see a close friend finishing up. We had traveled to the race together, fueled the previous day (paleo of course) and drove to the race early with excitement (and a little fear). We both had the same expectations to finish and be better than we were the day before and don't forget fun!! As I approached this "TBNL" person (To Be Named Later) she explained to me that she had gotten DQ - disqualified. Was this for real? How could this have happened? As we chatted further, I still couldn't believe what I was hearing. No warning at all for having headphones on, just an immediate dismissal. Regardless of the decision, she planned to finish the race and conquered. Situations like this really separate and athlete from a pretender. I actually attempted to run the last leg with her; however with the stream line of emotions and dedication to finish there was no need. This TBNL person was there for the right reasons ... its unfortunate the unknowing volunteer couldn't see this. The fact is that TBNL finished strong and did it with a pool of unexpected emotions. Despite the DQ, her finish was all the same. It counts just as much as getting on the podium. TBNL was just as much a finisher as every one else out there on Sunday.

When your in a race, its tough to know why the person next to you is out there. What are they trying to prove? Have they battled back from cancer to now toe the line of a marathon? Are they completing a triathlon because a parent would have wanted them too? Are they there because when they cross the finish line their two little kids will be waiting?

Everyone has a motivation on race day or when they enter the CrossFit Box. Sometimes (like in CrossFit) less is more. The quality of the motivation is always better than quantity.

The conclusion from Sunday's race is this: that with the proper motivation, that is, a good reason for wanting to do it, your mind can overcome any sort of adversity. 95% of athletes live by this and as you show up to races remember that the Front, Middle, and Back become are one in the same.