Time flies when you are busy running, baking and playing with kids. That could best describe the month of January as I cannot believe is already over, I have noticed that life has both sped up and slowed down all at the same time. Again, allow me to explain…
In an effort to be more productive I needed to go back and follow a schedule for the week with each day laid out, with tasks that I wanted to accomplish. I found that during January I spent far too much time thinking about what I wanted to get done instead of actually doing things. The biggest distraction? Old movies that I have seen far too many times already, and quite frankly I didn’t need to see yet again. There is something comfortable about an old favorite movie, it just makes you feel good. We all like to be comfortable, but to live an extraordinary life you need to push beyond what is comfortable and really challenge yourself.
I’ve done my best to place that mindset into my head for the month of February, as I have set for myself some Wildly Important Goals! I created my own online baking company, as advertised below with a focus only on Valentine’s Day options, to be honest sales have been pretty much non existent to this point while I remain optimistic that as inch closer to February 14th sales will increase. The website only featured options for the Holiday directly ahead, I have over 170 different Cookie Cutters (Thanks Amazon!) and wanted to offer options for the entire year. I believe the biggest opportunity for sales growth will come from word of mouth, and one event will lead to three more, etc…
The biggest season in my old world, the restaurant business was Communion, Baptism season at the Keg (next to Christmas) all that is quickly approaching. So I want to have pages dedicated to these cookies with wonderfully decorated cookies already laid out for potential customers to view, to plant the seed for future purchases. I spent much of yesterday, and most of today dedicated to that task! I have an old colleague that is having a baby shower this weekend and I am going to surprise her with some Baby Shower themed cookies, both for the website (pictures) and word of mouth advertising.
The other half of the hustle, hustle, hustle equation is my triathlon training plan alongside the 100 Day running challenge. So the month of January is in the rearview mirror and I successfully ran all 31 days, putting my total at over 200 kilometers for the month that comes with a great sense of accomplishment. I have learned so much about myself, about how to be a more effective runner, how mental discipline plays into all this, and what drive and determination can accomplish.
The month of February comes with another 28 runs in which the run total will push past 50i n a row, it’s more base building where I am basically just running and increasing my cardiovascular base for the upcoming Ironman 70.3 race that I will be completing in this coming July. In March we will start to transition into some specialty training as we get closer to race date and the weather warms up here in Canada.
I have also successfully incorporated strength training into my training plan and so far have really enjoyed the workouts and maybe a bit more so the results. I can see the changes when I look into the mirror and I like what I see. I was worried that this additional training would tire me out more so than the cardio workouts themselves, however so far that has not been the case. My triathlon buddy is a big believer that strength training will help the overall swim, bike and run times out of the course this summer. I cannot wait…
Well this post has been a bit of a ramble, kind of like where my head has been at recently. Lot’s going on… and I didn’t even mention that I am going back to work part time starting this Saturday. Hustle, hustle, and more hustle!
In a quick follow up to yesterday’s post, Austin’s birthday turned out to be pretty good. Yes there was a lot of running around, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking him toy shopping and then coming home and making a Spider-Man cake that he has requested.
It was awesome!
So this morning I had set my alarm for 4:45 am with the intentions of getting a run and swim in before Danielle would bring the kids back in the morning. I like the idea of getting my workouts in while the kids are not here, or sleeping soundly in their beds. This allows me to have more fun time around the house when Austin is here as opposed to dragging him along to the YMCA and dumping him the playroom for a couple of hours. Yes I am sure he enjoys playing with other kids his age, and I am sure it is good for his social skills however his time at home before school starts is quickly running out and I want to cherish every second of it.
I was up early on Wednesday morning for the run and swim combo, and purposely planned my run on Thursday for late in the evening to allow a good 36 hours of recovery time between cardio sessions. I am concerned that my legs are not going to make it 100 days in a row unless I am smart and make sure I have good maintenance on those leg muscles, and avoiding injury. The plan was solid as the legs (in the morning) were quite sore, but throughout the day they felt better, I use a massage roller on the quad and calf muscles and it really seems to help with recovery.
This morning’s turn around was much much shorter, about 9 hours of recovery time between last night’s run and back at it this morning. So when the alarm went off at 4:45 am this morning, my first instinct was to turn it off and roll over. Luckily for me I generally don’t listen to that instinct anymore so up I got, and headed downstairs to make my mandatory morning coffee. Honestly I was so tired this morning and I didn’t want to wait for the drip cycle to finish so I heated up what was left from yesterday’s coffee in the microwave, put together my gym bag and headed out the door before I could change my mind.
I think there were four or five other guys in the gym this morning, and when I got onto the treadmill for what was planned to be a 9km run it felt difficult to get the legs moving. I generally warm up at 6 mph but today it was 5.5 to start, almost like a light jog and what started out as a tough run turned into something much different. After the 1st kilometer I started to warm up, I think it was a smart decision to wear track pants today as it helped keep my leg muscles warm and loose, and I was quickly able to up the pace and started to feel really good while running.
I let my mind wander to several different subjects while running, this takes the focus off perhaps how sore the legs are, what pain I may be experiencing and in all honesty helps the time go by quicker. Running outside is fantastic, the fresh air, the fact that your view is alway changing, I love it! While running on a treadmill is rather static and very boring, the only view is the pool below or your own reflection in the window in front of you especially when you on there for close to an hour or so.
This morning the kilometers ticked off quickly, and the 80’s workout playlist was spot on as I easily hit the 9km goal and decided to stick around for another 1.5 km’s. By this time the pool below me had filled up so I decided to come back for my swim later in the morning. Funny thing from the time I changed and was headed out to my car the pool had emptied, literally no one was there. So I turned right around and headed back into the change room and jumped into an empty pool for an awesome 1.5km swim all to myself.
The only thing you can really do while swimming is thinking about things, much like running it can really help pass the time. During this swim I thought a lot about the upcoming triathlon season and what I truly wanted to accomplish this summer. I started to envision some of the courses that I would be racing on, how I was going to push myself and thought a lot about my bucket list goal of actually winning one of these races outright. Not just my age group, but first place overall. I honestly believe with my current mindset, my training plan and with the help of the support system that I put around me will help me accomplish everything I’ve set out to do.
The next four months are going to be a lot of hard work, a lot of sore muscles, there will be a lot of early mornings but at the end of this summer I am going to look back and be absolutely marveled at how much I’ve grown and what I have been able to accomplish. And I am not just talking about the sport of triathlon, this is going to bleed into all other areas of my life. As a father, as a partner and as a man. I’ve got this. I love it.
In preparation for the Ironman 70.3 race this summer, I knew I would have to increase my cardio level to another level. I have spent the last few months in the gym working on my overall strength but running, well I would always consider it to be the weakest of the three disciplines of triathlon. Swim, bike and ugh, run…
Today marked day 9 of the challenge and by far the most days in a row that I have every run in my entire life. Living in Canada, we get a lot on snow in the winter and this year has been no exception, last week we had the coldest recorded temperatures since 1959, getting close to minus 30 and colder with the windchill factor. This sure didn’t stop me from running outside, it did on several occasions stop my headphones and watch from working. Ha ha. Today it wasn’t nearly as cold but the streets were covered in snow and slush and it was tough sledding out there today.
One of the most enjoyable things while running outside in the snow is often the looks that you will get from people that you pass on the street or driving in their car. I always to my best to either say hello, flash them the peace sign, or have on the biggest smile possible as I am thoroughly enjoying myself with each kilometer that I tack on. I started off this challenge on fire, racking up over 40km in my first week but I have come to realize that I am in this for the long haul and smaller runs and recovery days are going to be in order.
Afterall, I am training for a triathlon, not a marathon so I will need to do a considerable amount of swimming, cycling and strength/flexibility training along the way. I have also started to learn about diet and hydration as I need to maintain my energy levels throughout the day as I have four kids to look after and want to play with Daddy. I had been taking naps but they actually make me more tired when I would wake up afterwards so they have had to go as well.
I will say this, I have no trouble falling asleep at the end of the day allowing my body the time it needs to recover, after all I have tomorrow’s run to look forward to. Barring some sort of catastrophic injury I will make this happen and continue to update ou lovely readers as I start to hit some of the bigger milestones.
It’s another snowy day here in Barrie, calling for continual snow until about 1pm today and that mean lots of shovelling for me. I enjoy the workout aspect of snow removal but when your entire body is tired and sore, well it’s not something that I am looking forward to at all today.
I’ve challenged myself to a 100 straight days of running, and yesterday I hit the 7 day mark. It doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme of this challenge but it is the most consecutive days that I have ever run. I am also starting training for an Ironman 70.3 race this summer which also requires a lot of swimming and cycling as well. The combined toll of these three disciplines along with being a single father of four children, well I always have A LOT to do. Cleaning the house, grocery shopping, laundry, paying the bills, etc..
It takes a lot of mental energy to keep all this up as well, add on the issues that you will always have raising teenage daughters. Wow, it’s been a tough weekend that has left me physically and mentally exhausted. Waking up this morning, I didn’t sleep very well and am not sure how I am going to get through what today has to offer. Continued web site creation for a startup baking company that I am trying to launch, based on Sugar Cookies.
North West Bakery – homemade Sugar Cookies made with love proudly serving Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area.
The snow is still falling…
As I type that a smile washes over my face. I know that I can do this, I know I can take care of everything that needs to be done today and when my head hits the pillow tonight I will have completed a lengthy to do list and a warm sense of satisfaction will wash over me as I drift off to sleep.
Afterall, as a fellow blogger said this morning, “Do sharks complain about Monday? No. They’re up early, biting shit, chasing stuff, being scary. Reminding everyone that they’re a fucking shark.”
I have written a bit about of the sport of triathlon since I’ve started this blog and there certainly will be more posts about it in the future, including today! I have just registered myself for next summer’s Ironman race in Huntsville, Ontario at the beginning of July. It is perhaps the biggest race in Ontario next year and will attract the world’s top athletes based on the beauty and the toughness of the course. And standing right there on the start line will be little ol’ me.
I want to use this post to explain the sport to those that may be unfamiliar with it, as future posts will include some of my training days and the races that I do next spring and summer as I dive right back into this wonderful sport. This sport changed my life, and maybe just maybe by sharing my love and passion for the sport with you, you may want to Give It A Try and it can change your life as well!
Whoever finishes first, We’ll call him the Ironman
During an awards banquet for the Waikiki Swim Club, John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai`i, and his fellow athletes began debating which athletes were the fittest: swimmers, bikers, or runners. Later, he and his wife Judy, who had both participated in new competitions known as triathlons in San Diego, decided to combine three of the toughest existing endurance races on the island. On February 18, 1978, 15 competitors, including Collins, came to the shores of Waikiki to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge.
This sport has grown in popularity ever since that day and today Ironman races can be found in countries all around the world. I did my first official Ironman race in Louisville, KY back in 2009 and it changed my life. I was an active competitor in the sport from 2007 to 2010 and the very last race(s) I did was in Wasaga Beach where, believe it or not, I did three triathlons in one day, back to back to back.
I walked away from the sport after that day thinking to myself that I couldn’t end my journey that had started three and a half years ago any better way. After all in my head I felt I had accomplished everything I could in the sport. From experiencing the thrill of crossing the finish line for the first time, to races several full seasons of races everything single weekend, to winning my series age group, to coming in first in my age group, to outright winning a race (kind of…) to doing my first Ironman 70.3 that landed me on the cover of several magazines and print ads, to finishing a full Ironman, to finally capping it all with three races in one day and meeting Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield who personally presented me with my Series Championship calling me crazy upon hearing that I did 3 races in one day. I also met 11 time Ironman Champion Lisa Bentley and even had the opportunity to train with her one weekend in Guelph.
Done it all, right? It was such an epic life journey that physically and mentally changed me forever.
But as George Costanza might say, “I’m back baby!”
So here is a breakdown of what I will be facing next July. The sport of triathlon is broken down into three disciplines. The first is the swim leg which varies in distance based on which type of race that you are doing, here is the breakdown of each type..
Give It A Try ~ 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run
Sprint ~ 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
Olympic ~ 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Ironman 70.3 ~ 1.9km swim, 94km bike, 21.1km run
Ironman ~ 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run
I’ve already done this exact swim back in 2009 during a long course triathlon and can it envision the swim exit in my mind. This race as mentioned will be in Huntsville, using the Canada Summit Center as the transition area and start/finish line. This area was completely renovated back in 2010 for a G8 leaders conference and I haven’t seen it since it was completed.
My swim will be 1.9km in distance headed out away from the transition area out into the middle of Fairy Lake turning left a few times and then down river to the swim exit. It will also be what is called a wave start where several smaller groups, all age related, start 3 minutes apart. In a full Ironman race it is generally a mass swim start where all athletes start at the same time. With a wave start it stretches out the field and you have a lot less elbows and feet hitting you in the face as you swim.
When you finish the swim, you would then head back to the transition area where you take off the wetsuit and get ready for the next leg of the day, the bike ride.
This is a 94m bike ride around the Lake of Bays. My family and I have rented a cottage the past few summers on this very lake, and a few years ago we just happen to be headed up to the cottage to start our vacation and stumbled across the bike leg of this very race. These races are done on open roads that are not closed to traffic which can always make bike riding a bit more interesting. On this drive into our cottage, I quickly explained to all the kids in the car what was going on, how Daddy had done this race several years ago and I rolled down the windows and had all of them yell encouragement to the racers as we slowly drove by. I know first hand what the comments from spectators can do to lift an athlete’s morale, especially people who may be new to the sport and struggling out there on the course. It can put smiles on faces, and fill racers with a renewed sense of energy.
There are so many spectators there to cheer on their loved ones, and they share that love and support with all the racers over the course of the day. They may not realize it, but all that cheering and support goes such a long way on these long, and often very hot grueling days. I still can vividly here a man with a thick heavy French accent yelling words of encouragement during a marathon that I did, yelling “Come On Edward you can do it! I believe in you!” That comment filled me with such energy and got me running again as I had stopped to walk as it was towards the end of the race and I was running out of gas.
As you finish up the bike leg you would head back into the transition area where you shed your bike gear and slide on the running shoes for this…
… a leisurely 21.1km loop course in and around downtown Huntsville and there will be lot’s of cheering voices and spectators being a looped run course. This means that it is two laps before turning back towards the finish line and into the finishing chute. This is where the most spectators are, loud music is playing, there is an awesome and inspiring race announcer yelling out everyone’s name as they cross the finish line.
It is such an amazing rush and feeling coming down that finishing chute and crossing the finish line, it is such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction finishing one of these races. The first time I finished this distance of triathlon, I cried that last 2km of the run reflecting on the last year of my life and the journey that I had just finished. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I literally jumped for joy into the air. That photo is one the one that would grace of the cover of magazines in the years to come.
I am pretty sure that I will have the same emotional journey again next summer reflecting on the past few years of my life and the journey that has lead me back to the sport that I love. I know this journey will continue to change my life in awesome and unexpected ways. I plan on sharing this adventure and all that I learn with all of you, enjoy as I know I will.
There have been several life altering events in my past, and beyond family type things (marriage, children, divorce…) the sport of Triathlon has had the biggest impact for sure. The story starts in October of 2005 when my first wife and I separated, I was an inactive, unhealthy, unhappy 238 pound man. It was New Year’s Eve I had been sitting in a bubble bath reflecting on life and just how messed up things had gotten in a short amount of time.
Getting out of the tub I took a good long look at myself in the mirror and realized that I needed to do something about the reflection staring back at me. I was going to start dating again shortly, and with any luck and or charm on my part a woman was going to be seeing me naked again. I didn’t like what I saw reflecting back at me, how would she?
At that point in my life I did not know the difference between a protein, a carbohydrate and a healthy fat as my diet consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches, kraft dinner, hot dogs, pizza and whatever take out I would order. It also didn’t help that my job, as a Kitchen Manager for the Keg afforded me free food and drink on a daily basis. In my first five years as a manager I put on about 10 pounds a year, when I started managing I was a 6 foot 5 inch, 170 pound beanpole. Now replaced was a beaten and broken 238 pound man, whose every single pair of pants would not button up as I refused to buy a 38 inch waist pant.
I was into my early 30’s and had not done any form of exercise since I was a teenager, I smoked weed on a regular basis and that often led to the eating of whole pizzas in one sitting, and tons and tons of junk food. I think my personal record was 37 Halloween chocolate bars, and I knew that I was on the fast track to obesity?, diabetes? and who knows what else. It was that night I decided that I needed to do something about the direction I was headed.
That winter I started to workout on a beginner weight bench that I purchased at WalMart and started to speak to some friends at work about ways to change and things that I could do to improve my health. Two people in particular stood out, Jimmy Rego and Jeromy Mueller.
Jimmy was a server with the Keg, but had been a collegiate cross country runner for the University of Arizona back in the day. He literally taught me how to run, this is how naive I was, I did not know how to go for a run. Anyone watching me would see this guy walk out his door and try to run as fast as he could right from the start, and due to my years and years of inactivity I couldn’t reach the end of my street without my lungs exploding and fire in my sides.
We talked many nights about setting a pace, starting easy and building into the run, doing a combination of walk and run to build up my stamina. At the time it felt like I was being given the universe’s greatest secrets, and slowly overtime I increased my stamina and increase the distance. One story in particular sticks out as Jimmy had challenged me to do a long run to see what it would feel like. So I did, I had a 7km course that looped past my house and off I went, I don’t recall what the intended distance was but I do recall doing three laps of that circuit and when I got home I felt so elated at my accomplishment! Fast forward to later that night and I could not lift my legs or get out of bed, I had to crawl across the floor to get to the bathroom. It took about a week for everything to feel normal again, but I learned that day about how to push myself to accomplish some crazy things.
Jeromy was a fellow manager, and has his own story about how working out changed his life. He was a beast and trained hard everyday, and still does to this day. He invited me over to his house several times to workout, and through him I learned about proper form when lifting weights but more importantly proper nutrition. It started with post workout protein shakes and it was during this time he explained how a protein worked, what carbs were good for, etc… Again, it was like a light had been turned on inside my head.
The exercise has dropped my weight down close to 200 pounds, and it was the change in diet and increased nutrition cracked that barrier I had trouble passing and quickly dropped to about 190. It was an amazing six months, but for me something was still missing. I had joined the world of online dating, far different in 2007 than it is today and I actually met the lady that would become my second wife years later.
I had two young kids, Emily and Megan and the Keg had provided me a great schedule that allowed me to have my children Sunday morning through Wednesday morning when I would return them to mom’s house. Working a lot of evenings hours left many daytime hours to fill. Just sitting around by myself in the day became very hard to bare, and I needed to find something to do, a hobby, a sport?
My sister suggested that I come watch a friend of hers that was competing in the Milton triathlon in June, and while I didn’t end of going and watching the seed had been planted for the next evolution of my life. I began to do some research on the sport of triathlon, as honestly I had never heard of it, and I had no idea how many races were happening throughout Ontario in the spring and summer months. I did some research and found what I thought was the perfect course for a beginner, the Niagara Give it a Try race would be the one I decided to enter.
A Give it a Try triathlon is a 400 meter swim, followed by a 10km bike ride and then finished up with a 2.5km run. I picked this particular course as the swim was along the shore of Lake Ontario and they claimed you could touch the bottom the entire swim, perfect I wouldn’t drown. The bike ride was completely flat which again was perfect as I was riding a very old, and very heavy mountain bike, and then the run. I had a full cheering section with me there on that day, my dad, sister, ex-wife and both my children came out to watch and cheer me on.
I had trained for that day, but really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being my first race every I had only the basic gear, no wet suit, no fancy bike, no spandex outfit and no light weight race shoes. Just my drive and determination to cross that finish line, in under an hour I had hoped. Walking down along the shore to get the swim start line, I noticed a dead fish lying on the shore and I thought to myself…
“What the hell have I gotten myself into?”
When the gun went off and I ran into the water to start, I didn’t take into account just how cold Lake Ontario water is, even in July. Everything inside me seemed to seize up as it was so very cold, but I managed to do a combination of front crawl, breaststroke and floating on my back when needed to finish the 400 meter swim (and being truthful it was the discipline that I had trained the least for). I did make it to the swim finish and did not have to be rescued by any of the lifeguards on duty, running up out of the water I saw both of my young ladies there cheering Daddy on. I made a point of stopping and giving each of them a hug and a kiss and I was on my way to the bike.
I knew biking would be my strongest of the three and actually had a pretty good bike, that indeed was flat with no hills to worry about at all. There were a few times when I did get discouraged, as my manhood was challenged when I saw many, many other athletes passing me on the course. Most I am sure where in much better shape than I was, and were riding bikes that most likely weighed much less than my ancient clunker. I must have given it maximum effort while I was out on the bike as when I got back to the transition area I was physically spent, yet I still had a 2.5km run to do!
I put on my best and bravest face for my family, although it felt like my lungs, sides, and legs were all about to explode. I smiled at them, and I ran, and ran right out of the transition area until they could not longer see me and immediately started to walk. I felt a little discouraged at my inability to run but I was still making forward progress… I eventually caught my breath, the lungs stopped burning so much and I was able to finish strong by running back into the chute, and across the finish line.
I had unbelievably finished my first triathlon, in just under an hour. The time to me didn’t matter and driving home afterwards I had such a sense of accomplishment that I had never felt before in my life. I loved this feeling so much that I would end up doing 4 more races that summer and fell in love in the sport of triathlon forever.
Reaching the end of this course, the journey I had taken and the feelings it left inside me, changed me forever.
Over the next three years I would go on to do some pretty amazing things in this sport, but that my friend will be another post here in the future.
I invite you all to get out there and Give it a Try! It might just change your life as well!
At the end of 2007 I had completed 5 Give it a Try races, the shortest distance that you can do. It’s a pure sprint, but a great place to start if you are a beginner and just getting into this sport for the first time.
That off season and over the winter I educated myself immensely into the sport of triathlon, taking courses offered at Guelph University to help my swim stroke, and train with some other like minded people. I invested in all the gear that would be needed as it certainly is not a poor man’s sport at all, wetsuits, bike equipment, spare tires, aero bars, saddle bags, unitards, and a big old bag to hold it all.
This might be my all time photo ever taken of me, it was at the Gravenhurst Triathlon in 2009 when I was at the peak of my physical fitness that year, and perhaps in my entire life. I had just finished the 1.5km swim of the Olympic Distance triathlon I was racing in. I had done both races the day before as well, the Sprint Distance along with the Give it a Try race. I had carefully planned out a schedule of races and events to test my physical endurance and to mentally prepare me for what the Ironman to come.
I had just flown out of the transition area, jumped onto my bike and this was about 500m out of transition area after climbing the first short hill of a 40km bike to come. Your arms were still all pumped from the swim I had just finished, and I looked awesome. The photographer, Mike Cheliak @MikeCheliak was perfectly positioned to capture this moment in time. He also took the picture above as well. Thanks Mike for making me look my very best.
It was about a month and a half before I would go on to complete Ironman Kentucky in August of 2009.
But let’s go back a few years shall we.
I grew up a very active child, I don’t think I ever sat still. After all I didn’t have an iPhone back then, in fact I was fortunate to see the growth and invention of the home computer all the way to its modern counterparts. We had to get up and turn the rotary dial on our antenna to change the channel on our TV that has maybe 10 or 11 channels… oh how far we have come. I think of my Dad who will be 88 next year, and the changes that he has seen over his lifetime. Brings new meaning to the word perspective. Continue reading Give It A Try: My Journey from Couch Potato to Ironman part 1