Giving Back and Pushing forward

Well, it’s done. 9 new triathletes and one brought back to the fold after a year away. I’m pretty excited to hear how all these folks do at their various races, and I’ll make sure to check back in with them as time goes on.

Chuck – giant eagle
rachel – giant eagle womens only
Tim D. – Casesar Creek
Terry – Linwood park
Morgan – Buckeye Challenge
Lori – Maumee bay
Mirriam – Giant Eagle Womens Only
Brian – Buckeye Challenge
Jason – Portage Lakes
Alex – Vermillion
For me, it was a rough week with food, but I was really happy with my training; I was over a minute faster from my last 1000 yard swim, and I has a couple of really strong bikes. I still have a lot to do to be ready for April, but there’s so much positive right now, I’m excited for the increase in difficulty of my workouts, and I’m committed to a strong week in regards to my diet.
I was also officially notified I’ll be a part of Eleonore Rocks 2013, so that was nice to see. I didn’t make the Elite team, but from a performance perspective it’s hard not to understand why. I’m great at social media, a strong teammate, and willing to pitch in on whatevers needed, but my on course results need a lot of work. This will be a good year to see those performances really improve.
Also, the blog might be going down for a few days around renewal time this week, but not for long.

A great week!

First, I still have 3 (and maybe 4) free HFP race entries for new triathletes. If you are waiting to get in, STOP WAITING, and reply to this post.

Next, let me tell you about the next group of people taking on their first triathlons:

- Rachel, a long time friend and personal trainer is taking her first go at a triathlon at Giant Eagle. She’ll be racing the women’s only race with my wife.

- Lori, whose sister is a triathlete I’ve met in the past, and she’s using her first triathlon to get back to running after breaking her ankle a block from the finish line of a 5k

Now, I believe I mentioned I’d put on a few pounds over Christmas vacation. Those pounds are now gone. Thanks to running several days last week, a new saddle and adjusted position on the bike, and a bit of pushing past the pain, I’m not just losing weight, but the stamina is coming around and the speed is ever so slowly increasing.

I’m getting on the bike tonight, after a run this afternoon, and even with having to miss a couple swims this week due to very limited pool hours (smack in the middle of the workday), I’ve had a terrific week training and I’m really pumped to keep going.

Speaking of going, my annual Vegas gambling trip is coming up, and I’m headed to Columbus for the Blue Jackets home opener in just over a week. Gonna be a fun month!

Oh, and Lance is going to confess to doping on Oprah next week. I’ve stayed away from this topic for a while, in part because I have plenty going on in my own life, but also because I think doping is a bigger topic than just Lance, and I was a bit tired of being labeled a “hater” because the current focus is on Lance and the USPS situation. Expect a couple posts from me about this in the next week.


Progress report and first 2 free race entry winners

photo (32)

The power is out and the internet with it, so pardon any typos as I blog for the first time ever from my phone.

Regular blogging has finally commenced for the 2013 season and I wasn’t about to let a lack of power get in the way, the same way I’m not letting the weather stop me from training. I’ve been on the mountain bike in the cold and snow several times in the past week +, with rides from 15 minutes to 1 hour, along with time on the treadmill and on the trainer.

The trainer sessions haven’t been without issue as my saddle is nearing the end of it’s usable life, and I’ve got an inexpensive but highly credited saddle on its way as my temporary solution to more comfort on the bike. Some of it is me, a combination of my weight and lack of time in the saddle while the rest of it is an ergonomic saddle that was never really a perfect fit that has seen a ton of wear in 18 months under me. Motivation from friends both near and far has helped, and I got off the saddle after 40 minutes last night with the feeling that my legs had plenty more to give if I could stand to be on the bike even another minute longer. I take small brakes but it doesn’t help all that much.

From a weight perspective, I had lost 13 pounds before going home for Christmas break, and I gained a good majority of that back through way too much food and fun. Thankfully it’s been coming off quick since I got home, and I’m down 6 pounds since my return. I only need to lose 4 more to get back to where I was. Based on how fast it’s been coming off, that ought to happen by Sunday at the latest. Coach Alan has been pushing me with some fitness tests and I finally got a tape measure to track more than just weight.

I’m still in the process of finalizing my schedule, if I can ever get Rachelle to sit and talk to me about what she wants to do. One thing is for sure, I’m racing Giant Eagle Triathlon Olympic distance in July. It was one of my free entries from HFP. Rach is doing the Women’s only race on Saturday and the Sprint distance on Sunday, again thanks to HFP. I’m hanging onto 1 more entry for myself, as HFP has been hinting at a cycling only event to be announced later this month.

And I’ve started my giveaway of HFP race entries:

- The first went to Chuck Husemann, a long time very good friend of mine who has done charity bike rides but never a triathlon. He’ll be doing the sprint distance race at Giant Eagle, and gets to hang out with Rachelle at the finish line while I work my way through the Olympic course.

- The second went to Master Sergeant Timothy Davis, who I’ve never met before but is looking to do his first triathlon at Caesar’s Creek in July. He seemed pretty stoked about it, and frankly I thought it was pretty cool to be able to give something to someone who serves our country.

Quite a few folks have expressed interest, but only a few have followed the official entry format, which is to comment on this post. I’m giving out entries as I go along, but the final entries won’t be given out until 1/14/13.

Looking back at 2012, Giving back in 2013 (Free races!)

2012 was certainly a challenging year; Another mid-year move, another aborted go at Rev 3 Cedar Point, and I actually gained weight instead of losing it over the course of the year. While I look out over a winter wonderland of snow that brings a vastly different off-season training experience than what we experienced last year in North Carolina, I find myself thinking about all the positives that last year brought.

From finishing the Belews Lake tri a week after an exercise-induced asthma diagnosis, fighting through hot conditions at Giant Eagle to make my sub-4 hour goal, and not giving up at Rev 3 Half Full on a brutally cold, wet, and hilly bike course; the season was undoubtedly a success. That finish at Half Full put me on a podium at a big race, and it serves as a great reminder that no matter how challenging things are, or how much it hurts, just don’t stop.

We’re really blessed to have careers that keep us employed in unsettled economic times., nd there are so many worse things than a blown race or a few pounds gained or the insecurity caused by a sudden move. The tragedies surrounding Hurricane Sandy and the shooting at Sandy Hook, both happening just a few hours from our new place in New York really put a lot in perspective for me. I’d already decided that I was going to do more to give back in 2013, though I wasn’t sure quite how yet when I got an email from Shannon Kurek, owner of HFP Racing.

HFP is the company that put on my first 3 triathlons back in 2009, and they were the race org for Giant Eagle triathlon last season. To make up for a minor timing issue, Shannon offered me a year of free racing for any HFP events. I thought that was an extremely generous gesture; too generous in fact, so I told him that while I would be happy to make use of a few entries I simply couldn’t in good conscience take that much free racing from him. He responded with a proposal; He would make a code worth X number of entries that I could register for as many of those entries as I liked and use the rest to give to folks new to the sport.

This seemed like the ideal opportunity to give back, so I jumped on it. I had hope to time this post with the launch of HFP’s new web site and the opening of registration for their 2013 calendar, but HFP’s relaunch has been delayed a few days due to a sick web developer. So while we wait for that to happen I’ll get things started on giving away the free entries away.

Here’s how it’s going to work:

- Comment on this post with your first and last name, what triathlon experience you have, and which HFP race you expect to register for if you’re selected

- You cannot comment for anyone else, they must enter their own comment

- Provide a valid email address that I can contact you at with the registration code

- I’m looking primarily for folks who are just getting into the sport and have never competed or done just a try-a-tri type race

- I want to have decisions by 1/14/13 at the latest so I’m looking for folks willing to commit now so they have plenty of time to train properly

One Months Progress

I had a post planned for the end of last week, but I didn’t feel right posting about myself and my training with all that was going on on a national level. And the post I had written around Sandy Hook I’ve scrapped, because I’ve had plenty of that discussion going on Facebook, and I just don’t think it’s the right place for it. In other words, pardon my long absence, it wasn’t intended to be quite so long.

I started training with Coach Alan on 11/11. In the 6 weeks since then I’ve lost 12 pounds. If I hadn’t had a rough week with food last week, I’d be at 15 pounds down at this point. That’s not a complaint, merely a realistic statement of fact.

Training has slowly been picking up. I’m averaging around 6 hours of training a week right now. Most weeks Ive had between 7 and 8 hours planned, and I’ve been falling close to an hour short of plan each week, because I simply can’t sit comfortable on the trainer for an hour at a go. Even with quick stretch breaks, I’m getting too uncomfortable to stay on the bike. It’s time for a new saddle. I’ll fidget with the current one until i can get into a trial program for ISM, which I think is the direction I want to go long term. I may look at a less expensive saddle I’ve used in the past with reasonable comfort for a full season.

In the past 2 weeks, we’ve also introduced some upper body weight training, which Coach Alan wanted in, but Rachelle actually has done the design of the workouts. She’s in progress of studying for her Strength and Conditioning Coach certification, so I’ve been her guinea pigs. The workouts feel brutal to me, as someone who has never spent much time in the gym, but I definitely feel stronger from just a couple visits.

I haven’t yet started measuring various body areas per coach’s instructions but we’re going to get one of those sewing tape measures so I can do thigh, bicep, etc. dimensions so as I continue to train and weight re-distributes into muscle, we’ll be able to track that too.

Rachelle still hasn’t figured out her schedule, so aside from the 2 XTERRA races and I HOPE Timberman, everything else is back to up in the air.

Recidivist Behavior

About 10 years ago, I spent a single night in jail. I had been pulled over for speeding in what I later learned was a notorious speed trap just off a freeway exit in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, I learned a prior speeding ticket from months earlier had gone unpaid (I maintain to this day the check was sent, but evidently never arrived). Thankfully, with orchestration from my mom, a long time friend bailed me out. I had one night in there, during which nothing bad happened to me, other than I was scared the whole time, and I knew I never wanted to go back.

I wondered later how after the fist time people could ever be willing to go back to even jail, let alone prison, after just a single day. But then I think about bad habits, and how hard it is to break them. I look how many times I’ve made poor food choices, how many times I’ve skipped a workout, and how I have so many opportunities for success in my endeavors that so many others do not.

My first few weeks with Coach Alan reminded me that I can establish new habits, and that small changes can have big results. I’ve lost 10 pounds and I’m still ramping up my training, and feeling stronger. I’m incorporating weight training for the first time, and I really think it will help my swimming, and well working my core will help everything. We’re still a few months from the first race of the season, so I’m focusing on eating right as much as I am training. The focus on breakfast has really been paying off. Im eating the same amount of calories, and simply focusing on protein which has helped me to stay fuller longer. Im eating lunch an hour later than I was just a few weeks ago.

It was almost 70 degrees today here in central new york and that meant a few miles on the mountain bike outside.  Riding the MTB is just so much different than being on the road bike. It’s like a trainer ride on soft ground with more bumps.

Aside from training, we’ve been having a bunch of fun.

The first snow of the season

Stanley recovering from a jaunt in the snow in front of his heater

Our neighbor did an amazing job with their christmas tree in the front yard.

The face my niece made when she was filling her diaper while I held her.

Stanley showing some love for ER

Oh, and the raffle for Eleonore Rocks got extended until the end of the month. They’ve got stuff coming in from sponsors, and are really looking to make a difference with these funds raised, so if you have the funds, please take a moment and donate in $10 increments for your shot at prizes. 

Becoming Timberman All over again!

You could call this Becoming Timberman: Part Deux! But really since the parts and restarts on the path to a healthy lifestyle are seemingly endless, I’m saying all over again, because while there are many goals this season, chief among them, the A race of A races will be Timberman 70.3.

Now you may say “Hold on a minute! When last we left our boy wonder, he’d been all about pursuing a 140.6 finish at Rev3 Cedar Point! What happened with that? Are you chucking in the towel on Ironman distance?” And to that I say, fear not, gentle reader, for I, your fearless* blogger has no such intentions! Rather, I’ve reassessed and reorganized my goals to reach for the multitude of things I want to do.

(fearlessness has following limitations: still afraid of spiders, snakes, dying in a fire, tofu, eating apples with the skin on, and sweet potato fries)

Finishing a 140.6 is something I very much want to do, but it’s not the ONLY thing I want to do. When I first thought about tri, way back in the fall of 2008, I considered it a next best thing to racing my bike. There’s no denying that my love for the bike is what got me into multi-sport racing, and as I know I’ve said a few times, bike racing is the dream that came at the end of all the tri racing. The issue was, I kept thinking of it as a dream, instead of a goal. I kept watching races, and seeing all the skinny dudes go fast, and thinking “There just isn’t any way I’ll ever get to that.” It was impossible in my head, so no matter what the reality was , it was never going to happen unless I changed my mind and my approach.

So I did just that.

First, I got a new coach; I’m now working with Alan from, and after just a week, I’m already seeing terrific results. We’re looking at the complete picture, not just the training. Dietary changes, aside from just cutting out the garbage, have included a breakfast more focused on proteins, and smarter use of fats. I’m hydrating right, eating better and training 6 days a week, and after the first week, I’ve lost 6 pounds.

My motivation to train is much higher now that I’ve set some goals, and I’ve made some changes to support my winter training; we bought a CycleOps fluid 2 trainer, and I got the Garmin speed and cadence sensor to go with it. So on those days when it’s just too cold to be outside (which we didn’t have last year in NC), I don’t have an excuse not to be on the bike. Our gym is only 3 miles away and they have a pretty decent swim schedule both in the morning and evening. Plus the people on the roads are pretty friendly around here with lots of runners from the college and plenty of bikers on the roads, and places to ride off road as well.

So back to those goals; I’ve had the off-road bug ever since I did Landmine, and I’m going to make that part of the 2013 season. I want to race closer to home, so I’m taking into account for the year, and finally, I want to do some stuff that’s just me and the bike, and I want to push myself to do stuff that’s outside my comfort zone. So, I’m doing a cyclocross race this fall, and a 110 mile timed bike ride this summer. The schedule isn’t finalized yet, and I haven’t paid for anything either, but here’s what it looks like for next year potentially. Most of these races are either local to where we live, where we’re visiting, or at most a few hours drive.

And that’s not even getting into my 2014 goals, where I’m going to finish that first 140.6 AND do a road bike race. And I’m going to be back to blogging far more regularly.

It’s gonna be an awesome year.

2012 Smoke the Turkey 5k
2012 unknown holiday 5k
2013 Some March 5k?
XTERRA Jersey Devil
Gran Fondo New York
Syracuse 70.3/Rev3 Williamsburg
Timberman 70.3
Kirkland or Critz farms Cyclocross
Thanksgiving 5k
Holiday 5k

Putting chairs to good use and more raffle prizes

On October 30th, around 5:30 in the morning, my great niece Emelia was born. Emelia and her mother are both doing great. My whole family is doing great. There’s some fun involved too as my sister is now a GRANDMOTHER! I fully expect to make sure she’s aware of that regularly (even more regularly than being awoken by the 4 AM feedings going around her.

After Emelia was born, the beginning of a lifetime worth of pictures were taken, and these two shots were two of my favorites.

This Eleonore Rocks chair being put to good use to hold very special cargo.

This oughta keep dad busy for a while, maybe it’ll be enough time for him to finally finish the tree house in the back yard by the time she’s ready for it.

When I started fundraising for Ulman Cancer Fund via Team Fight, I had a personal connection through Rachelle’s cousin Rebecca. With Eleonore Rocks, it was just a team based in Ohio, a place I still think of as home, and a cause I believed in, but that I didn’t really have a direct connection to. Now with this happening, I just want to help even more.

So when I get the feeling of doing good by helping out, you could do the same, PLUS you could win awesome prizes. They added yet another prize to the list; Fuji (Sister company of Kestrel, and the brand I road until I got my Talon this year) has donated a lifestyle bike to the raffle. I don’t yet know what model it is yet, but it’s probably at least a $500 bike, and whatever it is, it’s going to be a heck of a nice bike. So please take a minute to look into buying tickets from my fundraising page.

Big Raffle, Big prizes, big storm, big updates!

Yes, I’ve been gone a while, but I’ve got lots to share:

- The “Frankenstorm” is pounding the east coast right now, and we’re starting to get the wind and rain. I bought a generator and we stocked up on water and peanut butter. Our electric company is a little co-op with about 18 employees and a couple weeks ago a small thunderstorm took out the power for the whole night. No power means no breathing machine. Another reason to focus on weight loss, but I digress.

- What would normally be the best news of the week is that I got asked back to be a member of Eleonore Rocks next year. I was glad to be a part of the team this year and I’m really looking forward to continuing my work helping new babies come into life or enjoy what time sick babies may have with their families.

- The “even better news” is that the annual Eleonore Rocks raffle has started. For $10 a ticket, you are entered to win these fabulous prizes!

  • 1 Blueseventy package (includes goggles, wetsuit, swimskin, cap, toe covers, race belt
  • 5 Asics backpack with gift cards for shoes
  • 1 LifeProof package (worth $800)
  • 1 All3sports care package (items TBD)
  • 1 Speedfil
  • 2 Infinit Nutrition care packages
  • 1 ISM saddle of winners choice
  • 1 Garmin 910xt
  • 1 Rudy Project Wingspan and 1 pair of Sunglasses

The raffle starts today and ends 12/1/12. To enter, go to my Eleonore Rocks fundraising page, select the “raffle” option from the drop down, and choose how many tickets you want. The raffle option is the only way to enter that gets counted for this contest.

- Finally, my favorite news of the week; my niece Abby is being induced for labor today and in the next 48 hours, I’m going to become a Great Uncle, as opposed to just a great uncle. My niece called me to tell me it was happening and as she walked into her birthing suite, she said “Uncle Ben, they have an Eleonore Rocks chair in here!” So now I have a personal connection to Eleonore Rocks beyond just my fundraising; in a few hours my great niece is going to have her first sit in a rocking chair with her mom in an ER Chair. Please help us make this experience available to many more families

The first chair my great niece will ever sit in

- I’ve started running to get ready for Smoke the Turkey 5k in Toledo. I hadn’t spent any time running in the prior two months so getting started again has been a challenge both from the motivation and physical aspects. But I’m doing it anyways. I don’t want to put on weight this winter, I want to lose weight to be ready for next years season.

- Speaking of next year, I’ve started looking into next seasons races. There are a lot I want to do, but I simply haven’t figured it out yet. A lot of neat races are starting next year plus some old ones I’ve been wanting to get back to or finally finish for the first time.

No triathlon, just trout (but you should read it anyways)

A week ago this past Sunday I was driving home from Half Full Triathlon thinking I was not going to put my legs through that kind of torture for a long time. But there I was, just a week later, standing for several hours in the Salmon river, knee deep in water flowing at just under 300 cubic feet per second, feeling it try to uproot me from my spot at the edge of a pool that’s been constantly replenishing itself with gigantic fish.

Never mind that the river had been successful once already; when we first arrived to the part of the river called “ball park” (Sections of rivers get nicknames for landmarks nearby) I learned how invaluable my guide was going to be. I had ignored his warnings that having spikes would help me to feel more stable on the more slippery spots where we were likely to have the best luck; I’d fished a bunch at Oriskany Creek and a little on the West Canada, I figured I’d be all set. Then I got out there, and I’m sliding around, and when trying to take a step I lost my balance and wind up on my side in the water. My guide Jim helped me out, and I realized my balance wasn’t the only thing I lost, my pole was gone.

It’s funny that my first day out on a creek I fell, and my first day on a real river I fell. I guess I learn stuff the hard way. Jim had brought a spare pole to account for just such a tragedy, and after renting some corkers (spikes that strap onto fishing boots to stop you from slipping) and a dry t shirt, we visited some other areas of the river. I wish I had taken pictures, it looked every bit what you think salmon run fishing looks like; guys (and a few gals) all along the river, fishing throughout the rain, hoping for that one big one to hit their artificial fly. We tried a few different spots, but none of them were really active. It gave me a chance to build up my confidence which was good because Jim wanted me to give ball park another try now that i had the spikes.

When we got back to ball park, we approached the spot Jim had identified from our first visit. Spikes make fishing in a fast moving river feel so much safer. Jim made good calls all day long, none better than the pool he had identified. Within a few minutes of setting up on the pool, I got my first hit. I didn’t set the hook hard, so that fish and the next couple of hits that followed weren’t on the line very long. I soon got the hang of it though and the next couple of fish on the line were protracted battles. One even ran upstream, a big king salmon that I thought I might have a shot at (fish that run upstream tire faster) but it wrapped the line around a rock before changing directions and breaking the line.

I was having fun, even without pulling in a fish, but fearing I might go away unhappy, and this being his maiden voyage as a guide, he wanted to make sure I didn’t. I think the guide buddy he’d been checking in with throughout the day had been filling his head with horror stories of customers who wanted only to reel in the big one, no matter what. Me, I’d gotten past a fall, wet clothes, a rainy trip, a lost fly pole, really cold feet, and learning a whole lot in about 6 hours; I was happy just to be still fishing. Jim though, wanted to up our odds a bit, replacing our tippet (the end of the line) with some stronger material. The risk in this is, is that the fish can see the thicker line more easily, meaning fewer hits. But when those hits happen, your odds to keep the fish go up a bit.

And that’s just what happened. My second cast after the line change my fly stopped drifting almost right away. A hard tug, and I had a steelhead on the line and about a foot in the air. This wasn’t nearly my biggest jump of the day (I had a King Salmon that I think was trying to match Felix Baumgertner’s ascent from the other day; you should have seen the look on my face), but I knew I had this one good. After an initial quick fight, I put a little stress on her; she ran, and she ran hard. In about 10 seconds she went about 200 feet downstream, but I still had her. Watching a fish move that fast, and feel that much pull on a fly pole is something to behold. That’s when Jim started walking me down stream as a I slowly reeled her in.

It’s strange the way things on the river work; when someone hooks a fish the people between you and your fish stop what they’re doing and get out of the way. It reminds me a lot of triathlon race day; everyone wants to win, and while they’ll be jealous of the people who are winning, they also want to help each other out. As I took my cautious steps down the river, several other men made way and encouraged me. Jim was in my ear making sure I was taking safe steps (he was more nervous than I was after I fell earlier in the day), and making sure I was doing the right thing with the fly rod to keep tension without breaking the line. In fact, it was another angler who was my net man on the steelie in question when I pulled her in. I really couldn’t tell you who was more excited, but it might have been Jim. I loved the whole day, and catching my first trout, a mammoth 28 inch steelhead was a huge thing, I was thrilled. I felt like a real fisherman for the first time in my life.