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Sunday, May 8, 2011

A long overdue return

So it's been over a year since my last post, and I finally decided to sit down a write up a long overdue update on what I've been up to. In the last year I have had my best ever finish in an Ironman 70.3 event (10th in AG at Vineman 70.3), ran a new marathon PR (3:07 in Long Beach), qualified for and raced in the Boston Marathon (3:14), had my best overall result in a triathlon (AG victory at Desert International Tri), gotten a job teaching high school Biology and Physics, and gotten engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world. I won't bore you with all the details of the last year, but here are some of the highlights in pictures:
This is the start of the run in Vineman. I came off the bike a couple minutes ahead of a friend that everyone calls "Fast Brian". He got that name because of his insane running ability, and I got a first hand view of that as he ran by me at around mile 1.5 and disappeared into the distance. I still managed 10th in my age group, but I immediately knew that any hopes of finishing higher up in my age group would require some increased running speed. I had also signed up for Ironman Coeur d'alene 2011 and really wanted to do well there. Thus began the late summer/fall training regimen for the Long Beach marathon. I gave up biking and swimming for a while to focus on my running and ended up posting a 3:07 in Long Beach, good enough to qualify for Boston. Kindra and some friends of ours also qualified for Boston, so I signed up and made the commitment to run in another open marathon - but more on that later. Fast forward to March 6, 2011 and the Desert International Triathlon. I had done ok at this race last year, finishing 5th in my age group despite a nasty cold/flu/swine flu so I knew I had a shot at doing well. My fitness over the winter had gone way up, so I knew anything less than a podium would be a disappointment. I got out of the water 3rd in my group, off the bike in 2nd, and actually RAN my way to an age group win....yes, RAN!! I didn't have the fastest split, but it was fast enough to take my first ever podium - on the top step.
looking like a runner

35-39 Age group winner

Next up after the Desert Tri was Boston. Now I forgot to mention earlier that not only was I planning on doing Boston, but I had also signed up for the Wildflower triathlon, which was only 12 days after the marathon.....yes, 12 days. You may be saying to yourself, "that does not sound like a good idea", and many would agree with you, maybe even me, but what the heck, I was going to go for it. After all, what doesn't kill you........usually only results in a short hospital stay, right? Anyhow, long story short, my plan for Boston was to run easy and controlled - don't empty the tank before Wildflower. I planned on training right through Boston with the goal of the year being Coeur d'alene. I ended up with a 3:14 and change, which I was really happy with. Especially considering that the weekend before I rode my bike 100 miles and ran 20 - not the ideal taper for a marathon. Boston is an amazing race and the people/course are out of this world. For any runner, if you haven't raced Boston, you NEED to run that race, it will change your life.
Julie, Kindra and I pre-race in Boston
With Boston in the books, it was time for Wildflower. This was the first race I did in 2008 after recovering from my broken back, and I had ALMOST forgotten just how tough of a race it was. I knew I wasn't going to be as fresh as I'd like, but I had two goals for this race - sub 5 hours and top 15 in my age group. From the moment I got out of the water and onto the bike, I knew both goals were in jeopardy of not being met. I had no energy and there was a killer headwind. As I watched a parade of my friends pass me at 8, 22, and 42 miles, I just put my head down and kept going. When I finally reached the end of the bike, I knew a very tough half marathon lay ahead of me. But as my good friend Steve says, I just zipped up my mansuit and set about running. To my surprise, the first three miles went surprisingly well, all sub-7 minutes. But at mile 4, this all changed, with horrific leg cramps that brought me to a literal standstill. I couldn't move, not even walk, without both legs seizing up. After a minute or two of panic, I ate a few salt pills, stretched things out, and limped to the next aid station. I drank my fill of water and gatorade and started back out. Again to my surprise, my legs came back and actually stayed with me to the end, even posting a respectable 1:36:00 on a very hilly course. As I rounded the final turn on the course, I saw the clock - 4:59 and counting. I rallied the last bit of strength in my legs and legged it out to come in under 5 hours. When I checked the results, I was 14th in my age group....both goals accomplished!!
The final few steps
Well, Wildflower is over now and I only have one race in my sights now, IM Coeur d'alene on June 26. I've hit all my goals for the year so far, but now the biggest and toughest stands in front of me, a qualifying spot for the Ironman World Championships in Kona on the big island of Hawaii. It's going to take the race of my life to get it, but I know deep down that its there, I just need to make it happen. It's been a lot of hard work, training while being a first year teacher(which has been one of the hardest things I've done yet), but I have the best support a person could ask for.

I've saved the best and most important news for last. This year I asked the most wonderful woman in the world to be my wife and she said yes! Kindra has been the best thing to come into my life ever, and she has been my biggest supporter. When things at school get tough, I know she is there to listen and offer advice. When I am tired and don't want to train, she's there to give me a gentle nudge out the door and tell me to just do my best. When I'm racing and feel like I can't go on, she somehow comes out of nowhere to shout encouragement and tell me she's proud of me. She is my best friend and none of this could have been possible without her. Thank you Kindra for being the best part of my life and supporting me through all of the craziness, I hope you know just how much I love you.
Me and the girl I love
Well, that's it for now. There's a lot of exciting things coming up in the next few months and I'll do my best to keep the posts coming. Thanks to all my great friends for making this last year so awesome. I know we have many more ahead of us!!! Now get away from the computer and go do something fun!!!!

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