Saturday, June 24, 2017

It's Not a Big Deal

I wrote in the recap for last weekend's Patriot Half that it wasn't as tough as I'd expected. Two weeks ago, I rode 70 miles and wrote a whole post about it. I was like, that's far! Today I rode 80 miles and it just.... wasn't that bad. I mean, it was still hard. There were huge hills (2800 feet of elevation!). There was wind. The road was wet when I started and it got pretty hot later on.

In terms of the time spent, though, 5+ hours suddenly doesn't seem that onerous. Apparently I'm getting used to it.

The same thing happened when I started running. Early on, 20 mile training runs seemed crazy. Now a marathon doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. When I first started swimming, I hated it. Now I  actually enjoy it, especially in open water. And while I didn't hate biking, I definitely wasn't looking forward to the really long rides. But now they seem doable.

Of course, training is still hard. It's still a lot of work. I'm not trying to dismiss people who train like crazy. And the truth is, I don't train as hard as I should, for reasons I mentioned in my last post. The volume though is pretty much there. I may neglect speed work, but I still want to be sure I can finish the Ironman.

Maybe it is a big deal and my brain just blocks out the memory...

My point is that anyone can do it, even a slacker like me. A lot of folks would look at my workouts and think they're ridiculous, that they could never do that. They can. They totally can. That's the whole point of a training plan: To work you up to that volume gradually, so that you get used to it.

You don't jump on a bicycle for the first time and ride 80 miles. You'd kill yourself. But you can do 10. And then 20. And then 30. And so on. Your decision about whether or not to try to do a triathlon, or a marathon, or whatever goal you have in mind, shouldn't be based on whether or not you think you can do it. You can. It's a matter of time, and desire, and not breaking a foot (and all the other real life obstacles).

Of course, very few people make that choice. It is scary! It's intimidating as heck! And it requires a great deal of self-sacrifice. I won't lie to you about that. And even though I say "it's not a big deal", it totally is with regards to the impact it has on your life.

There are some negative impacts. You have less time for your friends and family. You're often exhausted. You don't have energy to go out or devote yourself as much to other hobbies. Your whole life becomes training.

"What did I do today? Oh not much."

But the positive impacts are amazing. There's the obvious benefits to your health and long life. But the most important benefit is the massive amount of pride you develop for yourself. And the confidence you develop to not only train hard, but to take on any of life's challenges. And you make new friends, ones who are as crazy as you. But also ones who are driven and have an unmatched zeal for life. And that zeal is infectious.

I think it's well worth the sacrifice. Staying out late and drinking, or doing macro photography of a stinkbug, or sitting for three hours in a movie theater don't deliver nearly the high that crossing the finish line after almost 6 hours of pain and sweat does. And I can only imagine the high I'll experience when I cross the finish line at a full Ironman. I'll probably feel like I can conquer worlds after that.

So, actually, it is a big deal. It's a big deal on your life. But that 5 hour workout? Not a big deal. Don't let that scare you away from doing something truly amazing. Because you can do it. You have that strength. It's just a matter of wanting it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Patriot Half 2017

I'm not sure how to feel about yesterday's Patriot Half. Sometimes when I write these race reports I make myself sound larger than life, bouncing from one epic adventure to another. With this particular triathlon though, I oscillate between being amazed at my accomplishment... and with being disappointed with my performance.

I didn't take my training seriously enough when I signed up for this summer of Ironmans. Or rather, I didn't think about the kind of training that would be required to do well. Meghan and Geoffrey signed up, so I signed up. Part of it was ego. If they can do it, then I can too, right? The other part was just... adventure. I often sign up for races spontaneously. I did three back to back marathons at the end of last year.

There's a more subtle reason for that. If I sign up for a race at the last minute, for "fun", then I have an excuse for not doing well. I don't have enough time to train properly, or I'm not recovered from my previous race. If I sign up for something a year ahead of time, I don't have that excuse. I have to accept the work that goes into the training, work my butt off, and accept the results. What I did in the race was all me.

For my first half ironman, I didn't do badly. I finished in under 6 hours. And at the risk of sounding like an a$$hole, it was easier than I expected. But then that's the point of your training. If you do it right, the race itself should just feel like the last workout, albeit a longer one. I only decided that I didn't do that well after seeing the results. Maybe that was my mistake!

I felt good in the swim. I used to hate swimming, and I was terrible at it. Now I actually enjoy it, and I can manage an almost-average pace for 1.2 miles. I went faster than I expected in the bike and felt solid the whole time. Partly that was because I got a brand new seat and Geoffrey put it on for me at 10pm the night before the race. I can't overstate how awesome the seat is and how much more powerful I felt because of it. And of course my run was great as always: The one thing I'm good at.

Thanks Aria for this pic!

The disappointment is that despite feeling strong 100% of the race and finishing strong, I was still slow. But that's a result of my training. I focus too much on burning calories, and skip out on the speed work I need. I have the endurance, and my body is made of solid concrete, but the speed just isn't there. Despite how that sounds, I don't really say that with guilt. I know this about myself. My goal was never to be super fast. It was to be able to say that I've done something that very few people would even consider trying.

I need to write this post. It's how I think things through. I only started to feel bad about myself when I saw the results. Out of 600 finishers (about 800 competitors total), I finished 499th in the swim, 452nd in the bike, and 52nd in the run overall. But I was in the top 50th% total time (probably thanks to the run). But I can't care about that now if I never cared about it before.  That's just silly.

My training for this has been endurance. Doing all of the things without gassing out. And in that I succeeded, while satisfying the second benefit of keeping my figure trim to satisfy my absurd vanity. I know my priorities are whacky, and that I squander my potential. But I've mentioned before that the most important aspect of training is to do it in such a way that it's sustainable. I have to do in such a way that I can keep going without burning out. And in that I've succeeded as well.

And of course, I've learned a lot from the training and from this race. And it motivates me. This experience is the sort of thing that gets me excited to change my priorities, to take my potential more seriously, and to look at the kind of work it would take to not just finish, but to excel. And I'm not done yet. This was only the first half. I still have Musselman and Mont Tremblant. I have a couple months of training left. I can't expect myself to be a champion the first time around. I've never been a swimmer or biker, and to finish a half-ironman.... that's pretty awesome.

I'm happy about that. See? Writing this post has helped. I feel a lot better now. It was pretty epic. And boy did I gobble up a lot of other competitors on the run. I was flying.

I've written this much and have said nothing about the actual race. Part of it - and Meghan mentioned this in the car too - is that nothing really crazy, funny, or adventurous happened. But let me churn through my meager brain cells and see what I can remember.

I got no sleep Thursday night. Geoffrey and I left really early to get to MA. I got no sleep Friday night either. After getting our bibs, getting our swim at the Y (the lake swim was closed at Long Pond) having a late dinner, and then doing last minute race prep, we didn't get to bed until 11pm. And we were up at 3:30am the next morning.

And it was pouring. The rain was torrential. The whole day Friday and all of Saturday morning it rained. We stumbled around in the dark, water smashing the roof, not feeling very excited. We were exhausted and stressed with anxiety. And we were worried the swim would be canceled. But we've all done countless races. We can get up, get ready, and get going purely on autopilot. And we did. We got to Cathedral Camp a bit late, but with enough time.

We set up our transition areas in the rain. We got our ankle bracelets and body markings in the rain. We put on our wetsuits in the rain. Then, miraculously, right at the beginning of the race, it stopped. It was supposed to rain all morning, maybe even thunderstorm. Instead, by about 7am when the race started, the rain just stopped. That helped the mood a lot. Suddenly I was excited!

Not much to say about the race itself. It was very pretty. And it was long. Very long. Although the brain has that strange power to ignore that sort of stuff after the fact. The volunteers were truly amazing. The race was exceptionally well organized. The people who made it all come together were awesome. And getting the medal at the end of almost 6 hours of exercise was an incredible feeling.

I have to thank Geoffrey and Meghan for being part of this incredible adventure. I wouldn't have even tried it if it wasn't for them, and sharing in the experience with them made it that much better. Geoffrey's daughter Aria was there, cheerfully supporting us throughout the entire time, and she made things much more fun as well. Meghan's family was amazingly generous and stuffed with us with food after the race. All the humans involved in this weekend were incredible, truly.

As always, that's what it comes back to for me: The people. I always seem to mention them at the end of my posts, and I realize they're the reason that it's all worth it. The friendship, the shared suffering, the respect, the love. We are all brothers and sisters in the craziness of life. And the people in my life have chosen to push themselves past the breaking point, and they inspire me to do the same. It makes us stronger as individuals, and makes the connection we share stronger as well.

Life is pain. But when you embrace that pain, you discover how much strength and beauty comes out of it.

That's what I typed out in the car on our way back from MA while Geoffrey drove. He had his own thoughts regarding the race..... It's not really appropriate for me to say what they are, good or bad. I hope he writes his own post. From my perspective, I was blown away by what he did. I look up to him with regards to training. His dedication far exceeds my own. He's also very hard on himself. That part I get.

The training is what makes us physically, mentally, and spiritually stronger. It's really easy to focus on the results of the race. But it's just a few hours out of the year. Of course we want to do well. And of course we're going to over-analyze the results. But it barely defines us. I've had karate tournaments where I did well, and many more where I didn't. But either way, my Sensei, my students, and their families respected me and appreciated me. The same is true with running, triathlons, and just about everything.

Meghan kicked huge amounts of butt and did super well. But that doesn't surprise me. She's in a whole different league of epicness.

The long car rides there and back gave me lots of time to be pensive. Training for and running marathons - and now training for and doing triathlons - is an escape for me. An escape from life. I wasn't happy with myself, and training gave me something to strive for and something to be proud off. But I'm isolated. I love the people I've met, but I don't see them nearly often enough.

I've been thinking a lot about the future. About trying to find a balance that lets me keep training, but also lets me enjoy other parts of life. Listening to music, taking photos, spending time with people that aren't necessarily maniacal athletes. Maybe even drinking again, if I can avoid the mistakes of the past. I'm not really sure yet, but I can't ignore these things.

I push myself every day to be a better person, but better for what? Any time I feel down, I go out for a run, or a bike ride, or whatever. It's become a replacement drug. Is that healthier than what I used to do? Is it sustainable?

I'm excited for my other races this season. Those are going to be amazing adventures. But I'm also excited about being done. About sitting down and making new plans. Change is scary, but it's also an opportunity. The Patriot Half wasn't the end of a long road. It was just the beginning. I accomplished something that just a year ago would've seemed ridiculous. And that gives me hope that all of life's challenges only seem challenging in my own head.

With enough dedication, anything can be accomplished.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Long Ride

I've started writing my posts on Saturdays lately. I used to write them in the middle of the week, so folks could read them instead of monotonously pressing buttons. I think most of us have jobs that require the pressing of buttons. It doesn't quite have the same glory as slaying woolly mammoths, or skinning woolly mammoths, or cooking woolly mammoths.

I don't really know what people used to do.

But now that race season is here, I like to write thrilling and/or hilarious race reports. I didn't have a race today. But I did bicycle 70 miles. Most serious cyclists and triathletes have probably done this, like, a million times. But this is only the third time I've ever ridden this far, and the first time this year.
If it's not on Garmin, it didn't happen!

Not everyone is a super-turbo champ. Some folks may appreciate reading about the experience from someone who's still pretty new to triathlons and cycling and all that junk. Geoffrey spends hours every night on his bicycle. I'm pretty sure he's gotten it so it can transform into a fighter jet or a bazooka. Not USAT legal, but still pretty cool.

My bike is covered in rust and makes all sorts of noises. Before our first outdoor tri, Geoffrey said, "hey, your bike was literally about to break in half, which would have caused you serious bodily grievance. I fixed it." (Not his precise words, but close). I said, "oh, uhh, thanks!"

Which means I won't be writing a post about flying off a bicycle going 20mph. Sorry.

Given my lack of experience with all bike-things, I'm pretty nervous about the biking portion of the upcoming Ironman. The swimming I'm comfortable with, especially with a buoyant wetsuit that basically makes it impossible to drown. And running... I can run a marathon at the drop of a hat. But my training on the bicycle has been crap.

So I decided I needed to go really far. Also, my bike ride ended up obscenely hilly, but that's a good thing (now that I'm done with it). I needed to know that I could do it without blowing up. It was painful. It was hard. It was pitifully slow. But I did it. I even ran a 5k transition run afterwards, and my legs still functioned.
Those hills were absurd. And stupid. And awful.

In order to make the 5 hour ride more palatable, I decided to have a delicious destination at the halfway point. I picked Glenwood Pines, a fantastic restaurant I haven't been to in years. They've won Burger of the Year... a lot. I don't eat burgers, but I eat their other things. Instead of bringing food with me, I'd stop halfway, eat, and then bike back. Genius!

I started bright and early at the crack of 10am. Here's the breakdown of my ride by 5 mile segments.

Miles 0-5: This was terrible. My whole body hurt. I was riding into a headwind (which, hopefully, would be a tailwind on my second half). I had to keep stopping for traffic lights and dodging trucks. Barely a few minutes in, I was already thinking, "can I scrap this and do it tomorrow instead?" My body really didn't want to cooperate. I said screw you body and kept going. The first few miles are often the worst.

Miles 5-10: Why are the first few miles the worst? Because it takes a while for fat metabolism to kick in. And the endorphins, they take longer on the bike because you're not going as hard as a run or a lift. So I still felt like trash. The road was reasonably flat, with a few rolling hills. But I was tired. And I kept struggling against the wind. I had to force myself to not push too hard, despite my terrible speed. I had a loooong way to go. At the end of this stretch, I entered the first town I'd pass (the downhill in was nice). They had a dairy festival going on. Great.

Miles 10-15: Getting out of that town was a not-trivial hill. I know about that hill. I was ready for it. What I always forget is that there are still rolling hills after it. I passed what once was my favorite brewery on this stretch (still is, I suppose). It was too early for it to be open. I don't drink anymore, but it's probably still a good thing. My body was finally starting to kick into gear. I wasn't regretting this decision quite as much.
At least I can pretend to not
regret my decisions.

Miles 15-20: I was approaching Ithaca, the next city I'd be passing through. I'd broken the ride up into mini-goals, which helped. I was getting closer and that amped me up. Also, I knew I'd get to ride down a massive hill. It was about a 700ft drop. Crazy! I was excited. Not as excited about riding back up it on the return trip. But at that point I'd have no choice. I'm evil (to myself).

Miles 20-25: Weeeeeeeeeeeee..........!!! I coasted for over 2 miles. I hit about 40mph, even with a headwind. It felt incredible. Of course, riding this particular stretch of road is actually illegal for bicycles. But at least two cops passed me. They didn't give a $hit, and neither did I! Weeeeeee. Then I hit Ithaca and had to put on the brakes with the crazy traffic. Bummer. Then I got out and had to start riding up hill on the other side of the lake. Eep.

Miles 25-30: Hills hills hills. Not too bad though because I had a bit of a tailwind, or at least it wasn't a head wind. My body was feeling pretty decent by now, although I was barely a third done. I tried not to think about that. I passed my destination at mile 28.5. Cr@p, it was closer than I'd thought. I was going to have to keep going, and turn around and stop on my way back. Sigh.

Miles 30-35: I just kept thinking about food. Food food food. I just had to do this little out and back and then I'd get to EAT. Nevermind that it was 13 miles. Don't think about that. This stretch had a surprising amount of downhills. Spoiler alert, this was awful on the way back. The last mile before I got to turn around was a gnarly hill. Gah! I tried to push up it, but my legs just wouldn't cooperate. I just sat back and resigned myself to slowly peddling on the lowest gear.

Miles 35-40: I got really close to my friend's winery, which would have been a fun halfway point, but I turned around just shy of it. I got to ride that big hill down, which was nice. I dreamed of greasy food and felt happy. Then I hit all those hills again. I did not remember them being so long and so plentiful. This stretch was harsh. Eyes on the prize. I'm almost there. My body hurt. I pointedly did not think that I had almost 30 miles to go after I ate.

Miles 40-45: I stopped at 42. I ate. And it was incredible. I got a haddock sandwich and onion rings. And lots of ice water with lemons. It was the best meal I've ever eaten. The nice bartender refilled my water bottle for me with icy water. I meant to take a picture of the lake from here and completely forgot.
So here's a totally different picture
of a totally different lake.

Starting back up.... sucked. It was like starting over from scratch, except my belly was full and my legs were shot. It was really hard. I mean, I needed to eat, and I would have suffered even worse later if I hadn't. But still. This part was hard. All hills.

Miles 45-50: The hill down into Ithaca was too brief. The traffic wasn't as bad. And then. That hill. Three miles up the most massive hill I've ever ridden. My pace got down to 5.7mph. I could've run up the hill faster. It took an obscenely long time to get up the hill. It was a torturous slog the entire time. No happy thoughts here. Just slow, painful pedaling. I hated myself for tricking myself into doing this hill. #worthit?

Miles 50-55: I finally finished climbing the hill. But I was dead. I told myself I was on the home stretch. The worst was behind me. But there were still a lot of rolling hills left. But it didn't matter. Unless my bike exploded or I got hit by a car, I wasn't calling for a rescue. I just had to finish. My anguish didn't matter. This is the "benefit" of an out-and-back ride. You're locked in for that second half. Awesome.

Miles 55-60: I had a tailwind, finally. But I was so tired it barely helped my speed. I finally got to ride down the hill into that first town. Finally. After this it was just homeward. The dairy thing was mostly done. I had to stop at an intersection here. I almost missed the pole I was going to lean on. It bent precariously under my weight. I tried to avoid pulling my feet out of the cages if I could.

Miles 60-65: Uphill to get out of the town. Not a super bad hill, normally. But every hill I was hitting now, I was on the lowest gear. There was going to be no epic finish here. But once I got to the top, I felt better, knowing how little I had left to go. I actually felt really good. Not physically, but you know. At the end of this stretch, I could see my hometown. Woohoo!

Miles 65-70: This was it! This was the only portion of the trip that was completely flat, and I took full advantage of it. I flew into town averaging over 21mph. Why couldn't the whole ride have been like this? I pushed like crazy. I was so close! It felt amazing. I was actually grinning. I was ecstatic. And then, I hit 70.

Boom. Done.

I hit my watch. I rode the last half mile home very lazily. I can't overstate how happy I was. I'd survived. That distance. Those hills. The self-doubt. All of it, gone in a wisp. I. was. DONE.

Run: Just kidding! I got off my bike and ran a 5k. Zero thought behind this. Just autopilot. You bike, then you transition. It's just how it is. My legs felt OK on the run, actually. Then I was actually done. I took a cold shower, lay down flat for a while, then went and got a bunch of food.

I could recap some lessons from this, but I think you can glean them for yourself. I'll say though, that after this ride, I feel a lot better about the Ironman. I still have training to go, and a couple half-Ironmans in between. But I feel better about the whole thing. I won't be fast, but I'll finish. And I'll have that darn 140.6 decal on my car like all the other d0uchebags!

I lost a LOT of weight on today's ride...

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cooperstown Triathlon (Almost Killed Me)

This is my fourth post with "Almost Killed Me" in the title. I just counted. I thought there were more! But seriously. There were so many scenarios today in which I could have, like, seriously died.

You guys. Like. For real.

Geoffrey and I have been sober for precisely one year today. Here's my post when I decided to quit, written 6-3-2016: I've Had My Last Drink. And we celebrated by running a triathlon in Cooperstown, NY. That's not the reason I signed up for it, but I'm glad it worked out this way. I could not have picked a better way to honor one year of sobriety.

Here's how I actually signed up for it. I Googled New York State triathlons and picked the first one this season. I excitedly told Geoffrey, dude, I found us a tri the first weekend in June! He stared at me. Then he said, "I know, I told you about it a month ago."

He totally, totally did. And I had completely forgotten about it.

Last night, Friday, I had planned on going to bed super early. My alarm was set for 3:15am. I naively thought, "hey, I can totally get 8 hours of sleep!" Hahaha. Instead I stayed up late, reading a book I just got recently (The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson). Totally addicted. I finally went to bed some time after 9.

At 11 I was woken up by a TXT. That's not right. My phone automatically goes on Do Not Disturb after 10. Did I really... just, stay up that late? I'm so dumb. Anyway. It was a TXT from Geoffrey. He had gone to a concert where his son performed (his son is an awesome singer, and apparently a bada$$ stage performer too). The TXT said he was flaking on the tri. I went to sleep.

My alarm rang and I got up in the middle of the night. I eventually trudged downstairs looking for coffee. And there was Geoffrey, bouncing around like the Swedish Chef. Apparently three hours of sleep is totally enough to run a triathlon. I'm down with that. I'm pretty sure he and I have both run a marathon on only that much sleep. Which marathon was it, that we stayed up till 2am drinking then got up and ran an epic marathon? Oh, right, most of them.

Clean and sober you guys!

We packed all our $hit and left the house about 4am. After half an hour, Geoffrey reclined the passenger seat and went back to sleep. So I'm driving by myself, tired, for 2 hours, on roads I'm unfamiliar with. Most of the roads were marked as 55, but they were full of twists and turns and hills. And covered with deer. I mean, these roads were, just, swarming with creatures.

So, we almost died before we even got there. Lucky for Geoffrey, he slept through that part.

We got there and did all the things. Got our bibs, hit the bathrooms, set up our staging areas, hit the bathrooms, got our timing chips and some coffee, changed (hey, since I'm already in the bathroom...), put on our wetsuits. Of course, immediately after putting on my wetsuit, I had to pee. A lot. I did not take it off to pee. Let your imagination run wild on how I resolved that situation.

Did I mention it was cold? Really cold. On the drive, it was 37 degrees, 40 when we got there. I had to sit in my car and run the heat for a while before putting on my wetsuit. It was super cold. We had to swim in a cold lake. Then, soaked, we had to bike in crazy wind. And then run with zero feeling in our bodies. That was the outlook at the start of the race.

Before we even began, the race coordinator offered for folks to skip the swim and just bike and run. Several very intelligent people took him up on that. I'm not smart. I stayed.

Maybe you're not a triathlete. Let me tell you what happens when you swim in cold water. You can't breathe. One. In case you've never swam before, breathing is way critical. Your limbs get paralyzed. Two. It's like swimming with four baseball bats attached to your torso. Not great for your stroke. Your exposed flesh gets downright hypothermic. Three. I kept lifting my face up to "sight". But really, I just couldn't feel my face.

Oh, and all that can make your body freak out and you drown. So, almost death. Again. The race man had told us we could just swim from kayak to kayak. That's 100% legit per USAT rules. It's nice, but not very encouraging.

"Guys! You don't have to swim in this awful water! Really, you don't! But if you're super crazy, you can just go from kayak to kayak! And if you flounder and start drowning, we'll totally try to save you!"

I won't lie. It was awesome. And I swam my fastest ever.

We took forever in transition. Our bodies would not cooperate at all. Taking of the wetsuit is always rough, but try doing it with non-functional digits. My shoes were impossible to put on. And then I put on as much clothing as I had brought to the staging area. After several hours, I left the staging area and started biking!
This staging area

The ride was beautiful, but hilly. It was two loops. And it was uphill the entire time. Seriously. The entire time it was uphill. And the wind! I'm not sure what direction it was coming from, but it was always a headwind. No lie. I had zero feeling in my feet the entire time. I realize this post is loaded with hyperbole. But that thing is 100% true. I could feel precisely one pinky toe. That was it. Apparently Geoffrey couldn't feel any part of his legs.

We talked about this in the car on the way back, about how weird it is to bicycle when your body gives you no feedback on how hard you're working. Geoffrey had his power meter and heart rate monitor to give him that feedback. I had my rage and Russian stubbornness.

And to stick to the theme of the post, I totally could have fallen and died. Or at least gotten maimed. Probably by a passing deer.

And the run! The run is the one thing I'm good at. I've gotten my swimming up to "average" (which actually makes me happy). My biking is still slow. But running! Kapow. I nuked the run. But I had no sensation in my feet at all. One of Geoffrey's buddies, Joe, who was there too, described it as running with balled up socks in your shoes. That's what it felt like. The sensation returned to my feet in patches. So it felt like there was something in my shoe the whole time.

Of course, I wore my minimalist shoes, and without any tactile feedback, any errant rock could have killed me (ok, maybe not). The run was also two loops, with a huge hill that we had to do twice. I smoked that hill and averaged 6:49 for the whole 5k. Don't ask me my speed on the other two portions.

Geoffrey got third in his division and got a pint glass, which smashed to pieces thanks to the wind (really for serious). I don't know how I did because the timing company screwed up. But I felt good! On our way home, Geoffrey fell asleep again. I drove recklessly, half-asleep myself. I'm surprised the many rumble strips I hit didn't wake Geoffrey up.

All that makes it sound like it was a miserable experience. It was amazing. It was a perfect first tri of the season. As I mentioned to Geoffrey, we got the brutal race out of the way, so that we'd have "good race karma" going forward.  I loved the challenge. The feeling of crossing the finish line was incomparable. Our medals were truly earned.

Ironman training is intense. It's just month after month of exhausting work. The Cooperstown triathlon reminded me why we do all that hard work. It's one of the funnest and awesomest things you can ever do. The natural high you get from it.... Well worth the risk of death. I would absolutely do it again. Frozen water, suicidal deer, and all.

Geoffrey and I have suffered through that together. Battling our personal demons. Making the decision to quit drinking to exorcise those demons. And then striving to become better people via exercise (see what I did there? Homonym for the win!). And after a year of brutal self-purification, we rewarded ourselves.... with a brutal race.

Today's race reminded us how strong we are. What we are capable of. Why we do what we do. How much we are capable of. I only wish I could confer that empowering sense of pride to all the other folks in the world who struggle and suffer. But maybe a few will read this and turn onto that difficult road. Because the reward at the end of that road is glorious.

Thank-you for reading!
Well worth the almost-death!