Run for Your Life!

Every once in a while, somebody will ask me what made me get into triathlons.  Sometimes it seems quite clear, other times it’s not so clear.  The short answer: I fear the numbers 45 and 49.

So what’s in a number?

The number is the age my father was when he had a heart attack.  I was fifteen years old and had the unfortunate experience to witness every physical struggle my father went through during his heart attack.

It was a summer day and we were at my grandmother’s summer house at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.  It was warm and the sun was still out but he and I went down to cover up our speed boat on the dock.  As he and I worked to get the boat covered, he backed off and said that he thought I could handle the rest on my own.

As we walked the dock to get back to shore, he began to wring his arm and massage it.  He began complaining about it hurting more and more.  Then he softly and quite modestly told me to get help, sat down on the massive rock sitting on the shoreline, and began to weep.  In the 15 years prior, I only saw my father cry once.  That was when my grandfather, my mom’s dad, passed away.  Seeing the man who you idolize weep like a small child is heartbreaking and devastating.  Being a child and not having a clue how to make it better is even tougher.

(And as a type this, it breaks my heart to realize that I’ve cried in front of my children and made them feel the exact same way.  I won’t go into the “why” details but I am sentimental sap.  God bless, my oldest daughter.  When I have done it in front her, she has simply walked up to me, rubbed my back with her head on my arm, and has a silent tear of her own rolling down her cheek.)

After getting my mother and grandmother to help, we all jumped in the car and went to the hospital.  I remember sitting in the back seat with him and watching him cry.  I always thought, knowing how he is, he was crying in shame.  Since I now have kids, I know that was not at the case.  His crying was simply to live.  It’s not the selfish kind of wanting to live.  He didn’t want to live because of himself.  He wanted to live for his family.  He wanted to live for his wife and kids.  He wanted to live… for me.

The stay at the hospital in Maryland is very blurry now.  However, I do remember riding in the ambulance with him going around 90 mph with the lights and sirens blazing.  I got to ride in the ambulance, not because of support of my father, not for fun, but I was actually responsible for giving the directions to the ambulance driver.  Keep in mind, in 1990 there weren’t GPS like there is now.  Looking back, I’m sure they could have used a map but for whatever reason, they didn’t have one.  Yep, at 15, I was responsible for giving directions to the ambulance driver to get my father who was in Intensive Care to a hospital as quickly as possible.

The stay in Johnstown, PA is even more of a blur.  Those few days, I spent living with a friend.  I do remember, the whole reason I had to stay with his family was because we had soccer practices starting up for school.  After a stress test, they decided my father needed to have bypass surgery.  They gave him the option of having it done in Johnstown but he decided he preferred to be operated on by the world renowned McGovern team.  So they transferred him there.

After he transferred to Pittsburgh, they began tests on him again.  They had to do a heart cath on him.  I vividly remember the surgeon explaining all the details of the operation and saying there was a one in 7,000 chance of something going wrong and he’s never had anything happen before.  Well, lucky for everyone else, my dad set the odds for 6,999 other people.  He ended up having a mini stroke.  Once again, I got to witness the man I admire more than anyone in the world weep due to his embarrassment of not being able to speak properly and drooling on himself.  Thankfully, it was very mild and temporary but a moment I will never forget.

My dad ended up having the bypass completed and recovered fully.

I always joked and said that my dad would die before he quit teaching.  Well, he almost did just that.  In 2005, my father was three days away from retiring from 32 years of teaching.  He began suffering the shortness of breath, tiredness, and other symptoms that come with a heart attack but recognize them before it occurred.  Once again, he went to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and had stints put in.

When I got the news that he was admitted, I jumped on a plane and flew from Orlando to Pittsburgh.  I essentially took over the “manly” duties of the house and drove my mom to and from the hospital.

Coincidentally, I had just quit smoking that week.  I had just started taking Wellbutrin to assist in the smoking cessation.  You see, when my daughter was born, the doctor would never scold me about it, but it would just give me interesting facts about babies exposures to smoke.   In amazing moment of will power, I was able to not smoke the entire week that my father was in the hospital.  It was a sign to me that if I was able to not smoke with all that stress, I could stop smoking for good.  May 5th, 2014 will be nine years since I quit smoking.  Not once have I have picked one up…

The other number, 49, is the age that my mom’s dad had a heart attack that destroyed the majority of his heart.  Sadly, my grandfather passed away on a cold January night the same year of my father’s heart attack.  Looking back it must have been horrible for my mother.  I was blessed to even have met him since it did so much damage.

So…  Why do I swim, bike, and run crazy amounts every day of the year?  Because I want to live.  I want to live for my three kids.  If they never have to go through what I did as a child, I have done well.  When I run, I don’t say I’m running for health.  I tell people I’m running for life…

What got me into doing triathlons?  Trying to save my life…

Advertisements

The Waiting Game

This is killing me!  It’s quite ironic that I can spend 13 hours and 51 minutes swimming, biking, and running but I can’t wait 11 days for an email…

Now that I’ve gone through the USAT Level I Coaching Clinic, I’m in a holding pattern.  I’ve done the exam, I’ve submitted my signed Code of Ethics, and I’ve submitted my CPR Certification.  I’m now waiting on the written, short answer questions to be checked.  I CANNOT TAKE IT!

Today is the seventh business day which the slide presentation said to allow for the grading to take place.  Unfortunately, I’m trying to register for the Youth Certification Clinic in Boston which is currently open to all certified coaches since they did not exceed the limit yet.  The kicker is that I cannot register for the clinic until I am a certified coach.  Therefore, this nail-biting, agony of waiting!

I truly want to be the best youth triathlon coach possible for the Augusta Dream Team Youth Tri Club.  I want to afford them every possible piece of knowledge that I can gain and not cause any harm to them.  And even better, I hope to help them make friends and learn to live a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately for me, it is quite difficult to wait so long in today’s world of instant gratification.  Both professional certifications I’ve achieved, you simply got that “holy ****” feeling that your stomach was in your throat after completing the exam, clicked “submit”, and *poof*, you knew whether you passed or failed.  Through this certification process, I did get that feeling after the multiple choice exam, but now await the short answer and training plan portion to be graded.  I JUST CAN’T TAKE THE SUSPENSE!

The first few days were ok.  I would check on it daily and see if there were any changes in the test results.  Alright, who am I kidding?  I was checking it, probably, every four hours.  Even on the weekends, as if the grader works 24-7…  Then, as the days continued on, it became checking every three to four hours.  Ok, you got me again.  It was more like hourly.  Again, I act as though the grader is working 24-7…  Now it’s been business days six and seven.  I won’t lie; I’m practically checking it every 30 seconds.  I cannot take it anymore!

It’s such a stupid, immature behavior.  I know!  The logic part of my brain says, “hey, you’ll get an email once you’re test has been graded.  Why are you stressing?”, “you realize the slide in class read, ‘time permitting’ after the ‘seven business days’ part”, and Meghan did say, ‘I have 400 re-certs to get through.”  On the other hand, the passion part of my brain simply screams, “I NEED TO KNOW NOW!”  Ugh.   Shut up passion part, just shut up.  I want to do this for the club so bad and DO NOT want to travel to Portland, Oregon to take the next class.

Rev3 Cedar Point Race Report

So I thought I posted this but apparently I never did.  Better late than never…

 

As soon as we arrived, I registered.  It was smooth and had no issues.  Not crowded at all.

 

Well, the trip started like most race travel.  Then it started, we were going to go eat dinner, but decided not to.  Thankfully, we did.  Our tv caught fire.  Called the hotel twice, and after 12 minutes, they told us to come down to the desk.  We demanded a new room and they mad e us remove all our stuff and turn in al keys until they would give us a new room.  Whatever.

 

We then ate dinner at Friday’s in the hotel and headed to the park for some fun.  Most of the rides were cosed.  No big deal.

 

The next day was my prep day.  As soon as I was able to, I got the bike checked in, checked out the expo again, and went to the athlete meeting.

 

I went back to the room and packed all the bags: swim to bike, bike to run, bike special needs, run special needs, and dry clothes.  I spent nearly five hours packing and repacking and going over and over trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  Well, I did, but more on that later.  In hindsight, I would pack these at home in storage ziplocks or labeled plastic bags.

 

At dinner, I began doing a sodium loading protocol that I’ve always done and followed it precisely.  The rest of the family went to the park and enjoyed themselves.  Somehow, after they all came back and there 12 people in our little room, I managed to fall asleep and slept very well…

 

Race Day

 

I walked the distance to transition and set up the stuff that I had to do.  It was a clean transition, so there wasn’t much to do.  During the walk, I began my caffeine loading protocol.

 

While in transition, I heard them announce that the swim was, indeed, moving to the marina instead of the normal swim location. 

 

I decided the night before to add my Generation Ucan to my bottles on race day unlike any other race day.  Since my bottles were still frozen, I figured I walk my backpack, etc. back to the hotel since I still had a significant amount of time to wait.

 

Swim

The swim was moved from the lake to the marina.  No big deal.  It was actually better because it was a time trial start instead of a mass start.  It made it even nicer because you didn’t get beat up.

 

The swim went perfect for me.  The cross thru to get back to the channel was extremely choppy.  However, thanks to practicing in the chop at the lake, I was used to being able to adjust my breathing to manage through it.  The best thing about swimming in the marina was the channel afforded you great sighting.  All you had to do was look left and right to see where you were.  If there wasn’t anything on your left side with a few yards, TURN LEFT!  It was that simple!

 

During races, you witness a lot of things and make comments to yourself.  One of the things I saw was a woman lost her swim cap and I thought to myself, “look how stupid!  Who loses their swim cap in the water?!  How is that even possible?!”  Well, as I got out of the water, I reached to get my swim cap off and realized I had no swim cap!  Apparently, when I took a stroke, my thumb and caught the back of it and I peeled it off my head without even noticing!  I definitely remember striking my head with my hand but I never noticed the cap coming off!  Fortunately, I had it over my goggles so it could have been much worse…

 

T1

 

The run to the transition was half a mile.  We were able to have shoes staged so I had an extra pair waiting for me.  I got out the water, went to grab my cap and it was gone.  No big deal.  I passed the strippers, took my wetsuit off, and jumped in the shoes.  I then ran the half mile to transition.

 

Got to the transition, grabbed my bag, and opened my bag…

 

CRAP!  Where’s my Generation UCAN?!  Ugh.  That’s when I realized.  I forgot to add my UCAN to the bottles on my bike!  You see, due to the change in swim venue, I got all caught up in it and distracted.  My bottles were still frozen so I hadn’t been able to fill them.  Then when I got back from dropping my stuff off at the hotel, I forgot to do it.  So I had to go with a Plan B…

 

I quickly got changed into a cycling top and bottoms.  Yes, I didn’t wear tri shorts.  I knew how long this race was going to take and didn’t think 30-60 seconds was worth ruining my race.  I got lubed up with the body glide I had and was ready to rock.  I just didn’t know what I was going to do about nutrition but would figure it out.

 

Bike

Jumped on the bike and took off.  Power meter read that I was doing 140-150 watts but it sure didn’t feel like it.  It felt really good and a lot less effort that power meter was reading.

Since I didn’t have any Generation Ucan, I had to adjust my nutrition.  I decided to slow down, pop three caffeine SaltStick capsules at the aid stations, grab a Gatorade, drink as much as I could through the aid station, and chuck the bottle.

Everything was clicking until shortly before the first lap was over.  First, a front came through bringing light rain and a significant amount of wind.  This hindered everybody on the course.  I just had to grind through it.  Any time I turned North, the wind slammed me nearly to a halt.

Around mile 30, the Edge 810’s readings for power and cadence disappeared and never came back.  Thankfully, with all the rides I have done using a power meter and cadence sensor, I had a strong idea what I was actually doing.

The next surprise was how the freshly chipped and sealed road slowed us down.  We were all cruising along just fine until it came up.  It felt like riding through molasses.

A few miles prior to the end of the first loop, I heard a police officer chirp his horn.  I look back and who do I see?  Club mate Christian Kurilko being escorted by police.  He’s in first place!  Christian slowed down for a minute or so told me about his race so far and gave me some words of encouragement.  It was nice to see a familiar face for the first time in over four hours.

I got to the special needs station and grabbed all the Generation Ucan I had in the bag.  I went to rip a packet open and, damn, it didn’t open.  I had to stop and open it with both hands.  I ended up getting it all over me and the bike somehow.  How many times had I done this and it never happened?  Of course it was only when I’m wearing all black on a black bike.

I managed to down the bottle of Ucan but after drinking mostly Gatorade all day, it wasn’t too appealing.  On the other hand, the Gatorade tasted so dang sweet and syrupy.  I had to take swigs of water after each drink of Gatorade because it sat so thick in my mouth afterwards.

The second loop was definitely worse than the first.  The wind was relentless on the second loop and just kept getting worse as the sun got higher in the sky.

Towards the end of the last loop, there was a hard left turn.  I had noticed this turn before because there was sand on it and had made a note of it.  Unfortunately, the second time through I gave too much brake and almost dumped the bike.  The back end swung out from underneath me, but I didn’t panic and let off the brakes and saved it.  The spectators all started clapping.  I guess they were impressed that I saved it.  Hearing the cheering boosted my confidence.

Miles 95-105 another athlete and I started racing each other.  We kept leapfrogging and while it was fun in the beginning.  It became annoying quickly.

Miles 105-112 felt like I was going the wrong way.  There weren’t too many signs, if any, giving you guidance and started to make me worried.  Once I hit the “Cedar Point 4 miles” sign, I felt more comfortable.  In addition, I could see two athletes ahead of me.  Thankfully, the wind was being blocked by the dunes to the right of the road.  I made it a mission to hunt down the two athletes ahead of me.  So, I did.  I managed to catch the first one after about two miles.  I caught the last one about ½ a mile from the dismount line, right before the chute for the bikes.

Power meter and cadence never came back on.

T2

Grabbed my bag off the hook and went into the Change Tent.  Sat down, ripped my cycling shorts off and threw on my tri shorts.  Thankfully I didn’t have any hot spots.

Then I realized I didn’t have any of the surgical tape that I cut the day before.  I accidentally left it in the Dry Clothes bag because I had planned to put it on my aerobars so I could just put it on during the bike ride.  DON’T PANIC!  LOOK AROUND!  Ah ha!  There was cans of Tri Glide sitting on the table.  I sprayed it under my armpits like deodorant to prevent any chaffing and sprayed it all over my nipples hoping it would work decent to prevent nipple chafe.  Put my top on, changed to my transitional glasses, and threw my TCGa visor on.  Then I grabbed my  water bottle and took off.

Run

I headed out of transition and saw my family!  My son actually ran up to me ringing his Rev3 cow bell as loud as he could.  Apparently he thought I was finished and wanted to run down the chute with me already.

Then I saw the aid station.  A wonderful volunteer noticed by bottle and said, “Come here.  You need to fill your bottle up!”  Thanks, because I sure wasn’t exactly thinking about it.  I got the bottle filled and took off.  I also ate the peanut butter powerbar I had grabbed out of my bag since I didn’t want to start out hungry.

Surprisingly, my legs felt great off the bike.  I had the slightest, dull cramp in my left hamstring which remained for the entire run.

I stuck with my plan and ran between aid stations aid stations and only drank water the first three miles.  Every 45 minutes I was taking my caffeine capsules to maintain my caffeine load.

About 4-5 miles, I saw Molly, the Volunteer Coordinator, who Coach Harvey introduced me to prior to the leaving for the race.  Seeing another friendly face was nice and encouraging.

I ate about 1.5 bananas throughout the first 13.1 miles.  Between 3-5 miles out from the start/finish, I ran into clubmate Brittany Bankers.  We slapped five and shouted encouragement to each other.  She was apparently going out on her second lap.

I made it to the 13.1 miles and requested my special needs bag.  I changed visors from my TCGa visor to my TriAugusta visor.  I WANTED MY REWARD!  I packed Sour Patch Kids in it!  (It’s my favorite as well as my sons.  We devour bags of those together at movies.)  I walked until I finished the bag off and began running again.

And who is so cruel to put the turnaround point so close to the finish line?  Seeing the finish line and having to turn around to go do another 13.1 is just a cruel, sick joke!  Who does that?!

I tried my best to avoid the distance signs greater than 13 miles.  I wanted to focus on the shorter distances rather than how much I had done. 

At around 16 miles, I changed to SaltSticks instead of the caffeine ones so I could sleep that night.  Shortly after, I started grabbing the Coke to give myself a treat.

I ran into Molly again at about 18-19 miles.  Seeing a friendly face again was encouraging.  I had no idea at the time, but I just ran through and destroyed “the wall” that I usually hit during training at miles 17-18.

At approximately 20 miles, I saw clubmate Christian Kurilko, his family, and friends at a Pub.  Christian inquired how I was doing and his wife, Natalie, ran up and insisted on giving me a hug.  I knew I was disgusting at that point so I had to laugh.  Who the heck would want to do that?!

And then BAM.  That’s when it hit me. The moment that I realized I was going to finish this goal that I had been training nine months four.  I had less than a 10k to go.  The emotions were overwhelming.  I won’t lie, I started to cry.  I quickly realized I needed to get over the feeling quickly because I still had another hour at least and the moment fleeted from me thankfully.  I thought, “You got this.  This is what most people do Saturday mornings.  You have no worries.  If they do it, you can do it.”

The next aid station I grabbed a pretzel stick because I wanted something different.  Not necessarily needed it but wanted something to change up the monotony of the run.

More than 22 miles, what do I see?  A van honking and cheering!  It’s Christian and his family!  I explained that I was starting to cramp, but was popping salt capsules left and right to do my best to prevent them.   This was the furthest I had ran in any of my training runs but the adrenaline and caffeine was making me truly feel invincible.  Christian said, “You don’t have much to go!  See ya at the finish line!” and that’s exactly what I was planning on!

About mile 23, I ran into Molly again.  I asked her where the next aid station was because I was out of salt.  I wanted to get a little more salt in me so I didn’t cramp up before the finish line and I knew there weren’t many left. 

Molly asked me if I was going to run the rest.  I said, “no.”  She then took a few pictures and had to leave.  The volunteer hollered out, “I got ____ with your name on it.”  I don’t recall what it was but I saw a portajohn at the end of the aid station, pointed to it, and said, “No, but that’s got my name on it!”  Ran in quickly and peed.  That’s exactly what I needed.  The last bit of discomfort was gone and I felt fresh again.

I began running again.  Running to the park entrance was nerve racking.  I know the road had various imperfections on it.  I tilted my head down to block the headlights and be able to see the imperfections.  I managed to miss on the grates, etc of the road.

At about mile 24-25 I came up on the last aid station.  I’m not the most religious person, but at aid station had been blaring contemporary Christian song that I’ve heard so many times in Church.  The lyrics were saying “how great is our God.”  That is exactly what I needed to hear, I thought, “heck yeah!  I’m doing this!”  The volunteers were begging me to take something from them.  I kindly shook my hand “no” and just said, “thank you” to each one that I passed.  They started hooting and hollering saying, “you got this” and “you’re the man!”

I made it past the special needs area and was ecstatic to see the pedestrian crossing because I knew the blue painted paving meant I was coming down the finish chute!  It was so cool hearing the people scattered down the fences cheering and rattling cowbells.

I then made the turn and heard my wife, Sara, shouting, “Go Todd, GO!” and my kids screaming, “Go Daddy!”  I ran up to them, stuffed my water bottle down my back, zipped my top up and said, “you ready kids?!”  They took off!  Sara did too!  I was hoping Sara would go with me but she headed to the finish line to catch a photo.  My father in law had the baby, I wanted to take her but the older kids had gotten too far down the chute for me to go back by the time I realized it was them. 

We hit the last turn hand in hand just like Knoxville.  Hearing the DJ announce here comes William Nixon all the way from Evans, GA was awesome.  I saw Christian and his crew on the left, and Sara in front snapping photos.  The DJ announced, “William Nixon… Welcome to… THE REVOLUTION!” and hit us with confetti.

I ran up and gave my wife a hug.  I went up and hugged Christian.  I couldn’t believe I did it.  I was quite pleased with the day.  I honestly thought I was going to be out there 15-16 hours according to my training.  So to finish in 13:51 is simply mindboggling.   It was the first race this year that I NEVER considered quitting.  

140.6 miles DONE.

 

On a side note, I learned a very valuable lesson that day.  Even if I don’t have to or may want to, I need to stick around and see my teammates and clubmates finish.  I loved seeing my family there at the finish was something that I expected.  However, seeing Christian, Natalie, and the gang there at my finish was something that blew my mind away.  I never, in a million years, expected to see them there.  I simply didn’t expect for somebody to wait that long for me.  That gesture will forever be engrained in my memory and cherished forever…

 

And I need to thank the best coach in the world, Harvey “Slayer” Gayer.  I couldn’t have done it without him.  A coach, mentor, friend, and family.  I don’t know how he does it but he always knows the right thing to say to me at the right time.  Hard to believe that we’re 90 minutes from each other.  I am blessed to have much such a wonderful person.  Thank you my friend, for everything…

There’s No “P” in Ool, Let’s Keep It That Way

Ok, so this is the month of January.  It’s the beginning of a new year, right?  Yay!  You know what that means?  New Year Resolutions!  Whoopee!

Unfortunately that means something else too.  Come on, you know what it is…  It’s all the people heading to the gym, in my case, the YMCA, and setting out to fulfill that resolution!  Don’t worry though.  In February it will be back to normal.

I haven’t drank any “Hater-ade” but I do find it quite amusing what you see when you go to the local pool.  There’s everything from the sidestroker to the families in one lane to the guy who doesn’t work there but who’s always there 24-7 to the aquacize ladies.

My first favorite character is the “Sidestroker.”  Yes, its that person who insists on doing the sidestroke.  Really?  I get it, I really do.  You find it really fun to do.  However, you really need not move to one side of the lane and insist on kicking over into the next lane.  I nearly make the Caddyshack pool scene become a reality every time I see your foot come across my vision.  Thanks I do plenty of triathlons to get kicked in the face, I don’t need you doing it to me in the pool.

The next character is the guy who’s always at the Y, 24-7 but doesn’t work there.  Really?  Do you have no life?  In this case, the man’s nickname is “Sarge.”  You always hear, “Hey, Sarge” this and “Hey, Sarge” that…  Dude.  Go home.  I really don’t care here to hear your opinion on last night’s basketball game, who you thinks going to be traded by that football team, nothing.  Oh yeah.  And those Under Armor are NOT jammers or Speedos.  Those are compression underwear.  I wish you’d realize you’re strutting around in your underwear…

The next characters I love are the aquacize ladies.  Ah yes.  Getting down to the top 40 hits of 2014.   Thank you.  I appreciate you constantly complaining about the water temps so the Y cranks up the temperature.  Those temps are really enjoyed when my face is burning up and my calves are beginning to cramp because it’s so bloody hot.  And, indeed, the five of you definitely need the five lanes that you close down for your class.  I realize you need space but I can assure you that you’d all fit into one lane if you really want to.  And one more thing, which is not your fault ladies, why do you have to have class at 5:30?  It’s when everyone is getting off of work.  I’m pretty confident none of you are working anymore.  Can’t you give us working parents a break and do your class around 3:00 pm?

There’s another guy at my pool that cracks me up.  Let’s call him the Karate Kid.  It seems like every time I take my kids with me, this guy is there.  Maybe because I usually take them on the weekends or just Facebook friends?  I don’t.  Anyways, every time I see him, he has a 2 liter bottle half full of water with him.  It’s for drinking right?  Wrong.  This guy takes the bottle and sets in on the edge of the pool.  Not weird, right?  Wait, there’s more.  He then proceeds to do karate moves being the crap out of this bottle for nearly an hour.  Really?  You need to get a new hobby.  After seeing this for four years, I think he should be able to have good enough balance to do it outside of the pool.  Maybe it’s just me…

The last characters are the ones that I just saw recently.  It was a family of snorkelers.  No not the Snorkels but a family of three wearing snorkels in the water.  Look, I have kids.  I love enjoying time with them in the water.  However, if you’re gonna just hang out on the sides and swim 25 yards every five minutes, move to the family swim area.  Please don’t take up a lane.  I do have to give you mad props for finding matching snorkels though.  Right on! 😉

Well, I think I’ve gone on long enough.  I pray that none of you get sidestroke kicked in the lane and may the snorkels stay out of your lane…

NOLA, Part Duex

So you go on Slow Twitch, Beginner Triathlete, or the local tri club’s Facebook page and chime in on every comment.  Ya, you know who you are.  So you think you have the right answer to every comment everybody posts, right?  Wrong.  All you have to do is go to USA Triathlon Level I Coaching Clinic and you’ll quickly realize how little you know about triathlons versus the true experts.

The experience of attending the clinic was quite humbling.  I learned a tremendous amount of information, enjoyed myself, and better yet, met a lot of great people.

I don’t recall who exactly decided to do it, but somebody decided to create a Facebook group for the class.  So simple, but pure genius.  Ok, big deal, a Facebook group, right?  Wrong.  It brought communication of the group to the forefront, expediting our ability, and truly helped us all out from an organizational and financial standpoint.

I was able to benefit by such a simple thing by several ways.  Initially, I was planning on carpooling from Montgomery to NOLA.  After having the car issues, I figured this wasn’t the best idea because I didn’t want to chance getting stranded somewhere or have to pay for a rental car.  The second benefit was that I managed to find a roommate.  This allowed me to cut my hotel expense in half.  Thirdly, my roommate and I found out about the group via the page and met up with quite a few people before the clinic and went out to eat with them.  This all would have been much more difficult via traditional methods.  It’s something so simple but great.

If you really want to be humbled, just go listen to a USAT Level III coach speak.  You’ll really find out who the experts are in the sport.  Wow.  The first speaker was Ian Murray.  Such a dynamic and knowledgeable speaker.  It took me several hours to figure out who he reminded me of and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  *Ding!* Ty Pennington from Extreme Home Makeover!  That’s it!  Then, after I figured that out, all I could do is try and prevent myself from hollering, “Move that bus!” Ugh.

The next speaker was Jay DiCherry.  Jay is very knowledgeable, but I will admit, I was very disappointed.  Not because of him, but because I really enjoy Bob Seebohar’s nutrition materials and try and follow his protocols.  It was truly a bummer not to hear Bob Seebohar speak because I have TONS of questions about this protocols that I would love to ask.  I guess I’ll just have to attend one of his own seminars or hope that he’ll be at the youth certification clinic…

The last speaker was Shelley O’ Brien.  Again, a great dynamic and knowledgeable speaker.  I was quite excited to hear that she’s a youth coach and was hoping to pick her brain on the topic.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do so since she taught at the end of the clinic and disappeared before I could speak to her.  I guess that’s what I get for taking the red eye that night.

The exam itself is quite humbling as well.  It took me dang near all day Saturday to complete the exam. There were approximately 77 multiple choice questions, several short answer questions, and two training plans that had to be developed.  Wow.  Who knew this would be tougher than any graduate exams or professional certification exams I’ve taken?!

Finally, it was great to meet so many wonderful people who I can now consider friends.  I really enjoyed spending time and getting to know Micah, Scott, Pat, Robin, Janelle, and Meredith.  What an experience with some great people.

NOLA or bust….

Way back in October or so, I decided if I wanted to be the best head coach for my kids’ Dream Team Youth Tri Club, I needed to become a certified youth coach.  That’s awesome but how do I do it?  Well, first, I had to somehow get into the competitive USA Triathlon Coaching Clinic Level I.
You see, USAT recently changed the process of attending these clinics from an “open” registration to an application process.  In the past, the people with the fasting typing/mouse clicks got into a clinic, not necessarily those who were more qualified or deserving.
Why did the change occur?  Many people began using the coaching clinic as, well, their own “coaching” clinic.  They were going solely for the purpose of personal enrichment, not to become a coach.  Nobody would do that, right?  Wrong.  Many Age Groupers were taking the course and not taking the exam to become certified.  Therefore, people like me, who have been coaches and intend to continue coaching were being left out simply because they had slower internet speeds or weren’t fast enough with their mouse clicks.  With that said, I’m glad they made the change because I may not have been in the class at all last week!
So, anywho (as my mom would say), I applied.  I had to create a coaching resume.  A coaching resume?  What?  I’ve coached soccer, hockey, etc for years but I haven’t coached triathlon that long.  Pfew!  Don’t panic!  There’s a sample on the application website!  Oh thank you, Jesus!
So I went and typed up a resume and filled out the online form to get my application submitted.  Done… wrong!  Ugh!  I need a reference from an athlete!  “Hey kids?  Can you write your coach a reference?”  No.  I had an athlete’s mother write a reference for me.  Done!
Then I had to wait.  Wait, wait, and wait. Finally!  I got the email accepting I got into the class! Woohoo!  I then went and paid for the class.  The class was $555.  Crap!  We just started making a car payment we haven’t had in four years, Christmas was around the corner, and the girls birthdays are both in December as well!  Ugh.  Somehow, we made it happen.
December rolled around and everything was going great.  Then, the dreaded check engine light came on in the Minivan.  (Yeah, minvan. Sue me.  With a family of five, did you expect a two seater?)  Nearly $800 to get the darn check engine light to turn off.  Lucky me.  Just when I am about to travel to New Orleans I get to spend a ridiculous amount of money for such a stupid car problem.
The week of Christmas rolls around and I take my leave slip to my supervisor so I can get the time off for the clinic.  She replied, “You can’t have that off, we have annual training that week!”  Little did I know, in the 10 years of my career, my job has decided to move up our training date a MONTH!”  Ugh.  Well, who in the world would ever expect the date to change?  Nobody!  Thankfully, I was able to show her that I would be losing close to $1,000 if I didn’t go to the course and she approved it.
I was off for two weeks and everything was going great.   Then what happened?  “Ding” Check engine light!  Ugh.  Seriously?  All that money for nothing?  It kept coming off and on and putting the van in “limp” mode the week before the training.  Why now?!  I was supposed to drive over to Montgomery and meet up with some guys to carpool the rest of the way to NOLA!  Ok, time to bite the bullet.  I ended up cashing in skymiles that I had saved up from a previous life (my corporate career).  It sucked cashing those in because I had every intention of using them to visit Europe again but with my family.  I guess going back to Germany simply was not meant to be…
I made it to the week of the clinic.  I had to sit through the first two of four days of Annual Refresher Training and then I was off.  Oh, and I got to teach some of the training as well.  It’s always fun to teach the same presentation you’ve taught for the past ten years.
I made the flight without any issues at all.  That’s right.  No check engine light.  I hate you, little light…

Oh When the Saints Go Marchin’ In

Well, its been forever since I’ve written anything but if you’re reading this I have great news… I’m on my way to New Orleans to become a certified triathlon coach!

The first round of this happens this week.  Second round is passing the exam.  Third round is applying and getting accepted for the Youth certification.  Fourth round is going to Boston for the youth course.  The last phase is passing the youth exam.

So there you have it!  The world knows now!  I’ve been keeping it quiet since October but its out now.

I’m not the fastest triathlon on the earth but I love the sport and know I can help kids love the sport that I love so much.

I just pray that my friends and family support me through this journey to enriching the lives of the children in this great area we call our home….