The Iron Geek

Dad. Entrepreneur. Ironman. Trying to make the most out of my life and do some crazy, can't-be-done stuff along the way.

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My goal is to have a PR in each of the distances that I compete this year.

My goals:

  • Sub 12:00 Ironman
  • Sub 5:30 70.3 Ironman
  • Sub 5:00 Marathon
  • Sub 2:00 Half Marathon
  • Sub 55-minute 10K
  • Sub 25-minute 5K

Goals without targets are just dreams..

The Long And Winding Road..

So I have been a little afraid to make this post.  After several false starts, I haven’t been able to get back on the right fitness track.  I wanted to make sure I was really ready to continue this journey, both IRL and on this blog.

Things have been pretty crazy for me over the past few months.  I’m going through a divorce, I’m starting a second business (having already started one 2 years ago that is still going strong) and I’m learning to live alone for the first time in 12 years (except for seeing my 3 awesome kids every-other weekend).

I decided to use my new found time to recommit myself back to fitness and to my health.  It was moving my triathlon bike to my new apartment and having it stare at me every day that finally pushed me to take action.  ”I have to do this”.  Just like the old Todd, I decided to go back to my “Go Big Or Go Home” philosophy and promptly signed up for Ironman Austria 70.3

and Ironman Florida…

Why not?

My new business partner, Cullen, is a 7-time Ironman finisher.  I got to spend the weekend with him at this year’s IMFL race where I volunteered and he threw down an inspiring 9:48:02.  Good enough for 24th in his age group.  It was great to hang around with him and other triathletes.  It’s good to get in the zone with other athletes.  As you know, if you are into Ironman, you love to talk about Ironman.  If you aren’t into it, people get sick of hearing about it.  =)

He also introduced me to the diet that he used to shed pounds in a way that really impacted his IM finishing times (dropping 90 minutes off his times).  I decided to make a concerted effort to focus on my diet and weight BEFORE I started my training.  Instead of using my training to lose weight, now I am using this training to TRAIN.  As a result, I am down 28 pounds since starting this diet and I expect that I will be below my IM race-day weight when I competed two years ago, BEFORE I even start training in December.

So while I’ve had a couple of false starts over the past few years, this feels different.  It feels right.  It doesn’t feel forced.  It feels like I’m taking the right steps and doing the right things.  

I want to thank my friends, family and those in the Tumblr community that have been so supportive over the years.  Your kind words along the way have really meant a lot.  I’m not sure I could have done it without all the support I’ve been given.

So here is to a great year of living healthy and achieving goals.  Here’s to #takingitdown!

On This Week’s Episode of “Because I Can or Because I’m An Idiot” - Hiking Edition

The More You Know: If you haven’t hiked in 25 years, your half marathon times from 18 months ago and 40 pounds lighter have absolutely no bearing on the time it will take you to hike 13.3 miles with a 3,300 ft ascent descent.  

While visiting the Smokey Mountains (Gatlinsburg, TN) with the family for  Memorial Day weekend, I decided to go for a hike, something that I haven’t done since I was a teen.

Having no real idea of of time, effort or fitness required for a hike, I picked one of the first ones that I found on a site about Hiking the Smokies.  

I didn’t let things like details get in my way of a my hike.  

  • Why not try to summit the 3rd highest peak in the Smokies on your first hike in 25 years?  
  • Why not leave without nearly enough food or drink, since you have absoultely no idea how long it will take to hike 13+ miles?  
  • Why not wait to leave (after deciding late) until after noon so you can be worried about getting down before sunset for over half of the trip?  
  • Why not make the hike in your low-arch support running shoes?  
  • Why not forget sunblock?  
  • Why not hope that your training from boyscouts and Survivor Man guide your decision to fill your water containers from what you hope is a mountain spring?

So I did it.  I went to the top of Mt. LeConte in Tennessee.  It’s not the stupidest thing I’ve ever done (Need to see the bright side of things.) It took me a little over 6 hours to complete.  It was an absoultey great hike.  I saw some amazing views on the way up and a very cool waterfall on the way down.

*Rainbow Falls

I fogot this about hiking: it works your heart on the way up and your legs on the way down.  It’s one hell of a workout.  I’m surprised that hiking isn’t incorporated into more marathon and Ironman training than I have seen.  (It now is a solid part of my plan).

I now have another hike for this weekend with a good friend who has formally thru-hiked the AT (also 15 years and 40 pounds removed).

I love finding new and enjoyable ways to exercise!

My 1st-Grader Does Not Drink Beer

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I decided that I was going to take the labels off of two bottles of 420 and tape them around my icepacks.  That way when I needed to ice down my achilles after a run, I could be reminded by how that damned extra weight, that is causing the strain, got there in the first place.

Then I remembered that my 7 year old daughter also uses those same icepacks in her lunch bag.

So may that wasn’t my best idea.  But it is slightly better than the idea to jump off the front of the boat as it came into the dock, just before my brother-in-law pulled back on the throttle…but I digress.

Last night I was running along the river (Chattahoochee) at dusk.  As I was running, I was struck by a vivid memory.  The air was cooling off from the heat of the day and the smell of dirty water and auto exhaust filled my lungs.  I was struck by the memory of some 18 months ago on the first time I was ever able to run an entire mile without walking.

I remembered it so clearly because I was amazed that it happened.  I was amazed that I had managed to somehow get my slob of a self to a point where I could run a mile.  I remember telling a total stranger on the path about my accomplishment with such excitement!  Just a few months before that I would have given you 4:1 odds it never would have happened.

But as I ran last night (not nearly for a mile BTW), I remembered that night.  I remembered what it felt like to relax, get into the groove and focus on my breathing, let my mind wander to un-important things (like what I was going to write in this blog post) and just…..run.  Just run.

I was comforted by the fact that while I felt like I was dragging around a 5-gallon jug of Crisco, that I know that it can, and will, get better.  I have seen the other side.  I know that if I keep it up, that I will get back in shape.  I will lose weight. I will feel better.

I finished that run in probably the best state of mind that I have had in several weeks.  The drama and stress of the real world disolved away just for a little bit and I felt “good”.

Last night marked 3 straight days of workouts, a 2 year record for me (What? what!).  And while it stole from me the energy to hit my 5:00a Masters Swim, I will be hitting the hotel pool in wonderful Minneapolis this evening.  Because I want to feel better.

I want me to come back.

IronGeek Reboot 3.0

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I definitely need a reboot.

As I ran on the treadmill for the first time in over a year, I looked over at myself in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors of the gym.  ”Holy shit, I look pregnant!”  Pathetic.  My gut was sticking out so much I looked like I’d be more comfortable working on my car on the front lawn while wearing a wife-beater and drinking a PBR tallboy.  My M-Dot visor and Garmin watch seemed more than a bit out of place.

It’s been 16 months since the day of my Ironman.  I have tried twice to get back on the track of training to no success.  I even registered for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, but never ran more twice in the year leading up to the race.  One those few occasions where I muster up the energy and try to commit to the new goal, deep down I know that I just don’t have what it takes.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s like the energy gets sucked out of you.  My best description would be a “multi-year bonk”.  That feeling when you just have no energy to give.  The feeling that you can’t do it.

It started when I saw a picture of myself in my daughter’s room last week. It was from just before IMFL when my wife and I were headed out for a date.  I looked SKINNY in that picture.  Then when I saw my profile picture in a mirror, I vomited a little bit in my mouth.  The scale confirmed what I hadn’t wanted to admit, I am 43 pounds heavier than race day.

I’m pretty sure my war cry of “Take It Down!” was not meant to be about 5 Guys and Captain Morgans, but yet here I sit.  Breathing heavy.  I can make excuses about starting a new business and travelling, but I have no one to blame.

So I dug out my training gear.  I signed up for the Atlanta Marathon (October) and I am seriously considering aiming for a 100-miler in 2015.  

I once again ready to go to war with my vices: fast food, booze, soft drinks and late nights.  Once again I need to prove to myself that I can do it.  Prove that I can lose the weight and feel healthy.

I just want this try to last.  I want it to be real.  I want it to not be a flash, today and gone tomorrow.  

Thanks to everyone on Tumblr and Facebook who have been supportive.  Sorry for the false starts.  Sorry for unplugging from Tumblr for all of those months when my training energy was sapped out of me.

Once again, it’s time to “Take It Down!”

Well, At Least I Didn’t Drown

I dragged myself out of bed this morning at 4:15 in order to make it to Masters Swim class by 5:00.  I haven’t seen that time on the clock in a long time.  While I was tired, it felt good to get back to a familiar routine.

Then I got in the pool…

50 meters later I was huffing and puffing like a chain-smoker climbing 4 flights of stairs.

100 meters later my shoulders were not-so-gently reminding me that it’s been almost 10 months and that they have never done anything wrong to me to deserve this.

500 meters later my entire body felt like it had gone a couple of rounds in a UFC fight.  For as “gentle” as swimming looks, it was pretty rough on my body.  That and dragging around the equivalent to a kindergartner around my mid section doesn’t help either.

And so after about 40 minutes in the pool, I called it a day.  Better to fight another day than to ruin this potential comeback before it even starts.

I had packed my running gear.  Previously I would have ticked off my run after Masters Swim to be efficient with time.  Let’s just say that didn’t happen. I will probably be sticking to the one workout a day plan for a while.

One day at a time.  Trying to #SBAFI

For Whom The (Taco) Bell Tolls

40 pounds.

According to my scale, I have put on 40 pounds since Ironman Florida last November. That is a 20% increase in weight.  That is more than my four year old daughter weighs.  Ouch.

Living the “LaQuinta and Five Guys” life has caught up with me. (Sounds like a good title for a Pitbull song to me…)  I have outgrown my new skinnier clothes and now my fat clothes are starting to be tight.  Not good.

I have been struggling with keeping active after completing the 140.6 mile event.  I just had lost all motivation to do any physical activity.  Known as the Post-Ironman Blues, they hit me pretty hard.  I have not biked since IMFL.  I have not swam (not counting playing with the kids) since IMFL.  I have maybe run 3-4 times since that day.  I fell off the bandwagon hard.

I tried to motivate myself this past spring by signing up for the Chicago Marathon, but never really got into the swing of training.  While I tell most people that it was because my trip to Ethiopia to support my charity (www.retailroi.org) was eventually scheduled for the same dates, the reality is that I probably wouldn’t have done the training anyways.

I thought things would be easier when I started my own company in January.  Being the boss provides the ultimate in flexibility to do things like run, bike swim, right?  Not-so-much.  Instead I’ve been travelling 7 out of 8 weeks and have been on the road for the last 6 months.  My mistress (fast-food) found her way back into my life and the weekends have been more about quality family time than working out.  

But the scale really slapped some reality into me.  40 pounds is a lot.  I worked a year to lose that weight before.  To know that is back in full force is a wake-up call.  That and I see my friends on Facebook who are running tons of miles or in one case biking 100 miles and then running 6 (Go Jason!).  I decided that something has to change.

I went for a run yesterday.  It wasn’t a long run (35 minutes) and it totally kicked my ass, but it was my first run in 5 months.  I was gimping around the house the rest of yesterday afternoon but it was a good hurt.  I took my bike to the bike shop this morning to get it tuned up. I reactivated my gym membership this morning as well.

I’m not sure where this is going.  I’ve started this before in the last year and it fizzled out and died.  I’m not sure what my goals are at this point, other than to stop being a fat idiot. (SBAFI)

Post Ironman Blues

I spent 18 months of my life mentally and physically preparing for a single day: November 5th, 2011 - Ironman Florida.

6 days a week of physical strain (up to 30 hours a week) and mental fatigue.  This was in addition to an already stressful work life and family dynamic (I have 3 kids six and under). For the lack of sleep and sore muscles, I was mentally in an awesome place.  Training and working towards my goal made me feel good and definitely improved my disposition.

The actual day of Ironman Florida was EPIC.  One that I will remember for the rest of my life.

But after the race, I was so physically and emotionally drained it impacted me in a way that I did not expect.  I felt like I aged a whole year that day.  I felt both “complete” and “empty” at the same time.  This goal that had haunted me for so long was checked off the bucket list.  I was left to ponder what was next and found myself headed in no particular direction.

About a week after Ironman, I was heading 180 degrees from where I had been.  I ate anything that I wanted, started drinking “like the old days” and really enjoyed the food that comes with the holidays.  Fast food came back in my life (my sweet mistress).

I started putting on weight, but didn’t think much of it.  I stopped working out completely.   The weight kept pilling on.  Soon I found myself 25 pounds heavier than race day and wearing the pants I had recently put in the attic.  I stopped looking at Tumblr at all.  

I ran a 15K in February where I almost DNF’d after realizing just how out of shape I was.  Then in March, when I should have been running in the NOLA marathon, I found myself huffing and puffing unable to do a 3 mile trail run with my brother-in-law.

All this just pushed me further and further away from training.  I didn’t want to think about.  Didn’t want to be consumed by it.  Didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had lost a lot of what I had worked so hard to achieve.  I was totally in a downward spiral.

That changed this morning.  This morning I laced up my new running shoes and ran out the front door.  It may have only been 2.5 miles of low-and-slow work, but I was running. And while I am pretty sore, I feel good.  I’m mentally in a good place and that is what matters.

I signed up for the Chicago marathon in October.  I’ve got just under 6 months to whip my sorry ass back into shape.  Hopefully I can use this blog and the Tumblr community like I did before: to keep my honest and on track.

And I think I’m going to get that Ironman tattoo…

My 140.6 Mile Journey

“They say that finishing an Ironman is a life-changing experience.  I really hope that they weren’t referring to losing a pinky toe, because I’m not sure mine is going to make it through the day and that would suck.”

This is the conversation that I am having with myself as I plod through the dark and deserted streets of Panama City Beach.  I am competing in my first Ironman Triathlon.  It’s just after 9:00 p.m. and I have been propelling myself forward for more than fourteen hours.  I am exhausted and my body is breaking down.  What started out as aches and pains has evolved into a full-on civil war between my mind and my body.  My mind is winning, and my body is paying the price.

I try to keep myself focused on the task at hand.  I must keep moving.  I must finish what I started.  Today is the culmination of eighteen months of training and preparation.  It’s not about an event, it’s about my life. 

I am not the same person I was two years ago. 

That person couldn’t run a hundred yards without being winded.  That person couldn’t do a lap in the pool without stopping.  That person carried around fifty-five more pounds.  That person drank too much beer and ate way too much fast food.  That person couldn’t keep up with his kids when they were playing. 

That person couldn’t commit to this type of goal and see it through.

That person wasn’t the real ME.  This is ME.  This journey has proven that I am still here.

Unfortunately, none of that is any consolation to my feet, which are damaged goods.  They feel as if they have been beaten with a hammer, especially my left pinky toe.  Every step sends a jarring pain up my leg.  And in a cruel twist of cosmic irony, it hurts more to walk than it does to run.

But when I run, I am slammed with the realization of how exhausted I am.  There is just no more gas in the tank.  I make a mental commitment that the next person that casually mentions that they are “exhausted” will get a full-on beat-down from me on principal alone. “You don’t know what exhausted is,” I think to myself.

Snapping out of this negative mental place, I think about my day.

I have survived a 2.4 mile swim with 2500 of my “closest” friends through a jellyfish-filled ocean.  I have endured the never-ending winds on my 112 mile bike, and I have been running, walking and shuffling for just over 23 miles.  “Just over 3 more miles to go,” I say to myself.

“Then you can call yourself an Ironman.”

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Don’t You Dare Tell Me There’s Something I Can’t Do

I heard “Hey Todd! You’re an Ironman!” 15 hours and 16 minutes after my day began. What an amazing day.

I cant believe how much my feet hurt. I’ll send out more tomorrow. Right now I need to eat all the things at Waffle House.

Have a good night. I’m going to spend the night sleeping with a smile on my face.

TOOK. IT. DOWN.

Killing It!

Todd continues to meet each of his Ironman goals. He had a range of times to account for the unexpected and he’s come in low for both swim and bike He’s on his run and I expect to see him soon. Anyone who’s struggling will be carried by this super exuberant crowd.

Todd finished the swim this morning looking strong and in charge. He was smiling wide as he left on his bike to conquer 112 miles. I can only imagine what he’s thinking after all these months of preparation. Even with high expectations, I hope it’s so much more than he expected.

Personally, I am in awe of the athletes for both their effort and their support of one another. It is quite a community.

Btw, Irongeek has a guest blogger today — his wife. If you get a chance, look him up via irongeek.com, bib 1336.

Ironman FL 2011: It’s Here!

There are no words to describe this morning! Todd did an amazing first lap in the water and made it look easy. The energy level at the event is extraordinary! More to come throughout the day.

Going to the bathroom outside of the porta-potties is not only rules for disqualification, it is also grounds for being arrested. If I were you, I wouldn’t be thrilled with the idea of spending the night in jail with shaved legs, wearing lycra. Just sayin.

Run Race Director at IMFL

Ironman Florida Bike Course is FLAT!

Just got done with our drive around the 112 mile course. Very surprised by how flat it is. This two minutes of video is an example (soundtrack brought to you by Bob FM). There are several long, straight stretches for miles and miles.

I’m getting excited!

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