Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Ironman Story

Yep Godfather's Pizza. Probably the only time that logo has been on the Hawaii course. Marco says "A speedo, Really Dad". The first version of the Profile Bars. Before bike fit was the thing. Yes, the long torso and the short top were not a good combination. My back got fried.
Finishing down Pay n Save. Those are the Saucony Azura ST. Year #1 for that classic shoe. I had to have them. Imagine that, I was a shoe geek then too!

My Ironman Story

As I head to the Big Island of Hawaii I’m reminded with lots of emotion of my first trip to Hawaii. I’ve been to the big Island 4 times before this trip. I went 3 times to do the famed Ironman Triathlon World Championships and once to catch a really big Blue Marlin. After the first time I vowed never to go there unless I was doing the race. I broke that vow to go fishing. Now I’m breaking it again to go work.

It was the Winter/Spring of 1986. I was sitting in the living room of the house I shared with 4 guys. It was our last year of college. I had done two triathlons and was gearing up for the upcoming season. I already considered myself a Triathlete. We were watching the coverage of the 1985 Ironman World Championships. One of my roommates makes the comment “Dave, you should do that.” They all chime in “yeah, you should do it”. My response, “those people are fucking crazy, there is no way I’m ever doing that.”

Fast forward to 1988. I’m living in Leucadia California with Tim Sheeper and I’m living the triathlon dream. We train all week, race every chance we can and work as little as possible. Tim worked less and raced faster. I was not ultra fast so I worked more and trained a bit less. Our training partners were the who’s who of the sport. We had both made a few attempts to qualify for Kona but with little success. Our goal race was in August, the then long course National Championships Texas Hill Country Triathlon in San Antonio.

We roll into that race on a slim budget and hopes to do well. Texas Hill country was my kind of race. 46 hills in 48 miles and then a hot and hilly 10 mile run. The race felt good. At the awards ceremony Tim gets called up for his stellar pro race. Then they roll through the age groups. I managed 2nd in my age group and I felt really good. Next up they start calling out Ironman Qualifiers. Tim and I look at each other with this scared kind of look. Both our names are called. Like today, you had to sign up right then. Both of us were relatively broke but we both had to take the slot. We were in and we had 8 weeks to get ready.

We got home and hit it hard. Our constant training partner was Mark Montgomery (Monty). Monty was a stud athlete everywhere but Kona. He had tried multiple times but never finished. He was giving it another go. Since he had done it, we tried as hard to do his training. It was sick training. Hard and long for as long as we could go. For our long runs we brought in Gordy Haskins yes that Gordy to push us through stupid long runs. By the end of 8 weeks I think we could just say we were tired. Luckily I worked at Godfathers Pizza so food was not a problem. A large veggie Pizza every night hit the spot.

Race week came fast. We were in Kona Saturday, 1 week before the race. This was a time when people didn’t show up to the sleepy little town until the last week. I remember it like it was yesterday. I stepped off the plane and the blast of the oven hit me. The first thing through my head, “I’m running a Marathon in this heat.” We continued our training. Not quite as long or as hard but we were out there every day. On race morning I was at the peak of fitness. I was 5 feet 10 inches, the same I am today, and I weighed in at 129lbs not quite where I am today. I was lean.

The cannon boomed and we were off. This is it, the Ironman World Championships. The meanest of the mean. All I remember about the swim was how long it was. Never in my life had I ever gone so far without a wall. I remember making the turn and looking up and realizing this was going to be a very long day. I made it to the beach in about 70 minutes. Transition was a rush and then we were off on the bike.

The bike felt easy. Too easy! I was rolling along for the first 10 miles. Where’s the heat, where’s the wind? About 15 miles in I go by a struggling Tim Sheeper. He says he doesn’t know what’s wrong but that he’ll continue. I keep riding on. By the time I get to the hills to Hawi the field is thinning out. At the turn around I’m riding along with this guy. He turns to talk to me. “Don’t worry about the riders in front, they’ll all start coming back to us on the way back. What’s your name he asks” I give him my name and ask him his, Kevin Moats. Crap that’s not good. Mr. Moats is an unreal athlete. At this time of his triathlon career he was a top 10 Kona athlete. Here I was riding along side of him. Either he was having a bad race or I was in over my head. He had a great race, mowing down the field on the run.

On the way back to town I began to struggle. Each hill seemed mountainous. The wind although slight for the year was still not fun. Who turned on the oven. With about 15 miles to go Tim goes flying by and this time he’s asking me if I’m all right. I nod and wish him well. Back through town I start to feel ok and actually looking forward to the run. 5:05 on the bike.

Into transition and out again I’m on my turf. Running was and is my thing. I’m feeling fairly good and seem to be rolling along. What’s the big deal with the Ironman. I’m clipping along, nothing hurts and I feel good. As I’m running up Pay n Save hill I run up on Monty. He’s had another stellar swim and bike. He looks over and says “Dave, this isn’t a 10K”. I look over and want to say but don’t “Monty, just finish this thing and don’t worry about me”.

My favorite Monty Ironman story goes like this. He’s in his usual spot off the bike. Somewhere in the top 20. He’s been pushing the bike hard. As he starts running he really starts to suffer. He comes to his hotel and decides he needs a break. He goes to his hotel room lays down and turns on college football. Sometime after that he wakes up. Standing up he notices he feels good. He heads out his door and starts running again. This run doesn’t go any better than the first one. Somewhere out on that highway Monty collapses and they cart him off in an Ambulance.

At the left hand turn the road stretches out. It’s so hot nothing feels like it can cool me down. All of a sudden I hit a wall. A wall of heat that stops me dead. I’m forced to walk. For the next 10 miles I do some combination of running and walking. It starts first as a run between the aid stations and I walk the aid stations. But as I go on there is more walking than running. If only I can run to that pole. Now my feet are hurting my stomach is hurting and my head is about to explode. I stop drinking anything but Coke. I’m now at mile 20 way behind my expected finish coming off the bike. It feels like I’ve been passed by everyone in the race. Suddenly something strange happens, I start running again. The pain everywhere but my feet is gone. My head is clear. Everyone heading in the opposite direction already has their glow sticks in hand. I’m going to finish in daylight.

Running down Pay n Save hill hurts but I can hear the finish line. When I make the turn on Ali’I drive I’m flying. This is a feeling like no other. This finish line is everything and more. My run time 4:15. My total time 10:30.

Both Tim and Monty finished that day. Tim about 45 minutes in front of me and Monty a bit behind.

I learned lots that day. I’m a fast starter. Ironman takes patience. I can come back from the depths of pain. The human body is an amazing peace of engineering. To be able to go that long and be in that bad of shape only to recover while in the act, crazy. I’ve done plenty of Ironman races since this one. I’ve gone much faster and I’ve gone slower. I don’t really remember any of them, only this one. In fact I still have strong memories of the smell of the clothes when I picked them up the following day. It’s not a pretty smell but a fond one. A smell of hard work and a memory I will never forget.

It’s a good life…


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making a List and Checking it twice

Are you a big list writer. I really tend not to be. I try to keep life simple enough so that I don't need a list of things to get done. That doesn't mean there aren't things to get done just that everything is generally manageable and I simply have it under control. This week though is different. It's a short week leading up to back to back trips. If things don't get done this week it will cause heart ache at home, head ache in my head and financial ache for Zoot. So here's my list.

1. Fin Cog - The Zoot Financial model that needs completion on Friday.
2. Sunscreen - That doesn't hurt the living things in Hawaii
3. Board Shorts - Need those
4. Electrician - We've been living with out light in the bathrooms for too long.
5. Vacation - My turn to plan the vacation for December.
6. 401K - Read Heart ache
7. Marco College fund - Read Heart Ache
8. Demo shoes shipped to Kona
9. NYC Marathon trip booked
10. Pack for 11 days in Kona
11. Book Hotels for China Trip
12. Print 2012 Blueprints - New Shoes!
13. Pay Amex
14. Skis and Snowshoes - See #5
15. Shoes for Matt Long
16. Make sure Sam and Luke are happy with their feet
17. Breathe
18. Cross Country Practice, Practice, Race

It's a good life.....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Everything is in Front of You

2009 Cross Country National Championships - Reno

The other night I was watching Marco running some hard 400’s on grass. Ever since he started this cross country thing he’s had a habit of looking over his shoulder. The other night on his 400’s either the light was right or my eye’s finally saw it but I saw the results. Each time he looked over his shoulder he lost two steps to the runner in front or to the side of him. He would make up the two steps but at what cost. At first like I’ve done in the past I wanted to catch him after one of the efforts and explain what I saw. But he’s taught me over the past few months that he doesn’t respond to that kind of thing. So I waited. Before his race on the weekend I sent him a text message because I couldn’t be there. The only thing I told him was “The race is always in front of you. What’s behind you doesn’t matter. Only what’s in front” Isn’t that really true for everything we do. We can learn from what’s behind us but we can never go back so why even look back. The best things will happen up front. They always do.

It’s a good life….


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time Travel

When is Time Travel coming up? I've decided to just roll with it and get stuff done when I can. I tried to get back on my normal schedule Up at 4, Working out at 5, done at 6:15, Marco off to School at 6:45 and me out the door at 7:00. My head said go, my body said stop. So I got the workout done but not until after Marco left for school. It will get better for sure. It always does but Time Travel please come when you can.

It's a good life...

Monday, September 20, 2010


Athletes are losing their luster. This year alone the mighty have fallen. If I were an athlete at the top of my game I would put my head down, be thankful for what I get and I would shut up. Unfortunately, just like Bankers and Oil Companies, when one really screws up everyone takes a beating.

Good thing we have athletes who are still winning and being humble about it.

It's a good life....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Running Is Universal

The last two times I've been to China I've been reminded that running is Universal. Both trips included a run where I was joined mid run by a local runner. In both runs my run partner didn't speak English and I certainly don't speak Chinese. The language we spoke was running. First is the language of pace. Miles/minute or Kilometers/minute are the same no matter where you go. Pace is pace and if two runners are running the same pace then they are speaking the same language. But was is even more amazing is space. Runners have a unique ability to measure space. We both see the person on the bike and instinctively we know which way to move. To know that you have to know which way the other runner is moving. Again, it's universal.

It's a good life....