Monday, December 17, 2012

Effort, Courage, Commit - A guest blog

I was kindly reminded the other day that I have not written a blog in a while.  Well I truly apologize to my loyal readers for this.  I have always intended this blog to be well thought and introspective.  For that to be its' purpose it often takes me a while to have inspiration hit.  With that said, my eldest son Connor (11), took it upon himself to write an entry for me.  I read it.  It was pretty good.  Apparently some lessons I preach at home are starting to take hold.  So enjoy this entry courtesy of Connor:

"Effort... It is not what you do, it is how you do it.  Without effort you have no courage.  And without courage you have no leadership.  And without leadership you have no effortand that brings us back to the beginning.

You also need to commit to the effort.  If you don't commit all the effort will fade away a little at a time.  You commit to the things that you do most in other ways they are called habits.

Some habits can be good but others can be bad.  You don't want too many bad habits because they can get you in trouble.  Like you have a lying habit it could get you in trouble if you do it too much.

So without effort, courage, and if you don't commit to what you are doing you are not a very wise person or how some people would say it, you have no guts.  So you need those also with bravery to sometimes do what is right."

I know my son put a lot of effort into the piece above.  Like him many of us are unsure of where to put our efforts.  It takes courage to stand for the things you think are right.  The past couple of months have seen some changes in our household.  We have had many conversations about what it takes to not only be successful but what it means and what takes be an individual.  Connor is learning as is little Cooper.  If I may add to my son's thoughts a bit, a couple of adjectives he left out were pride and purpose.

Connor is on the right path.  It takes time and understanding to be all of the adjectives we described above.  But above all things it takes someone to be true and honest with themselves and with those around them.  Once that happens the effort, courage, commitment, pride, and purpose will all fall into place.  In this holiday season take time to be with your families and have the conversations about what it is that makes your family tick.

 If we can all find that ground we can all share and stand proudly on, it should be a great and very interesting 2013.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Passion, Purpose, and Fortitude

   This year has been nothing less than eventful.  I challenged myself to accomplish feats that just years ago I mocked. I found a passion that I did not know lived inside of me.  My wife accomplished a feat that was years in the making with a finish that the both of us will remember for all our years.
   Throughout the year I kept focused on two main points: passion and purpose.  Those two nouns really grew to mean a lot to me.  They are truly symbiotic in nature.  You cannot have purpose without passion, and to have passion there must be purpose.  In all my endeavors this year I had held my purpose close to my heart. I wanted to not only raise money and awareness for the charity that I championed, but I wanted my sons to really see that a single person could make a difference.
   I was able to show my boys purpose.  And I think that they could definitely see the passion.  Some of our best moments were the saturday Bernstein family workouts.  Kerrie had her pacer Cooper on the bike while she ran, and I had Connor pacing me on my long runs that seemed like forever.  I don't think he will ever understand what it meant to me to have him by side while I ran for 5 hours. He showed me something that day, and I think he got what I was showing with my effort; not so much my words.
   So with our summer behind us and fall in full swing, we come to our newest noun - Fortitude. 

      Fortitude: mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty.

   The offseason poses so many challenges to a hopelessly addicted athlete.  We struggle with balancing how much time to take off to heal versus the amount of activity we must do to stay sane. It is also the time we take to reflect and begin to think about goals for the year to come.  I think with the year the Bernstein family has just put in the books we have a lot to look back on.  Even harder will be the setting the goals to come. 
   With my recovery in full swing I have already set sights on 2013 goals.  I am focused on the passion and purpose that carried me through the year and it is my hope to stay on the track of helping others do the same.  When we hit the winter I know that it is time to really dig deep.  Push when the weather says stay in bed, stretch and move when the snow flies.  Get out and enjoy what I have and discover what I have yet to achieve. 
   The offseason will be met with fortitude.  No matter the challenge, we will rise to meet it.  I have accomplished a lot but there is so much more to come.  Get ready Bernstein family, as well as the rest of you, 2013 is gonna be big.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ironman Louisville 2012: A Family Affair

It is quite hard at times to find the ability and words to put overwhelming feelings down on paper.  But this time that is not the case.  I will give you, my readers, a race report along with some personal feelings from my past experience with Ironman Louisville 2012.  This year's race was met with a completely different philosophy from the get go and I think it proved to be the right one.  To first understand my race report I want to give you some song lyrics to keep in mind that pulled me through my darkest hours. The song is by Egypt Central, titled "Kick Ass".  My theme song for 2012.

Now is the moment
I waited for
I can't be broken
I settled the score
I will not quit
So stand up, up, up
Conquer the weakness
Work through the pain
I can't be defeated
I will remain
I will not quit
So stand up, up, up

Stand up
Get your hands up
Are you ready to
Are you ready to...
Are you ready to kick ass

This year as you may or may not know I raced with my wife for the first time in a long time.  Many of my friends constantly asked and wondered how it would play out.  Was I going to wait, was I going to just race, what exactly were my plans?  Well for the most part I kept those cards close to me.  I knew I would finish with my wife, but I did not want to put any pressure on her as this was her first IM.

The swim for IM Louisville is in a river where you swim upstream for about 3/4 mile and then make the turn and swim back for the remaining 1 and 3/4 mile for a total of 2.4 miles. The water temperature was 84-85 so no wetsuit.  Kerrie and I hit the dock running and entered the water together off seperate docks in time trial fashion.  I was hoping to swim with her but it was a bit chaotic with negotiating around several hundred others that were already in the water. I saw her once before the turn but that was it.  My swim this year was phenomenal and uneventful.  I was relaxed and I did not puke! I pulled for about the first mile and a half then kicked into a stronger stroke for the remainder of the time.  I exited the water in 1 hour 14 min a 16 min PR from my first IM.

I came out of the water into transition just amped.  I asked my family if Kerrie had come out and they said not yet.  Kerrie and I had agreed that we would race our own races, but I still worried and wanted to ride with her.  I hit the changing tent.  Put on my bibs and tri jersey, filled up my pockets and headed out to get my steed. My plan was to go easy on the pedals for the first 50 miles or so. The course is very rolling but it is easy to get caught up in going too hard since the first 12 miles is dead flat and very fast.  I managed to hold back and kept my cadence high (90) which is my normal spin. There is an out and back section with a steep decline into a long climb and then back again.  On my return on this leg I saw Kerrie for the first time, she had the largest smile I could imagine and this set my mind at ease.  I was about 6 miles ahead of her at this time and I knew this was the last time I'd see her until the run. The ride went without any event.  The heat had kicked in and there was no relief from the sun.  The roads are smooth but the wind was noticeable.

I had gone through the bottles on my bike and all along I knew I was going to use my special needs bag.  This was the only planned stop I was going to make.  I had swtiched off my speed in order to focus on time for feeding etc.  It is a good thing I did this in hindsight because I would have pushed a bit harder to hit my goal of 20 mph average.  This would have caused some serious problems to occur earlier in the race.  As it was I finished the bike course of 112 miles in 5 hours and 41 mins. Averaging 19.8mph and a 45 min PR from my first IM.  Entering back into transition it was now time to start on my gameplan to finish with Kerrie, the looming question of how was going to be answered very quickly.

I had the same run plan as I did in my ultra.  My pace would be steady but slow.  I would try to maintain a low HR as best as possible at least and fuel constantly.  The IM Louisville run course is a two loop course that is very flat.  The only hills consist of running on a bridge to Indiana and back then running under two road bridges in the U of L area.  Other than that the run course offers no shade and is concrete/asphalt the entire way.  The temp again had risen to 94 degrees and visions of my first time here quickly returned. I had run the first three miles at an easy pace, walked the bridge and was feeling tired but ok.  I went through mile 6 when I started to feel the ominous "this is going to get ugly" feeling.

I began to walk but a quick enough pace to average 4.5 mph.  I knew I was on pace to shatter my first IM time, but I quickly reminded myself that was not why I was here this time.  At mile 10 I saw Kerrie again.  She was smiling still, running, and having a great race and at mile 4.  She asked me how I was, and I did not have enough filter to lie.  I said I am not well but we will finish. We shared a kiss and I told her not too worry and enjoy the moment, but not sure if she heard this.  As I continued to walk the world was growing dark, not because of clouds or shade or a tunnel, but because dehydration had set in with a fury.

There is a moment when you are severly dehydrated that you feel euphoric in a sense.  I must have appeared as a drunk man as I staggered from one side of the lane to the other.  My progress had slowed to a near crawl.  Doubts of a finish quickly began to fill my head and quitting became a real possibility.  I passed my family at mile 13 or so, and they knew I was not well.  I told them not too worry that I could fix was wrong somehow.  I walked past them a bit ashamed of my appearance and sad in the fact that I told my boys not to run along side of me because of how I felt. I told them mom was coming and they needed to be there for her.

About a mile down the road, for the first time ever in a race I stopped.  I sat on the curb and tried to contemplate what was wrong and how would I fix it.  Some fellow racers grabbed my hand helped me up and said that it was not time to rest yet.  I would thank them by name but I do not remember them.  One of them gave me some salt tablets which started my road to recovery.  I walked to the next aid station where again I sat, this time with a medic nearby.  I decided to take all the time I needed, and fortunately took a 10 or 15 minute nap in the grass.  When I woke I had some chicken broth which brought light back into my eyes.

I got up and thanks to Egypt Central and the will of me wanting my finish with Kerrie, I began to walk again.  I even began to run!  I ran to a cone then walked to a cone.  This really got my spirits up.  Thank goodness for Swanson Chicken Broth!!  My strength was returning and I had made the final turnaround to head back to the finish line.  At about 3/4 mile after the turnaround I saw my friend Amy, and shortly after Kerrie.  She looked amazing.  She was still smiling.  I hollared that I can't wait to finish with her and I'd see her soon.  I was soon joined by my friend Rusty, Amy's husband and he shared some pedal time as I walked.  It was great having him there for a bit.  I had fought through so much and really needed to chat at someone.  So a big thanks to him.

I approached the second to last turn before the finish and stopped.  It was here at mile 25.75 that I waited for Kerrie.  I knew she wasn't far behind and I couldn't wait for her so we could finish together.  It had taken 10 years to come to this point.  Kerrie got me started in triathlon many years ago, she had never beaten me.  This time she had beaten me.  No matter the time on the clocks, she deserved for this to be her day.  She nudged me at the line and we embraced following those words,"Jason & Kerrie Bernstein YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"
Kerrie's time - 14hrs 59 min 00 sec   My time - 14 hrs 59 min 03 secs
The day was long. The anticipation drove me crazy and every step I took was one with emotion and feeling.  We took this journey together.  From every run, ride, swim, babysitter, and everything in between we did this together.  I could not have been more proud of the final moment on 4th St.  Watching Kerrie hug our boys, seeing them look up at her and being so proud.  They sacrificed a lot this summer.  More than most boys should.  But in the end they were the ones that wore the medals. The lessons of Ironman don't just apply to training, nutrition, and race day execution.  They carry over to every facet of life.  Balance, communication, patience, love, and sacrifice.  There are so many feelings to describe the day, but it I can try to sum it up with "Be in the moment".  These were the words we worked and sacrificed by.

A heartfelt thanks goes to:
Connor & Cooper- the two best sons a dad could ask for, Mom & Dad Bernstein & Jessi & Brandon Cain (Sydney too) - you are our Iron Sherpas!
Kristy & Dustin- Always had a bottle of wine ready, and a phone close by.
Craig, Ellen, Tammy, Tammy, Joe, Brad, Amy, Tami, Brooke - Thanks for sharing some of the miles

And all of our friends that followed the journey and whispered or shouted support throughout the day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

55.4 Miles of Pure Enjoyment

This past weekend was a mile marker in my career as an endurance athlete.  I am currently sponsored by a new organization called Worth the Hurt.  In agreeing to be sponsored by them I have dedicated my season to racing for the charity of my choice.  I chose A-T Children's Project, a charity I have worked with for the past 3 years.  Worth the Hurt, or WTH, asked me to come and run the inaugural ultra-marathon in San Francisco.  Ultimately we ran the San Francisco marathon from finish to start and back again, 52.4 miles of pure fun.  Now I know I titled this 55.4 miles of fun but I will get to that.

My wife and I had never been to San Francisco, so I figured what better way to see the city, right?  Kerrie accompanied me as my everything.  Officially she was a bike marshall on the course but she proved to be my biggest asset throughout the entire weekend.  I also had my mentor Tim Borland on my support crew. He has been truly invaluable to me for the experience he has given and he is the reason I got involved with WTH and AT Children's Project.

So I guess I can fastforward a bit. The Saturday morning of race day was interesting.  We had photo and media shoots, then a special panel discussion in which I got to speak to the crowd and share my story and sage wisdom when it comes to all things endurance.  Following the media session we had another photo shoot, then lunch.  The race was slated to start at midnight.  With the time change (going from CST to PST) and a quiet hotel room I was able to get to sleep around 4pm.

Both Kerrie and I rose about 9pm.  My prerace meal consisted of a hearty salad and water.  It neared 10:15pm and the fun was just about ready to begin.  Since Kerrie and Tim were bike marshalls they rode to the finish line where we were to start about 2 miles from the hotel.  I chose to ride a taxi versus Kerrie's handlebars.  I was at the WTH tent where most of the other runners were getting ready.  There was a true sense of comraderie and OMG in the air.  I prepped my Camelbak, fuel belt bottles, and had a cup of coffee.  I was pumped and ready to run, though I had no idea what to expect since I have never run this far in my life.

We did one more media shoot for one of our sponsors Celliant.  Then it was time to gather at the makeshift start line for the anthem and rules.  We were made aware prior to the event that our first marathon would be self supported, open course, run by headlamp and map, with four madatory check points.  It was dark, it was midnite, and it was about to get very real.

The start line
My plan as had been all along was to walk any hill, keep my heart rate below 130 for the first 26.2 miles, fuel every 5 minutes in some manner, and relax.  At the start line there was a lot of experience and only a couple of us(me included) that had never done what I was about to do.  At the sound GO, I began my trot.  The course started flat.  It was dark and about 50 degrees with a light mist. The first four miles were relatively uneventful.  We ran the coast a bit, turned and ran around McCovey Cove and Giant's Ballpark. Then turned inland.  This is where it got a bit interesting.
Did you know San Francisco is not flat.  I did know this but I did not know the severity of slope.  We began to work our way up into the hill that lasted about 2 miles at about a 28% incline. This was the most interesting two miles I have run/walked in a long time.  It was near closing time on the busiest bar strip (Haight Ashbury).  We went from gang territory, to gay bars, to gang, and back.  I only bumped into one drag queen, who was dressed quite eloquently.  Before I knew it I was at the top of the hill and about to enter an even darker area; Golden Gate Park.

For the next 6 miles or so we ran in the park, lost and unsure of which direction to go.  No lights, one map, and no road signs.  A corrections officer was overheard saying, "We should not be here".  But what is life without adventure?  Well I eventually found the way through the park with the asisstance of our random road crew and my wife manning the map.  We left the park and ran an out and back along the shore, where it got very cold and wet and all you heard was the sound of the crashing waves, couldn't really see them though, after all it was 3 am.  Following the shore line run and a missed turn around point, I hit check point 2 and told Kerrie let's go.  For the next two hours she and I were together, in San Francisco.  It was rather uneventful until the last 1/2 mile or so, when I knew we were close on time.  We were asked to be back to the start line by 5am because we were to start with 25,000 other runners on the second marathon. 
One done One to GO. Kerrie on the bike
I hit the gas, and started to part the standing around runners.  It was pretty cool to have people clearing the way ahead of you, I felt like a celebrity.  I got to the WTH tent with 5min to spare.  I was happy, pumped, and ready to go potty!  I was pretty ready to go right into run number 2.  I grabbed a bannana, restocked my Camelbak, fuel belt, and rolled out my muscles and started on run number two around 5:20am.  The second run was approached with the same run/walk plan.  Everything looked different.  Though on this run we ran an out and back across the Golden Gate Bridge.  The fog was pretty thick so no pictures were taken. 

I followed my plan well and was feeling strong, even to the point that I was running faster than my first marathon. I hit mile 19 (48 or so) and the wall hit again.  Yes AGAIN!  I had to slow which was not entirely bad.  Though I now faced the Haight Ashbury hill again only this time it went down.  I ended up walking the entire way.  My legs hurt, my feet hurt, and I did not want to fall and roll two miles to the bottom.  Once it flattened out I began my pacing and trotted in to a welcome finish line. Where yes I got the hug I had been waiting for for 10 hours.  As I said in my media shoots, my favorite part of any race is the hug that I get from my wife Kerrie.

Worth the Hurt Athletes
All in all this was an awesome event. Despite a couple of wrong turns that extended our run it was truly more mental than physical. I was very nervous having never run as far as I did.  The recovery sucks, but the run was amazing.  Having a purpose behind it meant even more.  I am racing for AT Children's Project and Worth the Hurt.  I have to thank Wendi Chapman and Allison Falk and their staff yes Gordon, Jenny, and Maddie too for taking care of me and making sure I got anything I needed.  Thanks to our sponsors CamelBak and Celliant.  Thank you to some amazing other runners that were sponsored along with me: Brian, Kevin, Meredith, Ashley, & Dan.  It was awesome finally meeting you and and an honor to have shared the time together.

Thanks to Tim for his insight, and confidence in my abilities.  He inspired me and encouraged me in every step I took and continue to take for AT.  Lastly Kerrie.  Without whom I would still be running trying to find Old Merchants Road.  I love you.  You are my rock and strength.  With you anything I do is impossible.  Ironman ain't got nothing on us baby. 
The best support crew ever.  Kerrie & Tim Borland

For those interested in the numbers:
1st marathon 29 miles:
4 hours 58 min
avg HR 133 burned 4501 calories

2nd marathon 26.2 miles:
4 hours 50 min
avg HR 144 burned 5060 calories

Second marathon, check!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Journey Comes Full Circle

Nearly eleven years ago my wife had the idea that she wanted to do a triathlon.  She was about 1 year past the birth of our first son.  We lived in a small town, we were over weight and out of shape.  She had reached the point that many people come to and something in her life had to change.  Little did I know that the change needed in her life would also take place in mine.

We knew nothing about triathlon at the time, but we got her a bike, shoes, and she had already been an accomplished swimmer.  She trained for a few months and the race day arrived.  I went as a supporting husband and with a belief that I would never do what she was doing.  Afterall I did not swim well and dreaded running.  I waited and watched her compete. Quickly an envy had built within me and I thought maybe I can do what she is doing.

Fast forward a year.  I had a bike, Kerrie taught me to swim, and I ran.  We trained together.  We read and educated ourselves on how to train.  We began to learn about our new chosen lifestyle.  Together we made an absolute lifestyle change.  Within a year we were a mere shadow of our former selves. We had become triathletes.  I caught the speed bug and began to push harder to go faster, while Kerrie was happy with being steady with a subtle desire to go fast.  I think she had also grown envious of how fast I had gotten causing a bit of friction.

As the years continued we each got faster though the workouts seemed to be riddled with arguments over who was setting the pace or who was going to workout when.  It is funny to think that we never were selfish in the argument and both of us wanted the other to go and get their work out in.  We had devised two ways for us to be happy in our workouts.  She had the evenings and I had the mornings.  She had her workout partners and I had mine.  We enjoyed our chosen lifestyle, we became successful, healthy, and happy.  Though in the middle years I missed working out with Kerrie.

This winter we had a long talk about her goals.  She decided this was the year for her Ironman.  She asked me to join her in the accomplishing this goal. I was overjoyed at the chance to workout with my partner again. Though our speeds were different I had faith we could make it work.  We had both grown and learned the same philosophies so it seemed we would go well together throughout the whole experience. 

As I write this I am less than two weeks from my ultramarathon and less than 6 weeks from our Ironman.  The entire year has been the best I have ever had.  I have enjoyed having the best training partner a guy could ever ask for.  We have grown together more and our relationship is stronger than it ever has been.  Our workouts have been seamless.  We have picked each other up and pushed ourselves through the lows and been a cheerleader during the highest of highs.  I know I can not do what I do without her.  She had the desire to change our life ten years ago.  I am glad I listened.

Our journey has come full circle.  We are back at where we began, but much healthier and happier in our life.  We have set our goals. We have communicated, orchestrated, and dominated!  Kerrie will be successful in accomplishing her goals as will I.  Together we are commited, together we will enjoy the ride.  All the while our two boys have the absolute best role model any guy could ask for. 

As my theme song for the year states, "Now is the moment, I have waited for, I will not quit... Kick ASS!!!"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Figuring It All Out

So I had a great idea on one of my runs.  I thought it would be cool to take my readers along with me and video tape my run on the day.  Well as we all know sometimes the best intentions do not always fall into place.  I had my phone with me, I was loaded up with my pack, wearing my AT Cure gear, and set out for a short infomercial style run.

I had a great one on one session with, you, my reader.  I told you what I was feeling when I run.  I explained the process of taking on the task of being a representative of something much bigger than yourself.  Taking on the ultra marathon could become a very daunting feat, if I were to look at the task as a whole.  Fortunately I take all my training one day at a time.

Also on this run, I spoke of the passion I have for everything that I do.  I care deeply about how I represent those that have asked me to do so.  I stress the importance of being an honorable person.  Seeing every task and every day through clear to the end.  I know what I have commited to.  I explained that there will be ups and downs.  I have been through some already.  It takes a team.

I had to cut off at this point in the filming because I made a turn into the headwind, so at this time you can pause reading. Stretch, run in place, grab a jump rope.  Go to and donate to my team Jason AT Cure.

Picking back up in the filming a bit more sweaty, I answered some more figurative questions.  The big one being what do you think about when you run or train for that matter?  Considering I train for Ironman as well as ultra marathon this is a three part answer. When I swim, I think, "stroke, pull, breathe, that chick next to me is hot (yes dear that is you), stroke, pull, breathe."  When I bike, I think, "Put the hammer down, keep your mouth closed and your ears open, steady rythym, let it fly." 

Finally when I run, I think, "I run for those that can't.  I do not like to run, but I can run.  It is relaxing, but I hate to run. I can run, and I will run. I will run for however long it takes.  I run for myself, my wife and my boys.  I hate to run.  I am running because I am committed. I am running because I believe in the cause.  I believe that there is nothing stronger than family.  I am running because I can make a difference."

Well, this all came out great on my little video.  But here is why this is not a video blog.  I did not realize that when I filmed from my phone that I had to turn the phone sideways.  When I went to download the video, I had to turn the computer sideways in order to watch it properly.  So if you happen to know how to change the rotation of video from a camera phone would you help me out.

Thanks again for helping me to make a difference.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Homework, Educate, and Set Forth

I had a great conversation with one of my athletes the other day.  He has been an active runner for some time and is becoming a bit bored with were he is at.  He loves to run, but was searching for more. He found my card in a race a bag and thought triathlon may be the ticket to rejuvinating his passion for fitness.

Coach Bernie is ready to Hurt
When he came to me he knew nothing about the sport other than it was a swim, a bike, and a run.  He did not know how to swim, and he lacked an actual bike.  He could run like the dickens though.  Well we hit the pool and he discovered that through a little persistance he would be able to survive and even do well in the swim portion.  With a little monetary investment on his part he was able to purchase a bike and he was now on his way to becoming a triathlete.

Having yet to compete in a triathlon, he has already begun the search for something more meaningful to direct his training.  My athlete works with a father that I have networked with a couple of years ago when I started my club's Stinkfoot 5k.  Greg, has two daughters with AT (  Greg has asked my athlete to join in the cause in some manner.

My athlete has been following my exploits with my new venture Worth the Hurt and saw a possible opportunity to get more involved.  It is my thought that all a person needs is information and purpose and they can make a world of difference.  Do your homework, educate yourself, then set your mission.  Too often people rush in to something only to fizzle in the end or just dabble rather than making the true commitment.

It is with Worth the Hurt and the families of AT Cure that I am setting forth to make my difference.  I am ready to leave my mark.  As I watched helplessly as one of the families I just got to know lose their child, I really had to wonder if I could make a difference. It is with subtle acts of kindness and help from total strangers we can make a difference in a family or child's life. 

Two athletes with a Very big heart
I think my athlete is on the right track.  When you get involved in changing your life, you find not only you change yours but you begin to help change others.  He will leave his mark.  I will leave mine,  question now is, will you?

Monday, April 16, 2012

What Am I Doin?!

I have alluded to many of you that this year of racing is different than my years past.  I have found through discussion with some close friends that there are three things that matter most when it comes to enjoying my passion and hobby of racing.  I need answers for "Where?", the "How?", and most importantly "for what Purpose?"

I think the first question was a relatively easy concepts to grasp.  For the past ten years I have raced across the US in various events from triathlon, running, and cycling.  My hobby has focused primarily on the sport of triathlon.  I have raced the coast line, the mountains, the plains, and in all weather conditions. So I have thoroughly covered the "Where" question with the answer of "Anywhere".

The second question of "How" often times really had me focus on the juggling act that is life.  In our household life does not and I repeat does not revolve around my schedule.  I have two boys and a wife that all seek to race, live, and look for my attention.  I also have a career and second company that require attention.  When I look at my race season for the next year I have to consider my goals and the time I can commit to achieving success in whatever it is I focus on for the year. So to answer the "How" I say "Compromise".

The third question "for what Purpose?" leads me into my newest venture. There has always been a purpose in my training.  It first was to lose weight. Well, I went from 215 to 165.  The second was to see how fast I can go.  For example my average sprint triathlon went from 1 hour 28 min to 1 hr 9 min.  Then I stepped into let me see how far I can go. I went far by completing Ironman Louisville.  That brings me to the present date.  I have always raced and trained with my family front and foremost in my mind.  I wanted to set the bar and show my boys that anything is possible.

My boys have gotten the message and they are now both pushing themselves and trying hard in every endeavor they take on.  So here I am now, I have set the example, I love to train, I love to go far, and I am constantly seeking another challenge.  The challenge has finally come calling; Can I be that guy that carries a cause and can I be the example to many on a national scale.

My friend Tim Borland recommended me to an organization based out of the San Francisco Marathon. They were trying to find a couple of athletes that would be willing to tackle an ultra-marathon (52.4 miles) in July in San Francisco.  In brief they would help financially if I were to race for a cause and give all money to a charity.  Tim Borland has been the face of AT Cure since the mid 2000's.  He has raised over $250,000 for this charity through his actions and athletic efforts.  Those are monumental numbers and big shoes to fill.

This season I have focused on the cause AT Cure.  Ataxia-telangiectasia combines the worst symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiencies, and cancer.  This is a disease whereas the children do not survive their teens and the disease is genetic.  This is not just a disease that affects the child, it affects the entire family and family line.  I was introduced to this organization about 3 years ago and felt an instant connection.  AT affects 500 children nation wide and more and more families are being diagnosed.  I urge you to check out for more information.

Well, Worth the Hurt,, came to me and asked me to race for them for this year.  I would dedicate all my training and all my races to them and AT Cure.  I have already found the "Purpose" in what it is exactly I am searching for.  I raced about two weeks ago in Galveston, TX.  I made a couple of stops along the way to start making the "connection" with the families.  I was able to meet two children, Jared Digby and Lana Little.  I met Jared (29) in the hospital where he has been battling various invasions since February and I met Lana (8) at lunch who is now primarily confined to a wheelchair. 

Meeting these two children has put the bigger "Purpose" in my racing.  Before I left Texas, I saw Jared one more time.  I left my medal and bib with him to encourage him and his family.  It gave a chance for my boys to see racing as not just something to prove to themselves but something that can give hope to others.  I am trying to raise money not just by the sponsorships that Worth the Hurt has provided but also through my families efforts this year.  We are challenging everyone to donate a dollar for every mile my boys put in, and 50 cents for every mile my wife and I put in.

Just to update you:
Connor (10) - 25 miles last week
Cooper (4) - 5 miles last week
Kerrie - 75 miles
ME - 94 miles
Total cash to match : $114.50  Donations can be made to or contact me for other methods.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lonestar 70.3 4/1/2012 Post Race Review

I must tell you for my third year doing this race it has been an adventure every time.  Not just the race itself, but the company I have shared this weekend with.  This race has always been a boy’s getaway for my dad, my oldest son Connor (10), and me.  This year was different.  We added one more boy to the mix this year, my youngest son Cooper (4) joined us.  It was quite an experience for all involved as I will go into details on the trip itself later.  But now the race…

The race takes place on Galveston Island at the Moody Gardens in Texas.  The swim is a salt water swim on the north side of Galveston, opposite the Gulf.  The bike is an out and back along the seawall fully exposed to the Gulf winds for the entire 56 miles.  The run for this year was changed to a 3 loop run, with years prior being 4.  The big difference this year was one mile of the four mile loop was ran on the tarmac of the nearby airport.  Otherwise the remaining three miles are in the park itself relatively protected from the elements.

The swim went well this year. It is a tread water start whereas I floated to the back of my wave (160 total) and eased into the swim this year.  The water temp was 70 degrees and the water was flat.  I pulled for the first 400 yards so I could let my body relax until I found my groove and swam my line.  This was the least physical swim I have been in despite having 1500 people already ahead of my wave.

Swim time: 36:03- 76 in age group - 661 place overall.

I made a quick transition and headed out on my favorite part. I rode out on the bike’s first leg which is 28 miles into a strong headwind of roughly 20mph.  The thing about riding this wind is that it is absolutely relentless.  There is no let up of the wind.  This is also a ride that is pancake flat with the exception of a bridge about 22 miles out into the ride.  You then ride another 6 miles onto an island that is wide open with sand dunes, wind, and heat.  I hit the turn around and was able to then hit the gas.  I had borrowed a friend’s bike for this race which I was not terribly familiar with and at about 40 miles, my hip popped.  It seemed minor at the time but it had a lingering affect into the run.  I finished strong on the ride and reentered the transition. 

Bike time: 2:38:08 – 46 in age group – 351 overall.

Transition was clean and smooth.  I hit the run with the main plan of slow and steady.  I felt the pain in my hip and did not want to risk the rest of my season.  I planned to run between a 9 and 10 min pace.  This was very comfortable.  The run conditions were very sunny, hot (mid 80’s), and there was a very steady headwind on the airport tarmac.  Within the park it is well attended with people around every corner.  Though around the airport it was like watching someone plod through the desert.  It was no man’s land, a long line of runners, just trying to get through it. The run remained uneventful.  My pain was constant so I just focused on the finish as well as the main reason I am racing this year.  I am racing for a cause.  AT Cure was in my heart the entire time.  But again more on this on my next check in. 

Run time: 2:11:10 – 93 of 290 finishers in my age group– 642 of 2670 overall.

Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes and 19 seconds 

Overall I was pleased with my race.  It is a real challenge to get ready for a hot race in April in Texas when you live in Iowa.  I feel I performed well and learned a few more lessons.  I did get one chance to see Lance Armstrong on the bike leg but that was it.  One big lesson I have learned is that the changes we made in our diet have affected my standard race nutrition as well.  I will take the coming months to hammer out a new plan and get myself ready for the challenges to come.  In the meantime I will continue preparing myself for my ultra-marathon as well as Ironman to come later this year.

I urge you to check out my newest sponsor at  I have dedicated this season to racing for AT Cure a small charity doing big things for children afflicted with AT.  Go to for more information.  If you want to help me achieve the financial goals set by my sponsor please contact me. 

Again a special thanks to my wife for letting me go, my dad for being the ever faithful and sometimes wrong directed co-pilot.  And my two boys, I could not be happier with you two, 32 hours in a car and we never argued!  It was a great trip with more to come.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To my Thieving Friend

So I had an eventful end to my vacation.  We arrived home and I decided to meet up with some of the bike team for our weekly workout.  I had a flat on my road bike and instead of fixing it, I decided to ride my tri bike.  I looked and could not find it anywhere.  Long story short I determined it had been stolen.
While I would be happy to expound about how and where it was taken that is not the point of this blog.  This is more a less an open letter to the individual/individuals that decided they needed my bike more than me.

Let me tell you what you have in your posession.  You have years of hard work.  You have thousands of miles of tears, smiles, blood, and determination.  You have the hopes of a young child and happiness of a middle aged guy.  You see you did not just take a bike.  You did not just take fancy wheels.  You took a one of kind family heirloom.

When I purchased that bike I spent a year paying for it.  I spent miles getting the position just right.  I added parts and subtracted others.  I travelled the US, climbed mountains, rode the valleys, flew the along the coastline, and enjoyed the open road more than most.  I knew every clink, clunk, shift, and click.  I knew every rock chip, paint smudge, and sweat mark on that ride.  You see it took years of work, dedication, and effort to achieve and earn the right to ride a bike like that.

Not only do you have in your posession my years of hard work, you have the hopes of my sons in your hands.  I had promised to my boys that once they were able and had put in the work they would be given the bike.  They would be given the bike, not you.  Maybe you have had a rough childhood, maybe your parents did not teach you what it means to earning something, or what working for something would result in.  Well I have and will continue to teach my boys the values of honest, hard work.  Once I am able to replace what you have taken, I will once again hold my promise true to my boys.  I am sure they will also see the effort and hold our values true so that they may earn my bike once again.

My thieving friend, I hope you take care of the heirloom in your posession.  I hope you have not taken to part it out or cut it up.  I hope you enjoy it.  I hope it might motivate you to change your life.  Hopefully my bike will change your life as much as it changed mine.  You know you did not just steal a bicycle.  You did not just steal a fancy pair of wheels.  You stole my hardwork.  You stole my dedication. You stole more than I think you know.  There are a thousand eyes on you now.  Take care, ride safe, and I hope you have a helmet...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Educate, Educate, Educate

It has been nearly ten years since my wife and I changed our life.  We have been doing triathlon now for what seems like an eternity.  We have seen great changes not only in our physical presence but mental as well.  The journey has been an amazing one.  You never realize how much the body and mind can be pushed to tolerate.  Ten years ago I watched my wife tackle her first triathlon while I waited with anticipation to see her at various spots.  It wasn't but five minutes after seeing her cross the finish line that I said I can do that.

Well here I am now.  My life has been completely transformed from what it once was.  I am now a certified triathlon coach with a small but succesful group of athletes.  I have created a tri club, bike team, and became an Ironman.  All that aside I found I had and have so much more to learn. 

With every year I learn or tweak my training and mental approach to my chosen sport.  I have gotten faster, stronger, and more willing to endure what ever I put myself through.  This year will truly stand out more than most though.  About two months ago I did some testing with my wife.  I got some news that astonished me.  For as healthy a lifestyle my wife and I lead, we have become rather unhealthy.  I found that I have been in Stage 3 (of 4) adrenal failure.  When the body is pushed there needs to be response.  I found that by the afternoon of most days I was done.  I had cut out energy drinks (1yr clean), I have one cup of coffee a day, took my vitamins regularly but still I had no energy.

Thanks to this little test I finally had the hopeful solution to ending my constant state of fatigue.  I have started on a couple of other natural vitamins, and restructured my training (training at a very low Heart Rate 139).  My energy is slowly coming back and I am finding that I am stronger by the end of the day rather than peetering out at 1 in the afternoon.

This could not have happenned at a better time.  My first race of the season is just 2 weeks away.  I also have much bigger plans this season.  I found myself struggling this past weekend with the decision I have made for this year, but I know I will see them through.  So I will take a little bit to toot my horn, so bear with me.

I have been offered a spot into a pilot program called Worth the Hurt.  It is based out of the San Francisco Marathon, and it features 6 sponsored athletes who are willing to race an ultramarathon (52.4 miles) and raise money for a given charity.  It is not just the ultramarathon that I will be doing, but I also have an Ironman a month after on the docket for this year.    I have selected the charity and I know that I am confident that I can finish both events.  I will have more about the charity and the program in future blogs.  I am excited about this opportunity and the prospect for the future of my company.

In the meantime, I urge you to educate yourself.  Learn what you put your body through and what happens when you push too far.  It has been ten years since we changed our lives.  I continue to learn something new and learn more every day.  Take care of your body and stay focused on the things that mean the most.  To me it isn't how far or how fast I can go.  My family is truly the only thing that matters to me. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ironman Revisited

I have recently been asked to explain my experience about my Ironman event in 2010.  This I think has happened at a good time.  Lately I have been struggling to find my mojo per se.  This year I have signed up again to tackle IM Louisville.  This year I am racing with my wife in her first Ironman race.  It will be a time of lot of emotions shared between us.  For those that have raced at this level I think you know what I am talking about.  Experience goes a long way.  My wife and I have made a lot of changes since August 2010.  I am pumped and getting ready to train with her to finish this amazing feat.  So prior to that event, enjoy a recap and further insight into racing Iron distance events.

IM Louisville is the only Ironman that uses a time trial start. One person every second or two enters the water.  My morning started at 1am.  I ate a bit and drank a bottle of PowerAde then went back to sleep.  I woke again at 4:15a.m ate again then Kerrie and I headed out to the transition area at 4:30a.m.  It was a 1/2 mile walk to transition from our hotel.  My bike and all my other gear had been checked in on Saturday so I only had to put my bottles on my bike and check my tires.  I arrived at transition along with a huge mass of athletes, I was in and out and walking again to the swim start.  It was a 3/4 mile walk to the swim start from transition.  It was already 80 degrees and dark as night.  This was a non wetsuit swim since the river was 86 degrees. I got to the swim start at 5:15a.m.  This was a self seeding line and was a first come first serve.  Now what I didn't know was that people had sent their support crews to stand in line for them prior to transition opening (Many of us thought this was rather cheeky but what can you do).  I was about 1/4 mile again from the actual enter point from the swim. I found my spot and began the wait.

 Looking back on this I made two big mistakes already.  The first, I have never gotten up before a race to fuel or eat.  I had heard that this was the thing to do.  I trusted the experience of others and decided I would give it a try.  I knowingly broke my first rule of triathlon, NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.  The second mistake was that I drank another whole water bottle roughly 20 oz prior to race start.  This was probably more nerves and the cotton mouth I was feeling while waiting for my line to start moving. The first mistake would come back VERY quickly to hurt me in the first 40 minutes of racing.

 At 6:45am the pros hit the water.  The swim was 3/4 mile upstream and then turned downstream for the remaining distance.  At 7am the line began to move and move quicker and quicker.  Once I hit the dock we were running I had about 10 seconds to hit the watch get my goggles on and jump in all on the fly.  I hit the water and began to swim.  I was very relaxed and found a good groove.  The washing machine effect was very prevalent despite the time trial format and bodies were everywhere.  I was strong through the first 1.5 miles and then I had a bad feeling of nausea.  At about mile 2 I puked.  I was able to continue albeit in a breast stroke while puking then with about .1 mile left I puked again.  Finally I exited the water in 1hr 30min.  Looking back I think I got sea sick and had a belly full of liquid that never settled.  This was a first time ever for this.  I think between the rocking of my body, the current, and the other people around me I tossed my cookies and all my early race nutrition...

 Leaving the water I was miserable.  My stomach was in a giant knot.  I went through transition, changed my clothes, forced a Clif bar down and walked my bike out.  The beginning 30 miles of the bike were smooth and it felt like my body was coming back.  I was not able to eat anything of solid consistency, but I could get my chomps down and fluids in me. 

 The ride itself was a lollipop shape with an out and back leg off the stem.  The out and back had an awesome descent of about a mile on which I hit my top speed at about 42 mph on the descent.  The uphill was challenging but I managed with no sweat.  I continued my ride and was feeling well.  The sun began to warm things up very quickly.  There was no shade on the course of rolling hills.  I had heard that temps went quickly to 95 degrees or so by 10am. 

 There was a cool town, Le Grange, I remember because I kept thinking about ZZ Top any time I heard it mentioned, and they had closed the roads to traffic.  They put fencing along the road and for two miles it was lined with people screaming and yelling. It truly felt like we were rock stars.  Riding out of town I felt ok but I had a bit of a pit in my stomach.  As we came around for the second loop my water and mixes began to get very warm.  It was necessary to keep using them but it provided no relief from the heat.  At mile 70 I stopped and peed that felt great.  At mile 80 I was looking to grab cold water at the aid station but they were out of water.  The next aid station was at mile 106.  For the last 40 miles of the ride we rode back to town with a 20 mph headwind and no relief from the baking sun.  I felt as though I had no strength and just focused on the next transition to bring me home.  My bike split 6 hours 10 min I think for the entire ride the slowest I have ever ridden.

 Entering into transition I felt ok although my dismount would have been a 4.0 from any judge.  I could not eat and had forced a lot of stuff into me but felt that I could not satisfy the thirst I had.  I changed my shoes lathered with my sunscreen and headed out on the run.  I saw finally saw my wife Kerrie and was able to let her know what was happening and got the encouragement I desperately needed to continue.  The run was lightly rolling and definitely not flat as advertised.  It was a cool two loop course.  I was able to set a goal to walk for 4 min and run for 8min for about the first 3 miles.  I quickly found myself losing the mental battle.  I ended up walking for about the next 10 miles. 

 It was somewhere along the far end of the course that I had picked up a partner in the process and we helped each to keep moving.  At mile 13 we began to run 4min and walk 4min for about 4 miles.  I then again had to walk.  At mile 21 I set my plan to run for a min and walk a minute. This continued to mile 25.  At 25.5 my calves were wanting to cramp, I pushed to run and did so through the finisher chute. 

 It was amazing.  I crossed the line standing and running.  My run split 6 hr 11min.  I found Kerrie and got a hug and kiss we cried a bit and then I found myself needing to get to medical.  My total time on the course was 14 hrs 11min and finished at 9:30 pm. I got a massage and an emergency blanket.  I finally got back to the hotel at 12:00 and hit the sack.

 Walking away from the event I have had plenty of time to reflect and learn.  I gave up a lot during my 40 weeks preparation for this event.  There is so much that can be shared, but I believe one of the strongest messages I can express is remember those that are sacrificing to help you in your goal.  I missed a lot of my children’s events, inconvenienced my wife and friends, and spent a lot of money that I had not been prepared for.  Those items aside the rewards that I have reaped stemming from this challenge have been quite fortuitous. 

 Mentally I now have the confidence that I can do just about anything.  I know I can go the distance. I know I can push and push past any pain or mental block.  Physically I got faster and stronger and leaner.  I placed a huge value in nutrition and eating right everyday.  I value every moment with my family and hope that my boys take my accomplishment and apply it to their own lives.  Strength in your family and support crew is so important.  You can’t take them for granted at all.  Remind them however you can and thank them for all that they do. 

 Iron distance racing must be respected.  Just because you watch it and see others doing it does not mean it is easy.  It is a process.  Educate yourself in any way you can.  To be successful and have a long life in this awesome hobby takes time and persistence.  I had said to others that I would never tackle this event again.  I have since taken this back.  This year I refocused myself.  I am not about going as fast as I can.  I am not about pushing myself to limits and then superseding them.  This year it is about family.  I will be going back to Louisville this year.  Though, this year my team has included one other.  My wife will be taking on her first Ironman this year. 

 Our relationship is quite unique.  Ten years ago she set out to change our lives.  Triathlon was the calling.  Ever since that moment of great depression and realization we captured that moment of change and took the strides to improve every facet of our life.  From nutrition, to our communication, to how we raise our boys, everything has changed and evolved for the better.  Together we have educated ourselves and finally learned how to train and help each other achieve our respective goals. This year I go to Louisville with her.  This year even though I am participating I am her biggest fan. I will help her with every step she takes.  I know the challenges and still am learning the pitfalls but I know with her by my side and me by hers we can certainly accomplish any feat.  I have purpose, I have reason, now I must reach completion.