Archive for July, 2011

#179

Posted in Random on July 12, 2011 by eeodim

In my last post I referred to a friend who alerted me to the story of John “The Blazeman” Blais.  My friends name is Sam and as irony would have it he has a pretty incredible story of his own.  Below is his own account of the recent trial and tribulations he’s had to overcome to be able to race in a few weeks.  It’s a remarkable story on its own and one I thought should be shared.

 

I define courage as going into a battle without knowing if  you are going to win or lose. But you are fighting the fight because it needs to be fought, because its the right thing to do, win or lose.

I had decided that this would be my final Ironman. Lucky number 3. I had already done what I wanted to do but I just wanted to get number 3 right. So I joined my team and started training for Ironman Lake Placid in November of 2011. We trained through sub 0 temperatures. Through holidays and birthdays, in snow, mud, sleet, and wind. I had gotten fitter, stronger, faster by May 7th.

We were out on a training ride, and I never thought it would happen to me, but i was hit by a car and badly injured. Fractured vertebrate, almost lost my left leg when a part of my bike sliced through it, plastic surgery to my face was necessary, the list goes on. Some 22 yr old kid wasn’t looking where he was going. I guess I should be thankful that I lived, that I was not paralyzed, and that I got to keep my leg. People kept telling me how lucky I was…

For the next 6 weeks I was at home in a cast, doing whatever strength training, rehab and physical therapy that I could. I would have dreams when i slept that I was running again, trails with my team. There was no pain or limp in my dreams, it was like nothing ever happened. I woke up to the sore reality that my leg was not the same as the one I had run on in my dreams, a hard reality.

Slowly, I fought back, I was able to walk, then run in place. I would set up my fiance’s road bike on the indoor trainer and pedal with one leg. Eventually, I was able to get myself to the bike store and pick up my bike after they had worked to salvage it. I decided to ride it home. On the way back, I was hit by another car, an SUV this time. You can’t make this stuff up. I hit the ground again, and hurt my hip and arms this time. How could this happen twice in the same month after so many years of riding without incident? Why was my will being tested so much?

I didn’t understand why, but something in me drove me to get back up, fix what was broken, and fight back even after getting hit by 2 cars. I will not accept this reality where I could not show up. Again, I didn’t understand why I was being tested and why I was so tenacious about not bowing out.

It all came together last week when Ironman gave us our bib numbers and they gave me the honour of wearing #179, John Blais’ number. It all made sense finally. I had his fight in me, the same fight that rolled him across the finish line many years ago. John was there in spirit each time I got hurt and was whispering in my ear to get up and get going again. That I wasn’t done, so that I could carry #179 across the finish.

That said, it is my intention to show up race day at Lake Placid in a couple of weeks, wear #179 proudly, and roll across the finish line one last time no matter what it takes or how long it takes. I have dedicated these last 2 months to that end and will not accept any other alternative.

This is a fight that is fought because it needs to be fought, because its the right thing to do. 

— Sam

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John Blais – The Blazeman

Posted in Pics / Video on July 12, 2011 by eeodim

A friend of mine who also happens to be a fellow Triathlete sent this to me early this morning.  I highly recommend you take the few minutes to listen to John’s inspiring story.  What a great way to start off the day.

Rhode Island Race Report – Part Deux

Posted in Races on July 11, 2011 by eeodim

Not all was lost on my trip to beautiful Providence this weekend.  I learned some valuable lessons as to how an Ironman event is set up.  Logistically, there are a number of moving parts and if you’re not paying attention it could be easy to get confused.  Now that I’ve gone through the grind, IMLOU should be all that more smooth.

Saturday morning I rolled into the convention center to get my race packet, attend the athlete meeting and do all the other necessary due diligence.  This was my first race in which athletes were to use gear bags in transition as opposed to leaving all of their stuff next to their bike.  For example, when entering T1 from the swim – all of my biking needs were in my bag sitting by my bike.  I took them all out and placed all my swim stuff back into the bag.  The organizers then took our bags and had them waiting for us, well, the other athletes that finished back at the finish line.  

We found out at the athlete meeting that the water temperature was an astounding 84 degrees F.  That meant no wet-suits.  I had never swam that long before without the help of a wet-suit, but honestly, I wasn’t that nervous.  I think the last few weeks of training with my swim coach, Thea, have helped a lot.  I was confident going in that I’d be able to complete the swim.  I didn’t think I’d be able to complete the swim fast, but I was sure I’d be able to finish it calmly and with juice left in my tank.  Looking back, when I exited the lake I shot down the chute toward my bike like a rocket in an all out sprint.  I passed at least a half dozen folks who were walking or jogging slowly.  That probably meant that I should have put a little more effort in the swim.  My goal coming in was 43-45 mins and I swam a 47:24. Very slow, but there’s a ton of improvement to be made there which I’m happy about.

Rows and rows of bikes. About 1650 athletes in all

My bike

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where my story ends!  I have a few more pics, but nothing really noteworthy.  If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get to come back next year and finish some unsettled business.

T2 with everyone's run gear bags

Hopefully I can come back next year and actually run out this mutha -

Final note before putting this issue to bed.  I decided to leave on the athlete wristband until Louisville.  I plan to use it as a constant reminder of how badly I felt when I wasn’t able to finish.  I don’t want to feel that pain again and this should serve as good motivation to keep running, biking and swimming.

Easy motivation

Rhode Island “29.8” Race Report

Posted in Races on July 11, 2011 by eeodim

Imagine you’re a carpenter.  A relatively new apprenticed carpenter actually.  You’ve worked hard to learn the basic math, measurements, and other industrial skills that make you successful at your trade.  Most of your work involves building single family homes or small jobs here and there.  Over time you work and hone your skills to become good at what you do.  You even have shiny new tools that make building things easier.  At some point you’re given the opportunity to build a mansion.  No more two bedroom homes, but now you’re in charge of crafting an eight bedroom estate complete with a pool.  Folks who hear you’re going to do this say you’re crazy for taking on such a monumental project.  Why, they ask, would you ever want to work on something so overwhelming?  You take their questioning in stride and continue to do what you love.  You start laying the foundation, then put up the framing, eventually the windows go in, plumbing and electrical too.  Finally, the only thing left to do is paint and decorate.  However, the day you come in to work to start putting on the finishing touches you come to discover your house is no longer standing.  A freak electrical fire caused the entire property to burn to ashes.  Everything you worked so hard and diligently on has gone up in smoke – literally.  There was nothing you could have done, some times these things just happen.

Today I was that carpenter.  My initial attempt at the half-ironman distance ended in utter failure, but by no fault of mine.  Around mile 28 of the 56 mile bike my rear derraileur snapped off its hanger causing the chain to tear in half.  My day was done after only 29.8 miles (1.2 mile swim + 28.6 mile bike).  I finished only 42% of the race.  Eventually a few tech guys showed up, but unfortunately they didn’t have the necessary parts with them to get me fixed and on my way.  They called the Shimano rep who was on the course to have him come by to see if he had the parts, but upon his arrival the only thing he could do was confirm my day was done.  Three miserable hours later the sag wagon finally came by and picked me up.  I had to wait as the very last rider out on the course rode past the last aid station where I sat waiting patiently.  He dropped me off at T2 where I had to pick up my run stuff before I could head back to the hotel.  The real cherry on top kick in the nuts was the finish line was only 25 yards or so away from T2.  So as I gathered up my belongings I had to hear the announcer call off folks who had just crossed the finish line.  Why couldn’t that be me?  That should be me.

broken chain and jacked up rear derraileur

that piece at the top should connect with that piece at the bottom

that silver piece should be straight not bent left

The walk back to the hotel was in reality only 20 minutes long, but it felt like 20 hours.  I have enough self awareness to realize it was just a race, but I felt miserable.  I wanted to just throw my bike on the ground, kick the crap out of it, and then leave for them to throw in the trash.  Had someone had a match I probably would have set it on fire as well.  Okay, yes, this sounds a bit dramatic, but I put a lot into this.  I wake up early and go to bed late training for these races.  I sacrifice a lot of quality family time preparing to succeed and to be limited because a mechanical failure seems just plain unfair.  Ask me tomorrow and I may feel different, but right now the stinging feeling is still pretty strong.

I will say that not all was lost on the day.  Ironically enough, two other competitors happened to have mechanical issues around the same area I fell apart.  First was Steve (bib #571 from the Philly area), who’s rear tube went flat.  He stated that earlier up the road he hit a pot hole and all of his tire changing tools flew out of his bento box.  He literally had no way to change his tire.  Fortunately for him I had all the necessary stuff.  I don’t think he had changed a tube before, so I took the reigns and changed it for him sending him on his way.  I’m happy to report he went on to finish with a time of 6:18:58.

The second competitor was in a similar situation, but a bit more distressed.  Roxanne (bib #1610) stated she was using this race as a qualifier for the World Championships in Las Vegas later this September and this was her last chance.  She was frantically trying to change her tube as well, but was so overwhelmed her hands were literally shaking and she just couldn’t concentrate.  Again, I took the lead changing her tire and she was off.  Roxanne finished as well – 5:51:25.  She finished 8th in her division which doesn’t automatically qualify her for the World Championships, but if the folks in front of her decided they didn’t want to go or didn’t claim the spot then her ticket is punched.  Either way, she finished and I’m glad I was able to be apart of it.

my dinner and dessert tonight

So as I sit here writing this I’m still wondering what the next step is.  It’s easy to wallow in my own puddle of misery and cry how things just aren’t fair.  The reality of the situation is IMLOU isn’t waiting for anyone.  The longer I sit idle the more unprepared I will be come Aug 28.  I’m going to take down an entire bottle of wine tonight and once I go to sleep I’m putting this in the past.  Tomorrow morning the train is back on the tracks and heading toward Asskickinville.

Ignorance is bliss … the road to Rhode Island

Posted in Races, Random on July 8, 2011 by eeodim

In the past two days about a half dozen Tri buddies have asked how I’m feeling heading into my Half-Ironman on Sunday.  For the most part, my reply has been an even keeled “yeah, I guess I’m ready.”  To be honest, I just haven’t thought about it a lot.  I’m not sure if it’s all the other distractions in life or if I’m just focusing more on my ultimate goal of IMLOU, but I still haven’t received those butterflies.  I think once I get up there and checked in, maybe start walking through the Expo tomorrow I’ll get more anxious.  Until then I’m loving this state of calm I’m in.  It’s either a state of calm or a state of ignorance.  Either way I don’t have goose bumps yet.  I had the same feeling heading into Doc n Sok a few weeks ago and that race turned out to go better than planned.  Hopefully the old adage is true – good thing come in pairs …

Schedule for the rest of the weekend:

Fri – The wife and kids will join me as we leave NYC Friday evening for the 180 mile trek up to Providence.

Sat – Ideally, I’d like to get up a little early and try to drive the bike course, but I may just want that extra bit of  sleep.  At some point I’ll have to check in and drop off all of my stuff at T1 and T2.  The rest of the day will be spent relaxing (while staying hydrated) and checking out Providence.

Sun – Early wake up and time to kick some ass.  My wave is one of the first ones to head out, 6:45 a.m. to be exact.  Shuttle buses will take athletes from the downtown area to the swim start which is roughly 7 miles away.  If all things go to plan I should be done less than 6 hours later (knock on wood).

Final Note – In some breaking news … the Rhode Island health department has closed down Lincoln Woods Beach because of a high bacteria count.  Ummmmmm … great!  Lincoln Woods Beach happens to be the swim venue for the Tri.  As of a couple hours ago the beach is still closed.  It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

W is for “Withrow”

Posted in Happy Thoughts Library, Team ReserveAid on July 6, 2011 by eeodim

I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth mentioning again.  I don’t remember the exact date, but I believe it was in the fall of 2009 and I get this phone call from my boy, JW (aka Withrow).

JW:  I want to ask you a question, but I don’t want you to reply without hearing me out first.  Can you do that?

Me:  Ummmm … ok.

JW:  What do you think about doing the NYC Triathlon?  A 0.9 swim down the Hudson, a 26+ mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run

Me:  (silence) Ummmm … (followed by more silence)

Ever the salesman, JW eventually convinced me to join him on his quest to race NYC 2010.  After the race I figured I’d retire the Speedo’s and move on to my regular rotation of playing basketball on a weekly basis.  Little did I know that the guy who could sell ice to an Eskimo also sold me on the idea of racing IMLOU after I told him repeatedly he was a lunatic for trying it himself.

The reason I bring Withrow up in my Happy Thoughts Library, and I should include his wife Jess, is they are two incredible people.  Allowing myself to be a bit cliché here, they will literally give the shirts off their backs to help their friends and racing buddies reach their goals.  They do this time and time again asking for nothing in return.  I joke that when I need something for my bike I either go to my local bike shop, High Gear, or I go to the Withrow’s.  Very few people in life are as driven, competitive, and thoughtful of others well being all at the same time.  It’s an interesting mix and one that pushes me to new levels.  I’m reasonably sure I would have never signed up for something like this without JW’s prodding.  In fact, there is a huge crew of fellow Team ReserveAid members who would probably say the same thing.  The Withrow’s have recruited 20 people to race IMLOU and an astounding 27 to race IMNYC a year from now – simply amazing.  A true testament to their commitment to ReserveAid.

In 53 days I hope to call myself and Ironman and for this I will owe a huge debt of gratitude to JW for pushing me further than I ever thought I could go.

V is for “Vino”

Posted in Happy Thoughts Library on July 6, 2011 by eeodim

It’s been a while since I  last updated my Happy Thoughts Libraray, so I thought I’d get off my lazy ass and finish this bad boy up.  We’re on “V” now …

Not too long ago, before Triathlons, before Decathlon’s, and even before boxing I was known to throw back a glass of wine or two with my nightly dinner.  I’d walk in the door, kiss my girls hello, and crack open a nice bottle of wine.  It was a perfect way to unwind after a day of work.  Once I started working out heavily and getting more involved with these various competitions I slowed the consumption down tremendously – almost to a screeching halt actually.  I figured it was just empty calories and I was negating all the effort I was putting in via my workouts.

Wifey often tells people that after 9 years of being together she has never seen me drunk.  She’s seen me buzzed, she’s seen me relaxed with a big ‘ol smile on my face, but she’s never seen me drunk.  After IMLOU I plan on breaking that streak.  If it were up to me I’d have the guy in the picture at the finish line dusting off that bottle for me and my ReserveAid compatriots to share.  I guess I’ll just have to settle for a few once we get back home.