How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Jersey Boys – The Goof Review

Jersey Boys – The Goof Review

It seems that I cannot turn on a radio, browse the internet or watch the news without hearing a story about a celebrity scandal.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie star, pop star, hotel heiress or a political figure, for some reason when a person gains that much fame, they feel invincible.

It seems like these situations have been occurring forever, doesn’t it?

Mar14---i-Gangster-Silhouette

Jersey Boys, at the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida, told the history of the famous Four Seasons pop group and all of the so-called “situations” they were in.  Frankie Valli, Nick DeVito and the founder, Tommy DeVito.  were four stereotypical New Jersey kids that wanted a way out.  As juveniles and young adults Tommy and Nick were in and out of trouble with the law, until Tommy decided to start a group that took different

Mar14---e-My-Eyes-Adored-Younames until they finally arrived with the Four Seasons in 1960 with the help of writer/producer/singer Bob Guido.

The play brilliantly portrays the history of The Four Seasons in four parts, with each part
narrated by a different member of the band and supposedly reflecting that band member’s perspective on the band’s history.  Most of the big hits of the group are sung either in episodic situations or portraying the band on stage either in concert or on television.

Jersey BoysForrest Theatre

A huge surprise to me, was when I opened the program and found the roll of Frankie Valli is portrayed by Hayden Milanes.  Hayden and I performed together in a couple of different shows in another life.  Without any bias, Hayden’s performance was nothing short of amazing.  The song “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, made Frankie Valli’s extraordinary range famous and Hayden seemed to recreate it with ease.  Personally, I think the amazing richness in his vocal quality followed with his research of the character honored Mr. Valli to the extreme.

What was even more amazing is Hayden’s talent was only matched by the other members of the ensemble.  Nicolas Dromard portrayed Tommy DeVito with the crassness and overpowering attitude of a bully, and sang the harmonies with excellence.

Adam Zelasko portrayed Nick with the quiet determination of the performer that took the back seat a lot of the time, but always tried to help his brother keep it together.  Adam’s voice was powerful and played homage to Nick and the rest of the group with perfection.

Mar14---c-HandshakeThe biggest corner was turned when the group was joined by Bob Guido, played by Quinn VanAntwerp.  I am not a fan of giving extra praise to one actor or another, especially in a show that is ensemble driven, but as amazing as the other members of the group were, Quinn’s acting ability gave him a stage presence that just could not be matched.  His singing had this subtle quality, that foreshadowed his actions in the coming scenes.  Quinn was nothing short of brilliant which is saying something because all of the actors on stage were amazing.

Another character worth noting was Bob Crewe, the producer that put and kept the Four Seasons working and famous.  Barry Anderson’s gifted portrayal of Bob was nothing short of fantastic.  Even as a featured actor, he had a command of the stage that allowed him to stand out in the scenes that he was in.

The rest of the actors completed the ensemble with perfection.  A few of the actors had multiple roles, and were played with such finesse that it was not apparent unless you read the program.

Mar14---b-Recording-Studio

With all the well deserved accolades I have given Jersey Boys, I did notice a few problems from my orchestra seat.  The balance of the microphones seem to be off when transitioning from singing to dialogue as there were several points where it was hard to hear.

The direction while good, had some unusual placement of the actors.  There were times when I really needed to see what the actor was feeling, but their back was to the audience.  Every novice director is taught to position the actors to face front as much as possible, but in the professional arena, those rules are thrown out the window in order to make room for new visions, art and realism.  Unfortunately, there were a few moments where if this rule would have been applied it would have made for even stronger moments within the show.

Lastly, one of the designs I absolutely loved about the show were the sets.  They were simple, and clean which allowed for the acting and singing to take center stage without focus going to some special effects.  The sets were so simple the actors were even tasked with bringing furniture and props on and off the stage.  I haven’t such simplicity since “Spring Awakening”.  It added to the charm of the show.

All-in-all, this show is worth seeing.  So many times national tours come through Tampa and just look tired.  This show is incredibly energized and fun to watch.

A MUST SEE!

Mar14---a-Finale

Goof Review – Hoo-rag!

Many different names can be given to a bandanna; dew rag, handkerchief, pocket square, hair band and I think the list can go on.  Well, one company made a spin on the bandanna and they call it the Hoo-rag and I have to say I kind of enjoy it.

The HooRag is made out of a soft tech like material that can take on many different uses and for athletes, especially endurance athletes, it has a lot of potential.  Not to mention it comes in a number of different colors and designs which you can also customize.

It is plainly a great product for runners those humid sweaty runs when the sweat pours in the eyes, or for those cold runs when the air is so cold it feels like your lungs are going to freeze.  The material is soft and feels pretty nice against your skin. This product coves it all and with all of the different designs on their web site I am sure everyone can look good.  I love mine.Check out all Hoo-Rag has to offer at 
Carpe Viam!!
The first Goof Give-away!!
Fill out the form below to enter to win your very own Hoo-rag in your choice of design

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tribute Tuesday #1 – Amy Bennett Eck

I mentioned yesterday I am planning on having a regular column called Tribute Tuesday where I will select someone in my life who has had a positive influence on me in some way or another.  Most of the time these people will have coached to increase my athletic prowess (which is actually pretty easy), challenge me intellectually (which isn’t really all that hard either), and/or  inspire me to be a better human being.  My first Tribute Tuesday subject has done all three.  With no further ado I would like to introduce my coach, and friend; Amy Eck.

This is a kind of crazy picture of her, but it does really give the best possible introduction to her personality.  She is a wild, and free spirit with the most positive outlook on life I have ever known in a human being.  She refuses to believe there are limits to anyone’s potential, including her own.  Just to give you an idea, this woman has competed in the Kona Ironman World Championships, the World Xterra World Championships, numerous ultra running and mountain biking events, and was a competitive wrestler in high school and college (yes I said wrestler).  I credit her incredible coaching to my 47 minute reduction in time for my PR at Ironman Augusta 70.3.  There is nothing Amy cannot do and her energy is uber-contagious.  She gets so excited when she is able to help and/or see someone succeeding that she turns bright red.  I cannot believe she doesn’t get muscle cramps in her cheeks.
Now she and her husband Erik are training for her biggest event ever, the birth of their first child.  As you can see her pregnancy hasn’t taken an ounce of her positive energy away.  She continues to enjoy life and even with all that drag she still beats both me and her husband in the pool.  Obviously she doesn’t let anything conquer her competitive side.  She was brought here to Florida due to Erik’s mobilization as a Reserve Navy Officer to CENTCOM, so the only negative thing I can possibly say about Amy is that she will be leaving to return to her home and coaching practice in Hawaii.  (It was impossible to find a photo of her where she looks “normal”.  In most of the pictures she is either in a superhero costume or in race clothes, but it’s…well…it’s Amy)
Now when I said that she has also inspired me to be a better person, she does this by example.  This is a woman whom rode a mountain bike for 10 days through Peru to do missionary work, and she did it for her honeymoon!  Talk about combining all her loves; Erik, mountain biking, helping others and God.  The stories she tells of that trip are absolutely amazing. 
I had a chance to ask my friend some questions that I thought might give some insight to one of my most favorite people in the world, and here is what she had to say;
Name: Amy Ruth Eck (Bennett)
DOB: 5 March 1978, Pisces
POB: Royal Oak, Michigan (Ford Baby)
Grew up in: Arlington, Texas
High School: Arlington High School
High School Activities: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Track, Soccer, FFA, JROTC
College: United States Merchant Marine Academy
College Sports: Cheerleading, Wrestling, Cross Country, Sailing
When and why did you start competing in triathlon?

(I) Started triathlon in Hawaii with the motivation of my knee surgeon Dr. Bottoni who thought it would be better than straight running and my crazy friend Marcy Fleming.  Went to watch the XTERRA World Championships and loved the LIVE MORE and family atmosphere of XTERRA.  Came home and bought a mountain bike!  Within a year I was racing the Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA World Championships.

What is one thing you love most about triathlon?

I love the people!  Triathlon is all about challenging your body with a group of friends around the beautiful playground of earth. 

I know that you run an Xterra Race in Hawaii – How did that start?

Erik and I had wanted to do something fun for the community that challenged people to get outside.  We also wanted to launch an event that would give us a way to raise money for charity.  In 2009 we started Freedom Fest as part of our wedding weekend.  10k run, 20k mountain bike, off-road triathlon and then get married…it was awesome! 

The race has now grown to become an XTERRA World Championship qualifier with 500 people from 8 countries and 24 states.  Come join us!  www.xterrafreedomfest.com

Do you enjoy Xterra more than road traithlon? Why?

XTERRA does a great job of making every race challenging and fun. Off-road racing works you anaerobically and provides an adrenal rush that I am addicted to.  I do enjoy mountain biking more than I enjoy road racing, but I am probably better at road racing. You have to spend a lot of time in the saddle on the road to get the proper base training for off-road.  I think the major attraction of the off-road is you get to explore!  You are away from cars, out in nature, and get a real chance to connect. It is also something my husband can do together!

What was your favorite race and why?

Favorite race…that is hard.  Favorite marathon would be Boston, favorite on-road triathlon would be Wildflower, favorite Ironman would be Kona, favorite trail run would be our XTERRA Freedom Fest race, favorite off-road triathlon would be the old XTERRA Worlds course in Makena, favorite 100-miler would be Leadville, and favorite stage race would be La Ruta.  A great race is determined by the terrain, the people it attracts, and the after party! 

Congrats on the baby!  I know you are waiting for the surprise of the sex but do you have any names for either that are in your head?

We have some names…possibly Bennett after my family or Hudson Taylor after my childhood hero. But we will have to see what the lil hero looks like when they come out!

Do you plan on continuing in Xterra or Triathlon after the baby?

Yes, I would love to get back to racing.  I am signed up for the Frogman 5k Swim in JAN and the Princess Half in FEB.  Will likely race Hawaii 70.3 and the XTERRA Mountain Man in hopes to travel to the World Championships.  As a mom I have a new career path but I think having my child seeing me (compete) in sports is important.  They need to know the importance of investing in yourself and in investing in others.  

Do you plan on bringing your child up around the sport?  

YES!  As a USAT, USATF, and Newton Coach I think sports are great for children.  They teach sportsmanship, discipline, commitment, failure, success, and they develop your mind, muscle, and soul.  Watch out for lil Eck in the 2032 Summer Olympics!

As your friend and client I always describe you as the most positive free spirit I have ever met willing to go out of her way to help people.  How did you end up with this wonderful way of life without falling to the negativity of the world? Thank you Brad, I love people!  I grew up in a wonderful Christian home where we were always helping people and it was contagious.  I feel I have been very blessed and there is nothing better than to pass those blessing on to others.  My favorite Proverb says, Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is within your power to act. Basically I have one life to live, one life to give.  I take the responsibility to heart and try to share JOY with others in everything!

What is your favorite motivational quote?

I have two J

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
~ Mark Twain
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” 
~ Abraham Lincoln


Is it possible to not love this woman?  I think not.

(Amy’s coaches virtually as well using email, telephone and Training Peaks software.  You can find more information at www.campbennett.com)
Carpe Viam!

Albeit Augusta Part 2

I made it to the front of the dock where handlers had signs up with our ages and waves on them.  I found my wave with ease and merged in the rest of the 40-44 males whom had last names that started with the letters I – Q.  Now is when the nerves started to build up in my stomach and all the insecurities started to show their pretty little selves.  “Did I train enough?”  “Why didn’t I do more swim workouts?”  “Why can’t I use a pull buoy?”  “Should I really use a wet suit?” and the most famous insecurity that comes up before a race; “What makes you think you belong here with all these athletes?”  I never can shake that one.  (Read my “About” page to find out why.)

Before I knew it, we were starting to move toward the dock.  I pulled on my wet suit and with the help of another athlete got it zipped up and secured.  One thing about triathletes, we always help each other out and the real special ones may even give up some time on their race to help as well, but I digress.  We slowly moved to the dock where we jumped into the water.  The temp wasn’t bad at all and my wet suit was buoyant enough that my insecurities started to fold the minute I got into the water.  Maybe subconsciously I thought there was a chance I could die while I was in the water, I am not sure, but I felt a lot better.  I moved toward the starting buoys and noticed one thing.  The current was not nearly as strong as the previous year.  Last year I spent more energy trying not to cross the start line before the gun, because of the strength of the current.  This year, that was not the case.
The announcer was counting down and my heart rate started to rise.  3, 2, 1.. and the gun went off..bang!  I started my 1.2 mile survival journey that would be the swim portion of the Augusta Ironman 70.3.  I could swear I heard the announcer from the horse races in my head.  “AAANNNND There OFF!”, and we were. I kept two things in my head as the swim went on; my stroke count and how many reps of my stroke count did I do.  In other words, “1, 2, 3 bubble, breathe.   2, 2, 3, bubble, breathe”, all the way up to five when I would site the boat house right by the finish.  I was able to maintain it for about six hundred meters until my A.D.D. took over and my mind drifted.  Of course, I got a quick dose of reality when I looked up and right in front of me was a diver yelling at me “To the right!  To the right!”  It seems I may have drifted a little over to the left and was about to cross the line.  I don’t think it was a dis-qualifier or anything, but it did take me a little off course.  For a good amount of the time, I just kept my legs together and stuck my head down and as long as I used my roll to turn into my armpit I found that I was moving rather smoothly.  Slowly, but smoothly.  Right at the point I met the diver was when I realized that I was at the back of my wave, which was a lot better than last year when I ended up falling to the back the wave behind the wave behind me.  This year I was in the rear of my wave with the stragglers but at least the bulk of the wave immediately behind me was still back there.  Sure, the faster swimmers from that wave passed me and I expected that, but what I didn’t expect was to stay in front of that wave.  Score…2 points for my ego.  
When I sighted the finish line, I was ecstatic.  I surely was going to hit my goal of thirty minutes.  My only issue now was, that the finish line looked so close but it was like the opposite of a mirror on the driver side door of a car.  They should put a sign up…”Swim Finish is Farther than Appears”, because when I was about to turn for the finish, I realized that the finish buoys were actually another 30 meters ahead of me.  You mean, I have to continue swimming?  Son of a……uh…donkey?  (I didn’t really think that either.)  
Feeling pretty good after the swim
I finally was able to get to the ramp and out of the swim and started heading towards transition.  I glanced down at my watch as I pressed the button to move it from Swim Mode to transition 1 mode, I noticed that, gosh darnit (see the last set of parentheses), my time was the exact same as last year.  I couldn’t believe it.  Last year, I was all over the place.  I zig zagged, I swam breast stroke, side stroke, back stroke, but this year I consistantly swam freestyle the full 1.2 miles and I still was just as slow.  Seriously?  All that work and I still came in at 37:17.  One thing was different this year though.  I was actually running toward transition and they made it farther this year to get to the wet suit strippers.  My legs felt good, my breathing came back almost instantaneously and I was running, almost sprinting.  There was the difference.  While last year the current was stronger I still used a ton of energy to finish it, which only allowed me to walk to my bike in transition.  I remember even walking my bike to the mount line.  This year, ran to the strippers, dropped to my butt, a young chick grabbed my suit and yanked it off and handed it to me as I jumped up.  I ran to  my bike, slipped on my shoes while clipping my race belt, grabbed my helmet, clipped the chin strap and ran my bike to the mount line.  Four minutes and twenty-two seconds after I stepped out of the river I was mounted and rolling onto the bike course.  It took me less than half the time it took me last year and that was without the third-of -a-mile distance they added from the river to transition.  Sure, I think I could have taken even more time off, but I was ok with it.  
Starting out on the  bike
I rolled out with the sound of the spectators becoming more and more distant as I quickly got my cadence up to 90 RPM, which is what I strive to keep no matter what the terrain.  My coach, Amy Bennett Eck, had suggested I not take any fluids or food for about 15 minutes to allow my body to calm a little and luckily I remembered because I noticed I was hungry.  In February, I purchased the Garmin 910XT and it has been an absolute dream to train with.  I mainly use it for number of swim strokes per 100m, time and distance, bike cadence, time, speed, power, distance and heart rate, and run cadence, pace, distance and time.  In this auto multi-sport mode, there is the functionality to program the events you will be either racing or training and with one touch of button it will transition from one event to the other giving you a transition time in-between.  For example, when I came out of the swim, I pushed one button as I came across the timing mats and it started to capture the amount of time I spent in T1, as soon as I mounted the bike I pushed the same button and it automatically started capturing the data for the bike portion.  Obviously, it did the same when I completed the bike event and on to the run.  There is also a simultaneous alarm function that I programmed to go off every 15 minutes.  This is how I track my nutrition.  Every fifteen minutes, when I hear, or feel, the alarm I know I need to have taken in a quarter of a bottle of hydration.  Every three times that alarm goes off it is time to eat something.  For this race I chose Honey Stinger gel packets.  To me they taste like Jello brand pudding so they can also be a treat.  Since Amy suggested I hold off I knew I just had to wait for the first alarm to go off and I could start drinking for the speed bottle that is bracketed to the vertical frame tube beneath my seat, where a straw then is strung up the through my aerobars so I can sip on the bottle whenever I want.  I love it.
The first five miles of the course was relatively flat which allowed me to slow down my heart rate while picking up my cadence and moving my speed to around 21 mph.  The air was clean, the sky was overcast and the temperature was perfect.  Everything just kept feeling like it was coming together.  I had no physical issues, I was keeping to my game plan and even though I was getting passed, I was also passing athletes.  Around mile ten the hills started to come into play and I started to move through the initial pack of age groupers whom I was suspecting were the good swimmers and runners but not so good cyclists.  Sometimes you can tell experience from the way people ride.  Amy always has me keeping my cadence and not coming out of the saddle unless I really feel like I need to.  I keep my cadence where I need to and I just move the gears to keep it in that range whether going up hills, coming down, or riding flat.  Sometimes a hill is steep and long therefore I do come out of the saddle, but it takes a lot of energy to do that, and while I do notice a lot of experienced riders taking that strategy, I do not care to.  I also notice while I am expending the same amount of energy on hills as I do cycling on flat roads, I pass those whom are pedaling out of the saddle.  Personally, that is always my favorite.  It is a little fun passing people and saying hello while I am comfortable in the saddle and they are standing, mashing down on the pedals and panting. But, just a little.  It still doesn’t take away from those athletes that are trained to average 23-25 mph and fly right by like a jet plane.  That is when I come back to earth and realize I am still that un-athletic guy who took two years to get this far, while others were able harness their genes and progress much faster.
Mucking for the camera
Before I knew it mile 16 flew by and I was passing the very first aid station where the volunteers where hooting and hollering, handing out water bottles and Ironman Perform sports drink.  Last year I strayed from my nutrition plan and ended up having stomach issues on the run which slowed me way down.  This year I was determined to learn from my mistakes so every aid station I just passed up.  Everything I needed was either in my bento box, in my bottles or in my tri-top.  I refused to stray this year and later, that paid off.  
The hills were coming a little more fast and furious in the middle of the bike course.  I had programmed another alert from my watch that helped a little.  I had my Garmin give me 5 mile splits, so I could tell how I was doing.  I was hoping to average 20 mph minimally, so when the split alert sounded I should see 15 minutes or less.  I was shocked when the middle of my bike I was consistently getting 14:19, 14:40, 14:52.  Of course there were two laps of 5 miles when I was way over.  After mile 30 we ended up with these rolling hills that while were nothing huge I got caught in the wrong gear and had to come out of the saddle and of course was shocked to see that I was moving all of 8 mph.  Wow!  From 21 mph to 8 within just a few seconds.  Somehow I screwed up somewhere, probably due to my ADD, and wasn’t paying attention and got caught on a hill and now I had to mash down on the pedals like the novices just to make it.  Sir Isaac Newton gave me all the luck I needed when he proclaimed “What goes up?”…wait for it…wait for it…”Must come down.”  Even though I was behind time, I could make it up by continuing to pedal on the downhills and scream at 35, and even once for a short stint, 42 mph.  That helped quite a bit.  While the last ten miles were pretty flat I still was kind of shocked when I looked at my watch at mile 55, when the split time came up at 12:49.  That was the highlight of my event.  Five flat miles in 12 minutes, 49 seconds.  It was definitely a first for me.  
I mentioned earlier that Coach Amy had me practicing transitions prior to this race, well, it paid off at T2(bike-ro-run transition).  I slipped off the bike, surprising myself by continuing to run, slipped off my helmet, took off my cletes, changed my race belt to a the one that stored salt tabs and stinger gels, slid on my running shoes, grabbed my hat and ran out of transition in two minutes and forty-four seconds.  Well, below half of my T2 time last year.  What made it even more motivating and exciting was the race clock stated 4:05:32 as I ran out.  Remember, that my wave was at 8:00a, exactly 30 minutes after the start of the race, so this wasn’t my race time.  My race time was 30 minutes less; 3:35:32.  As I was running passed the aid station they had about a quarter of mile out of transition, it hit me.  I could possibly be 5:40 something.  I was hoping to come under 6 hours, but if I could run around a two-hour marathon I could really crush my time from last year.  A two-hour marathon should be easy for me.  I ran a 1:38 in a race last year, I should be able to conquer this goal.  So that’s what I set out to do.  
Unlike road races, long course triathlons usually have aid stations around every mile, which is nice.  When your body has been taking a beating for more than 3 hours, it might need a little extra hydration and nutrition.  My nutrition goal was to walk through every other aid station grabbing water and coke and then every 4 miles taking a gel packet.  
Starting the run

Before I knew it I was at mile 3 wondering where the miles went, especially when my watch had me doing under 9 minute miles.  Of course I expected that to change as my body became a little more tired and I started to walk through the aid stations.  The run in Augusta is two loops around the center of town around Broad street.  It was loaded with spectators and I enjoy it.  Sometimes there is even some great signs that people make.  I have seen some funny ones, like “Toe Nails are for sissies” and “Chuck Norris never did an Ironman”, but my favorite to this day is still “If triathlon was easy they would call it football.”  That one always cracks me up.  Not that it is true.  Take it from someone who has attempted both American football the other football we call soccer, they both have there different definitions of tough.  Triathlon is just the endurance tough because it doesn’t stop for numerous hours, where in the other kinds of football they usually only last 2-3 hours and they have these things called “timeouts”.  In triathlon we don’t have timeouts, the clock doesn’t stop because you have a foul or a penalty.  It just keeps going.

The first loop went around Augusta went very fast.  Before I knew it I was in back a couple of blocks to the west passing the split where a sign was posted to keep left for the first loop or turn right if it was your second loop.  I remembered last year really disliking that sign, but this year not so much.  
The last mile
 (took off my hat and
sunglasses for the picture…LOL)

The crowds seemed to have grown on my second loop and I kept my eye out for Jessica who was sporting her bright yellow tank top and green hair.  It was supposed to be yellow as well, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.  I never did see her the whole run, but nevertheless the crowd cheered everyone on.  A couple of little kids were on the side holding their hands out and cheering hoping we would run by and give them a high five.  There were families out just hoping to get a glimpse of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers or fathers.  As I was running, my photographer’s eye kept seeing Norman Rockwell, paintings.  This really was a very clean, forthright city with an old soul.  I couldn’t help but smile a lot of the time, at least until mile nine.  I couldn’t believe it, the plan was working just fine but at that point, cramp, side stretch…ouch.  I forced myself to run until the mile 10 aid station where I walked and grabbed water and a cup of coke while breathing as deep as I could.  When the pain subsided a little, I started to run only to be struck down again by the pain.  I grabbed a gel packet and a salt tab hoping they would help and they did, for a short while until I arrived at the mile eleven aid station and ate an orange.  At this point, I didn’t care. I had 2.1 miles left and I wasn’t stopping.  If I had to leave my intestines on the sidewalk and pick them up later that’s what I was going to to.  I picked up my pace, blocked out everything and headed for the finish line.  I didn’t even see the mile twelve marker, but I felt the vibration of my watch which told me now I had just a little over a mile to go.  I kept looking down at my watch, 12.1, 12.24, 12.35.  I felt like this was the longest mile of my life, but I was wrong.  I finally made it to the split.  Left for the first lap and right to the finish and I was going right.  Here is what turned out to be the longest stretch of the run.  I had no idea that a quarter mile could feel like an eternity and when I finally did see the finish, I felt like I was in the movie; “The Shining”, when the little kid is looking down the hall and it keeps getting longer and longer?  That exactly what it felt like.  I looked down at my watch and noticed what it said 19:54.  Crud!  I wasn’t going to make it.  I lifted my legs and increased my cadence just hoping I could get one little ounce of speed and I got it, but just a little too late.  

I crossed the line with the race clock stating 6:06:54, so doing the math my race time ended up being 5:36:54.  While I didn’t hit my goal of a 2 hour half-marathon I still crushed my previous year’s time by over forty-two minutes.  I was on cloud nine.  I couldn’t help smiling.  This really was one of the greatest races I ever competed in.  I take that back.  It was the greatest performance I ever had in a race, period.  Unfortunately, being the oldest in my group I was the first person to cross the finish line, except for Russ who passed me at mile 5, so there was no one to share it with. 
Best race of my life!  

After receiving my medal, taking a couple of pictures and having my timing chipped removed from my ankle I  headed over to the refreshment tent a can of coke from this pool of ice and ran in to Russ.  He told me that he finished around 4:28.  This kid is a machine and that just proved it.  We congratulated each other and I went over and got a massage, but not before disposing of the first coke and grabbing a second.  While waiting I finished that can and by the time I finished up with Caroline, the LMT who took care of me, I felt like a million dollars.  With exception of a twinge in my back, which for me is normal due to my injury, I really felt good.  No pain, no soreness and due to the adrenaline still pumping from having such an awesome performance I felt like a rockstar, and I never really felt that way before.

Epilogue
I changed and called Amy and gabbed about the race.  She was proud of me.  The last two races she had trained me for didn’t turn out so well, so with this performance I felt like I validated myself in her eyes and in my own.  After hanging up I saw a text from Kim telling me how awesome I did and there was a voice mail from my Dad telling me congratulations as well.  I almost cried.  I felt the tears well up, but there was just too many guys around so I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Beth and I

As it turned out we all had a good race.  Celeste PR’d, Chris finished under 6 hours, Bruce beat me by one second, and as it turned out Russ actually took first place in his age group and was on his way to Las Vegas, but the story of the weekend was Beth.  Beth had gone through a lot just to get to the race.  Besides this being her first 70.3, she never biked really prior to this year, she had an injury that kept her from running for over 3 months, so she was very freaked coming into this.  Wouldn’t you know it, after having a goal of just finishing under 6:30:00, her official time was 5:47:16.  We were all really proud of her.  You can read all about her experiences on her blog Discom-BOB-ulated Running.

The rest is pretty boring.  We grabbed our bikes, and said our congratulations to the other athletes we knew as we walked out of transition  We packed up the cars, rode back to the hotel, cleaned ourselves up and headed out to Red Robin.  I don’t know if it was the race, or all the gel packets, electrolyte drinks, or just all the calories we burned, but I had a lettuce wrapped burger that I swear was the best I ever had.  Maybe I just felt like I actually earned it. 
What I can say is this; this had to be one of the best experiences of my life.  I cannot only attribute it to my performance in the race.  Every piece of the puzzle fit.  I couldn’t have done it without the training, my friends, my coaching, the group that I coach, my family and all of the positive people I choose to surround myself with.  With one piece out of sync, it would not have been the experience it was.

9-11 : 11 Years Later

September 11th will always remain a significant event in the history of this country.  The day when Osama Bin Laden dared to bring terrorism to the United States and unfortunately succeeded, at least at that point in time.  Where were you on that day?  I bet everyone I ask that question will remember exactly where they were.  Me?  I was getting ready to go on an interview for a job.

I was just coming out of the shower when the phone rang and it was a neighbor and really good friend of mine, Sue.  She told me that a plan had struck the twin towers and to immediately turn on CNN.  I swear I told her it must be a hoax until I actually did turn on the TV.  I was completely wrecked at the site of the replay of the first plane hitting the tower.  As the camera went back live to grab a shot of the destruction,  the other plane struck the towers.  I was completely floored and I felt like my whole body was over stimulated with anxiety.  Then the worst thing happened, I heard another explosion except this time it was not coming from the television.  It came from a distance outside my condo.  Oh, I didn’t mention that at the time I was living just outside of Washington DC and I had recently separated from the United States Army where I was stationed at the Pentagon.

Within three minutes CNN was relaying the story of the Pentagon.  I put some clothes on grabbed my Pentagon badge and left.  When I arrived just outside of the gate, guards were already posted at the parking lots and the entryways were fortified.  A soldier came to my window and told me to turn around, so I flashed my Pentagon badge and told him I wanted to help.  I had people in there and I was a trained EMT and I could at least help triage.  He wouldn’t have it.  I then asked to him to radio the head of security because I knew him and he knew me very well, but he had his orders and he was not going to make any special provisions.  I couldn’t argue with that.  All of the military police, security, and medical personnel were all under a great deal of pressure and being that I knew what that was like, I wasn’t going to argue.  I turned the car around and went home.  It took twice as long for me to arrive at home as it did for me to get there, but after walking in the door and immediately turned on the TV and there I sat, on and off, for two weeks.  I was a sponge for information.  I made frequent calls back to my old unit asking about people I knew.  On that day there were three soldiers who were, subordinates of mine at one time, missing.  Friends in other units also missing and two of my mentors pronounced dead; Sergeant Major Robert Strickland and Lieutenant General Tim Maude.

It was a crushing blow for me.  I had dinner at both of their houses.  General Maude would take me to the Officer’s Dining Room where “a little lunch” was a huge steak and baked potato with all the fixings.  SGM Strickland filled in instructing a couple of classes at Ft Jackson when I was in training and then continued my mentorship when I ended up at the Pentagon after Korea.  The only thing I could think of was that if I felt this bad, it had to be 100 times worse for any of the victim’s families.

My best friend Sean was living outside of Times Square at the time, and his auditions and work took him all over the city.  I immediately picked up the phone and gave him a call, but the circuits were overloaded.  I wouldn’t talk to him for three days.  The mood around DC and Virginia was somber throughout the coming weeks.  It was heavy with dread and confusion, but something positive happened.  I noticed that there was very little hostility toward one another.

Everywhere I went I could see citizens going out of their way for one another.  For example, an incident that happened to me; the roads were slick after a little rain and I ended up in a 4 car fender bender.  Maybe not a fender bender, but a hard love tap.  The front car hit the brakes, the car in back of her hit their brakes, then me, then the guy in back of me.  We all, got out, looked at our cars and we all had some small dents or paint nicks.  My Xterra had part of the bumper had come askew but it looked like it could be fixed pretty easily.  The weirdest thing was, no one was mad.  We looked at each other shrugged asked if anyone was hurt and basically agreed there was just too much crap going on at that time to worry about such a minor incident.  We didn’t call the cops, we didn’t exchange insurance info, we didn’t even exchange names.  We shook each other’s hands and went on our way.  I saw this happening everywhere I went.  Their were customers actually moving their carts to the corral at grocery stores or even helping the employee stack them.  I saw two, three, sometimes four cars stopping on the side of the road when a motorist was changing a tire asking if they could help.  The whole country was supporting each other.  It seemed to last for months before it started to slowly return to the normal disdain.

It was just an amazing sight.  I guess the question is why can’t we always feel that way toward each other?  Why does the country have to go through an incident of massive destruction for citizens to realize we need each other?

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people that read my blog, but those of you who do, I challenge you to take an hour every day and think about other people before yourself.  As you are in your car, and you see another car that is really trying to merge into traffic but no one is allowing them to enter the line, stop and let that person in.  If you notice someone having issues loading groceries into their trunk, offer to help.  It is just these little acts of kindness that can change the world as we know it.  Lets prove that we do not need a major incident to bring our country together again.