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

Tribute Thursday – Matt “IronBeast” Dolitsky

Tribute Thursday – Matt “IronBeast” Dolitsky

There are a number of you that call me “crazy” for continuing to do Ironman Triathlons and keeping the training schedule I do during the season.  At least it is the inspiring kind of “crazy” right?  I enjoy training and obtaining results as a part of it, not to mention just maintaining my fitness level.  There is one person out there that I call “crazy” in the inspiring kind of way.  He puts all of my 100 mile bike rides, two-a-day workouts and mega brick training workouts to shame.  He makes me look like a couch potato and he is more inspiring and motivating that any person I know.  Let me introduce a guy who continues to motivate, inspire and just plain amazes me; Matthew “IronBeast” Dolitsky.

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Imagine if you will, a 9 mile obstacle course, that includes swimming in cold water, then a rope climb over a wall to exit the lake.  Imagine again doing this is in 30-40 degree temperatures.  Of course that is only one obstacle there are 29 others as well.  Now imagine doing that course as many times in 24 hours as possible.  Does that sound crazy to you?  This is “The World’s Toughest Mudder“(WTM), and Matt will be competing in that this coming weekend.  What makes it even more amazing, is that he is competing in it for the second time!

Matt claims he is average, and when I was talking to him about doing this blog he said, and I quote, “I’m just an average dude too just an above average pain tolerance and insane determination!”  All I can say is “Yeah, right!”

1424405_10201620700913850_138323445_nWhat does it take to compete in adventure obstacle challenges like this?  Let me give you an example.  I caught Matt training one day on Swann Drive flipping a huge tire for a mile.  Does that sound crazy?  How about a 75 mile bike ride on a mountain bike that didn’t start until 10pm?  How about a 3 mile swim around Harbor Island here in Tampa?   Matt incorporates these workouts as training on a regular basis and I think these are his easy workouts.  During the Gasparilla Half Marathon I did, pass Matt, but there was a huge difference.  I wasn’t carrying a tire on my half marathon, but Matt was.

Matt also inspires others constantly, and to a point where he is bringing a few people to the World’s Toughest Mudder with him.

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Matt and I met at Fit2Run while I was coaching there.  We were on a run together and I helped him (I think) relax a little on his run.  This was at the very beginning of his journey into ultra obstacle racing.  From there he was like a rocket ship.  Last year, I received a message from him on FaceBook asking me if there was an Ironman he could get into.  I laughed a little and told him after WTM and the Spartan Death Race, Ironman wouldn’t even challenge him, but I told him about Louisville.  He set his sites on it and wouldn’t you know it, he completed it as expected.  Needless to say Matt inspires me and a bunch of others every day.

Enough of my soap box about Matt.  Let’s let him talk for a bit.

Name: Matthew Dolitsky892243_553937851317850_1895750352_o
Age / Sign: 43 Years old, Gemini
Location:
Tampa, FL
Place growing up:
Long Island, NY
High School: 
Half Hollow Hills HS West
High School sports:
Lacrosse & Hockey
College: 
University of South Florida
Other Sports: Adventure Obstacle Racing, Triathlon
List your favorite races:
Ironman Louisville
Spartan Ultra Beast Marathon
World’s Toughest Mudder
Death Race
391515_363883563679774_1770674260_nI refer to you as not just a beast but an UltraIronBeast, because of the challenges you compete in.  What made you start doing these Ultra-Mud-Obstacle challenges?  
I stumbled upon my first obstacle race about 2 years ago.  It was a basic 3 mile mud race but after finishing the race, I felt invigorated with a sense of accomplishment.  Shortly thereafter, I “Finished” Tough Mudder and my passion for obstacle races and extreme challenges was born.
Now that you have competed in both mega Obstacles Races like the World’s Toughest Mudder and Ironman, how do you compare the two?
Comparing World’s Toughest Mudder or even the Death Race to IRONMAN is very difficult.  The bottom line with any of the three is that simply making the commitment to get to the start line is scary enough and takes great fortitude!  Once you make it to the start line, reality sets in and you now have to endure everything thrown at you or face a DNF.  A 140.6 mile IRONMAN triathlon is never comfortable but there is comfort in knowing exactly what you are getting into.  It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.  Barring variations in terrain and weather conditions, it’s pretty straight forward.  Long and hard but straight forward.  World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race are totally different beasts.  They do not tell you what you will be doing PERIOD!  Sure, you have an idea from previous races and intelligence gathering but you better get yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable really quickly and embrace every miserable moment of it.  World’s Toughest Mudder in New Jersey is 24-26 hours of running a Tough Mudder course on steroids braving miserable cold temperatures while running in layers of neoprene.  The Death Race was 70 hours of hiking gnarly terrain in the mountains of Pittsfield, Vermont while building stone stair cases up the mountain, doing countless burpees, chopping wood, endless manual labor, running, carrying 50+ lb. packs of supplies, etc. while not sleeping for 3 days!  With all that being said, the one thing that all three races require is mental grit because everyone of them will expose your weaknesses and tell you to quit at some point.  If you have the mental element coupled with proper training, your body will do whatever the mind tells it to do!  
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling  you 1010696_585362928153605_187298322_nget when you are working what would it be?  
One word to describe how I feel when working out or training is HAPPY.  Training makes me feel healthy and alive and that equals HAPPINESS.  I love being outdoors.  When I’m outdoors training, I’m in my element and the result is overall HAPPINESS.  It makes any negative thought that creeps into my mind disappear.
What is going through you mind while you are competing during a course like the Spartan Death Race or WTM?  
While I’m competing in races like World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race, I focus on micro movements while thinking of the race as a whole.  If I take my mind off my next foothold or hand placement, I could get hurt.  I must be focused on every series of movements the entire way through!  I have to become like a machine and keep performing consistently, safely, efficiently, and patiently.  I repeat this for the duration of the race until I am finished!
You have children that I know you love and adore.  For all of the parents out there, how do you balance the amount of training you do with work and family?  
Balancing kids, work, and training can be challenging.  Essentially, I 1150844_10201030414997071_604802185_nbalance my training around work and kids.  Sometimes I’m up early in the morning to train and other times I’m up late at night training.  It’s not uncommon for me to finish training at 2am.  It’s about committing to my goals!  Reaching goals and finishing races happens long before race day.  It’s about putting in the hard work and hours of training.  My races are unorthodox and so is my training.  I always try to train in conditions worse than I’ll experience on race day.  This way, conditions for me will always seem ideal!  I often take advantage of blocks of time I have available to train.  I’m very spontaneous and flexible.
What would you say is your greatest personal obstacle you ever overcame?  
Everyday, I overcoming the greatest obstacle there is.  Life.  I’m trying to keep life as simple as I can make it.  Living each day as it comes.  Trying to be happy, make a positive impact, motivate and inspire others, and be a loving father to my two boys.  I’m surrounding myself with positive people in the racing community, gaining some awesome sponsorships, and accomplishing things I never thought possible.  I’m also learning from some mistakes along the way.
1174834_10201136756895552_238071442_nWhat is your greatest victory?  
While crossing the finish line at IRONMAN Louisville was pretty amazing, living a life of happiness will be my biggest victory.  Something I’m trying to achieve everyday.  
What are your future goal races?
Double Anvil IRONMAN, Fuego y Agua Survival Run in Nicaragua, Bill Floyds 8 mile swim from Clearwater to Tampa
What are you favorite quotes?  
 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that 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  
Shout outs from Matt “UltraIronBeast” Dolitstky : His sponsors VPX Team Xtreme OCR, Reload Fitness, Mud and Adventure, and AL1VE Magnetics.
Matt is pretty inspiring right?  Check him out on FaceBook at Facebook.com/matthew.dolitsky

Carpe Viam!

Ironman Florida – Race Recap

Ironman Florida – Race Recap

For a long time, it has been called the Granddaddy of all endurance events, the Ironman triathlon. A 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run done consecutively in the same day. Of course, nowadays, double, triple, and even deca Ironman distance triathlons are becoming more and more popular, as well as 24, 48 and even 72-hour mud and obstacle run challenges. If you are calling me crazy for doing my second Ironman, I can introduce you to at least a few people who do challenges that make Ironman look like a game of hopscotch. (Yes, Matt “UltraIronBeast” Dolitsky, you are one of those.)

This competition for me was a learning experience in overcoming obstacles, most of them mental. I did not PR, or even come close, but I now understand completely the quote, “The mind will quite 100 times before the body does.”

Pre-Race

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Pete Amedure, Kari Eichen, Kat Ward, Jamie Breibart and myself all decided to drive up Wednesday morning in order to get acclimated to the environment and eliminate and reasons for not being prepared for Saturday’s race.  Pete, Kari and I were in my car and had a great time on the way up.  Of course, there was a stop at the Huddle House in Perry Florida where we ate and laughed to a point where I spaced out and left my phone, and didn’t realize it until we were half-an-hour from Panama City Beach.  It didn’t help that I was in the middle of contracts and had all my recruiters contacting me about interviews and new opportunities.   (I ended up remedying this by sending FedEx to the restaurant and delivering it to our hotel.  In the meantime, Google Voice was a tremendous help.)

We arrived at the Laketown Wharf complex where we stayed in a luxurious three bedroom, three bath condominium, with a beautiful view of the gulf.  I give this hotel/condo complex four stars.  It had everything needed including a nightly water and light show that rivals the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  Well, not really, but it was a fun amenity.  The condos all have a full kitchen, with dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, coffee maker, and a full-size refrigerator.  Everything needed for the athlete, and spectathletes, to remove all those pressures of nutrition, and early morning breakfasts.  The area also has plenty of great restaurants for good eating as well.

Afterward, we walked the quarter mile to athlete check-in to receive our chip, bibs, bags, and swag.  I was a little disappointed in the swag this year.  Last year they gave out beautiful TYR transition backpacks, but this year it was a very inferior white backpack that looks like it will fall apart.  Jamie’s actually did, so they gave her a replacement immediately.  The expo was about twice the size that it was last year, with a host of new vendors.  Verizon was displaying their goods, as they were the tracking sponsor this year, along with Newton, Fit2Run, a local bike shop and a bunch of the regulars.  Refuel was there, talking about Chocolate Milk, so I did create a video with them talking about the benefits of it.  I will share that link on Twitter when I receive it.  It should be good for a couple of laughs.

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After that, we spent the next couple of days, taking in the aura of Ironman, preparing and eating.  Eating was a non-stop event for us.  I knew from experience that immense calories were going to be needed in order to be comfortable on the course, so I encouraged our team to keep eating as I did myself.

_MG_2276Thursday night was the athlete welcome dinner, and I was almost embarrassed.  My recollection of the 2011 athlete dinner was so wonderful, that I really talked it up and encouraged Pete, Jamie, and Kari to come.  Jamie decided not to go, but I was so excited for Pete and Kari to be there I couldn’t contain my emotions.  Unfortunately, I was sort of let down.  It seemed unorganized and hurried.  Yes, my favorite pro-triathlete and world champion Mirinda Carfrae was interviewed on stage, so that was great, but the rest of it was about charities and a couple of athletes overcoming their own obstacles.  There were video presentations about a woman who was competing for her husband who died the year earlier while training, and a quadriplegic who was competing to show the world that anyone could do anything if they just challenged themselves.

1394432_10102251072868771_978366175_nYes, their stories were inspiring but I just felt like it was too much and way too long.  In 2011 the presentations were balanced between the negative and the positive inspiring stories and we even had an athlete briefing by the race director all in the span of 90 minutes.  It held the attention of every athlete to a point where the announcer almost didn’t need the microphone.  This time, a good portion of the athletes conversed right through all the presentations to a point where it was hard to hear the MC with a microphone.  I felt like I let my friend Pete down to a point where I was apologizing so much on the walk back I became annoying.  Sorry, Pete and Kari.

_MG_2265Friday, the anxiety hit like a ton of bricks.  You couldn’t cut the tension in the condo with a Ginsu, serrated edge knife.  We ate breakfast and then headed down to the beach to get in the water with our wetsuits.  The waves sets were barreling to the shore with such force that the red, “no-swimming”, flag was flown, but we knew we needed to at least get in the water for a few minutes just to test out our goggles and our wetsuits.  Surprising enough, even with the force of the waves, I thought I became a little more confident.  I was able to stay on the surface of the water, and I practiced duck diving through the waves instead of trying to swim over them.  I really thought I may have a chance of being faster out of the water than I thought.

Afterward, we talked through our transition plans to double check our gear, 1383330801836checked to make sure our bikes were ready to go and proceeded to transition to check-in everything.  We had decided to try and wait out the rain, but unfortunately, I had a phone interview which had the chance of exceeding beyond the time check-in would close, so we walked down in the rain.  The line was so long, I was going to be cutting it very close, so afterward, I ran back to the hotel.  On the way back, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen.  Yes, I had the phone back in my hands all of two hours and I dropped it.  I have never broken a phone before,  ever,  and here I had two phone interviews and I cracked the screen.  I was lucky enough that the phone still worked with voice recognition and a little effort, so the two interviews scheduled went off without any problems and I confirmed them both for second interviews as well.

That night we had a good dinner at the Wicked Wheel and we were all in bed around 9 pm ready to take on the Ironman.

Race Day

As predicted, the night before was restless but I did end up sleeping a good 4-5 hours before the alarm went off.  As planned we dressed in sweats, grabbed our “Special Needs” bags,  nutrition for the bike, and headed to transition around 4:30 am.  We were body marked, checked our bikes, dropped our bags, and then headed back to try and leisurely eat breakfast, and dress for the race.  Kari cooked eggs and turkey bacon, I cooked oatmeal and we all hung out for a while and tried to prepare ourselves with our loved ones.  It was kind of surreal.  I remembered these moments from the first time I competed in this race, but it still seemed like it was all new again.

We dressed, pulled on our wetsuits halfway, hugged and headed for the start line.  We walked 1393113_10202369776593562_1301605987_nwith Kari, Kim, and Danny down to the start, but athletes had to enter separately than spectators, so when we finally hit the beach we couldn’t find them.  I really wanted to see them all before the start, but I knew I would be ok if I didn’t, but Kari had Pete’s goggles in her bag, so now it became imperative that we find them.  We walked over trying to find them, so when it came to a point where we had no time left, we dropped our stuff and proceeded to button up our wetsuits and prepare to go under the arch.  It was at that moment, our party found us.  Talk about cutting it close.  We hugged, gut our well wishes, wished each other luck and headed into the mass of athletes preparing for the start.

This year was a little different as signs were being held up with expected times for the swim.  It could be compared to pace groups commonly found in road races except instead of going deep from a start line this went wide along the shore with the idea that if the slower swimmers would be the widest from the buoys and would fall in behind the faster ones.   This was thought to bring down the chaos of a mass swim start, but for me, it was worse.   I have been in comparable rough water,  hit, kicked and swam over before and I always kept on swimming no matter what, but this time I was kicked so many times with the last time throwing my goggles from my face.  It took me a few minutes to find them floating away from me, but I was able to put them back without too much trouble.

When I finished my first loop, the clock said 1:11 which was very slow.  I thought I should be able to make up at least three minutes on the second loop, so I shouldn’t be in any danger of not making the 2:20 cutoff.  I found a rhythm and just kept swimming, but I veered to the left of buoys and to keep correcting my course.  When I made the turn for the straightaway to the swim finish,  I glanced at my wrist to check my Garmin to see how much time I had left, and it was gone.  Not only could I not find out what I needed to cross the swim finish, I wasn’t going to know how fast I would bike, or run.  I wouldn’t know when to take my nutrition or even what time it was.

0477_16758Three buoys from the end I ended up with a paddle boarder on the left of me and jet ski on the right.  The paddleboarder kept yelling the time I had left.  “You have 8 minutes. You got this just keep going.”  I have to admit, the idea of a DNF crossed my mind and it did not scare me.  I thought to myself “would it really be the end o the world.”  I would be able to support Pete, Jamie, and Kat and I wouldn’t have to worry about biking 112 miles, chafing, nutrition, none of it.  Of course, I wouldn’t get to cross that finish line and I would feel like a failure and that is what really scared me.  It wasn’t the disappointment of my friends or even my family, it was the disappointment I would have in myself.  That never-ending coulda, woulda, shoulda would really haunt me, so I sped up and went as hard as I could.  The waves after the sandbar helped and even though I got caught up in the rope tied to one of the lifeguard’s flotation device I was able to hit the beach at exactly 2:20 getting me over the timing mat at 2:20:08.

I don’t mind stating that I was exhausted.  I have stated it time and time again, that I am not even a good swimmer, but this really put it in perspective.

I ran into transition and the volunteers stated I had eight minutes to cross the bike mat, so they hurried me into my bib and jersey I was using for the bike, put on my helmet and shoes and rushed me out into transition to grab my bike.  I crossed and headed out on my 112-mile journey.

My lungs were screaming and my stomach was churning, but I just kept going.  I0477_15604 passed the mile 10 marker and about, what I estimate was around the 12-13 mile mark, nausea started.  I pulled over to the side of the road and vomited sea water over the guardrail.  Unfortunately, I have what is called a vasovagal response to vomiting, which basically means I pass out cold.  I woke up, splayed out on the side of the road with the sun shining in my eyes.  It took a while to get my wits and balance in order to get back on my bike.  I continued slowly with the thoughts of turning around and just ending it.  Who would blame me?  I became sick on the bike, no one would care.  With my stomach still churning and my head spinning I decided I would go to the twenty-mile marker and if I didn’t feel better I would turn around.  The earlier thoughts I had of a DNF plagued me again and when I saw the 20-mile sign, I was still feeling sick, but better than I did.  I took in some of the Isagenix mix I had in my bottles and decided to go on to the next marker, but it wasn’t more than a mile later I realized that if I turned around at the 30 mile mark, I would have biked 60 miles by the time I got back to the start.  That’s when I knew I had it in me.  It no longer was about time now it was about finishing.

From that point on the bike ended up being uneventful.  Sure, there were minor challenges.  For instance, the wind picked up quite a bit, and of course, I still had no perception of time, except for when I asked, but I just put my head down and kept going.

Here is a little lesson learned while I was on the bike.  As I mentioned the wind became a challenge during the bike, but I decided to wear an aero helmet and while I was in aero position and looked down, the wind became a little less a factor.  I found myself being able to pick up a higher cadence.  The minute I looked straight I could not only hear the wind, but I felt like someone had hit the breaks on my bike.  Every article and person always said, one way and the cheapest way to become more aero was a helmet.  They were right.

Being the last one out of the water did have one advantage.  I wasn’t going to get passed.  I was doing all the passing, and with each rider I passed, I felt a little bit of mental boost which helped a great deal.  I rolled into transition in a little over 7 hours, which, in my estimation, had me on the side of the road for a little over 30 minutes.  All-in-all it wasn’t actually that bad.

A volunteer grabbed my bike, I snatched my run gear bag and was greeted in the changing room by my friend, and client, Hugo Scavino.  He helped me rid myself of the bib and bike jersey and don my shoes and hat.  After a huge hug, I headed off onto the run course.  I stopped briefly for words of encouragement, hugs and kisses from Kim, Kari, Maria and Anne, and off onto the course I went.  I walked for about a quarter mile before I started running.  I was kind of amazed.  I felt like I was able to transition to my running legs a little easier than the Augusta 70.3 I competed in six weeks earlier.  I hit the first aid station in about 1.5 miles and I was feeling pretty good.  I formulated my plan of running from aid station to aid station and just walking while I was getting water and nutrition.  This worked for the first loop.

0477_16910Pete and Jaime passed me at my mile 3 and their mile 10 and we shook hands and I motivated Pete with warning him I should not be able to catch him.  Of course in the back of my mind, I was questioning if I could somehow make up 7 miles on him.  Dave Nardoski caught up with me on his second loop, so I walked and chatted with him for a few minutes before I picked up the pace again.  At mile 6 I saw Kat looking really strong and I yelled some encouragement to her as I passed.  The halfway point for the first loop is in a park and I was feeling pretty good.  I started doing the math in my head for what it would take to catch up to Pete and Jamie.  The idea of the three of crossing together seemed surreal but possibly realistic.  At mile 10 I saw Jamie and she had picked up the pace from Pete, and she looked really good.  Obviously, the three of us crossing was most likely not going to happen unless I could really pick up some speed and Pete and I could catch her.  A little while later I saw Pete again walking.  We stopped for a minute and he told me that everything hurt.  I gave him some encouragement and we parted.  Just prior to the turnaround I found myself running next to Lew Hollander.  Lew, is an 83-year-old, twenty-time Kona qualifier and finisher.  He is extremely inspiring and is the epitome of the idea that age doesn’t have to be an excuse.  We chatted briefly, he gave me some motivation, I congratulated him, he ran into the finisher chute and I made the turn.  Kim and Danny were on the other side of the turn, so I was able to see them and get some love and hugs from Kim.  She actually ran a little bit with me before I headed off.

I was hurting now.  At mile 14 I slowed to a walk.  My feet were screaming in agony, my hips, quads, hamstrings and IT bands were in a lot of pain and I started getting a twinge in my back.  I didn’t want to walk, but my legs were not letting me run either.  I decided I would walk to the aid station of after mile 15 and continue from there.  It didn’t happen the way I wanted.   I ended up doing a series of run/walk intervals all the way to mile 18 where Pete and I crossed for the last time.  We high-fived each other and continued on.  Not too far ahead I stopped to use a portlet, but when I exited I became turned around and stupidly started running in the wrong direction.  I caught myself about a half mile before I realized what I was doing and quickly did a one-eighty.  I guess I was meant to run even more than a marathon this time.

I did meet Susan, a member of the Sarasota Storm Tri Club, which I have participated in races and training with.  We chatted and played cat and mouse for a while.  Susan had a very steady pace, so I would catch her and then when I would walk she would pass me.  This happened about 3 or 4 times throughout the marathon portion.  After getting completing the out-and-back in the park to head to the finish I started to feel like I just was about done with this whole thing.  I was walking more than running, I was in pain and I was just ready for this experience to end.  When I saw mile 20, I thought I only have a 10k left.  I could do a 10k in my sleep.  I started to pick up the pace just a bit.  I walked through the aid station in between 20 and 21 and started talking to myself.  “C’mon legs.  Just one more training run.  I need ya.  Relax.  Use gravity as momentum.  We can do this.”

Ahead was mile marker 21, and it was then when I decided, there will be no more stops at aid stations, there will be no more walking.  It was time to get this done.  I picked up the pace and never looked back.  I caught up with Susan at mile 22 and I told her to come with me.  This was just a 5k with a one-mile warm-up.  She said something that really motivated me.  “You are really strong, Brad.”  Who was she trying to kid?  It wasn’t 12 hours ago I had thoughts of quitting.  I didn’t quit though and here I was 4 miles from the finish of my second Ironman.  I picked up the pace even more to a point where I was running at a sub 8:30 pace for a bit.  I was in a lot of pain, but it was going to be worse if I stopped.  Every time I passed another athlete or spectator they would say “Good job” and that just fueled me.  A couple of the spectators would yell, “Awesome pace keep it up!”  I ran through the Tri Club village at 25 when someone yelled “Go Goof GO!”, so I even picked up the pace even more.  When I finally reached the chute there were two people running together in front of me and I didn’t know whether to let them go ahead or pass them.  I passed them and sped up even more in order to make sure I was alone at the finish line.

I saw the finish line and didn’t even look at the clock.  After all, I hadn’t known what time it was up to that point, so what did it matter now.  The announcer bellowed, “Brad Minus from Tampa Bay, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  Oh, how sweet that sounded.  Especially after being kicked, and hit in the water, losing my goggles and Garmin, vomiting and blacking out on the side of the road, and running through all that pain.  I finally reached the finish.

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A volunteer escorted me to Yvonne Van Vlerken, the women’s first-place finisher, who placed the medal around my neck.  We congratulated each other and she gave me a hug, and then I continued with my handler to get a shiny warming sheath, and a finish photo before she handed me off to Kim, Maria, Jamie and the Dannys.  I saw Pete sitting down and we just looked at each other with pain on our faces but pride in our eyes.

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The rest of the night consisted of pizza and hard cider and regaling stories of the race.  PB&J had accomplished what we set out to do a year earlier.

578495_10102260791193171_715325386_nJamie was the heroine of the night.  When she decided to run she end up fast enough to finish with a 13:50.  I am still so proud of her.  Pete ended up a little under 15 and I ended up with a 15:09.  I am not happy with it.  It is significantly longer than 2011, but I finished and everything considered, I did have fun.  That is what matters most.

Thank you to all who tracked and reported on Facebook, for all the prayers, thoughts, motivation and kudos, Anne, Kari, Maria, Hugo and all the other voluneteers, Kim for supporting me and especially to Pete, Jamie, & Kat for being my training buddies through this journey.

Carpe Viam!

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Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to catch the first sign of my favorite bike store coming to Tampa.  At the time the stand-alone store was completely gutted without any sign of what it was going to look like.  Last week, after the store opened I was privileged to get my first look.  In the past I had to visit the Clearwater store strategically around training and races in the area.  Now, I am finally able to have the service and quality I enjoy, quite a bit closer to home.  What I didn’t expect, when I wandered in for the first time, was the bike store of my dreams. Outspokin has everything that could possibly be needed, and/or wanted, by bicycle enthusiasts and triathletes.

As owner, Val Tavanese, gave me the tour, she explained this location is the store she always dreamed of opening, because it had all the services, products and amenities that she personally wanted for in a bike shop.  The reason I continue to make the trip to 35 mile trip to Clearwater is not just because it is the location where I purchased my own Cervelo P2, but it is because Val and her team have always continued to provide top tier service and expert advice when I needed it.  Val assured me she is determined to continue the same tradition here in Tampa.

Enough of my praise and rhetoric, let’s get to the gears and chains of this amazing store.

Right outside the entrance double doors sits a nice table and chairs that providing a shady spot to relax after a long bike ride.  Walking into the sliding door you immediately see the front desk with smiling Outspokin team members surrounded by by bright colors and cycling accessories of all kinds.

Outspokin signFront SignFront Door View

Cycling manufacturers enforce their own rules and guidelines for retailers carrying their line of product.  Most cycling lines will only allow retailing of their product within a certain distance between stores carrying the same line.  For example, Cervelo only allows a store to carry their product within a 50 mile radius another bicycle shop in order to keep the shops from competing with one another.  Outspokin Tampa is carrying three amazing retail lines in Road, Cyclecross, Mountain, and touring bikes; BMC, Giant and Scott.

BCMGiantScott

What sets Outspokin apart from most bike specialty stores is their services.  The most important service, in my opinion, is maintenance.  Bike parts wear out, cyclists fall, and a good portion of the time adjustments need to be made do to change in technique, training regimen or even transport of the bike itself.  Outspokin has always had a great team of mechanics, and they need some room to work in right?  Well, the mechanics bay in the Tampa store is immense and Val has outfitted all of her maintenance team with a complete new set the tools necessary to assemble, repair and adjust their customers equipment without any sacrifice to quality.

Maintenance Tools Fixing

The next superior service is fitting.  In my experience, fitting the bike to the person is crucial for comfort, power and speed, especially in a road and triathlon bikes.  Outspokin spares nothing when it comes to fitting.  The fitting room is outfitted with the Retul system including Muve bike accessory.  Retul is a complete system for measuring every length, and angle of the rider to the bike which determines the athlete’s personalized adjustments.  For instance, when a riders leg is extended to the very bottom of the pedal, there is an optimum angle for the knee to be bent.  This system will measure the distance of the seat post and calculate what the precise height and the horizontal position of the seat is optimal in order to achieve that angle.

The Muve bike accessory to the Retul system allows for quick changes to those measurements which then can be transferred to their bike.  When I was fitting utilizing the Retul service, the Muve bike was not available, so for every change in angle I had to dismount and the technician had to pull those parts off my bike and replace them at the right measurement.  With the Muve bike, when the angles change the tech can adjust with the rider still on the bike.  This makes those adjustments faster and more accurate, because the computer will provide the adjusted angles and measurements as the tech is making those adjustments in real-time.

Two more advantages to do a fitting with Retul, are all of the adjustments are saved in Outspokin’s database, so when doing routine maintenance the techs can re-assemble the bike with the personalized adjustments.  Also, when cyclists travel with their bike it needs to be partially disassembled.  A print out of the angles and measurements can be placed with the bike, so either the rider or a mechanic can reassemble the bike without sacrificing personal comfort or performance.  What about those customers shopping for a bike and really have no idea what brand or geometry is best for them?  If a Retul analysis is completed, the measurements can be compared in a database that will then determine the line and models that will be the best fit for comfort, power and speed for that individual.  Pretty cool, am I right?

FittingRetul

Do you want to ride in the morning, but it is raining, cold or you just do not have the time to drive out to a safe place to get a good workout in?  Outspkin to the rescue with their CompuTrainer room.  Eight CompuTrainers are connected to a HDTV and will allow you and a few of your fellow cyclists the ability to ride a stage of the Tour de France, or the bike course of the Lake Placid Ironman on your own bike.  The CompuTrainers have the ability to add or remove resistance matching the elevation of the course as you are looking at the screen which is projecting exactly the point of view as if you were actually riding the course.  Pretty Sweet, right?  Outspokin makes it sweeter by providing showers, so you can ride that stage of the Tour and still make it to work that morning.  Tampa to France and back in time for work. (It is almost like transporter rooms were finally invented.)

Computrainer room Computrainer Room Shower

These are just a couple of services that are being provided.  Other services that are coming soon include in-store Lactate Threshold and VO2 Max Testing.

I am thrilled to be able to give such a glowing review to Outspokin.  I hope you get a chance to visit soon and take advantage of all the products and services they are offering.

Outspokin’s Grand Opening is this weekend, March 15 & 16th, and there will be plenty of events and vendors at the Tampa location, so check out the store, take a look at some the products vendors will be carrying and take a test ride on a new bike.  Oh, and tell them you heard about it from the IronGoof. Maybe, just maybe they will reward you for it.

A place to relax, and for the kiddiesEveryone Loves ShoesMultiple Ironman Triathlete Celeste at your service.

www.Outspokin.net

Carpe Viam!!!