Monday, August 29, 2011

The Legacy Continues

The Legacy was represented by my oldest son, Bob, who just finished his fifth Ironman in Louisville.

I am a proud Dad and my father, who started the physical fitness tradition in our family, is looking down and saying, "You go, Bob! Great job. Grandpa."

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Psychology of Ironman

Ugh, I give. I can't make it. I won't be participating in the Ironman Louisville.

I lost a month of training between my recent move and my job, and I'm just not ready to do an Ironman. I'm throwing in the towel. Since there are no other events between now and 2012, I resign myself to the fact that my schedule and my life were too just complicated to add Ironman training.

It's more important for me to say "I can't do it," rather than go and not do well. I'd rather wait. I'm humbling myself to all my readers by saying that, despite the fact I thought I could do it, I can't. The lesson from this is being able to recognize that it is so important for me to be able to qualify for Hawaii that I wouldn't risk doing an Ironman if I risk injury and be out of commission for months.

I'm not giving up the dream, by no means. I've made what France calls "a decision humans make all the time." If I was trying to be superhuman, I'd go, not do well, injure myself, and then be really upset.

My sons, who registered with me, are still going. Obviously, they're going with the idea that they're finishing, but both are suffering from injuries that may prevent them from doing so. I think there's a different mindset for Ironman competitors. In my 30s or 40s, the age my sons are now, I would have gone anyway. Now that I'm a little bit older and training is more important to me than the actual event, I want to give myself a chance to qualify. My sons have a different end goal than I do, and they've therefore made a different decision than I have.

All three of us, to even be thinking about doing the Ironman, must have something mentally disconnected. We're all a little nuts, they're just a little crazier than me right now. I'm sure there will come a time when I'll be crazier than they are. It's important as a family for them to live their dreams, not mine. I'll follow them on the internet as they race, even if I won't physically be there.

I always tell everyone it's good to set a goal. Well, the day I decided not to go to Lousiville, I registered for Miami Man Half Ironman in November. It fits my schedule, so I won't have any excuse for not doing it. Plus it's a half Ironman distance, so theoretically I could do it tomorrow.

This event in Miami isn't a qualifier, so it's really a trial run for me to get back into competition with other triathletes. I'm looking forward to the fact that it's local, and I can leave home, do the event and come back home.

While it's painful not to go, I'm proud of what i think is a mature decision. The minute you become disappointed you're not doing something, set another goal. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you'll get somewhere. I hope that everyone reading this blog will come and cheer me on in Miami.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ironman Louisville Update: The Reward of Going Uphill Is Going Downhill

A part of being on the road to Hawaii is realizing that my objective may take longer than I thought it would. I've learned to accept that, while my son, Bob, can say he wants to go to Hawaii on a specific date, I may not be able to make that guarantee in the same time frame. The benefit in this is that I'm learning patience more than I ever have when it comes to my training. Part of being a mature athlete is realizing that, as much as I'd like to believe I can control time, sometimes time controls me. Although I believe in circular time, I live in linear time. So, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I'd like to.

At the same time, my training is going extremely well - I'm improving in every aspect. I'm a better swimmer and much better cyclist than I was 26 years ago, but I'm not as good a runner. What used to be my strength is now my weakest sport, and that's ok. Believe it or not, I'm actually enjoying cycling, the sport I used to hate the most. I love being able to cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time. When I'm in Las Vegas (2 weeks out of the month), I ride in the mountains, which is a real thrill for me having lived in Florida since 1981.

I have 11 weeks to go until Louisville, and I'm starting to implement more effort. I'm concentrating the next 3 months on bike-run transitions. Unfortunately, the ocean has been very uninviting, and I haven't been getting in open water swims. That's a problem. I'm looking forward to calmer water, but that's not up to me. All in all, i feel great. I'm maintaining my weight (198 to 200 lbs all the time), even though I'm not eating as clean as i should. I eat pizza, sweet potatoes and the occasional bread, so I can't be as lean as i want to be because of the carbs, but i need them for energy.

I'm surprised at how much fun it is to become an athlete again at this level, and I'm not disappointed in my failures. I'm much more patient with myself. I was with my son this morning, he said he thinks I'm doing extremely well. With three kids, he's struggling just like I am. But, like I say, the reward of going uphill is going downhill.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Cenegenics Food Plate: Plates Break, But Diamonds Are Forever

I'm glad they finally decided to get rid of the antiquated Food Pyramid, but I don't see the introduction of the Food Plate as an improvement so much as a change. Visuals are a very important tool for nutrition counseling, and the Food Plate isn't simple. It's actually very confusing. 

After realizing the many drawbacks of the Food Pyramid, I created the Cenegenics Food Diamond in 2008. Even though diamonds are rigid, the Food Diamond is actually very flexible.  I chose the diamond shape because, like individuals' diets, no two diamonds have the same shape. The Food Diamond is customizable - by altering the shape of the diamond, you can change the distribution of the food. If i was devising a Food Diamond for someone with kidney disease, lean protein would become less important than fruits. Vegetable protein would become more important than animal protein. I could similarly design a unique Food Diamond for people with conditions like arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, and each would take on the shape of a multifaceted diamond. 

The Food Diamond incorporates all the important aspects of nutrition. At a glance, you can recognize the importance of water, exercise, and vegetables versus fruit in a very simplistic way. It provides the opportunity to understand that all fats aren't created equal, and they can (and should) be used strategically. There is no reason to eliminate grains, but it's necessary to clarify that many can be harmful. 

Additionally, I would keep people, especially children, away from the dairy the Food Plate recommends. Dairy is laden with a lot of problems, and it's not all hormone-free. There are much better sources where you can get the critical nutrients found in dairy. Dairy was important 100 years ago. Now, we live in an industrialized world where we provide better sources of natural products that are raised in an appropriate fashion. I can live without cheese. I can't live without minerals and water.

The public needs simplicity. It needs a picture that helps people understand that one diet 'shape' may not apply to everybody. With its overgeneralization and lack of detail, the Food Plate allows for bad foods to be added to the plate. It took the government14 years to change the Food Pyramid, and who knows how much longer it will take to get it right. The problem is, as knowledge expands, we don't make changes. We need to start over with a solid foundation.

Remember: Plates break, but diamonds are forever.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

Life is a long and winding road, and sometimes the road splits off to create separate, equally exciting journeys. My son and grandson (both named after me) are doing their own thing, but, truth be told, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

As I make my own comeback to Hawaii, my son and grandson are following their own dreams while focusing on taking risks and staying fit.

My son has been coaching an athlete by the name of Eric Terlizzi, who recently ran in the "Raleigh Rocks" half-marathon. Here's a look at what he has to say about my son, "Ironman Bob," which can be read in it's entirety at Eric's blog:

Eric Terlizzi and my son, "Ironman Bob"

"I’ve never run an organized race before, but I’ve been training for quite a while.  As you may know by now, I’ve been on a fitness kick for about three years, trying loose weight and get healthy again.  So, the guys at school thought it would be a good idea if we did this race.  I mentioned it to my coach Bob, and he not only said “Do it!” but, “I’ll do it with you!”  Now THAT’S what I call a coach!

He helped me put together a training plan and race day strategy that really helped me stay motivated.  Every time he’d text me about the upcoming race, I swear I’d feel an adrenaline rush ,and I was ready to tear up some pavement.   I guess the old competitor in me came back!  Bob is THE man and I’m forever grateful for his influence in my life.  His family came as well and they were so encouraging."

Freshman management major Christopher A. ZIno and freshman geography major Robert D. Willix are preparing for a kayaking next summer that will take them through the Mississippi river. Their 60-day trip will take them from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.  Drew Bennett  |  The Appalachian
That's Bobby on the left
Then there's my grandson, Bobby, who's embarking on quite the adventure of his own. On April 18, he was featured in The Appalachian, the college paper for Appalachian State University, for his plans to kayak the Mississippi River next summer. In the article, Bobby says, “Two normal people can do something cool. I am a completely average person.” Keep in mind, Bobby will not be the first person to complete this journey, but he will be the youngest.

Both Bobby and my son are perfect examples of what is possible when you test your limits and go for the impossible. Amazing things can and do happen every day. Keep that in mind as you plan your life's next adventure.

"The 4 Bobs," taken in 1999: Me (Bob Jr), Bob III, Bob Sr., and Bobby

Monday, April 18, 2011

Andy Coan: My Swim Coach & Mentor

Andy Coan remains one of the world's best and most inspiring swimmers, and someone I have had the pleasure of being coached by, not once but twice. We first met in 1984, when I was in need of a swim coach for my first Ironman. I was 43, he was 26. We ended up learning a great deal from each other, formed a great friendship and stayed in touch over the years. I happened to come across him again recently while I was - you guessed it - looking for a swim coach for my return to Ironman.

Some background about Andy: In 1974, as a 10th grader in high school, he went :20.6 in the 50 and :45. 85 both National Prep School Records. As a junior, he set an American Record in the 100 Free at :43.99 swimming for Pinecrest Prep school. He had the second-fastest time in history in the 50 Free at :20.19 right behind John Trembly, which was a National Prep school record. He had a great AAU season, winning the 1975 100 Free at Short Course Nationals and qualifing for the World Championship team. His high point was at the WC meet which he won the gold medal and set a World Record in the 100 Meter Free. He had a great career at the University of Tennessee - In 1978 he won 2 individual events (50 and 100 Free) and the 400 Free Relay in helping Tennessee win the NCAA Championship. In 1979 at the NCAA he won 2 individual events (100 and 200 Free) setting American Records in the process and was upset by Rowdy Gaines in the 50 Free. His times in the 100 was :43.25 and the 200 was 1:35.62. That spring he had the fastest times in the country for the 50, 100, and 200 Free and looked like a sure bet to make the 1980 team.

Shortly after the 1979 NCAA, Andy got into a car accident in which he broke both wrists and suffered a hairline fracture of the right kneecap. The doctors said he would never swim again. He was in the hospital for 3 months and had like 9 operations to put screws, pins, and plates in his hand. After being out of competiton for a year he amazingly went to the 1980 NCAA and WON the 50 Free. After that meet, and with the Olympic boycott, he retired from swimming. Here's a bit of Andy's perpective.

* * *

I’ll never forget the day Dr. Willix walked onto pool deck and marched straight up to Jack Nelson, my coach at the time and one of the greatest American swimming coaches in the world, and said, “Coach Nelson, I want to do the Ironman and my weakest event is swimming.” Coach Nelson looked into the pool and said, “I want to introduce you to world record holder, Andy Coan. Andy, I want to intro you to Dr. Willix. Take care of him.”

So I asked Dr. Willix for a couple things in return. I said, “Please help me. I’m fairly good with my diet, but in the middle of the day I feel like someone took a syringe and sucked the energy out of me.” He had me keep a food diary for a week, and explained to me, after he’d seen it, that he’d have a tough time feeding this to his dog. Maybe he said it more nicely than that. At any rate, he changed some really basic things and made a dramatic difference to me. Basically, he said to cut out white bread and white rice, and that you can’t ever eat too many vegetables or drink too much water.

He and I are identical in regard to the importance we place on Staying young at heart. I stay as healthy as I can. I eat well and work out almost daily. And the greatest thing is, at 53 years old, I am the single father 6-year-old boy, Richard, and we just don’t stop. I love working with kids. I coach some middle and high school kids locally, in addition to the masters. Some of my oldest swimmers are the youngest at heart. I taught 10-month-old babies how to swim and I freakin’ loved it.

Dr. Willix has become an outstanding biker, and running is something he’s always been good at. He has a drive like very, very few people I’ve ever met in my life, which makes my work with him easier. As I work with him, I have to understand to take it one step at a time. He’s usually ready to go on to the next step before I am. His drive is very refreshing to me. I give him 20 seconds to rest, and in 10 seconds he’s ready to go.

Dr. Willix is going to go exactly where he wants to go in life, and I will be there with him. I admire him for the things he has done. It’s an honor that he came back and grabbed me. I think we both look each other that way. We bend our schedules and we will get there. He will get there.

My advice to everyone is, take the first step. That’s something I do every morning. Today is a new step, and Dr. Willix is a new step in my life. Don’t be set in your ways. If I was, I would look at Dr. Willix, and think, ‘I can’t make time.’ You have to make time.

I chose to step away from a lot of what my business is (I was in medical sales for years and years). I took a break and spent a lot of time with my son, and I thought, I’ll never get this chance back. I chose that, just as I chose a place for Dr. Willix. People always give you advice; they say, “It goes so fast, take pictures.” But I’ve been real lucky to do so many things. To go all over the world, set records, accomplish things in the business world. But my time with my son is so enjoyable. If I choose ‘a’ or ‘b,’ and ‘b’ is more fun, I’m going down that road.

My son teaches me so many things. My perspective is not what I can get done in a business sense, it’s that I can’t wait till 2 o’clock to pick him up. People get immersed in work, and suddenly it’s 7 at night, and they think, ‘I have to go get my kids.’ That absolutely is not going to happen, even if I give up a large part of my income.

My son and I run and dive and play. I’m 53 and doing flips into the pool, and my kid is right behind me. He does a lot of things as a 6 year old that I do behind him, in front of him, or with him. I enjoy working with kids. Kids just do that in general. They give you a youthful insight that you may have forgotten, or learned something totally new.

My son and I were out during the Super Moon. Ever since he was little, we talked about the man on the moon. I asked my son on that night, “What do you think he’s doing?” He looks up there, pauses, and says, “I think he’s playing kickball.” Ask questions and listen. In business, you’re always looking for an angle. There are no angles with kids.

Dr. Willix has worked hard to have a choice. He’s worked diligently for years to create this opportunity for himself, and it did not come easily. For that, I will always have great admiration for him.

4 Months to Louisville

No matter what kind of obstacles I face, I continue to push through and prepare for Ironman Louisvilles on August 28, 2011. You don't always have to travel to a gym to get your workout in. Here are some snapshots of me training around the neighborhood.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview With Louis Garneau, Olympian and World-Class Cyclist

This month, we're joined by Louis Garneau, a Canadian road racing and track cyclist and cyclewear manufacturer who has been involved with cycling his entire life. With 13 years of bike racing around the globe, more than 150 victories, and winning the Canadian Championship, Louis has based his career on his undying passion for cycling. He also continues to produce and patent the leading cycling apparel, helmets, shoes, accessories, and frames, as he has for more than 25 years. I'm proud to ride with Louis's Florida club of cyclists, which builds a cycling base for new and veteran cyclists who live in Florida as well as our traveling guests who come here to ride with us.

Your entire life has been dedicated to cycling. How did you originally get into the sport?

You know, I started racing at 14 years old and stopped at 25 after the Olympic games in 1984. I was a roadie, a road man, and I raced 250 kilometers (168 miles) and finished 33rd out of 163 riders. After that, I decided to quit and start my own company with my wife. I was the first person to do cyclewear in Canada and the U.S. Every year we grew, and we are now a worldwide company.
What are your tips for those who are beginner cyclists?

At the beginning you need to start slowly, because, when you train, it's for life. It's like brushing your teeth. If you start too hard, you can get tired, quit, and disappoint yourself. I recommend riding 3 times a week - 30 minutes, then an hour, then another hour. As you get in better shape, you can build on that time and double it after 6 months. You need to eat well, sleep well, and have a thorough exam with your doctor to make sure it is OK for you to begin a cycling program.
What was your most memorable experience on a bike?

The Olympic Games, '84. I had a bad crash, but I finished the race even though it was difficult. 'Never give up' is something I believe in. It was 105 degrees in L.A., very dry, and I crashed on the corner with an Italian. I hurt my knee and was suffering, but I needed to finish. The Olympic Games are the top of the top.
In 1983, you started manufacturing your first cycling clothes in your father's garage with your wife, Monique Arsenault. What inspired you to begin the line?

My dream was to be an artist, but I realized it's difficult to survive in the business. When we got married, we decided to manufacture small quantities of cyclewear. I designed, and my wife was a nurse, so she was very good for stitching the cyclewear. At the beginning, we had no plan to become a big company. We could survive selling maybe 5 pairs of shorts and 5 jerseys a week. Every week, the orders became bigger and bigger, so I thought, 'We need to reorganize. And hire some more people.' We built the company one employee by one, all the way up to 400 employees today. I tried 25 new products just last week - I make tests, and I give my feedback to the factory to create a really super product.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t feel like training?

I think my motivation is very strong. I was always an athlete with a lot of discipline. It's natural for me to me to ride, it's a part of my self. It's healthy. Sometimes I feel sleepy, and after training I feel energized. The results are fantastic. You feel proud, fresh, like another person. It's a way of life, and I need to do it. I push myself and say, 'Never give up.' It may not be fun at the beginning, but the results are always worth it.
How do you feel cycling has changed since you first began?

The population has changed a lot. People are riding the bike who are 40, 50, 60, 70 years old, because there's no impact on the back or backs of the knees like with running. You can go fast or slow, long or short. So basically, the sport is getting more popular because it's easy to do. Also, the bikes today are much lighter.
What are your favorite parts of training?

I like climbing. I like to climb mountains. It gives me great satisfaction. I like to see a big mountain and know I'm going to the top. Sadly, in Florida there are no mountains, but in Quebec we have good mountains. It's a good challenge to climb. And when I cycle, I like to go fast with friends. I like to go fast on my bike, to be honest.

Your least favorite?

Rain and cold, I hate that! When it's like that, sometimes I train inside with my bicycle in the gym. I hate cold weather and rain.
You participated in the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, a dream experience for many people. What was that experience like?

Listen, it's the most important race in the world, and I decided it would be my last race. For me, it was realizing a dream. Year after year of training hard, I realized I would represent my country at the Olympic Games. It's difficult to describe, but very special. It's a good souvenir in my head. When you're an Olympian, it's for life. And I'm proud of that.
Who inspires you?

Guy Lalibert√©, the CEO from Cirque du Soleil. Also, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France 7 times despite having cancer. That's someone special, for whom I have a lot of respect.
We all have a favorite motivational motto. Mine is, "Never let work interfere with your training." What is yours?

"Never give up." It's the way I drive my life. I never quit a race because I was tired or for stupid reasons. I am like that with my wife, who I've been with for 35 years. I met her when I was 17 and she was 15, and today we have our own kids. I've had the same company for 28 years. I believe in what I'm doing and never quit any aspect of my life for an easy reason.

How do you continue to support the cycling community?
We sponsor different teams around the world. We're sponsoring a big team in tour de france, Europcar. Also, one project I'm very proud of is sponsoring the Rwanda cycling team, these are kids from the genocide who race with the national team. I've sponsored them for two years, giving them nice jerseys, shorts and helmets. I'm happy to help the Rwanda team. Really, cycling is for everybody. Everybody can ride a bike. It's a green way of transport, we don't use gas. When you ride a bike, you're free. It's a way of life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jeffrey Cohen, Guest Blogger & Cenegenics Patient, on Biking With Giants

I am pleased to present you all with Jeffrey Cohen, this week's special guest blogger. Jeffrey is a good friend of mine and a longtime Cenegenics Boca Raton patient of six years. At 59 years old, Jeffrey keeps up the excitement in his fitness routine by running, biking and swimming his way across Miami, Florida. Read on to learn about his unique regimen and experiences.

When I first read about Cenegenics, I wasn’t sure whether I believed it or not. But I’d read some articles about growth hormone and testosterone, which, in a reasonable dose, seemed like it would be of great benefit to me. So I met with Dr. Willix and found that he was an exercise lunatic, like I was, and equally as focused – kind of a no-nonsense guy. So I said, let’s give it a try. That was six years ago. 

Jeffrey running in Miami, FL
I was very skeptical at beginning. The Cenegenics program didn’t have the same level of diligence that other treatments had, and I’d always taken supplements and exercised. But everything Dr. Willix said made sense (for example, that blood loses certain hormones as you get older). I do know for a fact that, after starting the program, I felt more energy and started really moving forward. I got my body from 10 percent body fat to 6 percent. Being closer to retirement, I could spend more time doing exercises. Although I had a back operation two years ago then spent a year recovering, I’m moving forward once again.

Miami's endless biking & running routes
I really enjoy biking. To me, enjoyment is the satisfaction of doing something well. If I go faster and harder, I feel better, respect myself and am satisfied. That’s a deep level of satisfaction. There are a lot of beautiful things running down the beach in the morning or afternoon, and you don’t feel the pain when you’re looking up at interesting things all around you.

Biking is all about discovery. I may bike from Miami Beach up to Dania Beach and back, which is about 50 miles round trip. Or, I might bike down to Homestead and around Key Biscayne and back. Sometimes I bike to Coral Gables and around Miracles Mile, going in and out some old neighborhoods. I go back up through Coconut Grove, circle around Key Biscayne once or twice, and either come back on 395 for pure speed, or go through the Venetian Causeway for enjoyment. Having a few different routes keeps biking fun.

When I bike to North Miami, there are always buses on the way back. I ride at about 25 m.p.h., but I end up going about the same speed as the buses because, although they go from 35 to 40 m.p.h., they stop a lot. Buses actually create a vortex that helps pull you along while you bike, and come in handy for wind resistance.

When I first started biking with the buses, the drivers would get mad at me and beep their horn. They made really nasty remarks at me as they passed, and I’d just smile back. After three years and hundreds of times of repeating this process, some began pulling over really far to make it easy for me to pass, or would start up more slowly so I could keep up. Instead of being angry, they started giving me a pleasant wave and a, “Hey, nice to see ya.” Finally! After three years, they got a kick out of the experience and made it easier for me to bike with them. There was a sense of camaraderie.

I learned that people really want to be nice, you just have to give them a reason. That’s a lesson I’m taking everywhere now. I may not be spiritual in the same sense as Dr. Willix, but I do believe in the Ten Commandments, especially ‘Do unto others as you’d do unto yourself.’
I’m regimented in my fitness routine, but I’m also flexible. If I can't see my veins or if I can pinch too much on my side, I know to step it up. If someone wants to climb a mountain or kayak from one island to another, I’ll switch it up. It’s all a matter of calories in, calories out, and of course, the quality of the calories.

A typical breakfast

Every day I wake up at 5:30 or 6 a.m., check my e-mail and schedule, and take out my dogs, Hershey and Bubs. Breakfast is usually egg whites or salmon with whole grain, milk or coffee, a four-ounce probiotic drink, and two prunes. If I don’t have egg whites, I treat myself to a whole grain bagel with salmon and low-fat cheese. I work for four hours, and usually have a meeting scheduled. Afterward, I read some contracts and respond with a strategy. For lunch, I'll grab an apple, a protein shake, and some green and red vegetables. I like to use all the different colors to get all of my vitamins and minerals, like carrots, red pepper, and tomato. (I actually substitute tomatoes for carbs, because, really, tomatoes are carbs.)

Jeffrey walking Hershey and Bubs
I do aerobics six days a week: running, biking and swimming. I run between one and two hours, bike between an hour and a half and four hours, and swim between an hour and an hour and a half. I weight train three days a week, and always take one day each week to do nothing. However, “nothing” for me means fun activities like skiing, water skiing, scuba diving, and tennis.

My greatest accomplishment is simply not quitting over the past 30 years. I exercise even when I get up and don’t feel like it, or fit it in a workout before I go out at night. So my biggest achievement, I’d say, is my own tenacity.

59 years young

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The More Unrealistic Your Expectations Are, The More Fun They Are When You Meet Them

So, right now, my goal is still to go to Hawaii, and I have to compete in triathlons to do that. Even while maintaining a full time job (or two). My priority is therefore to make training a daily activity. Yes, I have work. Yes, I have a life. Some days I'm tired and can’t get it done – everybody’s human. The important thing is that I'm learning from all of this. 
Training is going reasonably well, but travel is making it much more difficult than I anticipated. In Las Vegas, I tend to spend more time in the gym because the weather’s still cold, but I bought a new road bike and am looking forward to biking in the hills in early March. I'm thinking about hiring  a swimming coach because I need more drill training. I continue to make adjustments, but the important message in all of this is to keep on moving your priorities. You set your goal, then you manipulate your priorities.
I mentioned before that motivation comes from a goal, even if it’s small. When you were a kid, you set goals (graduating elementary school, then middle school, then high school, for example). Then you achieved them and moved onto the next one. Adults don’t do that. Children do. It's time we think more like children.
If anyone reading this blog doubts that I'm going to Hawaii, you shouldn’t be reading it. I’m going. It may take me a year, or 2, or even 15. But I am going. I think that Nike ad is really what it’s all about. Stop making excuses and "just do it." Make unrealistic expectations of yourself. The more unrealistic they are, the more fun they are when you achieve them. I have just as much heart now as I did before, and, yes, I'm finding training to be difficult at times. But struggle is good. It’s not always easy, but sometimes it’s more fun if it’s not easy, because then you have to dig deep. My high school football coach, Tony Verducci said, "No many how many hundred-yard sprints I make you do, you’ve always got another one in you, and the next one may be the fastest in your life." That’s true abnout life in general. Use this opportunity to rekindle some of your childhood goals, and achieve them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

This Year, Get in the Game

Let me tell you a story. The first time I ever ran a 6.2-mile race, I came in dead last. That was in 1977. In fact, I was so slow, the truck picking up the cones was beeping its horn at me. I was discouraged because the guys in the truck were jeering at me, and I said to my friend, “Maybe we should step aside and quit.” He said, “Are you kidding me? Do you know how many people can actually run 6.2 miles? You’re an elite athlete, and those guys in the truck are a bunch of deadbeats.” That statement rings true today.

It's a new year, but your resolution shouldn't be to change everything at once or be the best right away. Instead, work on changing one thing permanently. It’s been my experience that change occurs when you do something long enough to make it part of your life. I’ve always lived by motto, “Don’t let work interfere with your training," but, recently, I’ve been thinking “Don’t let work interfere with your play.” That’s the way I’m approaching my training: As a form of play. People shouldn’t consider training for an Ironman 'normal,' or something that everyone should attempt. But those who do should view it as play, and enjoy the challenge of it.

This morning was a perfect example. I saw the sun rise off the ocean around 7:10, and it was 50 degrees out (you have to be prepared for that weather, even in Florida). There was no wind. The sky was crisp and blue. On a bike going 20 mph, though, the wind chill brings you into the 40s. But it was still a playful day, because I had run hard the day before, and cycled hard the day before that. Today was a tempo ride; I never looked at the speedometer for how fast I was going. I just concentrated on keeping my leg speed constant for an hour. It was like begin a kid.

That’s how you should look at physical fitness. That’s why basketball is such a common sport for college grads who used to play a little bit, and why so many gyms have them. Rollerblading is fun, and master swimming can also be fun. The new year is all about transformation. Think, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” My answer is, "I want to be a kid." I want to be able to play again. Why else would I set a goal for wanting to get back to Hawaii? It was one of the most playful times of my life.

I signed up for Ironman 70.3, a half Ironman in Orlando taking place on May 15, because I wanted to have an event before Louisville. It will give me 5 months to train, and I can use the event as a gage for how much hard work I have to do before August. It’ll help me find out what I have to work on. This month, I’m working on running and swimming. I’ll be in Las Vegas this week, where its 34 in the morning. Cycling at that temperature is not fun. So, I'll swim indoors or weight train.

The 70.3 is also a qualifier for Hawaii, so if I win my age group I get use Louisville as a training race. For those who are following my goal of getting back to Kona, I’m also entered in the lottery, which accepts 200 athletes from around the world. Worst case is I don’t win, best case is I get chosen on April 15 and get to go to Hawaii this year.

The more I get back into Ironman training, the more I become convinced that the most successful people are the ones who are in the game. Watching the game isn’t as exciting as playing, even if you’re not the best at what you do.