Category: Triathlons

Here are my Facebook posts during the race as well as a video that shows what was going on in Italy last September/October…

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 11

Day 12

Day 15

Day 16

Day 27

Day 30

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ As you can see I struggled throughout the entire 30 days. I am fortunate to have raced with the best ultra-triathletes in the world. The volunteers were terrific, they had their own obstacles to overcome to help all the athletes. I learned a lot and am looking forward to racing with these athletes again in the near future. Here is a video by Judy showing the race and is the trailer to the upcoming movie, “Beyond the Breaking Point.”

My 2013 racing season had 4 big events. In the spring I did the Tampa Bay Double Ironman and Potawatomi 150, in the summer I ran across Illinois and in the fall I raced in Italy attempting the most consecutive Ironmans in 30 days. It has been the biggest year so far in terms of racing.

Double Iron Start

Double Iron Start

 I signed up for the Double Iron to make sure I didn’t get too fat and lazy over the winter. Plus, having a big race early in the year is a nice platform to jump start the year.

I did the necessary training but didn’t give a lot of thought to my nutrition. That cost me dearly during the race and ended up taking 2 naps for a 27:49 finish for 6th place.

Mile 130

Mile 130

Potawatomi 150 was almost a disaster when a group of us went out fast for the first 50 miles. I took my first sleep at 60 miles because of going out too fast. I ended up taking 2 more naps in the 48 hours of that race. I’ve become accustomed to napping during races and am going to try this year to get minimal to no sleep during Potawatomi. I’d like to see how many more miles past 150 I can get in before the 52 hour cutoff this year.

The run across Illinois was to raise money for a Chicago-based charity called Chicago Run. That charity’s mission is to implement programs in schools to get our children more active. The 410 mile staged run took us a week and was truly an incredible experience. Starting in Kentucky, a group of 4 of us ran north towards the Wisconsin border. After a few days and a mechanical malfunction with our crew car, 2 of us were left, Shan Riggs and me. The main crew/pacers were Scott Kummer, Scott Smoron, Tony Cesario, Brian and Kelly Gaines, Karen Shearer, Jennifer Leslie, Tony Weyers, Joy Avery, Alfredo Pedro, Evelyn Santos, Joe and Joeliezer Ventura, Julie Bane, Tina Pascolla, Hersh Ajgaonkar, James and Cindy Faford, Kamil Suran and others I’m sure I forgot. The temps were hot and when the rain stopped after the first 4 days, I was overheating and developed a strange colored bruise on my leg.

Run Across Illinois

Run Across Illinois

A couple days later my knee started swelling up and running was no longer an option for the last 25 miles. Getting to the border was brutal that last day, walking in the sun. Kamil and I started hitting each other with a stick. After feeling the same pain for 7 days, it was nice to feel something different, even if it was a different sort of pain in a different part of the body. I also needed the comic relief that only hitting your friend with a stick can bring. I could not have gotten across the state without all of the crew and pacers.

Finish in Wisconsin

Finish in Wisconsin

Finally, the record attempt in Italy was to see how many consecutive Ironmans we could do over a period of 30 days. 20 of us attempted this race and remarkably, 8 men finished all 30 days. Kamil and I both dropped in the first week. While he came back a few days later and did the last 20 days, I struggled and sporadically did a couple here and a couple there for a total of 13.

Bike crash

Bike crash

Most of my purpose for finishing the other 3 events earlier in the year, was to create a mindset for finishing the Italy race, however, every day of racing became increasingly difficult for me. I don’t think I was spiritually fit enough to endure the stress of those 30 days of racing. Karma isn’t usually convenient. On top of relationship issues and moving just before the race, the stress of racing felt compounded, with plenty of time spent in my own head to think about how I ended up where I was and what direction my life was going.

Italy Run with Kamil

Italy Run with Kamil

I always seem to get the question, “Why do you do these ultra races? Why ?” That is always a question I ask myself during these events as it gets difficult to continue. And as a result, I become accustomed to asking myself that about life. Why do I work here, live here, eat this, have these hobbies, etc. Some people say they learn more from their dnf’s than from their finishes, but in my case I learned more from the run across Illinois. Sometime between days 5 and 6 in the run across Illinois, I began hearing things.



The insects were telling me I couldn’t finish and the birds were telling me I could. I mentally broke down at that point and I began asking myself the why question, not just about running but about life as well. I realized that asking that question was vital to becoming a better person and living an authentic life, something I needed at that point and still do. Recently, those questions have resurfaced. It’s cool that I can do ultras and persevere through tough times, but can I do that in the rest of my life? If I can run across Illinois with courage, integrity and grace, do I live the rest of my life that way? I look back and see my life’s decisions over the past few years and how far off track I’ve gotten from what I would consider an authentic, courageous life. That is not the life I want.

It’s easy to be vague about the specifics, but a couple of years ago I made a monumental mistake and hid that from the people around me. When that happens, we tend to hide and protect the mistake in order to save face. Only after being honest is the veil pulled away and the situation can be seen and evaluated for what it really is – not what we’ve been falsely portraying it to be.

 So my answer to why is actually the question itself. Asking the right question gives perspective that can be the beginning of positive change. Hindsight is 20/20 but only if I look. And just like an ultra, succeeding requires making good decisions.

Racine 70.3 Race Report 2011

So, this half ironman was to be a training race. That means no taper but still racing it. I swam 1.5 kilometers and rode 63 miles the day before so I wasn’t expecting to do anything miraculous on race day. My hope was to put in a solid effort all the way through. The original forecast was sunny and hot – in the low 90’s. The day before the race, the forecasted temps changed to the high 80’s. The water temperature was 66 degrees and there were 10 mph winds. Got up at 3:30 am to get there before transition closed, then waited for a 7:26 wave start. On the way, I was thinking of my friend Billy, who just a few weeks ago had his foot amputated from a motorcycle accident. I’m not sure why I was thinking of him other than how grateful I was to be able to do these races. The Friday before the race Judy and I went to Runner’s High and Tri to see Craig Alexander. One of the first questions asked by the crowd was what he thought about Chris McCormack’s new book. Part of his response was it should be filed in the fiction section. I saw Crowie in transition before the start and said, “Good luck Craig.” He responded with, ” You too.” I thought he looked a bit nervous seeing me there at the race. I’m sure he’s been reading my blog and knows how fast I am. I hope he doesn’t try to draft off me in the bike. It would be a shame if he got a drafting penalty just to try and stay with me.

The Swim

See ya!

The swim is a point to point so we had to walk 1.2 miles up the coast to the swim start. We had a bunch of gear for filming which Judy would have to lug back by herself. The true race would be if she could get to the swim finish before me in order to film me coming out of the water. I didn’t make it easy on her. My swim went good (for me) with a time of 37 minutes in the water. She made it on time to see me huffing and puffing up the beach. They had a couple of little tubs that you could rinse the sand from your feet which was really nice. No one likes sand in their shoes. However, when I got to the wetsuit strippers, there was sand all over the area where we lay down to have the volunteers pull the suits off. The guy who was my stripper (that doesn’t sound right) had a heck of a time getting my suit off. He was pulling and pulling. I told him I felt bad for him and that I would make up the lost time on the bike. I didn’t say anything about the sand covering my entire body.

The Bike

Hammering the bike

The night before the race I decided to try something new. Usually when you hear those words you can expect a horror story to follow but this was only a training race, so I was ok if it backfired. I decided to try Red Bull on the course so I bought 2 cans, one for T1 and one for T2. In T1 I grabbed my gel flask and Red Bull, stuffed them in the back pocket of my tri suit and headed out to the bike course. Right away there was a hill and as I climb it I hear Brandi and Karen call out to me. That was a nice surprise since I didn’t expect to see them until later. A couple of miles into the bike I reach back to get my gel flask (I like to push the calories as soon as possible on the bike) and nothing is there! The Red Bull is gone too! Races rarely go as planned and in this case I needed to find as many calories on the course as possible. There are only 3 aid stations on the bike course. I had Perpetuem in one of my bottles so that gave me some calories, and at the first aid station I grabbed a bottle of Ironman Perform. I also grabbed a couple of gels. The first half of the bike was mostly into the wind and my bike computer was showing an 18 mph average – not very encouraging. I was passing people but I wasn’t moving as well as I normally do. I assumed it was because of the 63 mile training ride the day before and the wind I was riding into. However, on the way back, I found the drive to push hard and was able to get up to 23 to 30 mph nearly the whole way back. At one point I saw Judy filming me as I was passing another rider. Overall it was a good bike with an average of 22 mph. I did feel like I pushed too hard the second half of the bike but the run will show the truth.

The Run

Passing another runner

In T2 I saw the Red Bull that had come out of my tri suit earlier but decided not to pick it up in case someone watching thought I was stealing someone else’s stash. I had another one at my transition spot anyhow. I had brought socks to the race but forgot to put them into transition in the morning. I wasn’t decided on whether I was going to wear them or not but forgetting them kinda made my decision. I can usually do a half ironman without them but my feet were a little scraped up from the triathlon I did the week before. So I donned my shoes without socks, grabbed my hat and Red Bull and headed out to the run. Within a half mile there were 2 decent sized hills. After tackling those I got into my groove and settled into a heart rate of 162. I was doing about 7:30 minutes per mile which was what I was hoping for. The Red Bull went down ok and didn’t come up so that was good. The course was a double out and back which is nice because you can see the other racers. On my first loop I saw Crowie pretty far from the front of the race and told him good job. He didn’t respond so I’m sure he was trying to calculate the splits he would need to stay in front of me (in reality he was on his second loop). As I finished up the first loop I saw Judy, Brandi and Karen cheer me on.

Brandi, me and Karen

There is a long downhill and then back out for a second loop. This time, when I got to the 2 hills, I walked part of the second one. I didn’t have the snap in my legs that I had before. 2.5 miles into the second loop (mile 9) is where I came unglued. I was bonking so I walked that aid station in order to get more calories down before running again. My pace went down into the 8’s and at the turn around aid station I walked that one as well in order to get more fluids down. With just over 3 miles to go I know that I only have 2 more aid stations to go and I try to keep a steady pace. The extra calories and fluids from the last 2 aid stations start to take effect and I feel a little better. Now it’s a matter of how much I want to push – how much pain I want to go through. I think of Billy again and know that I don’t want to waste the opportunity to run as fast as I can – something he may not be able to do for the rest of his life. About a half mile before the last aid station I start to pick up the pace. I usually wait until a half mile or a mile from the finish to start the last push but this time I started earlier because I’m getting close to breaking 5 hours. This was nearly 2 miles from the finish. I fly through the last aid station and try to grab a water from a volunteer but end up spilling most of it. With half a gulp I push on, totally committed to the end. It seems to take forever getting to the finish chute but I finally see it and the girls cheering me on. I max out to the finish line and check my watch – 5:01.



I kept hearing about how bad the heat was but I never really felt affected by it. However, in the finish chute when Karen was pouring water on me to cool me off, my body was jerking from the drastic difference in temperature of the water. That told me it was really hot out and my body temperature was high. I felt really tired from racing, getting up super early and finishing a 2 week training block with this race. I accomplished what I wanted – to push through the entire race and to make Craig Alexander look over his shoulder in fear of me passing him. He’s lucky I didn’t taper for this one!