Commitment - Dedication - Desire

...I vs I

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Years ago my mom and I were driving on the highway when a few cars ahead of us spun across the road, hit the median and stopped facing oncoming traffic. We pulled over, ran to help (my mom is a paramedic) and the first questions out of her mouth- calmly-       “What is your name, age, are you on any medications, allergic to any medications?” Later we discussed the importance of obtaining this information quickly, as it is a great deal of help to the emergency personnel and people in the ER. She also reinforced the importance of getting this as soon as possible because the patient’s ability to provide it can change quickly! Its amazing what you remember when you must…

This past week I was driving home from school. We were in lab for the second half of the day so I left hoping to beat traffic and headed south on I85. About a half mile into the drive, just ahead of me, 3 cars crashed into each other. One bounced off to the right seemingly ok. (for a wreck that is) The other two started to flip and roll. A white Honda was rolling side over side and a Chevy Trailblazer was going end over end. It looked like something out of a movie rather than real life. Steel, plastic and glass were flying everywhere! There was smoke, loud screeching, crunching and just chaos as the cars continued to flip and roll down the highway…then… I saw a person get ejected from the Trailblazer as it continued to flip.

Immediately I pulled to the side, got out of my car and started running through the debris towards the victim who was ejected. She had been thrown from the car, hit the ground and slid into the barrier separating north and south bound sides of 85. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come next.

She was middle-aged, overweight and looked to have been hurt everywhere. Her left foot was covered with blood and a bone was sticking through her heel. Tib/fib was compound at the ankle and her knee was torn to shreds. Her right leg was twisted around and bleeding due to the many cuts and road rash. All 4 fingers were compound fractured just below the knuckles with jagged tissue and skin missing all over. She had a laceration across her stomach, her left arm lay placid as the shoulder was obviously separated or broken and her right was certainly no better. I looked at her face- there was blood in both eyes, mouth, ears and hair.

Without hesitation it spewed from my mouth: “How old are you? Are you on any medication? Are you allergic to any medication?” She could barely talk but answered; “58, I don’t take medication… penicillin, Im allergic to penicillin.” In a matter of seconds things changed. Her pupils dilated to the point you couldn’t see the outline any longer. She started to talk loud and tried to roll around. “Who are you? Where am I?” I tried to calm her down and keep her from moving- yelling to the other bystanders who were approaching, “Call 911!! Find an AED!! Does anyone have a blanket or a towel, shes going into shock?”

A girl brought a blanket over and covered her up while still trying to keep her calm and still. She kept repeating herself; “where am I?” Trying to get up – she suddenly had no pain- as if nothing had happened.

After a few minutes with her, there were enough people surrounding me I was able to instruct them to stay on the phone with 911 and continue to keep her calm and still as the medics would be there soon. I ran past the upside down Trailblazer towards the white Honda that came to a stop resting on the drivers side of the car. The lady was still inside and I could hear and see her moving through the shattered glass. Several people were trying to help her out and one person was on top (passenger side) attempting to open the door for an exit route. The ground had shards of glass, plastic and metal scattered everywhere... and it was wet. On its side meant unstable so I instructed the guy off the top. The lady inside unclipped her seat belt and slid down into the passenger seat standing on the passenger side door panel. Against my better judgment as the car was not secured, two guys grabbed what was left of the windshield and pulled it back while I reached my hand out to the woman to help her out. She held my arm as we walked to the barrier to sit down… those same questions came out. Upon first glance she looked ok- only a bloody lip from biting it when she was rolling. We talked for a couple minutes and another bystander offered to sit with her while I ran back to the group with the first victim.

The firefighters were the first on the scene followed shortly by two ambulances and police. I gave all of the information I had, never identified myself, walked across 85 to my car and drove away. We had recently gone through BLS training and one of the points made to us, was to stay anonymous & leave after you have done everything that you can. People sue regardless of your good intentions to help. So I did.

On my drive home I called Tami back (she was on the phone with me while I saw the crash) to let her know I was ok but just needed a minute to process what happened. Then… it all hit me. I started to get short of breath. I couldn’t swallow. My head started to pound and I couldn’t talk. I pulled off the highway and sat a stop light just trying to get control of myself, breath, but it wasn’t working. All I kept seeing was the lady’s eyes and thought about how quickly her condition changed while lying in front of me…

I continued to try and talk myself down. Traffic was bad so we weren’t moving very fast but nothing was helping. A million thoughts raced through my head- did I do the right thing? Did I do enough? What else could I have done? What if she dies? What if I was in the accident? Did I tell everyone else the right things to do? The thoughts were overwhelming. The experience was overwhelming. Seeing the cars flip and someone get thrown the way she did was extremely, overwhelming.

I picked up my phone to call my mom. She may not have seen many accidents happen but she arrived on scene after scene and could definitely identify with what I experienced. She and my dad answered but I couldn’t answer back. I tried to talk but nothing came out. A mixed jumble of word fragments was all I was capable of. After several minutes of her getting an idea of what happened she started to calm me down and I was able to drive home.

To say the rest of the evening was rough would be an understatement. Letting the incident go was damn near impossible. Driving back to school the next day was even tougher. Everything- what I saw, the sounds, the smells, her eyes…everything from that day was and is still very vivid and real. Looking across to the other side of 85 as I drove past didn’t seem real. Its hard to talk about it, write about it and think about it.

The only thing I did take away from the entire experience is wear your seatbelt. The woman who had her seatbelt on was still in her car and able to walk away after an unimaginable crash. She was lucky undoubtedly, but staying inside her vehicle rather than getting thrown out with the force that the other lady had been victim to, certainly saved her life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One more goal

One more goal.

Today is the 17th day since the crash that left me hurt and pissed off. The doctors told me 6-8 weeks for my foot to heal, 3 months for my back and then re-evaluate. After hearing the long road ahead I switched gears in my mind. The doctors can say what they want, I know my body and healing quickly is a matter of will, want and hard work. I can do better…much better! So I set some goals.

The first goal- swim.
Since the Wednesday following the crash I have been to the pool every day. Every day! The spine doc said swimming would cause pain but not injure me any further. I trust very few people with my medical care. Dr. Chris Webb is one of two so I would call, text, bother him (sorry) constantly asking what I could and couldn’t do. He confirmed, swimming may hurt but it wont cause further damage. Goal #1-Wading became walking, walking became floating, floating became sculling and sculling has now led to swimming. Im slow as hell and my legs drag because tightening those back muscles isnt happening yet-but I swim. 500yds, 1000yds, 1500yds and yesterday- 2100!!! I cant flip turn so I keep my head in the water and spin around to lightly push off the wall with my good foot. I know I look stupid but it’s a work in progress. HA! SPL is 4-5 high and my time…well, lets not even talk about that right now. Thanks Chris!!! Sorry but I still have to bother you.

2nd goal- get back to coaching and the ATC.
I don’t need to go on about how awesome this group is or how supportive they have been or how people I barely know offered to help any way they could, or how Matt & Dustin spent a Friday night moving furniture and hanging out with me. I wont go into all that ;) Yes, the ATC is amazing! Its that amazingness that inspires, supports and pumps me up every time Im around them. They welcomed me and Tami since day 1. That is why this was goal #2. I needed to be back. Last Friday I made it and glad to be back I am!!! Thank you ATC!!!!

3rd goal- get on the trainer.
I set this goal for the start of week 3- Monday, March 24th. It didn’t happen. I was sore from perhaps possibly over doing it in the pool. Possibly… so today I said it needed to be done. Even if for a minute. Chris Rotelli gave me a water bottle last week with the saying; “ I am the master of my own fate.” You are damn right!! Those words hit home and replay constantly in my head. Trainer time- 45 minutes!

4th goal- complete Ironman Florida 70.3, five weeks post-crash.
The limiter here would be my foot. How I was going to make it through the half marathon Im not sure, but I had time to figure this minor detail out. Tami quickly put an end to this goal. I think the term “psycho” was used along with some other explitives…lol!!! Sorry babe!

Im happy with the progress but there is still a lot of work to do and perhaps its outside of the physical healing. Today as soon as I started pedaling the anger began to rise. With each pedal stroke, the pain would come but the anger overtook it. Power and cadence are just like my swimming- way off. Mad, pissed, irate, I stopped.  

I set some lofty but attainable goals for this year. The formula was simple. Swim my swim. Bike at 3.7-3.9. Run was the limiter and we were addressing it with frequency like I have never done before. My weight was down, nutrition was spot on and hydration would no longer hold me back. This was the year!

That’s all gone now. What remains is anger and fear. When I go to sleep, sitting at my computer or drinking coffee in the morning, flashes of wrecking my bike come into my mind. I’ve replayed that day a million times thinking about what I could’ve done different. I should’ve pushed the break. I should’ve pushed the pace. I should NOT have dropped back in. It culminated today as I pedaled on the trainer. I had no power, spinning was painful and all that I had worked for is gone.

I realize Im lucky. Very lucky! This could have been much more serious and ended much worse. I could have no support from my wife, closest friends and ATC. I could still be on the couch and not doing anything at all. I realize this. I don’t feel bad for myself and the will to rehab is stronger than ever. Regardless- Im still extremely angry!! Adding to that anger is the realization that I don’t seem to be a big enough man to let it go.  Anger isnt a bad emotion- I get that. Its natural and if handled well can be useful. I need to figure that part out. One more goal to put on the list…

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I am Lucky!!!!

Brooks Road Race- Masters 4/5, 3/8/2014

When I originally signed up for this race the plan was Cat 5. I never applied for an upgrade and figured one last race with the Cat 5’s would be fun and a good start to the race season. Leading up to the race I had great training and many days off due to our move into a new house. My legs were tired and sore but not from riding. (stairs...grrr!!) However, when I arrived race morning- I felt great! Two friends (David and Paul) and many familiar faces were signed up for the Masters category. The way I was feeling I thought, why not jump up to Masters and go after it today. So I changed pre-race.

David and I did a quick warm up together and caught up a bit before hustling back as the time got away from us. The race started and off we went. The first lap was very tense. Everyone in the peloton seemed stiff and nervous. First race of the year jitters were very apparent. I made several attempts to joke with everyone, loosen the vibe up but it never took effect. The pace was subdued, just over 21 mph and you could tell egos were out in full force. The last few miles Paul was out in front and I was stuck on his wheel. With the peloton still strung together, we rounded the corner towards the 200 meter mark heading into the finish for the first of 3, 18 mile laps. My nutrition/hydration was spot on as I downed a gel and chucked an empty bottle to the side! My legs felt great and it was taking everything I had to hold back.

“Two laps left Ryan. Patience,” I kept reminding myself.

The plan was to launch a few attacks on the 2nd lap and split the peloton apart. Then-settle in with the front group, recover as much as possible for an all-out break away with a couple miles to go. I was prepared to burry myself in those last miles and just hold on to the finish.

I could hear Paul Ligget yelling; "Fabulous Fabian Cancellara!!" HAHA! You need these thoughts if you are really in it to race. I was pumped!!!!

About 500 meters into the 2nd , the first attack was launched. I needed to get some anxiousness out and went with two others as we upped the pace. It was short lived but set the tone for what was to come. This wasn’t going to be the easy ride we had on the first lap- not if you wanted to be competitive. Pulling up along side the guy who launched I complimented him and said, “lets do a few more!” Apparently some others were in agreement and several more attacks followed. These were short bursts lasting 2 minutes or less. Surprisingly the group followed not letting anyone get away. The main field would drop back but eventually catch back up as the attacking group would slow. Looking back now, I realize we needed leadership and should have stepped up. I was trying to be as patient as possible but burning a few matches would have helped us break early and likely prevented what was about to come.

Somewhere around mile 6, the guy who launched first went again. I decided it was time to go with him and crank up some speed. I was feeling too good to keep sitting back so I dropped the gear, broke out to the left and pushed hard to go with him. He lasted about 2 minutes and slid off to the center line. Rather than drop behind him like before, I kept pushing the now single file peloton through some rollers. Legs fine. Heart rate fine. Cadence fine. It was a good push. (Time to recover and let someone else do some work.) 

My hope was for another rider to take the lead and keep pushing the pace. We had some strong riders out front and we needed to take advantage of it by working together and keeping the pace up. It didn’t happen. Looking over my shoulder there was a gap between our group and the rest of the peloton. None of us were tired and we should have kept going - but we didn’t. Unfortunately, as we headed up the next roller, here came the masses and once again the group was together. ARGHHHH!!!

I slid back in and over to the far right about 3rd position just pedaling and grabbed a drink. A little aggravated but happy I was still feeling so well and excited to launch again as soon as I was closer up. The guy next to me (he launched twice) and I looked at each other and smirked. It was a silent agreement that we would go at it again, together…soon. My heart rate started to rise and the excitement started to build. I thought-“If these guys wanted to stick around, they needed to hurt and prove worthy. Lets put some hurt on this bunch and get the hell out of here!”

There was small, gradual incline and although the pace was slightly higher, it wasn’t blistering by any means. If you couldn’t hang on to this pace you really had no business being out here. True to those words a rider on the far, far right (not in a lane) was dropping back. What he was doing up front I have no idea, but the fact he couldn’t get up a small incline was ridiculous. 

When the peloton regrouped a few riders flew past us from the momentum they had getting into our slipstream. I assume this is where this asshole came from. The hands went out advising people to slide over as we were starting to drop him. (This guy pissed me off! Its assholes like these that think they are way better than they are and cause unsafe conditions.) At that moment I heard some yelling, the riders in front of me started to go down, there was a bike in front of me and hit it.

In that split second my mind went back to my shoulder injury and multiple surgeries with months of pain. I immediately tucked my head and brought my arms in as I was flipping through the air.

*Still not sure how I was so conscious about what was going on but I remember those split seconds vividly and knew what was happening the entire time.*

I did a complete flip landing my back on what felt like a set of handle bars. The pain was instant as I bounced across the pavement into the grass. Lying on my stomach with my face down, I tried to move and reach for help. Riders were all around me, bikes were on the ground and I could here David saying my name. I couldn’t speak. The pain in my back was too much and all I could do was breath into the dirt and grass.

When I crashed a few years ago, my instant thoughts were about how this was going to impact my racing, recovery time and the surgeries I knew were to follow. This time- it was completely different.

The first and lasting thought was about Tami, the Beaner, my responsibilities as a husband and how I needed to make myself better because they depend on me. I didn’t give a shit about my bike, the race, my future races…nothing else. It was focused solely on them.

I heard David say my name again and heard Paul as well. There was a doctor behind me talking to me asking questions and touching my leg. I was still lying face down, the back of my left hand on my lower back and I was scared. The pain was excruciating but I was determined to push through, again- thinking of my family. He helped me roll over and eventually get up. (In hindsight-this was bad and should not have been done but there was no way in hell I was going to another po-dunk hospital in the middle of nowhere. Floyd medical center can eat shit!) When I looked around I saw the carnage of bikes and riders.

David was bloody from head to toe. His arms and legs were really rashed up and his kit was shredded in different spots. He was talking to me and asking if I was ok. He offered to drive my car back to Atlanta and do whatever he could to help. He was obviously in a ton of pain but still concerned about me. I don’t recall what I said (if anything) but it was comforting to have him there. Tough as nails- he got onto his bike and road the last 9 miles back to the start/finish.

Paul was in the crash too. His bike was in shambles. Zipps busted apart, handlebars broken and come to find out so was his frame. His kit was torn too and he was holding his shoulder. It was broken. Paul checked on me as well and road in the back of the car with me to the start/finish.

Upon arriving back, I pulled myself out of the car, grabbed my bike and slowly limped over to my car. I saw Darrel warming up and opened my mouth but nothing seemed to come out. Again, my only thoughts were that I needed to be ok. I needed to heal myself. I needed to get home and take care of things.

It took forever to get my bike in the XTerra and even longer for me to get in the driver’s seat. My right foot was broken and my left leg wasn’t working well. The pain seemed to get worse rather than better and I knew I needed to get home. I sat there for a few minutes collecting myself and called Tami. She answered; “that was quick!” I responded; “yep! Especially when you wreck. <laughingly>”

I didn’t want to lead on as to how bad I felt as there was nothing she could do and worrying her wouldn’t help things. I brushed the injuries off and said I was sore with a busted foot. I even took a pic and posted because my back to me just seemed like it was muscular issue. “HTFU!!!” I kept telling myself on the drive home. “You pulled a muscle and broke your foot. Suck it up!” I must’ve repeated that 20 times.

The pain in my back began to increase and I started to panic a little. “Ok, ok, endorphins are wearing off, its going to hurt, relax, breath…” But I couldn’t breathe well. Now taking a deep breath was impossible as it hurt when I inhaled. “Broken rib maybe. Nice job dick head! Suck it up! Lets get home.” (Im not sure why Im letting everyone know I was talking to myself…but I was, and it helped.) The pain kept getting worse and driving was getting harder. Breathing was getting tougher and panic was setting in. I called Tami back and asked her to meet me at the house so we could go to the hospital. I was hurt.

The rest you already know. Multiple fractures in multiple vertebrae and 4 of them have the left transverse processes completely broken off. Right foot is broken and the road rash barely ever hurt because it was overshadowed by my back.

I do want to highlight Piedmont hospital and the care I received there. OUTSTANDING!!!! The NP, Zach and nurse Greg, oversaw my care. They were unreal!! The process was quick and we never waited any longer than 20 minutes at a time for a result or another test or anything. Even the security guard there helped me out of the car and wheeled me into the ER while Tami parked. I highlighted all of them and my experience with Piedmont in a letter thanking them. They deserve to be recognized!!!

Im fortunate to be able to say, I’m done racing bicycles. I have never loved or enjoyed a sport more than cycling. Never! Not football, hockey- nothing! Bike rides have taken me to places and let me see things I would have never seen or experienced any other way. Watching the sun come up in the north Georgia mountains while climbing through the gaps is breathtaking. The exhilaration of sitting on a guy’s wheel climbing at what you think is your max- seeing the finish ahead, shifting down, standing up and launching to give every last drop of what is inside… you are alive!!!!! The camaraderie and culture of cycling has given me friends from all over the world. I could write about it forever. But Im done.

I received a call from a friend of mine who heard what happened. He’s from Prague, a long time competitive cyclist and all too familiar with what can happen on the road. He said I was lucky. He told me his friend did the same thing but still wins TT’s and swimming events-  only now he races in the wheel chair division. The same type of crash left him paralyzed from the waist down. Those thoughts I had about my family, responsibilities and commitment to them, far exceeds anything mentioned above and putting myself at risk to alter this life, their well being, just isn’t worth it.

I am lucky. Extremely lucky!!! Not only with regards to my injuries but in life. We have been inundated with calls, emails, texts and FB messages wishing me well and a quick healing. We’ve had offers for food, rides to the doctor, walks for Kona and just to come sit with me. Chris Webb calls me every day from Pittsburgh and has offered to fly down to help oversee my care. Matt texts me and Tami multiple times a day always offering to do anything.  Lucky??? Unbelievably lucky, fortunate, blessed, humbled and thankful.

This by no way means I am done competing. No way!! That side of me will never die. But the focus will be on something else- swimming perhaps. Who knows, maybe breaking my right foot will now balance the imbalance I had due to the previous broken left foot and allow me to run injury free. HAHA! Regardless, I will be back and able to compete again- that part of me is not gone. 

Every day gets better and that has so much to do with all of the support!! Tami- you never waiver, always there, solid, amazing, wonderful, Thank You!!! Webb- always above and beyond! Roco’s Taco’s bro!!! Thank you!!! Matt- a constant blessing- Thank You!! David- you did more than you realize- Thank you!! ATC- You FUCKING ROCK!!!!! Adam & Sarah, Krystle, KLo, all of you!!! AMAZING!!!! Everyone else who has called, text etc- THANK YOU!!!!

I am truly lucky!!! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Biggest Loser-aptly named as the winner seems to lose either way…

With all of the talk regarding the Biggest Loser winner being too skinny I have commented on numerous posts and in a fashion completely unlike me…decided to write my own… :P  

The Biggest Loser show should be taken off the air. Admittedly, I have watched it from time to time and shouldn’t have.This is a show that takes extremely obese people, parades them on national TV half naked, takes away their main support structure, does an extreme instant lifestyle change, than lets the world judge them on a weekly basis. I know what some of you are going to say- but these people volunteer, ask to be on it, want to do this. And I would agree with you its one hell of a sales pitch- however, it’s dangerous, misleading and frankly, wrong.

I will guarantee that being obese is not anyone’s choice. Obviously the decisions those people made with regards to food are the direct cause for their weight gain but what led them to those choices are where the effort should be focused as the food is typically secondary or even tertiary. Sources like mental health, traumatic episodes and numerous others are key factors when looking at extremism. Where ‘O where are the mental health counselors on the Biggest Loser? The so called “pro trainers” themselves have known short falls with regards to eating and binge exercise. Yet, these are the people that counsel the desperate and ultra-extreme during another life altering time? Last I looked; your ACE certification didn’t accompany an MS. or Ph.D in psychology. Hell, I don’t recall it saying anything about mental health whatsoever.?!  

Here is the Biggest Loser’s approach to weight loss.
The key motivator-humiliation. You are labeled as fat and stand half naked for the world to see just how fat you are. If you don’t work hard enough, sway the least bit from a completely different diet than you are used to, it will result in you being fat in front of millions, letting your team down, letting the people at your job down, your town down and worst of all, your loved ones you left behind because you will be sent home- yep, humiliated. How could that ever morph into something unhealthy?? Hmmm, it’s a mystery…

What I do know about weight loss is that the best way to success is through lifestyle change. Manageable, maintainable, sustainable, lifestyle change. Yanking people out of their homes; instantly changing their diets; going from no physical activity to 8+ hours a day and scaring them with the humiliation of coming up short in front of the judgmental public that they have been ridiculed by the majority of their lives; is far from the correct way to go about it.

Here’s the kicker! I love this part!! After a person perseveres, survives, conquers all of these insane obstacles, John Q Public accompanied with hysteric mass media, has the audacity to call her TOO THIN and speculate she is anorexic. GASP!!! How on earth could someone become anorexic after that great experience???

I feel bad for her and scared for all of the contestants on the Biggest Loser. It is 100% possible that this extreme weight loss show could take a person from one side of the eating disorder line completely across to the other. As someone who has battled anorexia for the last 11 years, I can tell you it sucks! I’m betting the opposite side of the spectrum is the exact same. As an anorexic, every ounce of food or drink that passes your lips is analyzed, reanalyzed and then thought about later. I am an athlete and therefore hungry all of the time. Over the years I’ve learned to control this hunger by eating a ton of low energy density foods. Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce and apples. I drink carbonated beverages because the gas fills me up. And lastly, I work out as much as possible. Even when my body is depleted I find a way to continue because those off days are scary to me. As I said, this is something I have battled for the last 11 years. This is something I work at every day and every day it gets better! But no matter what I do, I am told that it will likely always be there in some form no matter what. This is the dangerous area that Biggest Loser seems to disregard completely. This is the area that the public feeds into because of their ignorance and cynicism. This is why Biggest Loser should be taken off the air or revamped, completely!

My hope is that everyone takes an active role in their health. Extremism with regards to weight loss may yield fast results, but lasting changes take a much larger, longer commitment. In my opinion; pass on going to the BL Ranch. Instead, make gradual, maintainable changes, Set long term and short term goals and feel good about yourself along the way. This is not an easy undertaking, expect set backs but keep pushing forward. Get your family/friends involved, as support is such a key factor for success. Seek advice from educated, credentialed professionals and most of all, be patient. You WILL get there, the right way. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

EARN a Kona slot!!!

This post is going to come off in many different ways and as I read and reread, it seems to carry a negative undertone. Not my intention but perhaps the truth is- its negative. It may seem redundant- which it may be as many have said the same. And it may seem useless- which let’s face it, all of my posts are…ha!!

The big day for Ironman is this weekend. For a triathlete, this is the end all say all. Only the elite, qualified Ironman finishers get a chance at a course that is legendary. Destination- Kona, Hawaii! Race- IRONMAN World Championships!! 2.4 mile ocean swim in crystal clear, sea life abundant waters followed by a 112 mile bike in some of the nastiest cross winds, only to finish with a 26.2 mile marathon run that takes you through hot lava fields. This race is tough. Its meant to be tough. Meant for those athletes who completed an Ironman somewhere across the globe who have EARNED their spot at the start. Crazy to some but in the world of triathlon, the chance to go suffer with the best is a dream come true!!

So how do you get there? You EARN it! You go out and train early in the morning and late at night. In the rain, the cold, the hot, the sun, when others are sleeping, when others are eating, when others are going out partying…you train. There is a want and desire that pushes you to the very brink of exhaustion. Your body brakes down and injury lurks at every step and pedal stroke along the way. There is a toll that is taken by friends and family and everything that encompasses your life outside of training. There is a commitment that is unmatched in any other recreational sport. Why? To cross that finish line ahead of the rest and EARN your spot at the starting line of the greatest triathlon in the world- KONA!!!

Pretty awesome right? DAMN RIGHT!! Those dedicated people train and compete for years for a chance to hear that cannon fire and take part in this amazing race! Read on…

What I described is nothing short of the truth. Long days don’t tell the story of a journey to Kona. The journey is years long and most never make it. That work- day in and day out over years, some natural talent, a lot of money and hopefully some luck that all goes as planned on race day is what it takes to EARN one of those coveted spots.

The WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) makes qualifying tough. It should be. HOWEVER- for some- not so tough and it takes away chances for those who did EARN it. I’m talking about celebrities. Race car drivers, football players, people who ate Twinkies every day of their entire lives, chefs, actors…the list is endless. This isn’t breaking news. We see this daily. Celebs get special treatment with everything -why should this be any different. (Im not crying, if I was a celeb I would take advantage of it too…duh!!) This blog post wont change a thing and it’s not meant to. But its my blog, and <in song>  Ill bitch if I want to. Bitch if I want to… J

Hines Ward- I’m a fan! You are one incredible football player. You played your heart out for the Steelers on every down and you stayed loyal to a franchise even in the end when others would have not. BUT- you don’t deserve a shot at Kona. Let me put it in perspective for you. This is our Super Bowl, our Pro Bowl. How would you like it if Tom Hanks was lined up behind center on Super Bowl Sunday throwing to you or Justin Bieber was blocking for you? How would you like it if someone who just lost a bunch of weight took your position on 3rd and long? Or a top chef stepped in to play defensive tackle for your team as your opponents are knocking on the end zone door with a 4th & inches? You wouldn’t. Why? Because they wouldn’t deserve to be there and it would piss you off that they took your spot or a teammate’s spot on the field. This is your chance to play in a game you have dreamed about, worked for and busted your ass to get to for years! Those people didn’t EARN their spot alongside you, your team mates or have the right to fill in for you should you need a break or get injured. Are you getting my point? On Sunday you will line up alongside all of those people who DO belong there. Who did EARN their spots. Just like you worked your ass off every day to deserve that Super Bowl ring, a Pro Bowl spot and MVP awards, they did it for triathlon.

Biggest Loser- congratulations on your weight loss! I’m proud of you and hope you stick with it for the rest of your life. I also hope that you will help others who are not as fortunate to have a yearlong coach, trainer, dietician, t.v. show and getaway to help with the journey. You too are great but you didn’t EARN your spot at Kona. For someone whose life changed because of the hard work you put in, I would think you of all people should understand this.

Chef Ramsay- Great cook! Great business man! Great show! I am also a fan! My wife is a great cook. She figures out ways to feed a triathlete with an eating disorder on a daily basis. How would you feel if she took over your show?  How would you feel if your 15 Michelins were awarded to a line cook at McDonalds or Taco Bell? You wouldn’t! Why? Because they didn’t EARN them! They didn’t spend years training under master chefs in different countries. They didn’t sacrifice time for other things to learn the art of cooking the way you have. They flat out didn’t EARN it.

Is any of this making sense? I want to be clear again, that I am happy for each of you. I am a fan!! Hines- a huge fan!! I am also ecstatic that each of you has chosen to take on an event like Ironman! You bring a lot to our sport- great media coverage, sponsors and mainstream awareness. I love it!! We are glad you are here and cheering you on! We even offer to help!! Triathletes are that way. *Just not at Kona*

The issue I have is that these spots could have gone to someone who did EARN them. There are limited spots- the race can only hold so many or trust me, the money monger WTC would find a way to get more in. A couple examples of who is not there, but should be, because they did EARN those spots-

My brother, coach and friend is one of those guys that deserves to be there. He trained like I stated above. He crossed that line under ten hours and he fell short of a qualifying spot. This year he did two Ironman events on a knee without a meniscus and still came close to that qualifying time- but no dice. He deserves that spot over you.

Another friend took 3rd in her age group at Ironman Texas. A very tough day, she stuck it out and suffered through to take that last podium slot only to find out there were just two Kona slots available in the female 30-34 age group. She EARNED that coveted spot but again- no dice.

These are just two people that I know personally who deserve to be at that starting line this year but aren’t there. How many more are out there who have done the very same, came just as close or fought for years to get in and just came up a little short- many, MANY!!!- But, there seems to be plenty reserved for celebrities who didn’t EARN them.

To the WTC- I get it. I get that you are nothing more than a business. When you bought Ironman it was to make money. Adding celebs is a sure way to get media coverage, sponsors and bring in dollar bills. Just because I get it, doesn’t mean I agree with it.

This is life and not everyone gets a trophy. I have no problem with that – quite the opposite! Couldn’t agree more. It should be hard to get in and it should be coveted- which it is!! With more and more people entering the sport of triathlon, which is freakin awesome, its going to continue to get harder and further out of reach for most, but for the ones who deserve it, those spots should be there and not filled with celebrities.

Regardless of it all, Sunday will come and the greatest triathlon in the world will take place. I will be glued to the computer, checking splits and following the hard work that so many put in. I’ll be cheering for you too Hines, biggest loser and Chef Ramsay, because at the end, I am a fan and you are now a part of my triathlon family. The unfortunate part- you will never know who’s spot you took or the impact it had. You wont ever read this and your lives will continue as they are now. However- in the far off chance that you do realize your spot was one of many that could have been better filled by those amazing people who just missed it, do them a favor- take a moment in the race and acknowledge them. Give a nod to the Ironman Gods and say thank you because you are competing at the Ironman World Championships!!

Even though those people won’t be there, I can guarantee they will be cheering, watching and tracking as well- that’s what we do as triathletes. We compete and go after it, but we also support it and respect those that do accomplish it!! Except for about 5 people, this sport is not glamorous. There is no fame even when getting to Kona. Its expensive. Its time consuming. Its sacrifice and its gut checking every step of the way and that’s what we live for- day in. Day out.

Ironman is nothing short of monumental. It’s a day where everyone who completes it, remembers it forever. Good luck! Have fun! Be safe!! Enjoy it!!  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Augusta 70.3 Race Report

Augusta Half Ironman 70.3

Sometimes stubborn wins out over common sense. This can be good- make you dig deeper, push past your limit and go harder and longer than ever before. It can also be bad- leave you dependent on port-a-potty after port-a-potty... With the week leading up to the race I should have known it was not the time to choose stubborn but I wanted no excuses and leave nothing to regret.

Augusta HIM beat me down a few years ago. The heat hurt me like I have never experienced. It also left me wanting revenge. A course that was designed for speed and played to my strengths was not about to win because of the conditions, NO WAY!! Well in realty…YES WAY!

 (No Way!! Yes Way!!!)

 My coach had me primed for this race.“A” race of the year and goals were lofty! We were looking for a 23 minute swim, 2:25 bike and 1:30 run. All of these very doable given my training leading up to race day. As with every year there are always typical set-backs and we overcame them. I was primed and ready to go ! One week out running and cycling faster than I had all season. Then I got sick.

 On a business trip the week before the race, my boss gave me the plague. Attempting to alleviate it as quick as possible, Monday I jumped on the antibiotic/prednisone bandwagon that is typically avoided. 5 days of Prednisone, 10 days of antibiotics, mixed with Mucinex-D and drinking constantly to the point I could pee on demand. I was sure I would kick it. Not the case. Race morning came and although I didn’t feel 100%, I was still certain I could get close to my goals. Even if we came up a little short, it would be a win and I would have my revenge on Augusta.

Two key notes: Chris called me the night before- we went over everything. It made me calm. It gave me confidence. It was an important piece. The second- my friend Jim text me early that day: “race with your heart” That stayed with me. All the way through.


The plan: go out hard, get in the lead group, settle in and draft.

The reality: went out hard, got in the lead group, couldn’t breath, backstroked the rest of the way. The amount of snot I swallowed may have lead to a demise further in the race but only a doctor could confirm. Haha!

Time: 26:05


The plan: Attack! This is where we wanted to have some fun. Burn some matches, recover, burn a couple more. This didn’t go way off target. It was slower than expected as my breathing was more snotting than anything but all in all, I didn’t feel too bad and was pretty ok with my time. I eased up the last 3k to get my legs ready to run and come into transition recovered.

Where I did mess up was nutrition. My peanut butter sandwich stayed in my back until I chucked it at the last trash drop. Pretty sure I should have eaten it and I am completely done with Infinit. Custome blend or not, it makes my stomach turn. 

Time: 2:34


The plan: Go out running the first mile at a decent pace,  ease off into race pace, lay it all on the line the last 10k.

The reality: My legs weren’t there. It seemed to take forever getting out of transition and onto the street. My stomach was gurgling and my mind immediately went to telling myself, “it’s not hot, you are feeling fine, burry that shit and get your ass back into the race!” So I pressed on. The first aid station I took in water, coke, water and grabbed some ice. The weather was perfect but I was hot. Why? No idea. My legs were starting to come back but my stomach starting feeling worse. I thought if I can just make it to the ATC tent, I will get the cheers and support I need to pick it up. That trek seemed to last forever and my stomach was not having it. I stopped at a port-a-potty right around mile 2. Feeling much better I trekked on! Seeing the tent ahead, Lewis, my wife, Robin and the other spectathletes, I was pumped!! My stomach- it needed pumped. :P Down to the turn around and  another port-a-potty stop. The plan continued at each rest stop. The last big pump came from my friend Bergin. She drove down from Pittsburgh to race. She yelled to me on the run and I asked if she hit her goals- she screamed “YES!!!” I was so excited for her I got chills and for a few minutes all the sick went away!! (Proud of you Bergin!!) Even though I knew my race was long gone, my pace steadily increased and my mind/heart was in it. This made me extremely happy! This is what’s been missing for the last two years and again- the ATC, Time Warner, my coach, my friends, my wife- they brought it back. “Fuck the time! Fuck my stomach! I will not stop running!” Slow, fast, I didn’t give a shit…well actually I gave a few…but if my feet were moving it was a jog, not a walk. My mind was in it!!

Time: 2:00:42

T3- I crossed the line with Lewis, instantly handed back to Tami and sat down. Then I lay down. Then I curled up into a ball. Then I spent the next 2.5 hours either in a ball on the ground or in the port-a-potty. Perhaps I should have listened to my body and stopped. My coach said its one thing to feel like that if you win- justifiable, but not for this. Perhaps. But as I think about the drive that wouldn’t let me stop I’m happy its back. I never want to feel that way again. It’s a day later and I still feel like hell but its one step closer to putting it all together. Having the urge to go is a better outcome than I could have hoped for.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What a shitty week! That’s right, I started this post with a giant negative statement. Its taper week and Im pissy! Bite me! Just kidding J…kind of.


This is “A” race week for me. (Here comes the whoa as me part) If it could have gone wrong it did. Smashed into while in a taxi on a business trip, sick as hell and then an encounter with a local idiot business owner, have capped off what I would consider a shitty week. I digress, please read on. Seriously, its important!


The last 3 years have been tough for me with triathlon. <sniffle sniffle>  Suffering severe injury, several surgeries, a black out, crash and not having a solid group to lean on for support, to train with and have fun with, has really taken its toll. The PTC meant so much to me. I have lifelong best friends there, support that still is unwavering, contacts and people to lean on for advice, but its not the same when you cannot be there in person. This got so bad for me I almost hung up my triathlon gear this year. Chicky was sold and my focus shifted to road racing. (which is awesome and I love it- don’t give me any of that roadie shit…have I mentioned Im on a taper and feeling very antsy/pissy?) Until…. Keep reading.


Until I found the Atlanta Triathlon Club.


There are three parts to any race- physical conditioning, which we all over do; nutrition- which we almost never get right, and support. Support for me is the key to being successful in any facet of life. My wife is unbelievable! She supports every crazy thing I try and never questions it. (Coming home to spread mulch after Six-Gap can be a bit much, but you understand… love you honey J) Another part of that support is to have people to train with, talk to, eat with, drink and celebrate after. With the exception of my good friend Adam Teja, this has really been missing here in Atlanta. I found that camaraderie with cycling thanks to Darrell, Dave S., DC and again Adam, but never broke into it with triathlon… until recently. (keep reading! If I have to tell you again, so help me… ha!)


If you are going to do anything, anything at all, commit to it! Give it 100% and I promise, regardless of outcome, you will be satisfied knowing you gave it your all. When I joined the ATC this year that was my goal. Get involved. Give it my all! Commit to being an active, contributing member of the ATC! I love triathlon and losing the will to train and compete outright sucked! I’m no quitter and won’t stop until I have exhausted all possible avenues and the ATC was my last chance.


Since moving here I have been in contact with Jim Boylan and Bethany Rutledge. Two top personnel in the ATC who have always been inviting and nice. My location limited my participation with the club but we managed to keep in touch. Tami and I moved into the city last year and I decided to take a deeper look at the ATC as it was now feasible to participate. I went to the Energy Lab for a meeting and was extremely impressed by the facility.(go to EL, youll love it!) The people were nice and although being alone is always uncomfortable, I didn’t feel out of place. The ATC is run much differently than the PTC and an option to join as a limited member seemed like a good place to start. I had access to the forums, sponsors and more importantly- triathletes! This is where I began and started giving it 100%! I did! I jumped in and started posting on the forums, asking questions, giving input and getting some good feedback. (Pretty sure I pissed some people off as well but hey- that’s not always a bad thing if positive outcome is the end result)


From there I began to get involved on a personal level and took the leap of becoming a swim coach. Another opportunity came and I jumped on that to train the Time Warner Triathletes.(Yes! You are all triathletes!!!)


Is the 100% effort becoming apparent? Stay with me…come on!!


The best part about this- I am having a blast!!


Monday night swim at Mercer University is obviously the best anywhere… (I might be a bit biased but who cares, its my blog) Why? My new friend and awesome swim coach, Matt Gardner runs it! The regulars who come- WOW do we have fun!! From the inspiring beginners like Earl- who just completed his first tri- to the lane who I handicap when racing relays, its never dull, always a blast and gives me so much more than I could ever give them.


My coaching with Time Warner is much the same. Wednesday night means coming home on a high! I have witnessed individuals go from not being able to swim whatsoever, to competing this weekend in their first tri!! You guys are awesome!! Im proud of you!! Your dedication and commitment is awe inspiring!! You WILL cross that line!!!


So when a week like this happens and I find myself looking for that extra bit of umph to get back to the ROAR of my taper and FIRE for racing, I need that support. Once again, my wife, Adam, brothers in Pittsburgh all came through and guess what- so did my new triathlon family, THE ATC!!  Pete, your post is greatly appreciated- Thank you!!


150 of the ATC will be taking on the Lake Lanier Tri while another 40 of us, plus spectathletes will be taking on Augusta 70.3!! Lewis the Alpaca has been welcomed and will be wearing the ATC colors while giving energy and cheering all day!! The tent will be up, the music loud and we are going to burry ourselves…together!!!  You rock ATC!! Thank you!!


Race hard!! When you think you can’t push any harder, dig deep, find it, and never forget, WE are there with you!!


L E T ‘ s    R A C E ! ! ! ! !