Thursday, June 27, 2013

70.3 Done!


Thank you again for coming back.  My race recap will follow, but first big thanks to all those who have donated to the MMRF. ( you can learn about the MMRF by clicking here )

Although this journey is done, there are thousands of MMRF patients who are battling Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer, every day.   They don’t have a choice, they need to fight for their life every day.   Fortunately with organizations like the MMRF, patients are receiving the incredible gift of time and quality of life, and, hopefully, one day, a cure. 

If you have any money in your charitable budget, it's not to late to donate - any amount - please donate by clicking here

I’d like to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT AND THANK YOU to all the donors so far:

         Nicole Bettencourt
         Marianne Babylon
Casey & Beth Callahan
Chris Campbell
Jack Chapman
Sara Devlin
Robin Dewey
Bill & Pat Dreyer
Diana Duffty
Michelle Dunn
Jill Hall-Ernst
Lisa Eliopoulos
Beth Falkner
Virginia Fenlon
Eric Gelber
Susan Gimilaro
Gina Grable
Tim & Emily Hale
Adam Harley
Phil & Diana Jackson
Melissa Kubick
Sarah Larosee
Paula Lavigne
Frank and Beth Lukovits
Trish Manning
Frank and Kristen Mulcahy
Marty Perlmutter
Carmen Phaneuf
Tim Putnam
Benjamin Riordon
Tom Rogers
Dave Silvestri
Karen and David Veronesi
Gary Walker
Bob and Elaine Weddleton
Mary Madigan

If I’ve left anybody out, please let me know.
Collectively between the Race for Research and the donations received for this event so far, we have raised almost $5,000 this year for the MMRF – so far!


Patriot Half - East Freetown, MA - June 15, 2013

Race Recap
First, I'd like to give a big shout out to:

Rick Durgin - Coach - E3 Training Solutions -
     Great coach and great service.  Rick was able to work with my schedule and my ability level (novice at best) to get me ready for this event.  If you have a big challenges, I highly recommend Rick and the e3TS team - they have options for everyone from novices like myself to elite level athletes.  You can read more about Rick here.  With all the challenges of balancing the multiple elements of life, having someone like Rick to direct you and tell you what you need to do to accomplish your goals is priceless.  Thanks Rick!

Larry Rodman

     Great friend, inspiration, and training partner.  Can't say enough good things about Larry.  Larry carried me through my first marathon last fall and sacrificed his own race time to make sure I finished.  He was also a terrific (and very patient ) training partner for this event.  Larry completed the Patriot under the most adverse conditions ( you can read his blog on the event by clicking here ) and can only be defined as "driven".  Thanks Larry!

Sarah Crane

     Great inspiration and IM rock star. Whenever we talked or ran into each other, Sarah always had something inspirational or positive to say to keep hope and confidence on a high level.   Watch out for this girl - she earned a 3rd age group podium at Patriot and will be at IM Louisville this summer picking up her Kona bib ( right Sarah? ).  Thanks Sarah!

Beth Falkner

     Beth was with me from the beginning of all this stuff as a training partner and a person to kick me in the butt when I needed it. Her favorite phrase is "You're fine!" She was always there to support our family, and especially my wife Jeanie in our darkest moments. Thank you Beth!

Jack Chapman - Super Bike Guy -

     Jack provided some great assistance and help in getting me squared away with my bike needs.  I don't have a TT or Tri bike, so he help me make the changes on my road bike to give me the best possible advantage that I could get in the race - I changed out my frame and seat and added a power meter.  He also provided me a bike fit to make sure I was efficient as possible.  He was fast, very flexible, and focused on my needs and budget.  Thanks Jack!


     Inspirational every day and in so many ways.  Couldn't have done this without her support and enormous levels of patience.  Whoever said that you can balance work, life, and training didn't have two sets of twins, a job requiring heavy travel, and a 70.3 training schedule.  Fortunately, Jeanie allowed me the latitude I needed to focus on this goal (without complaint) and held together the family during my multi-hour training sessions which always showed up at the worst possible times.  I love you Jeanie - Thank you!


Having arrived home from Germany on Thursday night, I only had a few hours on Friday to get everything together.

Curious about what is needed? 

Here is a photo of my “stuff” staged out for the event:

After finishing a few hours of work, I jammed all this stuff into a couple bags and headed down to meet meet Larry Rodman, an incredible supporter and training partner, for the ride down to East Freetown, MA.  After a few hours stuck in traffic, we finally arrived to pick up our bibs and swag from the race.  Larry had made arrangements for dinner with some of his teammates from Northeast Multisports and we only had a couple of minutes to view the transition and swim start. 

Sidenote:  Larry’s blog on the Patriot Half can read by clicking here. 

It was enough time to get this shot, to touch the water (cold, but not as cold as I would find 100m out), and to chat briefly with Sarah Crane (incredible supporter and IM/Tri Rock Star )before she took a race pre-swim offered the night before.

If you look real, real closely, you can see the first turn buoy way off in the distance ( no, not the big triangular buoy - the spec way way way off under the tree branch nestled in the small valley in the picture - yup, that one ).  A couple things I got from this view as I stood for a moment - First, I noticed how CALM and FLAT the water was - it was peaceful and serene and second, I came to the realization that I wasn't nervous, but actually excited.  It could've been the energy exuded from uber positive-ologist Sarah, or it could have been the realization that I was actually (gulp) ready.

After a brief moment of calmness, I headed out to find Larry and grab some dinner. 

One of the most enjoyable things I enjoy about pre-race activities is the people you meet and the discussion that follows. Discussion that is typically not common in normal circles, is rampant just prior to events - the excitement of other events, the challenges, the victories, and some great stories of over coming adversity. 

At dinner with Larry and some members of the Northeast Multisports group, I had a chance to catch up with Frank Mulcahy, a friend ( and donor - thank you! ) who had previously been from town and who I had the chance to share a pre-race tour in Nashua before our first open water swim in 2011.  After 2 years since that inagural event, Frank was tacking his second Half Ironman ( 70.3 ) and was in top shape ( Frank, by the way, KILLED the Patriot Half with a 5:38 - a 30 min improvement over his first 70.3) and on his way to his first IM in Mont-Tremblant in August. 

We headed back early, pre-mixed some race day fuel (gels), downed a quick protein shake,  and turned in early with alarms set for 4:15 AM. 

Race Day

Morning came fast and we woke again to more food ( believe it or not, trying to get all the fuel you need in the last couple of days before the race is actually hard - you get sick of eating ).  Larry was trying a new concoction of apple sauce ( a lot - 2 3/4 cups or so ) and protein powder and I was getting in some last minute carbs and protein with oatmeal, a banana, and bagel with peanut butter.  We rushed to get everything in the car and over to the transition area to set up our stuff. 

We arrived at the transition area around 6:00 (about and hour before race time ) and quickly set up our stuff.  Since there wasn't much time before the race, I did miss a couple of key important steps in my pre-race ( a lengthy warm up of about 15 minutes - this does have an impact), but again, my confidence and excitement helped to drive me forward.

Here is a quick shot of my transition area with my MMRF gear:

I didn't get a chance to see Larry ( he was in a later swim wave ) prior to the start,but Larry had some distractions of his own ( you can read about it in his blog by  clicking here). 

The rush to set up took away a lot of the pre-race jitters and nervousness.  However, about 10 minutes before the start of the race, it began to all sink in..and hard.  

For a couple of minutes, I began to get overwhelmed with the magnitude of what I needed to achieve .. not just for me, but for my wife, my family, and for all the donors that believed in me, and my cause, that led me to this event - my first half distance triathlon - 70.3 miles under my own personal power. Thankfully, Sarah was nearby finishing up her race preparation nearby and she was able to do what she does best- exude "positivity" and taking a couple of moments to remind me that I was ready for this.  In her immortal words - "You got this!"

We headed out of the transition area and over to the start.  For those who aren't familiar with triathlons, this was a mass start broken down by waves of age group or special class.  Every four minutes, starting at 7:00 AM, a wave would be released.  Basically, the "wave" was staged standing in the water until released.  I had a start time of 7:08, so I got to see the Elites and 40-44 age group women go before me, and then it was my turn.  Funny thing was, I hadn't even really looked at the water until we lined up - the water that was calm and flat night before was now choppy.

The Swim - 1.2 miles

We were corralled into the water at 7:04 and had 4 minutes to acclimate to the temperatures.  The first thing I did was to completely dunk my head and upper body in the water - and I'm glad I did.  I had heard the water was 66 degrees F prior to the race and based on what I felt, I'm pretty sure they were a little optimistic - it felt a little more like 60.  OK, great, Memorial Day ( read my last post ) all over again.  I had to take a deep breath and figure out how to settle myself - quick.

I watched clock tick away and my thoughts were starting to go in different directions:

1:30 left
OK, deep breath and look around to enjoy the view - about 70 people lingering in the water around - wow, seems like a lot of people

1:00 left
Oh brother, one more minute of quiet before the storm

0:45 left
OK, you are ready - don't freak out - where is that last buoy?  Wait, I can't see if from here

0:30 left
No stopping for 6 more, that's a long time

0:15 left
Oh no, where are my goggles..oh yeah, there on my face - nice

0:10 left
Oh sh*t, my GPS isn't working right - turn power off

The horn went off and I waded in deeper to begin my swim.  Surprisingly, the crowd didn't bother me too much and I was kind of expecting the kicks and hits and sure enought they started early.  After about 100m, I was experiencing some of the same issues as I as had in prior experiences in cold water, which I call "swimming warm-up hell" - anxiety, shortness of breath, and feeling like I was going to hyperventilate. 

I continued to move forward the best I could, constantly reassuring myself that this is only short term and will pass once I get warmed up.  Then I just had to stop and I used a modified breast stroke to move forward for a couple of minutes and collect myself.  As I swam deeper into the lake, the water became choppier, but I must have looked OK because I didn't have any life guards in kayaks swimming over to me.  It was at this time, about 5-7 minutes into the race that I began to question how I was going to handle this.  I could stop, catch a ride back to shore, and call it a day (and face failure after four months of training ) or get it done.  I was really struggling with calming down, so the decision process took place over minutes (which felt like hours).  I would take about 10 strokes free style, change to breast stroke, breathe, and repeat. 

Finally, one clear thought, and I actually said it to myself out loud (in between waves and breaths )that set the tone for the rest of the day.  The people who I am doing this to raise money and awareness for, including my wife Jeanie, don't have a choice about whether the want to stop or not.  They are in a fight for their life every day. 

I simply said to myself, "if Jeanie can't stop, you can't stop - you will not go back to shore unless it's through the arch at the finish line" 

This was one of the moments that I had to draw inspiration from others to help push myself through...and it worked.

After several false starts, I was able to use all that I had learned to deal with the cold and choppy water to get through the last 0.9 miles without many problems and stops.  Other than some sighting issues - I'd look up, set a straight course, and immediately swim right ( I must have added a quarter mile to the swim distance) and an occassional swimmer ending up on top of me, it felt like I had expected.  I remember power swimming (and actually passing a few people) the last 100m and saying as I was exhaling underwater "I got this!" 

It wasn't a stellar performance by any means, but I finished the swim and proven to myself that I could get it done.

The Bike - 56 miles

After getting my land legs back, I headed to transition, took several deep breaths, and got ready to head out on the bike.  On the upside, I was able to get my GPS working to a point where I could get power and HR information that I needed to work with the plan Rick had made for me.  The bike started slow as I tried to get my heart rate into an endurance range because it was still elevated from the swim.   It took about 5-7 miles, but I was able to get into a groove.  I remember being passed by Sarah about 8 miles in and Larry catching me about 14 miles in.  Larry and I were going back and forth and we completed the first loop (28 miles) in about 1.5 hours ( on plan ).  As we started the second loop, fatigue began to set in and the temperatures started to rise.  The ride had started in the mid-upper 60's and was now heading to the high 70's.  Again, for those not familiar with triathlons, riders are not allowed to draft ( be within 3 bike lengths of the bike in front of them ) or ride side by side, so it can be very quiet and lonely at times.  This is both good and bad.  During the good moments, it allows focus on maintaining cadence and power levels, but during the bad moments, all pain and discomfort can be amplified.  About 40 miles in, could start to feel tightness in my quads, so I dialed it back a bit remembering that it had been my quads that locked up during my marathon.  Also, my GPS failed again, so I was riding on feel and on the feedback I could get from my simple bike computer ( HR data and partial power data).   I managed to get to the bike dismount point close to plan ( I was targeting 3 hours ) and got a huge energy boost when I saw Jeanie and the kids waiting for me.  The bike was the best part of the event for me - close to plan, no major cramps or lock-ups (result of a good plan and training - thanks Rick!), good fueling, and an awesome finish seeing my family.

The Run - 13.1 miles

The heat had risen to the high 70's early 80's by the time the run started.  Overall, I felt pretty good - a bit tired and experiencing some tightness - but nothing (at least at the start ) that would slow me down to much.  (OK, on this point, I am not fast..I meant slow for me - my target was to do the run in 2:10-2:15 hours which is around a 10 minute pace average) 

I made it out of transition and through the first mile.  I tried, again,  to get the GPS working again to at least get my heart rate,  and in the process completely reset the unit - I mean a total reset, like when it asks what your weight and height are, etc.  The distraction was actually welcomed as it kept my mind off of things, but unfortunately I had no idea what my pace was.  Just past the Mile 2 marker, I could feel my quads begin to tighten up, and fearing a complete lock up, I began to stride, vary my pace, and do anything to prevent it from happening.  The heat and fatigue was starting to have a major effect. 

Past the 3 mile marker and I could begin to feel my hamstrings tightening, and then my calves.  Ugh.  I needed to make a change, or I would not get through this.  I had vivid memories of my first marathon where I had some major quad lock ups late in the race that required me to stop for minutes at time to strech and I didn't want a repeat of this.  I chose instead to continue to vary my pace with some intervals, add in brief ( 30-60 second ) walking breaks at water stations, or in between where needed.  It wasn't pretty, but it worked.  By the time I reached the 8 mile marker, I was still feeling the same, but had not locked up or had any major cramps.  I kept visualizing the finish line and couldn't wait to get there.  About 3/4's of the course was not shaded, so the heat was really beginning to take a toll.  A lot of the people around me were struggling as well, so I was at least comforted in the fact that I wasn't in this alone and that others were struggling through to get to the finish line too.  

I vividly remember getting over the last hill about a mile away from the finish line and seeing the intersection before the campground.  I knew I was going to make it and it gave me that last bit of energy to finish. 

The best part of the race was when I saw Cam in the distance sitting on the grass looking for me.  As soon as he saw me, he sprang up and ran over yelling "Dad - you made it!".  He started running beside me for the last 1/4 mile, and in true Cam fashion, talking in one continuous sentence, but with multiple thought streams.

"We were wondering where you was the run... we were worried about you..I can't believe you finished the swim..slow down you're running to fast I don't want to you bonk..really Dad, slow down"

All I said was "Cam, I can't slow down - if I slow down I will stop" and then as I rounded the corner, I first saw Sarah, and then I saw Jeanie and Emily. 

I was finally realizing my vision that I had focused on for the whole race and this is what it was - Jeanie, My Mom, and my kids waiting at the finish line:

Done - 6:42:43.7

Longer than planned..harder than planned..but a time to beat. 

What's next?  70.3  (?) for Time and a Cure

Thursday, June 13, 2013

$40.00 Pool Pass

Less than 48 hours to the Patriot Half!

Thank you again for coming back.  And big thanks to all those who have donated to the MMRF. (click here to learn more about the MMRF)

There are thousands of MMRF patients who are battling Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer, every day.  Fortunately with organizations like the MMRF, patients are receiving the incredible gift of time and quality of life, and, hopefully, one day, a cure. 

I appreciate all the words of support on the donation page and often look back to them to grab some encouragement when I need it.

Collectively between the Race for Research and the donations received for this event so far, we have raised over $ 4,000.00 for the MMRF this year.
Thank you!!

If you have ever trained or planned for any event or project over a long period of time, you will notice there are always cycles of success and drawbacks.  Anybody that has ever done any long term training for a race, planned an event,  forged forward with a difficult work project or sales process, or have gone through long term medical treatments, like MMRF patients,  has experienced this.

While successes and thoughts of completion often provide the drive and motivation, occasionally there are negative moments that can derail forward momentum.  Timing, emotional state, energy level, distractions, and relative (relative to the person) difficulty of the goal can all act as amplifiers.  For example, a setback early on in training, such as not meeting a performance goal, suffering an injury, getting sick, or just having a bad day can slow down any momentum , but will seldom lead to longtime concern or derail any movement forward (I know, there are exceptions of course!)  However the same setback, late in the training can be devastating.

Setbacks of all sizes are common, and the longer duration of the training, the sales process, or the treatment process, the more opportunity for them to arise.  The challenge is not to avoid them - you can’t - but how you lift yourself up and keep moving forward and attain your goals.  In my personal opinion, this can be harder than the training, and is the most important thing you need to figure out about yourself.  For me, I am fortunate to have two things to help me out - being surrounded and exposed to so many incredibly inspirational friends and family  that I can lean on and their stories/experiences to help keep me moving forward,  and of course, a goal that can help my best friend and wife, Jeanie, along with thousands of others, fight, and one day, to win, the battle with Multiple Myeloma by raising money for the MMRF.

I have had many setbacks in my training for the Patriot Half, but I had a recent incident which really shook my confidence.  And yes, once again with swimming.

Short commercial break, pleading, and incentive to donate: 

As a refresher, disclaimer, and explanation, the SWIM has been the main barrier for me to even attempt to complete a triathlon of this length.  I had completed three triathlons in the past with two of them having pool swims, and one having a short open water swim.  Needless to say they were disasters (I talk about them in earlier blogs, so don’t be afraid to check out those too ).  For those that have a similar fear and struggle, you can understand this.

So as an incentive to donate AND a chance to give the gift of swimming confidence, I am offering 3 Sessions with Master Swimmer and Instructor Carol Wright to one person for FREE.  I want to share the confidence with someone else.  This can be use by all levels, for lessons or coaching sessions,  so if you are a newbie like me, she can help you, or if you are a swimming rock star, she can help you improve your game.

Here are the prerequisites

1.      Donate $25 to the MMRF (If you’ve already donated – you are qualified - so let me know if you want your name dropped in!)  by clicking here by Tuesday, June 18th.

2.     Share my blog on your Facebook page and tag me (or just send me an email that you are interested ). 

3.     Be willing to drive to Groton, MA area

I will use the non-scientific method of having one of my kids draw your name out of a hat on Tuesday, 6/18.  Even if you don’t win the swim lessons, we are all winning here because of your generosity – you get a tax break and a feel good moment, and MMRF patients get more opportunities for time and hope for a cure.  Just think, you could set aside your fears and build your confidence in swimming.


Now back to the story:

I was fortunate to have a workout plan for Memorial Day that aligned with Larry Rodman at Potanipo Lake.  It was simple, an open water swim with no constraints other than swimming for a certain period of time.  My confidence level in swimming was high based on recent successes and the only “perceived” concerns on my end were related to the wet suit – adjusting my stroke and getting used to swimming with it. 

I showed up at the lake, in the late afternoon, boys in tow to fish (and to keep an eye on me), and all prepared for the quick and effortless swim.  It had been windy all day(20 mph+), but I had not thought there would be any major concerns and I would be able to adjust to some of the light chop as a result.  Larry and I suited up, got the boys settled, and headed into the big deal, right?? 


Upon first entering the water, we noticed it was cooler, if not just plain cold (57°F), from the days of rain earlier in the weekend.  The water was rushing over the dam near the boat ramp and you could feel the layers of coolness as we waded in to begin our swim.

It started simple enough, Larry took the lead, and I followed.   The plan was basic, swim to the black buoy (75 m), stop, take a breath, take a right and head to the red/white buoy ( 300m ), take another breath and a left, and head out across the lake.  A quick out and back would be about a mile. The water was choppy but appeared manageable, so I took easy strokes, rolled a little more than normal, and took deep breaths in between waves.  It felt ..well…normal for the first 2 minutes, then the wheels came off. 

The first thing I noticed ( and this happens in cold water ) is that I felt like my muscles were constricting and my breathing began to get shallow.  Again, expected, and normal.  I continued to try to push through it with the knowledge that I would warm up and relax.  One of the things wetsuits do well is to provide insulation and flotation. 

It was all well and good until we stopped and made the turn at the black buoy when THWAP, a wave came up over me and took my breath. I turned and THWAP, again.  I stopped.  OK, I thought, I’d readjust – use all the advice from Carol, Beth, Sarah – relax,  roll deeper, stay lower in waves, and  adjust to breathe on the side away from the waves.  I looked and Larry was swimming ahead, normal and with ease.  OK, I thought, time to catch up.  I continued on and my breath felt shallower and the waves more difficult to deal with.

THWAP..OK, face the other way.

 THWAP, THWAP, cough, spit, stop.  

I started thinking -  How come I still can’t catch my breath ?  I’ve been out here for 10 minutes


Thinking again – I have to do this.  I can’t back out of this event now. 

OK, start again. THWAP.

Face the other way. THWAP. 

Ugh. Stop.

I looked ahead and Larry had reached the red/white buoy and was waiting for me (very patiently I can add).  I continued to wade in an effort to collect myself, but just couldn’t do it.  Larry stopped and looked back.  I asked him to wait for a minute and then waved him back over.  I told him I wasn’t comfortable moving forward and wanted to try to swim between the buoy’s in the hopes of salvaging.  I had failed and short changed a friend on his workout.  Even though we were able to swim between buoys to add some yards, the inability to swim the 1+ mile continuously, even in slightly adverse conditions, weighed heavily.  Less than 3 weeks before the race and this single event had obliterated the confidence I had built up.  Not only was I concerned that I could swim in open water, but I even began to have doubts about the distance.

This weighed heavily on me for the next couple of days and I needed to get back in the water to prove to myself that I could do this and soon.  The problem was that I had a business trip scheduled on Wednesday and I couldn’t break away from work or family needs to get back to the lake before my trip. 

On the plane, I couldn’t let the nagging feeling and concern go.  I needed to deal with this and deal with this NOW.  I decided that the best available option to restore my confidence was to get into a pool THAT NIGHT.  I just needed to swim for 45 minutes straight to reassure myself that all I had learned and all that I had trained for was still there, despite the disaster on Monday.    I arrived in Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon, made a quick account stop, identified a local swimming option, and then asked my sales partner, Mike,  if we could take a detour to Dick’s Sporting Goods so that I could pick up a few things.  I quickly went in and grabbed some jammers (needed a new pair anyway) and goggles.  I was ready.  Now I just needed to get to the pool.

Fortunately near my hotel, there was Lifetime Fitness - quick check of their website showed that they had a pool and quick phone call revealed they had 4 lanes available for lap swim around 7. Perfect!!  With my new swim gear and sneakers in hand, a plan for a short run and a 45 minute swim set in my mind, I went into the club to get it done. 

Having been a health club member and sometimes visiting clubs while traveling, I had expectations that I would have to spend anywhere from $8-20 for a day pass(higher in instances when pool use was required), so I hadn’t thought to even ask for the cost on the phone.  After all, I was going to swim NOW, and cost really didn’t matter, I was going to get this DONE.  

I approached the desk and politely mentioned that I was out of town, staying at a local hotel (in the hopes for some discount), and would like to get a day pass that would allow me to access the pool.  Without hesitation, the guy behind the counter said, “Yes, that will be $40.00”

‘Whaaat?” I responded ( and if you any of you have been with me with unexpected and ridiculous information is presented, you can get a picture of how I reacted )

“It covers the whole club and you have access to all the amenities,” he said.

I know I made some smart ass remark about asking if this included free coffee (yes, it had a coffee shop inside) or a massage.   

I was dumbfounded, but, again, I needed to get this DONE..NOW.  I just smiled, laughed a little (to keep from exploding), and without going into much further detail :

I’m pretty sure I released some expletives on the way to the locker room, but there are times when sometimes you just have to get it DONE. 
And after reminding myself why I was doing this and who I was doing this for, I did.

A 40 minute interval run followed by a continuous 2250 meter swim.

The following week, during a one of the 90 degree days, I had another opportunity to swim again with Larry at Lake Potanipo, and without many issues, we put in about a mile.

Confidence restored.

Looking forward to telling you about some great friends and people who helped me along  made this journey possible. 


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Self-Doubt and Transformations - Part 2

Only 20 days until the Patriot Half (not that I'm counting or anything )

Again, I'd like to thank all those that have donated so far, both on my page and on behalf of our MMRF Race for Research Team - Cancer Sucks But You Rock Jeanie .  We had a great run in Boston on April 27th and raised over $ 2,000.00 for the MMRF with our team at that event.  Your support is vital to the research efforts to treat, and to one day, find a cure for Multiple Myeloma. Thank you!

Self-Doubt and Transformations - Part 2
"Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone is bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean your gonna die
You've gotta get up and try try try"
Pink - Lyrics from Try
Sorry if I disappointed you, but I think if I kept writing in that last post, I would have lost you for good

So I was telling you about four important things that have influenced my desire  and given me the confidence to try and to complete the Patriot Half in June, despite all my concerns and history with self-doubt and the swim. The four things were Jeanie, a marathon, something Carol (my swim coach) proved to me,  and an event that happened at the beginning of April.

Since I have known Jeanie, she has run 3 marathons. I have always been amazed by marathon and ultra-marathon distance runners, but at the same time, never quite understood why someone would want to push their bodies to do something that doesn't seem natural to do. (I'm learning this is debatable based on what I have read, but nonetheless it doesn't seem normal )  She has always made running look so easy, so natural, like a gazelle. She had completed her first marathon, the Boston Marathon, with Suzi before I met her, but I was front and center, with a beer and pizza in hand,  when she completed her second, the Marine Corp Marathon in Providence in the early 90's. She didn't enter, or complete another marathon for almost 20 years later, when in October, 2011, less than one year after her stem cell transplant, she crossed the finish line at the Bay State Marathon. It was an amazing testament to her strength and drive, but unfortunately, it was not without a heavy price. She spent over 2 hours in a medical tent with serious issues related to dehydration and other medical concerns. I was scared, our family was scared, and she was shaken. It wouldn't come as a surprise that her thought of completing the 2012 Boston Marathon 5 months later was the furthest thing from our mind.
Just 15 months earlier, Jeanie had received her autologous stem cell transplant, on November 19, 2010, a procedure which completely wiped out her immune system and required her to start from zero. Zero energy, zero strength, zero immunity. At this time a walk around the ward left her exhausted.
Jeanie on the morning of her stem cell transplant

However, she was determined to complete it, to push aside all self-doubt, and overcome all of our( and her) fears.

Jeanie and Suzi Crossing the Finish Line of the 2012 Boston Marathon

And she did with her life long friend Suzi..
with no problems or issues..

on one of the hottest marathon days in history.
It was, in short, amazing.

Finding inspiration in her is no problem.  Her inspiration has been one the main drivers in helping me find the most in myself to overcome my fears and weaknesses.

So what did Carol prove to me that helped deliver the final boost in confidence? 

I have long known that you don't need to swim to float.  Anyone could do the "dead man" float ( OK, bad example ), or roll over and float on their back.  I knew this, I've known this, but the rest of my body never got the message.  For some reason, every time I'd swim, I'd swim like I was trying not to drown, rather than swimming to try to move forward.  I'm not sure what Carol saw, or if she was getting frustrated with me, but at the end of a short session at the end of March, she had me head to the deep end of the pool, hold my breath, straighten my body like a pencil, hold perfectly still, and ..bob.  Yes, hold my breath and bob..yes, up and down like a bobber at the end of a fish line.  And after a couple of tries ( yes, I sank the first time ), I was able to stay completely still, straight up and down, arch my head back, breath, and float.  Again, this wasn't new to me, or unexpected, but somewhere deep in the recesses of my subconscious, something clicked that hadn't before.  I'm not sure if there was a specific compartment of my brain labeled "you will sink" that had been cut off from every rational thought I had up to that point, but the memo was finally received.

How did I know?

During one of my next swim sessions,  I did 500m in the pool with no rest in 12:30. (remember, my 600 in 2011 was around..umm..18 minutes)  Again, for most swimmers this is half of warm-up with concrete blocks tied to their waist, but for me this was nothing but pure confidence.  Even today, I remember the last couple of lengths.  I was calm, relaxed, and completely comfortable with being in the water.  With this, I was able to move forward with confidence, and one of the following sessions, I was able to increase the distance to 1400m of drills with little to no rest. 

Finally, it had all clicked and I felt enormous relief.  I could complete the swim workouts my Tri coach provided me and was able to get my swimming between 4000 and 6000m a week shortly after.  After this, I know I would be able to complete the 1.2 mile swim.   I still had a lot to work on in the areas of breathing, kicking, and stroke control, but I could move forward in my training knowing that I had conquered self-doubt.  I had removed one of the barriers that would prevent me from completing the Patriot Half.

Now all I had to do was to make sure I could complete the 56 mile bike and the 13.1 mile run after.  For this, I am relying heaving on some good tri coaching, lots of technology, friends, and family.  Which, by coincidence, are some of the topics coming up in my next few blogs.

Thanks for checking in, and if you have a few dollars to help the MMRF help more patients like Jeanie to keep inspiring others, please donate on my page at .  You will be helping others like Jeanie with buying time to get to a cure, and 90% of every dollar you donate will go directly to research and other efforts to get them there!