Friday, August 19, 2011


So the summer and Ironman training are quickly coming to an end.

I have my last "official" event of the season tomorrow morning. A 2.4 mile swim in Lake Monona, as part of the Madison Open Water Swim event.

The course will mimic Ironman's route, so I'm doing it as a practice event. After I'm done, I'll ride my bike for about 70 miles, doing the stick and one loop of hills and then it is back to Minneapolis.

I'm in Madison by myself. None of my friends that are doing Wisconsin signed up for this event. I do have one other swimming buddy down here, but we are really only pool and facebook friends. We don't spend a lot of time together outside of the water and cyberspace.

This whole training year has been a little lonely. Natalie moved to North Dakota to marry the love of her life; my other running friends did a couple of shorter tris; the folks that I met through training this year and I are "friendly" but not particularly tight. Plus, I traveled a lot for work this year, so connecting for training runs or rides was pretty tough.

So I did a lot of my training and my events by myself this year. Not terrible, but a little lonely.

In some ways, this was probably pretty good for me, since even though I'll be surrounded by 2,499 other Ironman participants, the race is really just about you. And your endurance. And your thoughts.

I finally got to stay at Memorial Union this time around. Every other time I came down to Madison this year, the Union was booked.

I like staying here as it brings back some very vivid memories of my college days. Some memories are wonderful; some not so wonderful. All in keeping with my trying to make amends to myself for the years I lived here as a young person.

I sat outside on the Terrace for a long time tonight and watched the sunset, the lake and the action. Kids are coming back for the school year and lots of them were enjoying the evening outside -- many with their parents.

I thought about how, when my Dad drove me up here to drop me off for the beginning of my freshman year, I felt like I was being banished from home, Milwaukee and all things familiar.

I really didn't want to come to Madison. All my friends from high school were going to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee or just to work. I really wanted to stay in Milwaukee and to go to school there, but my Dad put his foot down and that was that.

I thought that the world would end if I couldn't see my friends every day; if I left the comfort of the house, even though my Dad and I were constantly fighting about every thing there was to fight about.

That fall, he drove me up, helped me unpack my stuff in to that tiny dorm room in Witte Hall, took me to dinner and then got in the car and zoomed off down I-94 back to Milwaukee.

And that was that.

It didn't take long before I met a couple girls on my dorm floor that I became friendly with, so I felt a little more comfortable.

I did make the mistake of going back to Milwaukee pretty much every weekend that first semester, trying desperately to catch up with my old friends, who were living their lives pretty well and easily without me.

By the time Winter break came, I had made a number of friends at school and when I went back to Milwaukee for the holiday, a lot of my old friends basically told me I had changed so much that they didn't know me any more -- and they didn't want to get to know the new me.

And that was that.

I came back to Madison that January knowing that my life in Milwaukee was pretty much done and I had to make it in Madison. I found a (non paying) job at a radio station, fell head over heels in love with a boy, got better connected with others and never went back to Milwaukee for longer than a weekend again.

I bring this up now for a number of reasons.

One, I'm here in the hot bed of Memoryland. The Union. For good or for ill, I spent countless hours here. Some -- okay, A LOT of them --when I should have been in class..... Some -- okay MOST of them -- under the influence of some substance or another. So the memories flood back, along with the immense gratitude for having survived those years (and all the ones following) until I finally got sober and started really living my life.

The other big reason for these feelings now is related more to current day. I just found out that I'm being transferred from my current job in to a new position.

I'm working for a company (like many others) that is going through the process of "reducing redundancies and increasing efficiencies". For those of you in Corporateland, you know what that means.

Apparently, what I do is redundant. So, I'm being moved under another umbrella withing the organization.

The good news is that I'm being moved and not eliminated.

The bad news is that I have no choice in this decision. Neither does my business line, my boss or my Executive Management Team.

I happen to really like my job and what I do. I like my boss; for the most part, I like the people I work with. I've been happy, productive and successful for almost six years with this group.

I'm sad to go; I'm uncertain of the future; I feel like I've been banished.

So, in addition to reliving memories from early college years, I've been trying to remind myself that, although the change from Milwaukee to Madison was a tough transition that I really didn't want, it, for the most part, turned out okay.

The new position may be very exciting. It could open up lots of doors. It could be the best thing that happened.

I'm just stuck in the shock of the change and am trying to struggle through it a little bit.

If I can reframe my thoughts a little bit, the transition should be just fine.

At least that is what I'm hoping.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I'm on a flight from Salt Lake City back to Minneapolis as I post this. GOGO Inflight internet access is free during the month of August on Delta flights, courtesy of Diet Coke.

We live in interesting times, being able to blog and Facebook and get stock quotes and do google searches from a widow seat located 35,000 feet above the air....

My trip to Salt Lake City was productive on a number of levels. Work went well (delivered an 8 hour training class); wandered the city a bit and got to swim in the Salt Lake City Sport Complex's 50 meter outdoor pool, where every time I came up for air, I could see mountains. Beautiful.

Also did a lot of mental walk throughs of the Ironman bike and run courses. Of course, I cover the 112 and 26.2 mile distances much more quickly in my mind than I will on race day, but I'm trying to really set myself up for knowing the course inside and out.

The one piece of bad new -- very bad news, actually -- was that a triathlon friend of mine died on Tuesday.

Terry Alexander was in his truck last Monday when another oncoming car crossed the center line and hit Terry's truck head on. The two people in the other vehicle died at the scene. Terry was taken to a hospital in St. Paul, where he passed away the following day.

Terry and I used the same training facility and went to a number of the same spin classes and functional strength training classes.

He was quirky in his own way. Always very welcoming, outgoing, talkative and encouraging. He was one of the first people from the training center to include me in breakfast invites (which I never accepted.... ) or to go with a bunch of them this year to New Orleans to do IM NOLA 70.3 with them (which I did not do).

I bumped in to him a few times around the city: once in the parking lot in front of a Panera/PetSmart and again, just recently in the parking lot outside a coffee house. He would chat with me, ask me how training was going, and then provide some advice or inspirational comment.

He wasn't just nice to me. He took time to talk with and encourage everyone in our classes.

He was "A VERY NICE GUY" in the truest sense of the concept.

I am one of those people that probably spends a little too much time worrying about life and death and the meaning of both.

I worry about life cycles and time lines and spend time every week reading obituaries, usually shaking my head at the unfairness of any one under the age of 52 passing away. (You should see me shake my head after reading the obits of people in their 20's or younger. What a gyp!)

I am pretty sure I am a little obsessed about this because my mom died when I was 10; because my dad died when I was 31; because I had a very good friend (my second mother) die when I was 32. Because I've lost a sister to cancer and friends to cancer and suicide. Because I've lost pets that I loved with all my heart and were closer to me emotionally than a lot of humans. Because I spent so much time in my youth in the haze of drugs and alcohol and DIDN'T die....

So Terry's dying in a car accident at age 54-- healthy, strong triathlete Terry -- seems so foolish and senseless to me.

Makes my little rant about "heel issues" seem silly, no?

But I'll carry Terry with me from here on out in my triathlon spirit and mind and hopefully will be able to pass some of his triathlon goodwill along to others for as long as I can.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Feeling like a big ol' mess

Time if F L Y I N G by.... Only six weeks until Ironman Wisconsin.

I feel like I could use another sixteen weeks to train!

For the most part, I feel stronger than last year, but am having the darndest time fighting small, nagging injuries.

None are big enough to take me out of the game, they impede my ability to really train as best and hard as I can.

The biggest issue has been with my right heel. I am not entirely sure what happened with it other than I ran with worn out shoes for too long. (Couldn't really "tell" they were worn out because I was using orthotics. They "masked" the feel of the shoe on my foot.)

The first real issue popped up when I was in Des Moines about eight weeks ago (or longer). I went out for a run -- had a great run and by the end, my heel was achy. The longer the evening went on, the less pressure I could put on my foot. The next day, walking was difficult for about half the day and then it got better.

I took a look at my shoes and saw that I had pretty much worn the outside edge off the shoe. So, I bought some new shoes....

Because I was wearing orthotics, I was told to get a neutral shoe. So I got Asics Nimbus. Felt great in the store; did okay at Fargo 1/2 marathon, but both my feet ached after the race. Ran in them for the Minneapolis 1/2 marathon. Ran worse at that event. My feet were really killing me by the end.

Turns out, the pair I bought was a half size too small.

Bought another pair the RIGHT size. Still had heel problems. Sometimes I would be fine; other times, I'd get that ache and would not be able to put much pressure on my foot.

In the meantime, I have been going to see my chiropractor that specializes in ART therapy. He works on the foot (which is P A I N F U L while he is doing it) and then I'd feel better. Until I wouldn't.

We thought it was Achilles Tendinitis; then we thought it might be a bruised heel bone; then we thought it was bruised heel tissue stemming from calf muscles.

So, basically, we don't know what is really causing this issue.

We DON'T think it is a stress fracture, but I'm giving it one more week before I go in to my regular physician to ask for an xray or an MRI just to make sure.

So now: I'm icing (a lot), running in the pool (super boring), went back to my old stabilizer shoes (Kayano) without the orthotics and am praying to the Tri Gods for some relief.

I'm also going to try to tape my heel tomorrow just to see if that helps.
The other piece of news is that I went back to Madison last weekend for a race preview with Endurance Nation.

Had a very good ride for the first portion (stick out and one loop of the hills). Then struggled with the second loop. It was incredibly hot and humid and I'm pretty sure I got dehydrated and over heated. Felt dizzy a number of times, hot then cold. I was just glad it wasn't race day.

Needless to say, I'm feeling a little worried at this point.

If I look at this logically, I have some confidence am confident that race day will go well -- I am stronger. I am biking better. I only missed the Mile 19 cut off last year by 2 minutes.... but, the run (and the other variables, like the weather) concern me.

I have six weeks to heal my heel and get my mental resolve up to snuff.