IRONMAN Boulder 2014

IRONMAN Boulder 2014
IRONMAN Boulder 2014 - Photo Courtesy of Nils Nilsen @N2PhotoServices
former professional couch potato and dorito eater with no fitness background to 4 x IRONMAN triathlete. blogging so you can be inspired to be active in your life! there's no 'can't' - just think of when you will take that first step!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vision Quest Coaching Assessment, Field Test, Pool Session, & Intensity Barf Ride


so, shortly after the bank of america chicago marathon...probably wednesday, october 12, something caught up with me. i caught a bug that harassed me like crazy until probably this past monday when i felt semi-normal. it was a bad cold that turned into a sinus infection that turned into me having little to no hearing in one ear etc etc.

i hate getting sick...

nevertheless, i am feeling 'normal' once again! for those of you that know me in person, you know that this is nearly impossible because i tread the 'crazy' line VERY closely. actually, you'd probably agree that i am well beyond that line most of the time! ;)




my journey with vision quest coaching started last friday, october 21, 2011, at the tail end of my bug...

early that morning, i drove up to vision quest highland park (part of the trek store there) courtesy of dave noda's car. THANKS, DAVE!

i was to go through a bike assessment with THE robbie ventura. honestly, i had NO idea who he was. and, i say this with the MOST respect to robbie. the most i knew about celebrity cyclists was that there was lance and then the dopers. i think i heard from one person or another how he was some type of big wig that competed professionally and rode with lance armstrong.

well, i decided not to google stalk him so i wasn't ENTIRELY intimidated when i met him for this assessment. i'm glad i didn't.

i was already nervous because i had absolutely NO idea what i was getting myself into. for some reason, i thought i was going to be going balls out on the treadmill and bike trainer with tons of wires hooked up to me. and, of course i had to make it MORE awkward by asking him to agree to being videotaped and to videotape me using the flip cam that i brought along... (remember, i'm blogging and vlogging because i expect you all to keep me accountable! so, it's your fault too! ;) )

let me start by saying that he is probably one of the nicest guys with an extreme passion for VQ and is VERY excited to share his passion and experience with others so they can get their own glimpse at the type of glory he has experienced in his life as a professional athlete. i'd like to emphasize 'glimpse' because, let's face it, the majority of us are probably NOT in the running for a podium spot!

we simply are looking to prove to ourselves (and those childhood bullies) that we CAN accomplish what many folks believe to be "crazy".


i was that guy that decided to go from the couch & dorito eating to marathon training in 2007. in 2008, my mother saw me in brooklyn about 8 miles into the NYC marathon...i stopped briefly to give her, my aunt, uncle, and partner at the time a hug... apparently, after i continued on up the hill, she asked, "now, why do they do this?!?"

she's probably among the majority with that inquiry. and, we can help them out at the end of the day by summarizing it as this: "we do it cuz we can. and, we continue to challenge ourselves to prove to OURSELVES how much stronger we can become over time. OH, and we look more bada$$ while we are on those journeys as well!"


so, robbie took the time to explain what we were going to do during our time together (which ended up around 3 hours) and then we proceeded with the assessment. i thought of it as a test, though. but, they're just words, right?

i signed documents stating that i wouldn't dope, that i will not sue, and that i'm clear for this activity via my doctor.

he took my weight.

he used those awful fat calipers on me...then told me i was lean (WHEW!)

we then went to do some strength, stability, and flexibility tests.

strength and stability were a 9-10/10 overall according to him. i was quite proud of that.

HOWEVER, what we did notice while on the bike during the cycling assessment was that my left leg was doing about 25-50% MORE work than my left even after minor adjustments to my setup.

this is more than likely linked to the broken sesamoid that i have in my right foot and my hip/glute medius issues/tightness on that side as well...all from my running.

so, he prescribed single leg drills on the bike, single legged squats, and lateral band strengthening exercises.

easy, right? well...i gotta DO the exercises! ;)

HOPEFULLY, i'll nip this issue in the bud sooner than later!

he also wants me to get a grasp on swim technique and to get comfortable with doing laps and increase the cycling volume. for the former, remember, i can't swim. i'll provide more details on that when i share with you my pool experience that i had this past thursday. for the latter, i've been able to make a dent in that via a couple classes at VQ...i'll tell you more about those as well.

at the conclusion of my cycling assessment, we learned that my aerobic fitness...well...frankly...SUCKS right now. and, that makes sense because i've been MAYBE running once a week since the beginning of june while july and august were tainted with cigarettes as well. and, i was being good if i got to the gym about twice a week too.

(ok, i'm done beating myself into the ground.)

this final assessment was based on many numbers, which included my power output while pedaling and my blood sugar levels. (yes, he pricked my finger several times and it was sore for the rest of the day!)

here is some video from that assessment where robbie summarizes what we are going to be doing, calls me out for barely working out recently, and then me in action on the bike...



part of the end of my assessment involved a conversation on which program i would end up linking into and then which coach would work best for me. we narrowed it down to a coach in switzerland as well as one locally in chicago. after weighing the options and having a great conversation with each of them, i decided to move forward with a coach in chicago.

the reason for this selection was because i know how neurotic i can be. so, after a workout, i often wouldn't mind some immediate feedback based on how i felt. so, reaching out to my coach locally via phone would allow me to access this chicago coach without waking him up in the middle of the night like i would if i was attempting to reach my coach overseas. there is also the plus that i will have the opportunity to see him in person at some of the workouts so he can kick my a$$ in person as well!

his name is dan litwora (@cdanrun). here he is finishing the 2009 ironman world championships in kona:


my biggest fear of dan is just that...he's dan. he's accomplished. many of his athletes go to kona. and, here i am the one that can barely swim more than half the pool. but, he didn't outright refuse me. so, with him i proceed. i'm excited and nervous at the same time.

this morning, i received my training peaks coach request from him so this is becoming all the more real every second!


i was told to remember 'my number' coming out of my assessment. frankly, i forgot to ask and was reminded to remember that my number is 165. honestly, i don't entirely understand anything about this number other than i THINK it's my 'power' number.

so...i show up to VQ chicago on tuesday at the advisement of dave noda to see how i test against this number of 165 'in the field'. it was myself and a married couple doing the actual test. there were others there doing their own workouts and/or stretching... ALL of them, along with bryce who led the session, were my BIGGEST cheerleaders! i had BARELY met any of them. it was my FIRST class there. and they were SCREAMING at me to fight and push harder and harder!

HOLY SH*T, THAT WAS F^N AWESOME! i had such a HIGH after going through that TWICE!!

oh...ha! maybe, you'd like to know what my numbers were... they were 229 for the first one (which matters most apparently) and then 213 for the second. according to bryce, that's not too bad and shows a base of endurance. i thought it was bad because i was so far from 229 the second time around.

the assessment was similar to what i did with robbie but was a tad harder i think... maybe, it was because the power was determined this time and we were trying to figure it out during that assessment four days earlier.

nevertheless, that's how i did. and, my new number jumped from 165 to 218. dan will take that number and do what he will with it. i will also use it in my classes on the computrainer.

once i fully understand, i'll try my best to explain it to you at another time.


on thursday, i went to northside college prep for an 8pm pool workout. for me, this was REALLY nerve wracking to walk into because I went in KNOWING full well that I basically couldn't swim!

yet again, i was relieved to find some more vq athletes that were friendly and not judgmental of my rookie status. they had huge encouraging smiles on their faces and were nothing but encouraging!

melissa, the coach, was awesome.

she called me out basically saying that she couldn't see what i needed help with or if i could be helped at all if i didn't get off the bench and get in the pool and do something so she knew what type of mess she was dealing with.

i finally caved and got in.

i think i did some technique that i had learned from a class that i took months ago... i THINK it was torpedo... where i just moved my feet.

i got to half way through the pool to where i saw that i wouldn't be able to stand up if i stopped any further past the line and then walked slowly, fighting the water, back to the start of the lane.

she told me that i had a pretty decent kick.

insert *GASP* here!

SO...from this encouraging statement, i was suddenly less worried.

we spent time with the kickboard, with which i made friends quickly. in fact, we became best friends by the end of the evening. i worked on my kick first. then, she had me alternate using my arms so i could learn freestyle...

i did pretty well with the kickboard. however, once i moved away from the kickboard and tried to put it all together without it while she wasn't looking, she came back and noticed that i lost my good kick and stroke.


after i got those items down to a semi-medocre level, we put some fins on me. what was cool about these things was how fast they propelled me in the water without my arms! insert the arms, and i'm flying past mr. phelps at universe record pace!

ok...i'll calm down!

what i DID notice using fins, however, was how my left side was stronger! remember when i told you earlier how it was pointed out that my power on the bike was better/stronger on the left than the right?

well, i noticed myself slowly turning to the right when using the fins and..because i like to hypothesize...i attribute this to the right hip/glute weakness/imbalance issue. who knows! hopefully, dan, melissa, marcia et al will guide me on whether my assumption is legit!

in sum, and most importantly, i walked away that evening feeling MUCH better about my "can't swim" lie i've been telling apparently. i'm not THAT bad. but, i know i have A LOT of work to do in order to get where i need to be! diligence and hard work is a must here!


i got the okay to go to this 90 minute class taught by vq's dave noda. i don't entirely know what i was doing except that there was...

a warmup...

a part where i had to be at 18-22 mph

a part where i had to be at 13-15 mph

ending back at 18-22 mph

...there were recoveries peppered between the various sets that we did. each set included sudden 30 second climbs where we were to try to maintain our speed/cadence. only for one or two of the climbs were we told to try to go a tad faster.

it was all fine until about 70-80 minutes in, i SUDDENLY felt like puking! i didn't think i had worked THAT hard. so, was it my inability to realize my actual perceived exertion? or, was it the crossover between my body burning my breakfast to burning fat?

i didn't have any gatorade type fuel during this ride and was only having water here and there as my mouth dried out. the reason for no sports drink was because i was told to try going at least two hours without it for now in order to train my body to burn fat instead of relying on regularly feeding in calories.

now, i could have TOTALLY heard that wrong but i'm PRETTY sure that's what i was suppose to do. we'll see what i learn from the good 'ol coach dan on this one as well!


i had a great first 'official' week! lots learned! awesome people met! lots of confidence in the bank! i hope to continue this awesome momentum!


so, what'd y'all learn today during this reading? i'm crazy? i can't write? i have a lot to say? i'm random? i should probably send these out separately instead of one big chunk?


and, thanks for keeping me honest by checking in on me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week 1 - let's close out by puking!


This is a summary of my morning "puke" workout... Detail going back to last Friday will be posted by this afternoon... In the meantime, please help me summarize these stats because it looks like hieroglyphics to me! ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011





Hopefully, in the next 10 minutes I will be able to hear out of my ear again! This sinus infection that had me sidelined for almost two weeks decided to leave a gift.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

the chicago marathon is this sunday in case...

the chicago marathon is this sunday... in case you didn't know?? it's also known as #cm11 or @marathonchicago to many #runnerds.

many of my friends...yeah...those online/twitter friends...will be in town or are here already. so, i'm REALLY excited about that.

where are the mixed emotions?

this is the 1st year i haven't run chicago since 2007. am i jealous right at this VERY second. DUH! YEAH! of COURSE, i AM!

at the same time, though... i'm glad that i'm not because if i was, it would have meant my training (and whining to my coach during the process) in the this summer's awful heat! and, to be TOTALLY honest, my head still wasn't in a good place for training...

my coach called me mentally overtrained... the reality is that in 2007, i jumped in headfirst into running and barely came up for air. i let myself try to do that and it messed with my head immensely. i think i've found a good sense of stasis overall. however, i did find that i needed to sign up for a race (hence, this blog) in order to get back into my rhythm that i need!


the flip side is that i get to see a bunch of friends, motivate them, cheer them on, and celebrate with them! OH, AND i finally get to meet my coach, josh (aka @speedysasquatch). he's from NYC and i've never met him. yeah, it sounds weird... but, believe it or not, it's not all that uncommon! so, get over it! ;)

i also still have a key role this weekend by managing the start corrals of the race followed by hopefully witnessing the elite finish in person for the first time ever! ...and then i'll make my way down to mile 24 to cheer and then, hopefully, run at least 1 friend in. i'll be cheering with universal sole & nike while sporting my f^3 singlet and then hopefully @heathbar6 (aka heather w) will find and drag me in to push her a$$ to the finish line!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

SMOKER?!? Consider this!

TIP: Remind yourself that a lot of smoking is about the deep breaths (like from yoga!) that we don't do enough of AND it's alone/escape time.

TRY THIS: Just take a walk...take it at a leisurely pace...take deep breaths...take the time to take everything in around you and acknowledge their existence!

HOW DO I KNOW? I'm almost a month in from being smoke free. I haven't even had Nicorette... I remind myself of my future goals and how smoking will effect the outcomes! And, I'm just breathing more freely!


Monday, October 3, 2011

yoga chair pose = FML

utkatasana...YUP...i googled it cuz i can NEVER remember it! ut-ka-ta-sa-na... i couldn't think about the last time i had been to yoga. maybe, that's why i could only think FML the entire time when we had to hold that pose for, what seemed to be, ten bajillion poses and their corresponding minutes!

nevertheless, it felt great and was nice to get a solid core and yoga session in during my last week at my downtown gym (xsport) before i move permanently to bally's in my new neighborhood. of course, i'll probably be spending most of my "gym time" while at vision quest, but...i dunno...i'm just telling you!

it's bittersweet... my best friend and i have been working out there together since it opened a couple years ago. BUT, no regrets! i learned a ton from him regarding dedication along with some awesome exercises. he helped build my confidence and push my limits. thanks, matt! =)

the start of daRevoluCHIN!

i did a quick google search for "darevoluchin nike blog" and it actually found this post about how i went from the couch to running in 2007:

don't want to click & read? no problem! i've copied & pasted it here:


The Start of daRevoluCHIN!

August 27, 2009

It started in February of 2007 on an icy Chicago day. The temperature was an aggressively mean negative twenty wind chill. In our loop condo, I suited up to go for a run in cotton socks, a cotton shirt, a cotton hoodie, sweat pants, long johns, the outer layer of a winter coat, a hat, huge mittens, a scarf, and shoes that weren’t meant for running.

Why would I do such a thing? Why didn’t I wait until Spring? Why would I subject myself to that?!?

The answer is simple…

Ever since 1998, I watched the Chicago Marathon and was always envious of the swarms of runners of all shapes and sizes. As I watched, I thought to myself, “I’m going to do that next year!” Now, keep in mind, I was thinking this while I was becoming more dehydrated from the coffee I was sipping after the previous night’s revelries. So, could I really do it? Could I actually stay in on Friday nights because of the following morning’s long run? Could this big kid, whose most active sport to date was starting tackle freshman year of high school, REALLY do it?

Well, it seemed like I really couldn’t at the time. That scene actually repeated itself for about eight years before I took action. Perhaps, it was because I was finally done with school and settled into a regular working schedule. Nevertheless, I finally just went for it.

I was tired of being a professional couch potato that starved for several brands of chips. Those types of bicep curls didn’t necessarily cut it if you want to be in shape!

So, I just did it…

My goal was to get from our downtown home to the Starbucks in Old Town three miles away using the Chicago lakefront path. I braved the icy, desolate, and dark route trudging along while thinking to myself, “What the HELL am I doing?!?” and “Why does this SUCK so bad?!?”

But, I made it! When I walked into that Starbucks, my glasses fogged up and my face started to sweat profusely. I distinctly remember a gentleman looking at me and he asked, “Are you really sweating after coming in from out there?” I answered with pride and out of breath, “Yeah…I…just…ran…” I have no idea what he said or what happened next except that I had a hot chocolate in my hand and was shortly on the train back home.

How would I possibly do this again? Well, I did a few times. But, I started to feel like I may quit because it was so hard to go three miles especially in all that clothing. It was getting VERY cumbersome and I just didn’t want to deal with it. So, what was going to keep me going?


I went to a well-known Chicago running store’s fun run one evening. I felt REALLY awkward because I was SUCH a rookie! I was embarrassed to ask questions. I even hid and pretended I was shopping even though I was there to participate in the run. I hoped to find others running the same “pace.” But, what was that “pace?” I only knew it to be slow and hoped others would speak up or maybe ask ME what I was going to run. I think a couple gentleladies actually did speak up and then I quickly latched on.

From that point, I had a couple new friends. I remember one of them being Jillian. We kept each other going week to week at the fun run until we, unfortunately, lost touch somehow. But, I did find out more about the store’s racing team that was for all levels. And, I must say, after I joined that group, my running experiences multiplied to levels I NEVER thought possible. And, I soon found myself in a training program for that year’s Chicago Marathon (2007)!

Because of that team, I was able to get into Nike’s Northside/Southside Challenge for the Marathon. There were about 50 on the Northside and 50 on the Southside. It was a friendly rivalry and the team with the most Nike+ miles and fastest average pace on race day won a donation to a charity (Boys and Girls Club for the Northside team and the Chicago White Sox charities for the Southside team).

I ended up the team captain for the Southside. No, we didn’t win—sorry White Sox charities! Nevertheless, through that role, I got to meet runners of all shapes, sizes, experience, elite, non-elite, etc. I found myself in a naturally motivating capacity using a googlegroup to send email blasts to my team to hype them up for events, on the stage at Niketown and on the news. Isn’t this type of role reserved for some type of famous and fast runner? Or, at least somebody with lots of running experience and not in his or her first year of running? Apparently not and, I wasn’t complaining. I actually felt very lucky and fortunate.

Can I get myself out the door to get my run in solo? I’ll admit to you, as long as you promise not to tell, that the answer is usually no. I enjoy the new friends that have come out of my Nike Northside/Southside experience. That’s why I have done my best to keep as many of them from that time, along with new ones we’ve picked up along the way, together as a core group. It’s purely selfish too because the group is my motivation to get out and do my run. They keep me accountable even if there isn’t somebody running my exact pace that day. We meet and end in the same spot and cheer each other on no matter what. It’s funny that I basically play the role of motivating others in order to keep myself motivated and accountable but we all seem to benefit and I now have the closest and best-est friends ever!

I’ve continued to run because of those friends. I am VERY lucky to have them in my life and enjoy every moment I get to spend with them. And, what’s even better is that the group continues to grow as I share my story and encourage newbies to start their own story.

Even though I’ve done three marathons, including New York and Chicago back in 2008, I honestly could probably do without the actual running part of these friendships. However, if it comes with the territory, I’m all for it. I’ll run to keep this network alive!

That’s how daRevoluCHIN started and I look forward to bringing more newbies in—locally and virtually!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I just setup my TIVO to record the...

I just setup my TIVO to record the Ironman World Championships & Ironman Wisconsin whenever they air next... There are SEVERAL years of the world championships that I'll soon have in my queue! I'm curious to know what the Wisconsin coverage is like!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Dry Run...


Next week, I'm charged with the task of ensuring that the seeded start corrals run of cake!

TODAY, I'm up at 4:30am to meet up with a gang from Chicago Events Management to go flyer cars in the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods.

The flyers say something like this...


I'm looking forward to breakfast afterwards and then continuing my sleep from where I left off after that.

YUP...I'm half asleep as I write this while waiting for the red line! AND, my heart feels like it's going to jump out of my chest from the 5 hour energy I just downed!


Post ride...


Can you see my snot and can you tell that my body temperature is about 50 degrees COLDER than before?!?

Gotta love a headwind on the second half! :)

Pre ride...


About to go on a quick 1 hr ride before my massage tonight. This is how I look before. WHAT could I possibly look like after?!? ;)

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