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, August 25, 2013

From Clarinet to IRONMAN

I'm a Professionally Trained Classical Clarinet Player

By the age of 17, I already played in Carnegie Hall three times, totaling six by the age of 18 - this included principal clarinet on Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (AWESOME clarinet solos!). Then, I went on to study in a conservatory-like setting at DePaul, with members and regular players of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 

Throughout my studies, the most obvious beyond the books was simply PRACTICING. It's exactly what I DIDN'T want to do! I wanted to be socializing, hanging out, and having fun. Practicing was NOT fun. But, I HAD to practice in order to get graded for lessons, so I didn't sound bad during group performances and because we had yearly recitals to perform. I couldn't just show up and play. There was so much that needed to be done to make sure my sound was as close as possible to being what my mentors wanted it to be and, of course, I had to practice all that fast technique stuff (slow to fast!) because it was certainly NOT my forte!

Simply put, I had to practice but it was easier to do when there was something to be practicing for. So, I would go to the performance office and schedule my recital; I would send in my application to audition for one orchestra; and, I would schedule my next lesson. I had to have something booked before I really got serious. Then, I did the work. 

With that goal in mind, I took out a calendar and mapped out how I should be progressing up until recital, audition or lesson day. I would structure my practicing accordingly and set SMART goals. Then, as the day got closer, I would be to the point where I would be doing a "run-through" - playing everything from start to end - without stopping. I would record myself during these sessions, analyze (OVER-analyze really!), and then I would practice a little bit more to clean up the technique here, fix my counting issue there, etc. 

I would even run up and down stairs or do a bunch of jumping jacks and then immediately go into playing through my music. Why? Because, I had to practice being nervous and getting the heart pumping rather aggressively was a great way to replicate it. And, it was my job to play and NOT SOUND NERVOUS!

All that work would finally pay off. Hours upon hours of practicing, recording myself, getting the heart going etc. It was all for a total of, at most, probably an hour of music being played. And, that was just for recitals. For auditions and lessons, the total amount of music being played MAYBE totaled up to about 30 minutes. For lessons, I might get through 1/10 - 1/4 of what I prepared. And, in auditions, I could easily be cutoff after just ONE minute of playing and all I would hear from behind the screen is, "THANK YOUuuuu…. NEXT!"

Yes, all that practicing for such little time of actual playing in the end. 

But, that regimen and structure are what have easily transferred into all other aspects of my life and have led to my success today. I set goals, structure my schedule accordingly, then I do the work to get there. I just get to do what I want to do, socializing on the way and enjoying myself vs being locked up inside, alone, practicing, all by myself!

How this is relevant to why I am writing you today…

I was a band geek that NEVER thought I would be actively participating in fitness as I am today. With my second IRONMAN being just two weeks away, I am almost half-way through "taper madness". This is when I start over-analyzing my training, thinking about how much I missed, panicking that I may miss the 2:20 swim cutoff, start having nightmares that I forgot my wetsuit, bike, or running shoes, and obsess about SEVERAL packing lists. Yes, this is quite a neurotic time. And, yes, I'm even MORE neurotic than usual during this time (as you can see!)

During my final long run today, I was thinking of all that above AND how I really wanted to get a blog post up. So, I was thinking of how I got to today and how I will get through IRONMAN Wisconsin. And this time, I really actually BELIEVE the saying, "Trust the training…"

Thanks to group training sessions with Chicago Endurance Sports, I can say that I feel better than I did at this time a year ago. I got more of the training in, getting in my weakest sport (SWIMMING!) when super-limited on time, and I got all but a FEW of my long weekend training sessions in. That is HUGE! I can't tell you how much training I missed last year because I was either "tired" or, more likely, didn't have a group to meet up with that was also putting in the same work and, therefore, just couldn't get out the door. Yup, group training is a necessity for me!

CES provided the calendar and the structure. I did the workouts (practicing) with an awesome group of folks that have become newfound friends. I had a few shorter races (dress rehearsals) with even MORE new friends. And, I will continue doing "touch ups" (run-throughs) up until race day (the lesson, audition, or recital) with the same friends.

I've been training for a three event sport and the biggest difference between this and my past life as a musician is that I can't actually do true run-throughs because the events are so LONG. For IRONMAN, the closest I got was last weekend, covering 104 bike miles and 30 run minutes on Friday, a 2.4 mile swim on Saturday, and a 20 mile run on Sunday. It was definitely nice to spread all that out over three days and the thought of doing the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run ALL within 17 hours or less just… well… just… CONTINUES TO SOUND ABSOLUTELY NUTS!

I'm probably more excited this year than I was last year, not only because it's my second go at this distance, but because I had a plan, followed it pretty well overall, and now I just have the performance to get done!

The butterflies will increase as the morning of 9/8/13 gets closer. But, I certainly hope that I can hold it together as I wander down the helix toward the swim start that morning. Last year, I started to cry silently with tons of tears rolling down my face because I was happy to have gotten through the training and was so proud of myself… AND I COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT I WAS ABOUT TO ATTEMPT!

Now the REAL point (I know, it's like a drawn out movie that could've ended about 30 minutes ago!)…

Aside from having put in solid training, I am really happy to know that the training I did also brought awareness to the IRONMAN Foundation and all it contributes to the communities that host IRONMAN events. Their mission is incredible and I am glad to have been able to fundraise for them as part of the IRONMAN Foundation - Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team.

Thanks to those of you that have donated already and to those that support me but are unable to donate. Because of your tax-deductible donation, I have raised $1,370 of my $3,000 goal to date -- THANK YOU! I appreciate your unending support of all my endeavors, despite how CRAZY they may be!

And, for those that have not donated yet but have planned to, now is the time because I have just two weeks to race day and I am counting on you to get me to my $3,000 goal! You can do so here: Don't forget that your donation is tax-deductible! AND, those that have donated at least $70.30 will be entered into a giveaway of a sports massage with my friend and owner of Urban Wellness Chicago, Terri. The lucky recipient will be announced shortly after race day.

Hope you enjoyed the read and I thank you all for your donations to such a wonderful cause!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013




You may have noticed the cover of Chicago's RedEye...

It's my friend Terri Lynn Visovatti, massage therapist and owner of Urban Wellness Chicago!

Terri has generously made a tax deductible donation to my cause AND she has also donated a couple SPORTS MASSAGE sessions that I may GIVEAWAY!

- The next person to make a tax deductible donation of $140.60 or more will receive one of the two sessions.
- The second massage will be chosen from all the donors of at least $70.30. This person will be chosen AFTER Ironman Wisconsin, which takes place on 9/8/13.



cc: Ironman Foundation, Inc. & Ironman Foundation - Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team