Background & Perspective

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Syracuse Ironman 70.3, Triathlons
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As promised, I’ll lay it out as to my sport background and it should help to convey my perspective.

Looking back from 52 years of age, my school years could be described as having a mild interest in sports. I was not too short, not too tall, not too skinny, and not too fat. Although I could run and bike, I was not particularly fast. In middle school I played football, and participated in track & field. Didn’t mind gym class, but was not that crazy about it either. I remember thinking the “440” was a forever distance to run. I did like to bike from place to place.

As a young man I got into weight lifting, even did a strong man event doing a semi tractor trailer pull. I spent a year pursuing power lifting, and eventually burned out while getting ready to compete in drug free 165lb class. I made moderate gains, but did not enjoy some aspects of the sport.

Turning thirty I found myself divorced, single father of two children, and dealing with a lot of mental anguish. My career in the electronics industry provided little in the way of physical activity. I needed a way to work off the stress. A solution was found as I revisited running and cycling, and did so in earnest. As I turned thirty, I went out and ran the Syracuse Heart Run 10 miler in 1990. Total newbie, full sweat pants and sweatshirt with a nice thick set of thermals underneath. Yes, I got a quick lesson on proper running gear, and I suffered my first running event as an adult. However it was all so worth it, as the sense of accomplishment of finishing the distance, coupled with the runners high that one gets, had me hooked.

The following years I got the much needed proper gear, cycling included. I would venture on to doing duathlons, triathlons,and marathons. I dropped down to 152 lbs, and began to feel balance in my life. I was more fit than in high school, and I felt like a million bucks. From 1993 to 1997, I ran 9 marathons and a pile of mid-distance races. Multisport events were also part of the calendar. In 1994, I completed the Firmman Triathlon which was a half-ironman distance event. To date, that race would qualify as the largest body of work I had tackled. Even with my new found fitness, I did not consider myself all that fast. On occasion, I would place in my age group at smaller races. The social aspects of the sport along with tangible positive feedback from the three disciplines was a great thing from my perspective.

In the late nineties, I became a partner/owner in a technology company, and my career slowly took over my time to train, and eventually I moved away from triathlons and running. Each year I put on more weight. As an engineer staring at monitors all day, there was little physical effort. One reprieve I had was being an avid turkey hunter, and that would have me walking hills and ridges during spring and fall seasons. Normally I would lose some weight during those times. In 2002, I made an attempt to return to running, and made a plan to actually compete in a fall marathon. I did finish (admittedly very slow) a 13.1 event that September, but missed out on 4 weeks of training due to illness. My marathon plans vanished.

Eight years would pass, and my weight ballooned to 238. Luckily I was in the care of Dr. Lynn Cunningham, who is also a triathlete. Along with high cholesterol, I had the beginning signs of fatty liver disease. I did have some things going for me health wise. I was active outside of work, non-smoker, and did not do drugs or abuse alcohol. Even so, I had to make a choice of either getting back into a weekend warrior lifestyle, or become more and more dependent on medicine, and possibly suffer further impending health issues.

I chose to take the proactive approach, and got back into running, along with the south beach diet. A year later, cholesterol dropped, signs of fatty liver disease went away. A year of progress. Having a doctor that truly understood what I was doing really helped. The fall of 2010, I pulled a calf muscle,and my running came to a halt. It wasn’t long that my entire comeback was in jeopardy. I regained my composure, and picked it back up in 2011.

Several major things occurred in 2011 and 2012:

  • Needing a real solid goal. I picked a big one. Signing up for 2012 Ironman Syracuse was the perfect choice as it was a large body of work,and had to be worked at in order to finish it. No excuses. I gave myself plenty of time to prepare.
  • Regained control of diet, dropping back down to 184 lbs, with a ultimate target of 160lbs. Milestone target for Syracuse Ironman- 172-175 lbs.
  • At 52 years of age, I cannot just wing it or get it done by brute force. I initially tried to plan out my training, but quickly switched after discovering Endurance Nation group coaching.
  • Joined the Cortland YMCA,and began to actually train for the swim. This is a big leap from back in the day, where I threw on a wetsuit,and just went for it.

In my next blog, I’ll go into some of what has transpired since signing up for the 2012 Ironman Syracuse 70.3.


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