If you have been following along this year, you know that 2013 has been a big year of changes. For me, probably about 3-4 too many.

The last two months have been mostly suffering fools, mental anguish, and making changes to weed out things that take away more than they enhance life at the Joyner household. In retrospect probably a long time coming. There were a few disappointing surprises. Life goes on.

Training has been sporadic due to time constraints getting a tech company up and going. Training/racing definitely falls into the category of things that give so much to quality of life, managing stress and better health. Not something i would want to cut out. As much as having that brass ring of ironman in front to drive me is a good thing, I find myself way overtired, not sleeping well and worrying too much.

Ten weeks to go to Ironman Lake Placid, and I am at a place not feeling the love of sport, and I have to do a mental reset. My longish bike ride today came to a stop at 15 miles, dead tired, no drive to push through a 35-40 mile ride. It’s not me, and there’s no faking an ironman. When I toe the line for the big dance I want to be well trained, not hanging on for dear life, worrying about cutoff times. Last year this time I felt very driven to hit each milestone in route to Syracuse 70.3.

In the long view of things, it’s a game/pursuit we love to do, and ranks somewhere beyond 2nd to supporting the household, taking care of family, and being there for my wife, as she certainly is for me. Time for me to regroup, and refocus on the important things first.

What next? Its just one race, there will be others to aim for. I do have take care of my health and well being, just set different goals. It’s not feasible to dedicate 12-16 hours a week given my circumstances, 4-7 hours. I can fit in. I’ll talk to my coaches and lay out a new course, concentrating on base, keeping my head fresh, stress managed. I’ll be low key this summer and maybe eyeball something late summer. More to come later.

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A big thank you to those who checked up on me today. It is just as likely for me to be there as not. I was there on business last week,and ran the Boston marathon in 1995-1996. It would not be unusual for me to go there and watch as it is one of the nations largest spectacles. Those of you who have been there for the race or ran it, know what a packed last quarter mile to the finish is like. It is a deafening roar, and lined with thousands of people. The reporting is correct that at the 4-hour mark it is a sea of people making their last strides to the finish. They are also correct in that you typically see lots of young children along the course. I can recall children calling out bib numbers shouting encouragement going up heartbreak hill. It is something that you remember.

Had the bomb(s) been larger or more successful in imposed intent, the counts would have been so much higher. It is maddening and to bring one to anger that children were willfully targeted as well as the well-being of all that came to witness a great race/event. It is my humble opinion that hell does not burn hot enough for the perpetrators of this evil deed.

Being a runner and actually having been there before has me rattled a little, as it hits close to home. Like many of you, I do not wish to live in fear or to abandon the very things that bring happiness, satisfaction, and sense of purpose along with all that we care to do in our daily lives.

It is a scourge of our humanity that we endure terrorism, and the deeds of those with little or no regard to the gift of life. Is not each of our lives a gift, something to be regarded as precious?

Not wanting to be on a hate rant, I do hope for justice, and pray for those lost and injured in today’s terrible event.

Sorry if the title might mislead some, this is not some epic deal of overcoming all odds, or a terrible situation or malady. It is the title that stuck in my head while running today.

Despite the “Oh you did an Ironman, yawn” attitude you see over in some elitist triathlon forums, I view the big dance as a monumental thing.  Take one look at me and you’ll not mistake my physique to be that of a distance runner or 5-8% body fat endurance athlete with all the speed, and grace of form that one imagines. Nope not this guy. Even in my glory days of thirty something and a slender 152 lbs, I was not a gifted athlete, terribly fast or all that dialed in on technique or form.  I sure was faster than I am today and would take it back in a heartbeat. No pro career in the works for me ever. I did however love the sport, and especially how empowered I felt, and how positive is was for my outlook, and perspective. It made me feel very alive as it does now. Being determined and having stubborn will as my allies I press on.

I sure picked a hell of a year to tackle the ironman distance. Of course when I signed up, my career was not in turmoil at that time. The training is most certainly a great stress relief. It is also a source of stress in that I barely make my workouts on a good week, and missing more than a few probably doesn’t help in my quest. My good doctor will read this, and will be sure to set me straight. No qualms there as she practices what she preaches  and I get away with nothing. No excuses 🙂  Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for so many things, general good health, my wife, my family, and my friends. I live a good life, and know that I am fortunate.  In that respect, shut up and get on with it.

My daily schedule is chaotic for now, lots of hours, with each week begin different as I try to build a tech company. eating is erratic, and my weight is stagnant, and needs to drop and soon. My constant worrying is self imposed. and I am sure it is affecting a number of things. Being this is the first weekend in three months that I did not work, is maybe a sign of balance on the horizon.  I am surrounded by great support of my wife, and close friends. I really do need to listen to them more and take it more to heart.

Lately my workouts have been drudgery, taxing, as I feel overtired, and always thinking about work instead of pounding out a good workout. Some days my supposed positive outlook and iron will falls short for the build up  for Lake Placid. There is no excuse or circumstance that means anything when that start cannon goes off on July 28th.  There is some headway on the swimming side of things, so I’ll take that as progress.

I toed the start line at Syracuse Half Marathon this morning. It would run through my old stomping grounds where I used to live in Eastwood many years ago. I was looking forward to running a city course which I like very much. Coming off Lake effect 13.1 a month prior, I felt reasonably ready to cover it as an easy pace training run. Up to start time  everything felt normal and familiar and I was ready to go. The plan was simple, go easy the first mile, no faster than 10:30 as there was a good uphill stretch on James Street, and to ease up going up Court Street roughly halfway to 2/3rd of the race. Pace would be 11ish with a 20-30 sec walk break every mile after mile 3 to ease my hips and back the heart rate down.

First mile out I stayed with the plan, but felt like I was overtired and working too hard given the pace and the flat first mile. I eased up James Street the way I wanted to, and was ok with it. Settled in for the next two miles, and felt a little better. Mile 4, I felt that didn’t have it in me to finish, and that I was having a problem. A big problem. If this was all I had to see something through, what would I do at mile 16 with another 10 miles to go at Lake Placid. This was my little battle today. I thought it was odd, as I enjoyed running my old routes, the race itself, the volunteers were fantastic, all good stuff. I made it my pact that If  I could not mentally tough out a half marathon on an odd day, then what was I thinking about pulling it together for 140.6 miles.

I used my little mental tool kit and bag of tools to work out my little funk. Dropped to 11:30’s,  eased up my stride and did my best to put my head back into the miles ahead. A little stubborn will goes a long way sometimes. I am sure neither of my coaches would have thought that the race was at all critical, likely telling me to just go out next week, and put the miles in, move on. Personally I needed this little win over myself to put this funk behind me. Eventually I felt better, and the remainder of the miles seem to go by quicker. Once I hit mile 12, it was a done deal. All said and done, I felt so much better for crossing the finish line. Kudos to Ken for putting on he race, the volunteers, the police and all that made it happen. Great inaugural race!

Light at the end of the tunnel. I like those days! Third week in swim class with coach Bill Houser. I signed up for a eight week swim course with start and finish video of one’s self  in the pool. Very easy going coach, and to me very young although anyone under forty is a “young’n.”  Good news, I like my coach,and so far so good, and it’s going to work out well.

I like to swim, not particularly afraid of the water, however not very fast in the water. Syracuse Ironman 70.3 I was nearly an hour in the water. The thought of going two hours + at Ironman Lake Placid is not a comforting thought. Cutoff for the swim is 2:20. Hence swim lessons. I have been told by many that correcting swim form flaws and working with a coach I should be able to pull off a 1:40-1:45 swim. Slow, but with a much better buffer against the clock.

First swim practice we were all video taped swimming a few laps and at different angles. I won’t list all what I saw, but I would best describe it as a floating rock, or  a tow barge, slowly moving though the water. Yeah I was so impressed! Not. Those great swim videos were the swimmer glides though the water as some epic part of an nature study or flow and fluid dynamics seminar, are not what I look like at all. Not even close. Coach Bill asked that everyone self critique- given a list of very common flaws of that simmers have. He would then comment. Good news, he and I agreed on my substantial list of things to correct.

Last night we worked on glide, and a bunch of the drills we previously worked on came together. My 25-28 strokes per pool length dropped to 20-21. Please don’t video tape me yet, the list of things to correct is still long. I knew that I made a drastic change, and I could feel it in the water.  More like a fish, less like a rock.  I now see a path to get there, and swim a reasonable time, with less effort.

I do appreciate those little personal victories.

With all the things mentioned in recent blog posts, it continues on as much of a wild ride as predicted. With the new career focus of starting a tech company, the customary long hours and no or few days off are the norm. As one might expect, any firm schedule is a suggestion at best. Aside from my brain being over saturated, I still have the little task item of preparing for a long day in July. Whether I am ready or not, 140.6 miles  will be waiting, leave your excuses at the beach. Given all the circumstances, crossing the finish at Ironman Lake Placid will certainly be a significant life event. No doubt, it is a monumental experience for all those who take on the Ironman challenge.

One side benefit to be a singular team of me, myself, and I is that I can slip away to do that two hour workout when I have a break in the day, or do it on the fly. Working long hours, the mental break is most welcomed. The stress relief is a huge bonus.

Workouts are progressing slowly. I am beginning to complete about 70-80% of them as detailed in my EN Out Season plan. Weight is slowly dropping, and hope to be where I was last year (lightest weight) by late March. That all sounds good except I hope to lose much more before July. Balancing a diet, and increasing volume workouts in April is something I need to make happen.  I found a great deal on a like-new Quarq power meter for my tri bike a week ago.  Got it installed and working, no problems. Next I’ll need to time trial test and set a baseline while I learn this training with power business.

Recently got a bike fit with Jamie Campbell at Bike Loft  in North Syracuse. Using protocol from Specialized, it is a intensive in depth assessment of your joint alignments, range of motion, etc.,  before they even begin to look at bike sizing and fitting. My wife is a director of rehab at a skilled nursing facility, and I would draw similarity’s to what her physical therapists would look at  in the assessments of patients. Jamie was very thorough. When it was all said and done, I had a better position, and way more comfortable. My bike fit  that I had prior was not too far off, a few minor tweaks, a better fitting seat for my big butt, and I left as a happy camper. I have a few hours on the test seat, and will order that today. Highly recommended. We are fortunate to have a bunch of great bike shops in the CNY area. I enjoy heading back to the Bike loft, as my experience with them goes all the way back to when I was a young boy. This goes back to when Lance’s parents where running it. aside from that, it is a great shop,and I always get great service there.

As promised, I started swim lessons with coach Bill Houser at the  Cazenovia College pool. first night was pretty good. I liked working out as a group. It encourages one to keep at it rather than slack off. We ran warm up drills, and some baseline stuff. At the end we were all video taped to analyse what we are doing right/wrong or need to improve. My video should be a hoot. I’m bracing for the some good, some bad, and likely some very ugly. With the grace of God, and what help that coach can give me, I can reduce the last two items, and swim reasonably sorta slow as opposed to very slow. I am told that I can take a 2 hour swim, and bring it down to a 1:40-1:45 swim with fixing basic technique issues. That will certainly work for me.

My laundry list of things to get done or put in place are being checked off one by one. Despite the hectic times, there is progress, and very thankful for that.

Middle of January, we’re in the thick of it, and on many fronts. Currently in Endurance Nation’s Out Season plan. The idea is to work on speed and needed skills. Of course in my case speed is oh so relevant and a large matter of perspective. Given that qualifier, I have faith and past experience that supports the belief that I will be ever so slightly faster on wheels, land and sea at the end of the Out Season (end of March). It is my hope that I will see substantial gains as compared to the here and now as I type this. After that, welcome to volume and endurance on top of some speed work, just not so much.

It has been overwhelming when combined with starting a new technology company. Long hours, up to my eyeballs trying understand more of the business side of things. As chief  everything officer, all things including the buck stops at my feet. Good news, office is up and running , and working on first contract. Getting it up and running and making money quickly sure helps.  I have yet to nail down a solid schedule with everything in flux. Having some flexible time does allow me to get  workouts in, but I need to get that down to a consistent schedule. Training for an ironman and starting a company, probably not the best idea, but it does help relieve the stress. No trouble sleeping this past week.

With multitasking in overdrive to the point of mental abuse, I did accomplish a few things for my ironman quest. Swimming lessons start in two weeks. That will take up Tuesday night time slot. Renewed YMCA membership  to get other swim days in, plus tread mill for those over the top nasty winter days (winter running is my favorite). Three blocks from my office,and very handy for a early or midday workout. Hopefully I will be bike training with a power meter in a few weeks. Looking forward to better more consistent and objectively measurable workouts on the bike. The watts don’t care about other factors or how you feel. More watts, harder, faster. I am signed up for race rehearsal camp in June in Lake Placid. It will be great to get a real feel for the venue. Should be a big confidence builder. Anything I learn there will give  me a few weeks to either enhance or correct before the big day. Looking forward to meeting my teammates that weekend. Even with all this going on, I am still working on getting the payload down. Getting faster by dropping weight is a plus. Still have to get a bike fit done before those long 3/4/5/6 hour rides.

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I will forgo some of the usual races to stick to the training plan, not to mention keep a reign on discretionary spending. Broke my heart to not sign up for boilermaker (favorite race) That day will be a two hour bike and 20 min run, with a four hour bike the day before.  I am signed up for Lake effect 13.1, and the new Syracuse 13.1. Looking forward to doing those as I can fit them into my current out season plan. Of course it calls for doing 1/2 mile repeats  at tempo pace with 2 minute recovery pace between each one. Smile and run anyway  🙂

Mike

Wow what a year! I am currently breaking tri-geek protocol with a glass of fine Riesling, as I reflect on 2012. There will be one or two more before the ball drops. 2012 was a huge year for so many reasons. I’ll start at least from the triathlete perspective.

2012 was my year of renaissance, my comeback to the sport.  I went all-in, with both feet. Joined the Endurance Nation team, and tried to string together as many “right” things to do that I am capable of. In my singular “world view”, I was shaking in my boots. I was going from zero to 70.3 after a 14 year hiatus from the sport. My “A” race was Ironman Syracuse 70.3, a half ironman event.  Goal accomplished, I overcame and adapted as the year unfolded. It was not a perfect race season, but a very good one. I worked through whatever happened, and I literally enjoyed all of it.

For my overly positive perspective, I can easily point to Endurance Nation, the EN team,and coaches Rich & Patrick for the majority of it.  Even though I am much older, certainly much slower, as compared to my glory days of my thirties, I felt more empowered, and in control of each and every event. Having the mental toolkit to deal with the actual race was a game changer for me.  The race season include several sprint tri’s, an olympic tri, Syracuse Ironman, 4 half marathons,and an assortment of 5k’s,and other mid distance running events. The one disappointment was NYC marathon which of course was canceled. Mother Nature can be a very cruel in her fury. Recovery for the people in those areas is still on going. Despite the destruction, the cancellation, The “Run Anyway” event that came together that Sunday, was inspiring, and a lifetime memory.

Race season slowed after the first week of November. I entered into a bike concentration plan that is now just ending. As you will understand further, the past month leading up to this was very stressful, and not as productive training wise as one might hope for. Despite the awe inspiring comeback year, My professional life took it in the shorts a week before Christmas. My company was sold and only half of the engineering team was offered a position in the new company. Myself and the one other remaining original founder of the company was not invited back, as well as other very talented engineers. Ying and Yang in full effect for me personally.

Not all is lost. I am starting a new technology company, and we’ll see if it sinks or swims. I am driving the bus for now. With that it leaves some uncertainly for Ironman Lake Placid, which is my “A” race for 2013. Obviously if I am not successful  I cannot afford the costs associated with the event. It is an unknown for now. In the mean time, I have a career plan, and an ironman plan in place to succeed at either or both (both is the correct answer). It is more important to succeed with the company in order to keep our land, our home, and to contribute to our bills. In that regard, triathlons take a back seat. It does mean that I will be at fewer races, which is ok as far as not distracting from the training plan for Lake Placid. I can live with that. As we are taught how to adapt to race an iron distance  endurance event, I must adapt to the abrupt change in my career as an engineer. My quest to cross the finish line as an ironman could realistically be postponed. Either way, I will continue to train,and make the best of it. After all triathlon is my play time, my stress relief.

There is a crossover from the tri world to the career world as well. The goal driven mentality, the perseverance, the stick with it till you make it mantra, all comes in handy on the real life side of things. I can assure you that I will apply all of those things within my power, and capabilities. My lively hood is at stake, and while I train for a full ironman, reality for making the distance, and making my company succeed, will never be more than a thought away.

I will be truthful, as much as I have had many great things in 2012, I am doubtful and worried about 2013. In both work and play, I am tackling two very large unknowns. In my plus column, I have the unwavering love of my wife and family, my health (a big thank you to my doctor, Dr. Lynn Cunningham), and I am blessed in so many ways. Team EN will have my back as they always do, and with any luck, 2013 will be a pivotal year, even more so than 2012.

With that I leave you in a hopeful but concerned state of mind. I wish you all a great 2013, and I hope to cross paths as our lives forge forward. Tomorrow you can find me at the Resolution Run in Syracuse, and you can be sure I have a few resolutions to carry with me throughout the year.

God bless, and may your travels this holiday season be a safe one.

Mike