Thursday, March 15, 2007
No race is perfect. It’s all about what you learn for next time. But I can't say I'm disappointed with the results of my first triathlon. My goals were to finish sub-12 hours, run a sub-4 hour marathon and have more fun than anyone else out there. At minimum, I at least wanted to run the whole marathon. My results: a 12:14 finish time, which includes three flats on the bike and a 3:55 marathon. I'm hooked.
The swim at Kona is what makes triathlon a "full contact" sport. People are vicious (intentionally or not, I don't know). I finished in ~1:22. My swim was slower than I expected by at least 5 minutes. People told me after the race that the swim times were slow in general (even amongst the pros). There was a fairly strong current, chop, and a school of jellyfish to contend with. I started back and to the left to avoid getting pummeled and was actually quite successful with that...so I got out of water not really minding that the time was slow because I was relaxed and cruising the whole time...and I didn't get punched or kicked or have blood drawn. My recommendation to the race organizers would be to stress that people cut their finger nails before the race. I don't care if people draft off me. In fact, I'm flattered that they actually think I maintain a pace/line well enough that they would want to draft off me, but for the love, they should cut their nails before connecting them with my feet!
So, I got out of the water, ran up the steps and went to get my transition bag… I got my helmet and bike shoes on, got sprayed with sunscreen, downed a gel and ran out to my bike.
The short version of the bike is that I got three flats and had to stop to go to the bathroom (more in a moment)...so, in my opinion, the bike split should have been quite a bit faster, but what can you do?
At ~mile 21 my bike started to feel funny. I looked down and realized I had a flat. Now, I put new Gatorskins on the bike about a week before the race, and put about 75 miles or so on them to break them in... There is no logical reason I should have been getting flats. Anyhow, I jumped off my bike, took off the wheel, and had the tube out when the support van rolled up. The took over for me (though I said I was fine) and put one of their tubes in and inflated it with a floor pump...I mention this because it meant I didn't have to use any of my spares or CO2 cartridges. We put the wheel back on and I was on my way. About 2 miles later, my bike was feeling funny again – I had a flat in my front tire! So, I jumped off the bike, changed the tube, and once again tried to feel for anything sharp. Finding nothing, I continued my ride.
By mile 45, my stomach had decided that it no longer liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches (the same food I had eaten before all my training rides), so I had to stop and use a Port-a-Potty… Back on the bike, I made it to Hawi; I hit the turnaround to start heading home... And, lo and behold, my bike feels funny again - I have another flat (at ~mile 65 or 70). I got off my bike again, changed the tube, using my last spare and CO2 cartridge.
By the time I hit mile 80, I'm well aware that my bike split is going to be super slow. I'm feeling like I haven't done anything all day (despite swimming 2.4 miles and riding a few more), so I think, forget it all, its time for a time trial! Or as much of a time-trial as you can do knowing that you still have to run a marathon. So I start hauling ass for Kona, into another headwind, thinking that, hey, since my first time goal is shot, I might as well make a new one...Let's see if I can get this bike done in under 7 hours. I get back to the pier/transition area, and my bike split is 6:45...so I'm stoked, I made my "new" goal. And my nutrition through the whole bike went well. I had six servings of Perpetuum and 13 gels on the bike (~450 calories per hour). I was an eating machine.
While I love riding my bike, cycling will never be running. You will rarely find me unexcited to go for a run, and the marathon is my favorite run distance... So, I thought it was awesome to spend most of my day swimming and biking and then get to go run for a few hours (no, I'm not being sarcastic). The marathon was great. I negative split it and never hit the wall. I only grabbed water in the transition area, and then headed out on the run. I knew I had to pace myself and that I didn't want to be running faster than 9 minute miles at the start. I timed the first mile...8:31, and I thought, dang Trish, you have to slow down! So I ran the second mile...8:16. At this point, I give myself a serious talking to--Trish, slow the heck down now or you are going to regret it later. I listened to myself and backed off. I settled into a comfortable pace just over 9 minute miles. I smiled for every camera I saw, yelled to my parents as I ran by, high-fived the kids when they stuck out their hands and just enjoyed the heck out of myself. I know that I can run a marathon only taking Gatorade and water, but I took four gels with me. I hit ~13.1 miles in 1:58.
All of a sudden I was in the energy lab and turning around to head out and back to Kona. As I hit mile 19.5 on my way out of NELH, I prepared to grab water from the aid station, and looked up and noticed a tall, rather good-looking man standing there to hand me water. Wow, I thought, clearly allowing my concentration to slip momentarily, a cute guy to hand me water right before I start the toughest part of the race. Awesome! As I got a little closer, I realized that this was not just your average good-looking guy. It was Peter Reid. How cool is it to do you first Ironman and have a former World Champion handing you water at an aid station! He had requested to work at that aid station all day to give something back to the race.
At this point I start doing calculations in my head. I was feeling really great, but if I continued to run this pace, I might just miss finishing my marathon in under four hours. So I started picking up the pace. About 100m from the finish, my dad joined my side and a few meters later my mom (she didn't want to run as far) joined me too, and we ran across the finish together. I finished in 12:14 with a 3:55 marathon split.
My big thing about this marathon was to run the whole thing. A friend of mine said I should have a plan to walk/run, and I looked him in the eye and said that I was going to run the whole thing, I didn't care how slowly I did it. I'm stubborn. I ran the whole thing (even through the aid stations). The soreness I experienced in the days after the race was minimal. I was never walking "funny" and it never hurt to sit down or go down steps. Maybe I didn't race hard enough or maybe my training program worked well, I don't know.
On not on pacing myself: I did it all based on effort. I intentionally have not put a computer on my tri bike. I don't want to know how fast or slow I'm going, and I don't wear a heartrate monitor while I ride. I wear one most of the time when I go out running, but have never raced a marathon with it. I wasn't wearing a heartrate monitor during any part of the Ironman. During the marathon, pace was based on time, how I was feeling and knowledge of how I should feel at different points in a marathon to finish strong. I wouldn't necessarily recommend training/racing this way to everyone, but it works for me.
There were a couple fears I had going into the race. The first was that maybe I would cramp. I have never cramped or had problems with it in training or races, but as I was going to race a distance further than I had ever gone before I didn't know what would happen. I didn't cramp though. I guess some people don't. Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones. My other fear was with regards to nutrition. I don't eat chocolate at all and haven't for about 2.5 years now. Some people are addicted to coffee. I was addicted to chocolate and it was not healthy. My fear was that all the gels they would have on the run would be chocolate. I brought four green apple gels with me on the run, used them all and at mile 21 thought it would be good to have another one. So in the dark, they (the people at the aid station) handed me a gel, which I tore open and started to squirt into my mouth. I hope there was no one behind me, because I spit it back out so fast it wasn't even funny and then grabbed water, swished out my mouth and spit it back out (all while running an 8:45 min mile). Sure enough, it was chocolate. I ran the next mile thinking it was so incredibly ironic that the biggest fear I had about the race would come true...but not until the last couple miles of the race. For me, part of doing this race is about breaking bad habits and replacing them with new, healthier ones.
I never experienced the highs and lows that people say you experience during an Ironman. I can honestly say I was just happy through the whole thing. When the flats happened I hopped off my bike, changed them and kept on going. When the first one happened, I just figured the powers-that-be were telling me to back off and enjoy myself...I was concerned when the next two happened, but I just knew I had to roll with the punches because getting annoyed wouldn't get me anywhere any faster. I felt on top of the world during the run, smiling at everybody, yelling back at my friends that came to watch and smiling for the cameras. Attitude is such an important part of the race. I think I could have let the bike ruin my race, but I had a goal for the marathon, that I really wanted to meet. And when I got off my bike, I knew that I couldn't go sub-12 unless I ran a sub-3:40 marathon. It’s difficult to describe in writing, but I felt positive through the whole race. I was just so happy to be out there and kept thinking that this was the best way to spend a Saturday--having people to clear the roads, cheer you on and bring you food so you can just run, bike and swim all day :)
Patricia M. McAndrew is a member of the triathlon team at University of Hawaii.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The scariest part of my journey was the unknown. What would a mass swim start with 2,000 athletes be like? Would I bonk during the ride? Would I get a flat? Would I be able to run my first marathon ever? Would I be able to walk the next day?
I felt a little calmer after I registered and received my wrist bracelet identifying myself as an athlete. Before that point, I was afraid that strangers assumed that it was my boyfriend rather than me who would be competing in the race on Saturday.
The infamous swim start had loomed in my mind for months and had been the subject of countless, anxiety-producing nightmares. In my dreams, I had been kicked, swum over and pushed back onto the beach by huge, crashing waves. When I arrived in Panama City, the waves of my nightmares were a reality. The horrifying and sad story about the athlete in town for the race who had lost his life in those waves terrified me. I gathered my courage and went for a swim on Thursday, despite the fact that the red (translation DO NOT SWIM) flags were flying. While I did manage to get past the breakers, I didn’t swim out far. I couldn’t get the thought of that triathlete lost out of my head; his death continues to remind me that the ocean is a powerful force and that triathlon is indeed a dangerous sport.
Veteran Ironmen assured me that the water would flatten out, and sure enough it was smooth and almost glassy on race day. Saturday morning the temperature was cold and the cold sand seemed bone chilling. I kissed Scott good-bye and filed through the Gatorade arch and over the timing mat. I waded ankle deep into the water to keep my feet warm and I watched the holding pen slowly fill up with athletes as the sun rose over the horizon. A cluster of women gathered together and we began to exchange nervous advice and reassurance. I met a woman who was making a second attempt at Ironman after experiencing an asthma attack during the swim this year at Lake Placid. I met the Degree athlete Michelle who had trained with the pros for six months. Boy was I jealous! I met a few people who had never swum in the ocean before.
When the cannon sounded, I quickly ditched my plan to wait for the bulk of swimmers to start, and to head out behind them. I stood in the shallow water and watched while some swimmers dolphined into the deeper water but many stood waist deep as if they were hesitating. Maybe it was impatience, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I jogged deeper, dove into the warm water and began to swim. I didn’t swim on the outside of the pack as I had planned. Instead, I found a niche for myself somewhere behind the fast swimmers and in front of the slow swimmers. I found a pace and kept it. I swam a wide turn around the first turn buoy and paused to watch the other swimmers. The scene looked like the final scene of The Titanic. Hundreds of black-wetsuited figures were bobbing in the water, arms flailing as they rounded the buoy. I felt relaxed, strong, and in control during the swim. This being my first Ironman experience, I didn’t have any expectation for my swim time. I remember exiting the first lap of the swim and as I gulped a cup of Gatorade, hearing the announcer say that Michelle Jones has just finished the swim. I figured that I was right on track.
Ironman is like having a baby. Even after one asks for the truth, an Ironman doesn’t tell the whole story. Key information, both good and bad, is omitted from their stories. It’s like the post-birth amnesia that sets in when a mother looks at her new baby and she can no longer remember the horrific labor just completed. When people ask me how my race was, I don’t usually tell them about retching over my aerobars from mile 80 to mile 90 of the bike. Or about stopping to throw up, a la Natascha Baadman, within the first few miles of the marathon. I recall the “bubble” of amazing support that I entered. There is nothing like having your bike handed to you by an encouraging volunteer as you head out from T1, or having a friendly stranger help you tie your running shoes before you head out to run the marathon. I had been told that the volunteers are great. And it’s not that they are better than my neighbors on Long Island who volunteer to support triathletes at our local races, but... I was blown away by how far the Ironman volunteers went to make my race day special.
So, what have I learned?
• Ship you bike to the race site. I watched bike after bike be unloaded from the small airplane taking us from Memphis to Panama City and left behind on the tarmac as their owners looked on with anger and utter disbelief.
• What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
• It’s not the speed, its getting there that counts.
• Wait until the day after the race to shop at the expo.
• That the Ironman really will change your life. I used to snicker at people who seemed to have entire wardrobes of Ironman logo wear. I am well on my way to acquiring my own collection and wear the logo with pride. I understand it now.
My experience has also taught me that a lot of triathletes are unduly scared of Ironman. You don’t have to swim three times a week with a masters swim team, spend hours on a computrainer, or be capable to running a sub four hour marathon, you do need to have the commitment to doing the training. Hiring a coach was the smartest decision I made. My coach Lee mapped out my training in four-week cycles and worked to fit my training into my life. Lee took the guesswork out of the equation. The money I spent on coaching was worth every penny, and I got much more in return than I ever would have from a new set of race wheels. I made choices about my priorities. I missed a few months of my book group because if I had to hire a babysitter, and I would rather spend a few hours getting in a good bike workout. I scheduled babysitters for my long runs and long bike workouts days ahead of time. If both of my kids were out of the house at playdates, I went running. While my busy life left little room for flexibility, it kept me on schedule. I did my first 16-mile run mid-afternoon on a brutally hot, sunny July day because that was when I could fit it in.
I have received more than my fair chare of “You did The Ironman? I can’t believe it!” remarks. Maybe it is because I look more like the mother who would be helping at the school bookfair than what these people think an Ironman looks like. I now proudly show off my Ironman tattoo and drive my minivan with the Ironmom vanity license plates. I feel like I am living proof of the Ironman slogan – Anything is Possible!
by Caroline Perera
Monday, March 12, 2007
The effect of the war on him as a soldier strongly showed in his eyes. We spoke briefly. He expressed his shock that the news only covered the negativity of the war and the not the other work and progress he saw in Iraq. He considered the 'negative' to be 10% of the total "happenings" and the other 90% to be positive, rebuilding, new roads, schools, buildings and utilities, all built with the help and support of the US military.
This week I read a few news stories online about recently fallen triathletes, one in southern
- Skilled Triathlete and British solider Ross Clark died at twenty-five yesterday.He was killed from a rocket-propelled grenade attack while on guard duty. For more on this story, click here
- A twenty-eight year old Belgian triathlete Dieter Vanderbeke drowned at a beach 100km south of Mthatha near Nqileni village Friday morning. For more on this story, click here.
- And a triathlete in
who, at age 29, died in his sleep of a heart defect. For the story, click here. London
I am sending comforting thoughts and wishes to their families.
Our sport, much like life – has both inspiration and tragedy. Be safe out there, not just on your bike, but in all the non-triathlon parts of your life, from the local freeway to
I contemplate the tragedy of our fallen triathletes in relation to my newfound airport friend, the soldier. As he and I parted ways, I watched him slowly walk through the crowd. Dressed in full camouflage, he stuck out amongst the other travelers wearing comfortable flying attire. He walked cautiously as if walking through a minefield - a minefield filled with opinions of him as a soldier, and of the war. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for him to keep his spirits up while fighting for a county that was not 100% behind the war he was fighting.
I could see in his eyes that he had faced challenging adversities, yet he still held onto the inspirational things—rebuilding
Godspeed soldiers, and triathletes worldwide - watch your back.
Friday, March 09, 2007
I don’t know when the idea of competing in a triathlon entered my head, but it happened some time after the end of my last long-term relationship, when I picked up the pace on my co-ed soccer team and shelled out a mound of cash for a three-year gym membership. Eventually I was working out five days a week. My heart was bruised, but I was in the best shape I’d been in in 10 years. But, I was a real novice and I didn’t know anything about endurance sports.
The first mistake I made was to overtrain. I used to be a sprinter. I started competing at the age of 10 and ran up through my third year of college, where I qualified for the northern state championships. For five years I lived in Los Angeles without a car. For anyone who knows anything about LA, this is phenomenal. I rode my bike everywhere. And while I had absolutely no real experience swimming, I loved the water. On road trips, my parents used to stop at hotels with a pool just for me and I would swim out there all by myself, even in the middle of rainstorms. I have paddled out on a surfboard on some pretty big waves even though I can’t stand up all the way. Heck, a triathlon was in my soul somehow.
I started cross-training on the bike machines and running hard. And I was still playing full regulation-time soccer on Sundays (that’s 45-minute halves to you folks), where I typically got beat up by guys weighing 50+ pounds more than me. When I started to feel a little worn out, I ignored it. And when I started feeling something coming on I went to the gym and did two-hours to “work it out.”
Needless to say, I went down for the count, the count being six months and the threat of hospitalization. When I went back to the soccer team I was pathetic, and in my weakened condition my left knee gave out again. I had been playing and running and biking and skiing with a brace for 10 years – the result of an earlier soccer injury. Now I couldn’t lie to myself. My plans of being a contender were over, at least for a while.
It wasn’t until three years later – after ACL replacement surgery and months of physical therapy – that I went back to running and the idea of a triathlon. So I volunteered to work at the Treasure Island Triathlon near San Francisco. I showed up at 6 am and guided racers and worked at aid stations, watching the people and checking out gear. I was in really bad shape, but I saw several people who looked in worse shape than I was and I watched them finish. It was amazing and awe-inspiring and humbling. These people weren’t concerned about time splits or winning. To them, winning was finishing, and inside my brain the light went on.
So I joined up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program and, in honor of my beloved aunties, I began training 5-6 days a week. I committed. I had five and a half months to train for an Olympic-distance triathlon.
To start, I had to completely kill my ego. I was used to being not just good, but being one of the best. Triathlons require pacing, patience and this relentless push up to the outside edge of your comfort zone, and then you have to stay there. I was used to hauling out as fast as I could. This strategy wasn’t going to work for me in my sorry condition, or for a long distance event.
Then I had to face reality. I couldn’t just eat whatever and train as hard as I wanted. I got educated about patience, nutrition and planning. I was already eating pretty healthy stuff, but I shifted gears, ate at different intervals and consumed basic supplements like vitamins, electrolyte replacements and protein powder. From my wise Coach Chris I learned about negative splits, which I remembered from college track meets. It had always seemed odd to me that the long distance runners would plot out their race time to the lap. When you’re running 200 meters, you don’t plot out anything, you just run like hell. But learning to shift your pace within each element of the race and throughout the course is an important part of expanding your limits and conserving strength for the next big section or the monstrous hill around the corner. Work your body into it and, if you’ve trained well, strength and speed will kick in. You’ll know when to go hard and when to back off.
And I wanted all of it to be stress-free. I was still recovering – physically and mentally – and was more afraid of an injury than anything, so I under-paced myself. I wanted to just build up endurance and feel out that frontier, the wild physical edge I hadn’t been near in years. There were moments with my team when I felt a twinge of embarrassment and humiliation when I plodded in long after they’d finished, but they were incredibly supportive and positive. I couldn’t have asked for a greater group of people to make me comfortable with the path I had chosen. When race time came around, I was calm and only slightly nervous. I had trained. I had eaten. And I had everything I needed.
The swim started off badly. For some reason, the swell came up on that part of Maui. This was great for surfing, but not for open swims. Within that first quarter mile, I must have swallowed about a half-gallon of ocean water, which I vomited back to the sea along the way. It was a horrible feeling – I knew I could swim faster than I was, but I choked, literally, and spent a couple hundred yards getting back my equilibrium. By the time I got back into my groove, I was already behind the pace I had set for myself.
After a few miles on the bike, I felt better. I drank. I ate. I always think of the bike as my snack time. And if Lance Armstrong can eat a PB&J during the Tour de France, I can eat my peanut butter ClifBar and take it easy.
I have to admit that the bike is my weakest link. It’s just too long. There were only two moments during my training when I actually questioned what I was doing, and both of them were on the bike. My personal philosophy is that we should be able to ride a bit, coast, stop and have a picnic, ride a bit more. When I told my friends Evy and John about this strange fantasy (she’s a bike racer and he’s a professional squash coach), they laughed at me. “You’re not there mentally Maria. You gotta spin the bike.”
So with that in my head, I took it on and felt great. The best part was passing people climbing up the hills, some of which were so steep that racers were actually getting off their bikes to walk. In those moments I blessed my Bay Area training coaches and those months of tortuous hill riding. But I started to lag. I just wanted to run and the 2-loop course was confusing. Because the course had several tentacles, it was hard to tell where you were in the race. Then the sun seemed to get hotter and my ice-filled water pack turned warm. In the midst of this misery -- as I was chugging along in the heat on a straight-away before the turnaround -- a woman passed me from the other direction, put her hands up in the air and yelled, “I love Maui!”
I looked over and saw the cliffs of Maui I had just climbed, the towering palm trees, the bright green foliage, and the shimmering sea beyond. It was beautiful and I was on a tropical island competing in an Olympic distance triathlon. I smiled then. How could you not love it?
The transition from bike to run was less than 30 seconds. I counted. And even though I barely made the bike cut, I cruised out of there happy to have made it and to finally be on my own two legs. On my way out I saw one of our team captains, Troy, a speedy marathoner who had already finished his race. I pushed aside the fact that he was already done and I still had an hour to go and remembered a strategy he shared with me. I saw everyone in front of me, aimed for them, and ran past them. I ended up walking about half a mile, only because it was blazing hot running through the lava fields and I had to pee badly. But I took down about 20 people at the end and redeemed myself in my own mind. I had done it and finished strong. Nobody could ask for more than that.
Any way you look at it, a triathlon is a rough ride. Endurance means learning about yourself and being in your own head for a very long time. You learn about your limits, your fears, your strengths, and your inadequacies. You learn where you can push yourself willingly, and where the race pushes you unwillingly. It’s a tug of war, a compromise with the forces of nature.
The reality is that it’s a personal war – a war against fatigue, laziness, stagnation and time. It’s not logical or anything remotely sensible. It’s just about working the machine.
Although I chose to gracefully retire from soccer (while I could still be graceful), I’m still coaching, and I have two more triathlons coming up – a sprint and another Olympic distance in October. Now I can finally work on some speed and cutting out that extra hour of “fat time” that I took as a luxury. And every time I swim, or bike, or run, I will hear that voice from the crest of the Maui hill. Love the moment. Live it. Embrace it.
Maria Collette Sundeen is a filmmaker, writer and triathlete living in Berkeley, CA. You can read the training blog on her first triathlon at http://ruff-girl.blogspot.com.
Monday, February 19, 2007
My friend Chrissie Evans is planning on quite a few races at end of this year. She is keen on is the race around Corsica. It’s October 27th, 6 stages around the coast of Corsica’s mountainous Mediterranean island.
This year, you can follow her new blog at www.chrissieevans.blogspot.com where you can also find other details and check out some MultiStage races. Last year’s race attracted Europe’s 100K champion…the event only requires a hydration pack…and of course - daily massages.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Subject: Good One!
On a fateful google search (of something only vaguely related!) I landed on your blog. I am not a triathlete but I read your entry from your encounter with the lady with Parkinson's on your flight to London-it caught my eye because I've just returned home from living there for 2 years. I thought it was an absolutely fantastic entry. I work with people with a wide variety of illnesses who have taught me more about living than I could ever express to you. The fact that you showed her kindness and sensitivity when you come from a completely different perspective of the physical world made me smile. I'm sure she will always remember it as well.
Good Luck in all your triathletic pursuits!
Click here to read the blog entry she is referring to.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
With white board strategy sessions and thought provoking bike rides and runs along the California Coastline - it was an amazing few days. John Duke, the CEO of Triathlete Magazine, kept everyone informed, entertained and on schedule -- John's been at the helm of Triathlete since 1998, and has done a fantastic job managing the inherent chaos of a high-quality monthly magazine. He's got some wonderful suprises for readers and the industry planned, so stay tuned.
So, here is a question: How would YOU - the amazing reader of Triathlete Magazine, improve the magazine?- what would you recommend? What additional things would you do/offer to better serve the reader and the triathletes around the world? Send your recommendations to me anytime. Put Triathlete Magazine in the subject header and send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Top:- Wesley Hein, Matt Barger, Sean Watkins, Kai Baumgartner, Russ Crabs and uber-journalist and strategist - Cameron Elford.
Bottom: On a short break on one of the Sunset-Bike-Strategy-Sessions - I caught this photo of Triathlete Magazine Board member Matt Barger.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Jon came to the stage, stood up and made a speech and the story of his battle had the room filled with tears and cheers. Chris McCormack and Michellie Jones won awards, as did Tour de France winner Floyd Landis. Andy Baldwin received a Humanitarian Award that night, and when Andy took the stage, the crowd went wild in support of his next adventure, as "The Bachelor" on ABC in the spring.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Here is the actual text read in the video above: "Reaching across boundaries of politics, religion, geography and history – I am just one man, in just one country who started this foundation to send athletic equiptment around the world – to bring us all together and remind us that we are on this big planet together. Let us forgive those that went before us who hated each other and hurt each other – and let us now, instead, pick up a soccer ball, play a game together anywhere around the world. My heartfelt greetings to my new friends I may never meet in Afghanistan and on behalf of the Project Active Foundation – may these shoes carry you on a peaceful journey through life – filled with love, joy, happiness and sport.”
Mitch Thrower, Chairman of Project Active
To contribute just click this banner --->
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
There are people that we came across in our lives that challenge us to be better. They challenge us to get uncomfortable, to leave our safe place and to realize our full potential. For me, my husband Walter Bergman has been one of those people in my life ~ with so much love, respect, thanks and appreciation; I share my Ironman victory with him.
Walter not only believed in me but he realized my potential and capabilities well before I even did. His constant encouragement and unfailing support is what lead me to join the twenty two hundred other swimmers on the beach of Lake Coeur d’Alene on June 25th. Three and a half months earlier, when I decided to do Ironman, I could not swim and I had never even done a triathlon… and from April 23rd on, I had been plagued with shin splints from overtraining, but…
There I stood, at 7a.m., June 25th. The 2.4 mile swim for me was terrifying. Within the first 10 minutes I panicked, and truly thought that it was all over before it had even begun. As I was just about to lose it, an old man calmly inching forward at a very slow paced breast stroke said to me, “It’s doable. It doesn’t seem like it but it is. Just keep your head down and keep moving forward. You’ll be fine”. So, I did; and at 8.38am, I exited the water. At that point, I was already a winner.
The 112 mile bike was…long…hot (100 degrees)…and grueling. The locals were out in full force cheering us on. For the first 50 miles, the encouragement was very much appreciated - until LUNCH! With the stroke of noon, came the BBQ’s, the tubs filled with ice cold beer, the hamburgers and steaks…the torture. As we were cheered on by onlookers with a beer in one hand and a burger or hot dog in the other, all I could think was you’re seriously kidding me! (Perhaps my thoughts were a little more colorful than that at the time.) But I know that they meant well. Eight hours and nineteen minutes later, I arrived back from my ride to start the 26.2 mile run. After learning that Walter had been unable to complete the ride, I was more determined than ever to reach that finish line for both of us.
I ran as much of the marathon as I could, while nursing shin splints and dealing with the crazy heat. The people that I met day we amazing; they each had incredible stories as to what had brought them there that day ~ not one the same. Many I spoke with were on their 3rd or 5th Ironman… some in their late 50’s even 60’s. How could I not finish??
As I neared the finish line I was greeted with so much love along with very loud cheers and yelling, the loudest of all from Walter. We walked together hand in hand for the last 200 yards, and in the background you could hear, “Angela Meakins from La Jolla, California….today you are an Ironman.” Without a doubt, it was one of the best days of my life. It may have taken me 16 hours and 48 minutes but I did it. I had pushed myself harder than I ever had before, both mentally and physically. The finish line was the reward of four months of training, sweat, pain, fun, lots of laughs and tears. Was it worth it? Every minute… YES.
What no one (other than myself and Walter) knew that day was this: Walter was not the only Bergman Ironman there with me that day crossing the finish line… We shared that moment with our 9 week old IRONMAN BABY. I believe that being pregnant that day is what kept me safe. I had promised Walter that I would take my time, that I would keep my body temperature down, that I would keep a close watch on my heart rate, and that I would do everything to ensure that both I and the baby remained safe. I did just that, and crossed the finish line knowing that I had kept my word to him and to myself.
By Angela Meakins
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Every month, I am honored to receive e-mails about my column in Triathlete Magazine. This month, I must have hit a nerve, because I received hundreds of e-mails from readers sharing with me their stories about their Dads, their lives and their dreams. Every one was amazing. Below you will find one of them from Russell Staker.
p.s. Send me your thoughts or reflections anytime: email@example.com
From: Staker, Russell
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 2:56 PM
To: Mitch THROWER; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Hey Mitch, What Are You Going To Be Today?
I’ve written to you before and I don’t mean to be a bother to you or take from your busy day, but once again, I’ve been greatly inspired and touched by your words. I was on a flight from Burbank to Las Vegas for a business meeting (I’m in Hospital sales for a large Biotechnology company based in Thousand Oaks) on Tuesday and took along the latest issue of Triathlete (Feb. 2007) and turned to your Starting Lines piece (it’s the first thing I read each month when I open the magazine) entitled "This Time Around." When I got to the part about your Dad asking, “Hey Mitch, what are you going to be today?” I felt the tears welling up and burning my eyes. Of course, I’m a 6’4” dude and at 7:45 AM I wouldn’t want anyone in the seat next to me to think I was off my rocker (or maybe that I had burned my mouth with hot coffee), but nonetheless your words meant a great deal to me as man, triathlete, father, and human being.
I have a similar relationship with my Dad (he’s still living) and your sentiment and expression reiterated to me how life is about balance and keeping the right priorities whilst holding onto the memories of the pure and good things that keep us grounded in who we are and where we’re going. I too believe, as Helan Steller who wrote and sang: “This time around, you can be anyone.” Triathlon is more than just a sport in motion, it’s a way of life and it’s a metaphor for all the little and big things that matter to the person reaching for his/her goals (whatever they may be). Triathlon has saved me many times and as I navigate my 30s will be a good compass in the years ahead for life in general.
So thank you again for your writing, for your words and for the universal themes that keep your expression relevant and real to me and to anyone else that is fortunate enough to start each month with "Mitch Thrower’s Starting Lines"’
I’m a father of a 2 and-a-half year old little girl and I’m going to ask her the same question, on a regular basis as she gets older, that your father asked you. It’s a beautiful question indeed, one of hope and possibility and most of all, love.
Thousand Oaks, California
Monday, January 15, 2007
ANDY BALDWIN - A REAL-LIFE "OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN," PLUS A DOCTOR AND AN ACCOMPLISHED TRIATHLETE - CHALLENGES HIMSELF TO FIND TRUE LOVE WHEN "THE BACHELOR: OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN" PREMIERES, MONDAY, APRIL 2 ON ABC
The Tenth Edition of ABC's Popular Romance Reality Series Begins With a Special Rose Guaranteed to Bring the Claws Out;
Andy, an accomplished triathlete and winner of recent humanitarian awards for his work in Laos last summer -- on a military mission where he treated over 600 Laotians in remote mountain villages -- grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he was valedictorian in high school and a competitive swimmer who made All-American. He was even named ESPN's National Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1995. The Navy offered him a full ROTC scholarship, which he took and went to Duke University, where he was a varsity letter winner on the men's swim team and began training for marathons, all while taking a pre-med course load and earning a degree in biology, with a concentration in genetics.
After graduating Duke with honors, he enrolled in the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine and was a surgical intern at Naval Hospital San Diego, where he graduated in 2003.In this premiere episode, "1001," a yacht anchored off Los Angeles becomes Andy's private refuge, while the women take over their own house. And so the handsome doctor begins his marathon run to find the woman of his dreams. When the bachelorettes arrive to party and meet Andy, they are quick to find out that the competition starts immediately - right as they get out of their cars. This time it really is a "first impression" rose that Andy must deliver to one lucky lady as she arrives, and it's enough to send daggers flying between the 25 new bachelorettes.
As the party begins, Andy lets slip that it's his birthday and the news spreads like wildfire around the room. One woman shares a special bonding moment with the Bachelor when she reveals it's also her birthday. What will two other bachelorettes cook up when they sneak off to the kitchen to whip up something for Andy's special 30th birthday? The bachelorettes pull out all the stops to impress Andy: One female body-builder challenges Andy to a push-up contest, an acrobatic bachelorette is so taken by the Bachelor she literally does back flips for him in her evening dress in a must-see demonstration, and yet another woman treats Lieutenant Baldwin to a patriotic serenade of "The Star Spangled Banner."The pressure mounts as the evening goes on and sparks fly between two tipsy bachelorettes when one falls down.
Andy must eliminate ten of the 25 women the first night, leaving 15 to compete for his affections. In the end, one woman explodes in a tirade when she misses out on the last rose. A list of the bachelorettes will be released shortly. In bringing the iconic romantic movie "An Officer and a Gentleman" to real life, the women during the course of this season's "Bachelor" must be prepared to participate in a high energy "boot camp," complete with a "drill sergeant," plus triathlon events (swimming, biking and running) and race car driving. With Andy's true humanitarian spirit a large factor in his life, the bachelorettes will also participate in a charity event for an inner city school in Los Angeles.
Many other adventurous dates will test the ladies' perseverance in pursuing their romantic objective, along with fun, exciting and exotic dates that will elicit real and raw emotions. As in the past, women will continue to be eliminated each week, but if, at any point along the way, a woman should decide that she's no longer interested in the Bachelor, she can reject his invitation to continue dating. Some lucky women will meet his family, and he will visit their hometowns for a slice of their life in an effort to determine the woman with whom he is most compatible. At the end of the journey, the Bachelor may quite possibly have found true love.
But the big question is: After all of this, will he pop the question, and will she say yes? Hosted by Chris Harrison, "The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman" is a production of Next Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television. Mike Fleiss and Lisa Levenson are the executive producers. Martin Hilton and David Bohnert are the co-executive producers."The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman" is broadcast with Spanish subtitles via secondary closed captioning. A TV parental guideline will be posted closer to airdate.Note: Photos of "The Bachelor" are available at www.abcmedianet.com or 818-460-6611. ABC Media Relations Contact:Cathy Rehl (212) 456-6749; email@example.com