A vision for my life - Because what we focus on expands

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

11/28/07: Need Your Help

The votes were counted and verified, and the winner to the What Should Andy Do Next Poll had a clear winner: Do Another Ironman Faster was a clear victor. I'm grateful that got the votes, since hiking 2000 miles of the Appalachian trail didn't sound too appealing.

As far as doing another one faster, I'm in for 09, since our little girl is going to take up much of my time and attention in 08, since she's due March 27.

Speaking of, we need your help my voting blogger peeps. Help us choose a name.

We've narrowed it down to our favorite 6, and would like some input.

Live with purpose....Enjoy the Adventure

Monday, November 26, 2007

11/26/07: You'd think I'd Learn

aka: A Painful way to a PR

If you're looking to set a PR in a 1/2 marathon, and would like it to be VERY painful, here's what to do:

1. Run 2 x since IM FL on 11/3
2. Make sure one run is only 20 minutes on the beach at sunrise, and don't run very hard
3. Make sure the other run is two laps around the downtown bridges 2 days before the race
4. Go out WAY too fast for the first few miles

This is a perfect strategy for making sure the last 3 miles of the half marathon hurt like a son of a *&$%

By now you'd think I would have learned to go out easy in the first few miles...it worked SO well in the IM....oh well.....

The good news is that with virtually no training over the last three weeks, I did manage to take almost 5 minutes off of my open half marathon time, crossing the line in 1:47:38.

Note to self: go slower in beginning = much less pain at end

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

11/21/07: Thanksgiving Workout

AM Workout: 1/2 Marathon

Should be interesting, since I've run two times since the IM, totalling around 5 miles....hmmmmm.....funny thing is I still want a PR....Hmmmm

PM Workout:

1. Eat
2. Drink
3. Watch Football
4. Sleep
5. Repeat Steps 1-4

I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving

Saturday, November 17, 2007

11/17/07: For the 1st time in almost two years

I went for a run this morning

Because I wanted to, not because I had to.

I saw the most stunning sunrise over the ocean. My god that was worth getting up early for.

It was about 35 degrees, not a cloud anywhere....crystal clear....steam was coming off of the ocean....I saw a total of 2 other people in the 25 minutes or so that I ran...

No heart rate zones, no pace, no distance or time limits.....Perfect.....

So that's what it feels like to relax and enjoy a run.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

11/16/07: Quote of the Day

From Common Man Syndrome.com

Obstacles face us all the time in life, it doesn't give anyone the right to use that as an excuse to not give it your all at what we do. Its not okay to be unprepared for something and then indignant when there's consequences when doesn't go right.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

11/14/07: What Now?

For the first time in 5 years or so, I have no huge goal in front of me that requires a consistent schedule. First it was my masters degree, then training for my first marathon, and then another...then it was training for my first HIM...then the full....

So now what. I know myself well enough that without a huge goal in front of me requiring consistent focus and effort, I'll actually do very little.

The poll votes are in, and doing another IM faster won. I'm down with that, but not until 2009, since obviously Lori and my little one on the way are going to need (and deserve) most of my time and attention starting in March 2008.

But what the hell should I be doing in the meantime?

I promised myself I was going to take a break from training after the IM, since I haven't really had an off-season since I started training for the first marathon in Jan 2005, but I'm starting to go stir crazy. I know I need a break both mentally and physically, but there's got to be a happy medium somewhere, right?

And to top it off, I'm fortunate to have it VERY easy at work right now, which is of course a double edged sword. I like having a certain amount of pressure/stress professionally. I operate best when I have 5 or 6 balls in the air, all of which are priorities. I always find a way to get it all done....

I've been fine without that kind of stress for the last several months, since I've been so focused on IM FL....but now that the IM is done, I'm BORED.

There's a 45 miles group ride this weekend, which I'll probably drop in on to see some friends. And there's a 1/2 marathon on Thanksgiving Day, which I may do just for fun. But with no goal out on the horizon, those kind of things don't seem to serve much of a purpose...I'm just doing them to do them....just going through the motions.

So my question to you, my blogging peeps, is now what?

Live with Purpose....Enjoy the Adventure

(Which is by the way the problem - I need a new adventure between now and March)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tragic News

By now many of your have probably heard about the tragedy of Dorothy Barnett-Griffin.

Please keep Dorothy's family in your thoughts in prayers:

By ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News

Exercise helped Dorothy Barnett-Griffin move beyond the death of her husband.

With her first Ironman triathlon, she wanted to raise money for a support group that had helped her three children deal with the loss of their father.

Now the pain has returned.

Five days after collapsing during her competitive swim in the Gulf of Mexico, the Collin County woman died Thursday in a Panama City, Fla., hospital. She was 43.

"It's bizarre. It's wrong," said friend Carla Blatney. "I go from being sad to mad."

While Ms. Barnett-Griffin's family privately mourned their stunning loss, Ms. Blatney and others this week spoke of a bright, caring, upbeat and inspirational woman – a former nurse with a remarkable passion for her husband, three children, exercise and the Journey of Hope Grief Support Center in Plano.

"You never saw Dorothy without a smile on her face," said Jody Gunsolus, a friend and occasional training partner.

And "you've never met two people more in love," she said of Ms. Barnett-Griffin and her husband, Mike Griffin, whom she met on a Christian singles ski trip in Utah.

After a car crash killed her first husband, Dr. John Barnett Jr., five years ago, she began bicycling to escape the sorrow and find inner strength.

"It was great therapy for me, and I found out that you can cry and ride at the same time," she wrote in a recent online posting for Journey of Hope, detailing her support for the center and her "Journey to Ironman."

Ms. Barnett-Griffin and her children – Kim, now 15; Derek, 11; and Zachary, 8 – turned to the group, finding comfort there by sharing their grief with others, she said.

She joined the center's board of directors and became an active fundraiser for the program that helps children and their families confront the death of loved ones.

"She was so generous with her time, financial support and passion," said Susan Tucker Williams, executive director. "Everyone's loss is terrible, but for us this is huge. We are grieving, too."

A resident of Lucas, Ms. Barnett-Griffin hoped to raise $10,000 for Journey of Hope through donations to her Ironman effort. It was to be her biggest physical challenge, the next step after advancing from bicycle rides to rallies to the swim-bike-run combo of triathlons.

She competed in her first triathlon last year and finished two half Ironman events this year before going for the full 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run with her husband Saturday in Florida.

"So ...we will do the hard part," she wrote in her Journey of Hope posting. "We will swim, bike and run all day and train very hard to be able to make it."

Gerald Jackson, a triathlete and coach for the Dallas-based group Fit2Train, said he met Ms. Barnett-Griffin at a workout camp this summer.

"It was going to be a difficult challenge for her," he said of the Florida race where a swimmer died last year. "But she was going to go out at her own pace and knock it out."

On the day of the race, her husband had advanced to the biking phase. Ms. Barnett-Griffin was one of two swimmers left in the water, talking occasionally with escorts in kayaks. And suddenly she "rolled onto her back, said 'help' and passed out," said Helen Manning, spokeswoman for North America Sports, owner and manager of the Ironman events.

Ms. Barnett-Griffin was briefly underwater before being rushed to shore, where her children and mother were waiting to cheer her on, Ms. Manning and others said. Water conditions for the race were ideal, she said.

Revival efforts failed, and Ms. Barnett-Griffin never regained consciousness despite two surgeries to ease swelling of her brain.

The cause of death is unknown. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Contributions to Journey of Hope in Ms. Barnett-Griffin's name have almost tripled since Wednesday and exceeded her $10,000 goal.

The woman who spent her life working, encouraging and leading others would have relished the news, her friends said.

"Dorothy was one tough cookie," Ms. Blatney said. "She's the type of person that you fight your demons. You step out there, out of your comfort zone."

Just as Ms. Barnett-Griffin did Saturday.

"One day of pushing your body beyond any limit that you thought possible," she wrote in her Journey of Hope posting. "Sounds crazy? Most of you would agree. So call us crazy!"

News Aritcle

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Race Report (LONG)

Thanks for being patient...at long last...here's the day...

The morning started at 3:15 with 3 bottles of boost (750 calories total) and a quick shower to wake up.

I had followed some really good advice and scheduled out the 24 hours leading up to the 7 am start, so was on autopilot following my plan. In creating my schedule for the morning, I spent a bit of time visualizing race morning, as well as the race itself – an exercise I find invaluable. The visualization and creating a plan for the morning was definitely paying off now.

A quick look in the mirror at the message I had left myself last night:

Slow is smooth…smooth is fast.
See how far your can push yourself. Be the man your dog and daughter think you are :)
Andrew Hariton, You are an ironman.

What a great way to set the tone for the day – Thanks for the idea Rich Strauss.

After a bit of coffee, I LIBERALLY used body glide, threw on my tri shorts and top, and checked the weather one last time. I couldn’t help smiling when I saw a low of 54, high of 75 with little wind expected: PERFECT

Lori and Mark (a friend of mine who made the trip down to watch me suffer for 14 hours) dropped me off at transition at around 5:15. Got body marked, tires pumped up, garmin on bike, gels on...uh oh – where are the gels...oh well...I can grab them at the aid stations....I spent the next 1/2 hour or so slowly sipping Gatorade and trying to stay calm.

With so much nervous energy around me, I was grateful to have my Ipod, and could ignore most of what was going on around me. Finally 6:30 came and I met Lori, Mark and my mom and headed down to the swim start. Had a gel, sipped some water, got my wetsuit on.

Paula Newby Fraser was wrapping up an interview right next to me, and I was able to get one last hint from someone who really knows what she’s talking about: “Treat the race as a very long training day with 2200 of your closest friends.” I can do that...

We were waiting for the pros to start and BOOM...the cannon went off with no warning and scared the shit out of us...10 more minutes...At this point I found myself completely nauseous...most likely from the unknown of the swim, being that I could barely swim 50 yds a year ago.

I remember going to my first swim practice, getting ready for an Olympic and the coach saying to do 200 as a warmup...a 200 WARMUP? For me that’s going to be my entire workout...Yet here I was only a year or so later doing a 2.4 mile ocean swim.

I put myself about 4 rows back, 20-30 yds outside from the buoys. In my mind, the best way to deal with a fear is to face it head on, so I intentionally put myself right in the middle of the washing machine...and I’m so glad I did – the swim was an absolute blast...

For all of the talk I’ve heard about the beatdown, it really wasn’t any worse than most of our local sprints. There was certainly some contact, but nowhere near as bad as I expected. Gotta love a wetsuit swim with 2200 people...you can really feel the draft pulling you along. I got to the first turn buoy and had to stop and tread water until I could dogpaddle around it. There were swimmers coming from all directions: inside, outside, straight...and no one could go anywhere...It was pretty funny being in the middle of it.

Things spread out a bit after the first turn, and I found a bit of open water. The other nice thing about the mass start is that there are always feet to follow, even for a slow swimmer like me. I enjoyed the swim in, finishing the first lap in 45 minutes – right on schedule. My “realistic” goal time for the swim was 1:45...anything under that and I’d be thrilled....so far so good....

I got out from the first lap, sipped some water, and headed back for lap two. I knew this lap would be slower with everyone so spread out now, and knew the 2:20 cutoff was no longer an issue, so simply focused on long clean strokes and staying on feet in front of me. The second lap went by quickly, and I was out of the water and to the strippers in 1:33, having used very little energy. PERFECT.

Everything’s relative. Although a 1:33 swim is slow by comparison, It was a GREAT swim for me...I was truly ecstatic getting out of the water.

A lot has to go right to make it to the finish line, most of which is out of my control (avoiding flat tires, nutrition issues – even though it’s been practiced dozens of times, crashes, etc), and it’s a VERY long day. To me, the day was already a total success having such a great swim, no matter what happened the rest of the day.

I took my time through T1 – Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

I was out on the bike and settling in for the next 6 1/2 hours or so. I looked down for just a second to turn on my garmin and...WHAM...I hit a HUGE hole coming out of transition which sent me straight towards deep sand...I stayed upright after hitting the hole...not so much after my front tire hit the sand...I went down pretty hard on my left side, but no real damage done to the bike or to me...fix it and move on...I hope that's not a sign of things to come the rest of the day....

My plan for the bike was simple...setup a great run. I once again followed Rich Strauss’ advice and went incredibly easy for the 1st thirty miles to get my heart rate under control and start my nutrition. A ton of people went flying by me and it was hard to let them go, but I knew I’d see them later...I started sipping water with NUUN at 10 minute intervals, and after a 1/2 hour I started alternating perpetuemwith NUNN every ten minutes, adding in a gel every 45 minutes..

At thirty miles I started actually riding a bit, pushing my hr up into low zone 2, where I planned to keep it until mile 80-90. I rode steady for the next 50 miles or so, enjoying the high points and just maintaining through the low points of the emotional rollercoaster that I was warned about.

I stopped for just a few minutes at the bike special needs to stretch and enjoy a couple of uncrustables. It was nice having some solid food for the first time of the day. I got to the short out and back at mile 70 and was glad I had driven the course the day before. Having driven the course, I at least knew that the really rough road only lasted for a few miles. Along with the expected yellow thingies that fell out of aerobottles, I was a bit surprised to see more than a few bottle cages having gotten ripped off of bikes. I got to the turnaround and wouldn’t you know it, I got to enjoy a headwind along with the rough road for the next few miles….oh well…..no one said this would be easy.

At mile 80 I was still feeling really good, so pushed a bit harder on the bike, keeping my hr at the top of zone 2. No bonk was in sight thank God. My focus was still on having a great run. At this point I wanted nothing to do with gels or perpetuem anymore, but knew I needed to keep taking in calories if I wanted a good run, so I sucked it up and kept going with my nutrition plan.

I don’t remember the mileage, but two things cracked me up on the bike:

1. The pirate aid station – you guys were awesome.

2. Seeing the sign saying “Andy You Bitch You Slut You Whore.” A big thank you to the Southwest Texas Tri Club!! :)

I was SO happy to see the bridge at around mile 100, knowing that in just a few more miles I’d be off the bike and to my strongest part of the day...Making the turn onto Thomas Drive, it was great finally having the wind at my back for the next few miles...Thank god I had paced myself on the bike so well for the first 80 miles...since I’m still not a very strong cyclist, I definitely needed the energy I had saved up for dealing with the headwind the last 20-30 miles. I felt really bad for the woman who got a flat with only a few miles to go on the bike – what a tough blow mentally to get a flat SO close to being near the end….

I got off of the bike at just under 7 hours….about a 1/2 hour slower than expected...no worries since I picked up so much time on the swim. My goal of breaking 14 hours was still intact, as long as I didn’t blow up on the run. At this point I got a bit tearful, knowing that I was going to become an Ironman.

After a smooth T2, I felt REALLY good starting the run. My hr was incredibly low (zone 1) and my legs felt surprisingly good. I found out later that Lori saw me coming out of transition and remarked to a friend “OH SHIT – he’s going to do another one.”

A lot of people were walking already, and I started passing people instantly. I looked down and saw an 8:30 pace...too fast...gotta hold back for a while...I kept myself at a 9:30 – 10 minute pace for the first loop, running from aid station to aid station, which were about every mile. Speaking of the aid stations, the thought of Gatorade or gels was completely repulsive...so flat coke it was...

For the record, flat coke is the greatest thing ever, along with chicken broth!!!

The volunteers and crowd support was amazing. The triathlete girls gone wild ROCKED!!! I think everyone looked forward to going through that aid station on the way out and back.

The first loop was pretty uneventful, other than I was surprised at how many people I was passing. I grabbed a long sleeve shirt out of my bag at the turnaround and headed out for the second loop, wondering what awaited me at mile 20, where I hit a MASSIVE wall in both of the standalone marathons I had done.

I kept my pace consistent on the first part of the second loop, sticking with my plan of running aid station to aid station, and stopping for water, coke and chicken broth. I had some great conversations with people on the way. I definitely got a boost from seeing a lot of friends from the Hammerheads on the run course...everyone looked strong and like they were having good days.

I got to the turnaround still feeling good, with my hr still in zone 1, so picked up the pace just a little, still expecting to hit a wall, passing people the entire time…Miles 21...22...23...still no wall...little faster...24...no wall.

On more than one occasion I head some of the people out cheering for us say Holy Shit – he’s still RUNNING...what a great mental boost, since at this point virtually everyone around me was walking. I guess it proves the saying...it’s all about the bike.

At this point I could hear Mike Reilly’s voice just a couple miles away and new I was going to shatter my goal time of 14 hours...I passed under the arch right before the finish line and couldn’t believe the number of people cheering for me and all of the other athletes...it was absolutely electric!!

Coming through the finishers shoot I glanced up, saw 13:10 on the clock, and finally got to hear the words I had worked so hard for over the last couple of years:

Andrew Hariton from Jacksonville Florida, You Are an Ironman.

What an absolutely amazing feeling.

Stay tuned for LOTS more pictures and the post race report...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Race Week

Since my race report is going to be ridiculously long, I'm breaking it up into two parts (or maybe more, we'll see when I get there). For now, here are my memories from the days leading up to the race:

Race week started with the trip down to Panama City on Tuesday. Since this was my first IM, I wanted to give myself plenty of time to de-compress and for all of the logistical stuff all week. I see no point in heading to the race on Thursday morning. I can't think of anything worse than rushing around and being stressed getting ready for a day I've worked so hard and so long to get to.

Putting things into perspective, I started thinking about doing this three years ago, and started training for it in January 2005, when I started training for my first marathon. So why not take a couple of extra days.....

Fortunately we had found a townhouse about a mile from the race site that was dog friendly on vrbo.com, so we packed up the dogs and all of my race gear I had fortunately started packing the week before. It’s amazing how much you need for an ironman.

It was an easy drive, and we had some time to relax and for me to get in a quick 45 minute ride before picking up my mom from the Panama City airport. Note to Panama City government: PLEASE put up signs to the airport. The only reason we were able to find the airport was that I had printed directions from the house on yahoo.maps. There wasn’t a single sign to the “International” airport on the way there from the beach.

Anyway, we got there right when my mom did, since her flight landed a few minutes early. We got crabs at Dirty Dicks (I know, a bit cheesy, but they picked the name, not me), and relaxed at the house later that night. The house was great, except for one minor issue – the windows/insulation in the master bedroom SUCKED, and the traffic noise was so loud, I though the window in our room was open. Hmmm...that should be fun the night before the race. Scratch that…who am I kidding, there’s no way in hell I’m going to manage to get any sleep the night before the race anyway.

Wednesday morning I got up early and headed down to the race site for one of the morning practice swims. The water was perfectly clear and flat. WOW. I remember thinking I hope it’s like that on race day. I put on my wetsuit and headed out for a ½ hour swim. I swam out for about 15 minutes at a nice easy pace and headed back in. Mission accomplished: my wetsuit fit perfectly and I was able to focus on my stroke and relax a bit. I wonder how well that's going to work in the midst of 2000 other totally obsessive type A personalities on race day....Hmmm.....

It was about 10:00 and registration had just opened, so I headed over to hopefully beat the lines. There were already a couple of hundred people there, but things moved quickly and I got my chip, number, transition bags and special needs bags.

Then I noticed half of my swim watch was blank. After spending an hour driving to Wal-Mart and a few jewelry stores to finally find someone to change the battery, since I was hoping the problem was the battery....I found out the problem wasn’t the battery. Fortunately there was a Timex tent setup at the race site. A HUGE thanks to those guys for hooking me up with a new watch for the race. 1st glitch of the week solved.

When we got back to the house I started packing the transition bags to get a bit of a head start. At this point I realized that my taper must be going perfectly, because I was edgy as hell. Ahhhh....the fun of taper madness....I next switched my attention to my bike and was thrilled to see a few cuts in the rear tire. Nothing like brand new race tires that need to be replaced. Uggghhh....Glitch number two.

I took my bike over to the race site to get a new tire put on....better safe than sorry. The folks at the bike shop took a look and were absolutely positive that the cuts were nowhere near the puncture barrier on the tires, and told me not to give it a second thought...so I took their advice and put it out of my mind….glitch number two solved. God I hope I don’t get a flat in the race...

Thursday I took the day completely off from any workouts and tried to relax as much as possible. We drove the bike course, since I HATE bad surprises, and spent quite a bit of time packing and re-packing the transition bags, making sure I didn’t forget anything. I’m a bit surprised I don’t read about more people driving the course. If I’m going to spend such an enormous amount of time and money for an event like this, I want to eliminate as many of the unknowns as possible. 112 miles is a long way to go, and I want to know what’s coming.

Speaking of unknowns, I of course spent quite a bit of time in front of the tv obsessively checking the weather. What else are you gonna do when you’re edgy as hell and have WAY too much pent up energy.

We headed to the athletes dinner and meeting and came back to the house to watch one of my favorite movies: RUDY. Gotta love a guy with, as the coach put it, not a spec of athletic ability, who keeps getting the crap beat of him, but hangs in there. It’s all about heart. I can relate to it I guess. I have ZERO athletic ability (especially when it comes to swimming – just check my swim splits for proof), yet here I am getting ready to become an Ironman.

By the way, thanks to Susan for getting to the dinner early and holding a bunch of seats for the rest of the hammerheads. Also, thanks to the person who gave me their extra dinner ticket for Lori, saving me $25. Good karma – I hope you had a great race :)

Friday gave me one last chance to make sure everything was ready for the race, including the most important piece of equipment: ME. I headed out for a quick 10 minute swim in my race gear and wetsuit, a very easy 20 minute ride (mainly to shift through all the gears and make sure everything was in order), and a 10 minute run with a couple of quick pickups to stretch out a bit. Everything seemed to be in working condition, including me, so I checked my transition bags one last time and headed to the race site to drop off my bike and bags.

One little problem – they won’t let my bike into transition without the bike numbers on it....duuuhhhh....how many races have I done? Ughhh....Quick trip back to the house, his and hers 15 minute massages (gotta do something nice for Lori for putting up with my edginess all week), some significant $ damage done at the expo (once again, gotta do something nice for Lori for putting up with my edginess all week), and I had nothing to do but wait for 7 am the next day, except be nervous as hell and continue checking the weather obsessively. By the way, we found the CUTEST swim bike run shirt for out little girl who's on the way...pictures to follow.

Friday night I had my usual pre-race pasta w/ pesto and garlic bread dinner at around 6, put one one last inspirational movie (Rocky), packed my special needs bags, got all of my morning gear laid out, and put a quick message on the mirror for the morning.

I’m a big believer in giving yourself positive messages at critical times. I got this idea from Rich Strauss at Crucible Fitness, as well as many others I’d use on race day. I put a couple of things on the mirror so that they’d be the first thing I saw when I woke up:

SLOW IS SMOOTH…SMOOTH IS FAST. (perfect for my pre-race routine and transitions. The point here is to take your time. Things are going to go wrong. Fix it and move on)

My one thing: See how far I can push myself. Be the man your dog and daughter think you are :) (OK – so I had two things. It’s a LONG day and is going to be an emotional rollercoaster with lots of highs and lows, so I’ve been told. When you hit the lows, it’s time to remember why you’re doing the race)

Andrew Hariton You Are an Ironman (just for good measure)

As luck would have it, I felt tired and had no problem falling sound asleep. I woke up at 3:30 for the adventures of race day to begin....Hopefully between 3:30 am and 12:00 midnight, I’ll hear Mike Reilly announce those magical words: Andrew Hariton, You Are an Ironman.

Stay tuned....

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Reward at the End of the Journey

Thanks to everyone for all of the great comments and supporting me along the way for the last several months of training leading up to this event...It was an unbelievably amazing day that I'll never forget.

Now that this part of the journey has come to an end, I definitely understand a couple of things much more clearly:

1. It's not about the race...the race is the reward for all of the training.

2. Ironman is 80% mental and 20% physical. Those of you who have gone the distance understand that comment. Those that are that are training for your first will understand it soon enough....

I have a long list of thank yous that will rival any oscar awards speech, and probably a longer race report...please be patient....I'll post both in the next few days.

In the meantime, this will have to suffice: