First, I would like to thank everyone at Raise the Bar for the opportunity to tell my story. I was honored when I was asked. Having read many of the other RTBer stories on the blog, I am also humbled. My story is not as emotional or inspirational as others, but it is my journey.
Since I started working out again, I like to think of fitness as a journey. My journey started about three years ago.
My wife Nikki had been running for a couple of years and was training quite diligently. In the meantime, my training consisted of golfing. In January 2015, she asked me if I would do the Leavenworth half marathon in October 2015 with her and some of our friends. She sold it as it will be so much fun hanging out, running and then going to Oktoberfest after the race. I must have had a couple of drinks, because I said sure why not, and she signed me up. Over the next few months she kept reminding me that I said I was going to run the half marathon, that I should start training. Five weeks before the race she asked me if I was really going to do it - I said fine…I will start training. I went on the internet and looked up couch to half marathon in 5 weeks. I think the internet was broken, because I could not find any training plans! I made up my own plan, increasing the volume from a couch to 5k training plan. Over the next 4 weeks I worked up to a 9 mile run, and thought I would be fine. The night before the race, I drank a few beers “carb loading”. The race did not go that well, but that was to be expected with my lack of training and dehydration. I started cramping up around mile 9 and the cramps did not go away until I was done. I think Nikki sold me a bill of goods about the before and during the race but the beer garden in Leavenworth after the half marathon was fun.
In November of 2015 I saw the doctor for a physical. After all, I am getting old (41 at that time) and annual physicals are what people do when they get old. The doctor was not impressed. I was grossly obese by government standards (about 40 pounds heavier than I currently am), and my blood-work was not good either. She told me if I did not change some things, I was going to need to start taking medication. I told her that was not going to happen. She said I better change something.
Starting to train for something:
Growing up, I was always active in sports – cross country, wrestling and track, and I have always liked training. As an adult, I tricked myself into thinking that going to the driving range was training at golf (don’t laugh). I also dabbled a bit in Krav Maga (a self-defense and combat system). I enjoyed it, since it was somewhat like wrestling, but the training class times were fairly restrictive, and it was not all that much fun getting punched in the face by a 23 year-old marine who looked like Captain America.
Back in 2009, I did three local sprint triathlons. I was always really frustrated coming out of the water, I enjoyed the bike even though I never did any real bike training, and I dreaded the run. I did not really put in much effort training. As previously noted, I needed to train for something and I wanted to do more than run.
Start Tri-ing again:
In January 2016, I thought I should try triathlons again. My goal was to work my way up to an Olympic by the end of the summer. My first race was the Lake Wilderness sprint on June 4th 2016. I went online, found a training plan, and started following it. The training went ok as I had a defined training plan to follow. I joined Raise The Bar in May 2016, and since all of the clothing orders were closed, Kathy Morrisson let me borrow a RTB top. A week before Lake Wilderness, Gary at NWTB fitted my road bike with aero bars…after all it seems like a good choice to adjust things right before a race. The first time I rode my bike with the aero bars was in the Lake Wilderness triathlon. I liked being in aero and my race went fine. Once my training plan ended, my conditioning went downhill.
The next triathlon it did was the Lake Tye Tri. This is when I met Trev Dakan, he reached out to me on Facebook and I started to get more engaged get into the group. The next week I did Lake Meridian, and had even more fun. I ended my season doing the Black Diamond long course, and with that, I far exceeded my goal of doing an Olympic. One of the things that helped me the most in 2016 was the open water swims at Lake Meridian. I would recommend them to anyone who is fairly new to the sport.
I joined Raise The Bar in May 2016, primarily for the discounted swim cost for the open water swims and the discounts with NWTB. As an accountant, I know the monetary return on investment through race discounts and NWTB discounts have far exceeded the cost of membership. More importantly, the value and enjoyment I have gotten out of the group goes well beyond money. I am a fairly social person so this is a good outlet for me - everyone on the team is so welcoming and helpful, it is a great group of people.
The next step:
At the end of the 2016 triathlon season through RTB I had the ability to sign up for the Arizona IM. Nikki was all for me doing it but I was on the fence. I remember talking to Kathy about doing it and she said “George, you know….you cannot fake an Ironman”. So I signed up for Arizona IM knowing that I would need to step up my training. A few weeks later I see a post from Ryan Downey on the RTB Facebook page regarding a garage ride. I thought might as well go and check it out. I spent many, many, many hours in either Ryan or Ray Brenkus’s garage over the next few months. I think the biggest thing is they taught/reminded me how to train again. I can still hear Ray’s voice in my head telling me “Go harder don’t be a weenie”. The thing was, he was right. I could go harder. A couple of my favorite quotes from Ryan:
Me: I am thinking about trying out some different seats for my road bike.
Ryan: Do not worry about that, you will get a new seat when you buy your tri-bike.
Me: I am struggling with my swimming form.
Ryan: Swimming is a lot like golf. It is all about technique.
Me: Great I suck at golf.
I enjoy hanging out and training with Ryan and Ray. They are two great triathletes and even better people.
I had quite a few commitments for the summer 2017 (aka, the Summer of George): Not counting Arizona IM, I had 4 triathlons, two running races, two family vacations, multiple trips to Houston for work, RAGNAR, and some friends talked me into summiting Mt Rainier with them. I remember talking to Nikki and saying I was going to need professional help if I was going to be in any shape to do Arizona IM and she agreed. I met Josh Adams at the CDA training camp in May 2017, and we had talked about what training should look like throughout the year. A couple weeks after we met, he started coaching me. This has been extremely helpful I am sure 2017 would not have been as successful without his coaching and guidance. I am really excited to see what 2018 will bring.
WHY I TRI
OK, I have been rambling on for a little over 1,300 words and I have still not answered the question Why I Tri. I tri because after buying a trainer, a road bike, a tri bike and a couple articles of clothing my wife would kill me if I stopped now, just kidding(not really)! I tri because I love swimming at the Covington pool in the morning with Patrick Binkley and we continue to challenge ourselves to get better. I tri because I love the Sunday group rides with Brad Williams and others where you are consistently challenged to hold on to the group. I tri because I have always liked being part of a team. I tri because I enjoy watching others fitness journey. I tri because I love the camaraderie during the training and the races. I tri because I love running with my wife, Nikki and watching her fitness journey. I tri because I want to show my kids how to work hard and never give up no matter what happens. I tri because obesity runs in my family and I do not want to be fat George again. I tri because I love to compete with myself and others.
On a side note Nikki has told me she is going to do her first triathlon, the Chelanman Try a Tri…I have been bugging her on when she is going to sign up and start training. Sound familiar? Paybacks!!!
Raise the Bar
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