Wednesday, November 24, 2010


"O My child, give Me your heart, for out of it issues life. My hand is upon you, and I will keep you in all places wherever you go. I am your God, and I am your Father, and I will care for you and provide for you according to all that you need. I will be at your side, ready to help you whenever you call on Me. I am not unmindful of your needs, and My concern is for you."
Thank you to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All things come from you. Thank you to all of my friends, family, and the church body for praying and supporting me. My wife Liz, you are such an incredible woman taking such good care of me and supporting me throughout this entire Ironman journey. I'm so blessed to have you. Thierry, your words of encouragement and excitement touched my heart.

My alarm woke me up from a deep sleep at 4:15AM. It was time to get out of bed and try to pour down as many calories as I could stand before race start. I would be burning around 1,100 calories in the swim alone (based on my swim time) so I needed to eat as much as possible in the morning knowing I will never be able to make up the calorie deficit during Ironman.
Breakfast consisted of:
1 Bowl of oatmeal 260
1 toasted wheat bagel 280
1 bowl of cottage cheese with blueberries mixed in. 275
1 bottle of Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem. 270 (to drink during the drive to the race and in transition)
We left our Hotel at 5:30AM and had zero traffic or parking problems which was a relief. I just had to drop off my special needs bags and put on my wetsuit. (My bike and  other gear was dropped off Saturday)
I arrived at transition to find my front tire flat sending me in to a little panic. Fortunately the race support crew from Landis Cyclery fixed it in 5 minutes and I was good to go.

 The longest swim I had ever done in training was 1.5 miles so I really did not know what to expect. Race morning water temperature was 60 degrees.  I had talked to so many people and read so many blogs about suggested ways to start the IMAZ swim that it was now 30 minutes from race start and I still was not sure what I was going to do. IMAZ is a deep water start meaning you have to swim 100 yards to the start line and tread water until the cannon goes of at 7AM. Some told me wait as long as possible to get in the water otherwise you will freeze and waste energy before the race starts. Others said swim to the start early and sit on the bank of the lake, out of the water until the start. Others still said stay as far away from the bank as you can, its too crowded and you will swim a longer distance. If you've been reading my blog you know I hate the swim and struggle with it, especially in cold water. After a short prayer I put on my neoprene cap, my goggles and then my swim cap (to hold my goggles on if I get hit.). I decided to go in the water at 6:50AM that would give me 10 minutes to swim easy to the start and find a place to tread water. I figured 10 minutes wouldn't hurt me.

At 6:45 I started slowly to the dock with hundreds of other athletes. I've never seen so many grown ups walk to the edge of the water like little kids and just stare, not willing to jump in. I was one. Finally a guy with a bull horn yells "Your going to miss your start! If you don't start jumping in I'm going to start pushing you in!" He looked like a man of his word so I jumped in. It hit me...the cold...I couldn't put my face in the water and swim normal because I was still
trying to catch my breath so I back stroked and clumsily thrashed my arms looking for a place to start. To my surprise I found it. A nice green kayak to hold on to. I was now positioned less than halfway back in the pack and toward the center of the lake. I had a good line to swim and I was resting my legs. Perfect! It also gave me a chance to take off my wool socks I wore in to the lake to keep my feet warm. With one minute to start, the Kayak had to go and I miraculously found a 12 foot open space of water with no one in it. The cannon fired  and my swim started! I received some great advice from a veteran the day before the race. "Your going to be so amped up! When the race starts, swim slow, and then when you've done 2,000 meters swim even slower!" I started a nice easy pace and got hit and kicked while I hit and kicked others. After 500 meters it seemed calm and I was moving forward in the wake of nearly 2,300 swimmers. I was used to the water at this point and experienced none of the panic I've had in previous races. I developed a nice steady pace. The turn was a little further past the Rural Road bridge than I thought which surprised me. It started getting congested again as swimmers aimed for the turn buoy. I got hit a few times and decided to take a wider turn to avoid people. I turned left again and started swimming back toward the Mill street bridges, glanced at my watch again and saw that with only a few hundred meters to go I was on pace to beat my goal time, something I've never done before in a triathlon. I pushed my pace and when I did my right calf cramped severely. I was in agony and could not swim. I flipped on my back and tried to back stroke while I stretched my leg out. It finally felt better and I was able to swim to the stairs to get pulled out of the water. As I stood up on the stairs the cramp hit me again and I had to just stand there and stretch it out. Finally I walked up the stairs and over the timing mat. My swim was officially over.
GOAL TIME 1:44:00

I walked up to a wetsuit stripper and he had my suit down past my waste in no time. I sat on the ground and as he pulled my suit off of my legs my right calf  cramped again. He tried to help me up but I could not move. Another volunteer came over and asked me where the cramp was and started kneading and massaging my calf to work it out. I'm not sure how much time elapsed but after some time I told him that I thought I could stand now. They both helped me up and I limped gingerly to get my bike bag. Despite my cramp it was an amazing swim for me and I felt strong and confident the entire time.
1Peter 5:7 - Thanks Pastor Matt Davis for the mini sermon you e-mailed to me.


With my calf issues coming out of the water I was already running behind in my Transition 1 time. On top of that my bike was mysteriously missing from the bike rack! Looking at this video it's pretty hilarious what happened but not so funny at the time. The race support staff call out your number on a bull horn to the bike transition crew. Then a crew member gets your bike and meets you at the transition bike exit. The problem in my case is I did not run down the middle aisle to get my bike from the volunteer, I turned right when I entered transition and ran down the outer perimeter to where my bike was racked. Who knew someone was getting my bike for me?? This video says it all.
T1 GOAL TIME 10:00

Now  that I have my bike, it's off to do my favorite part of a triathlon. As I headed out on Beeline HWY to do my first of three 37 mile loops I noticed three things, 1. My calf was still bothering me, 2. My stomach did not feel great, and 3. There were going to be challenging weather conditions. These are common things that can  happen during an Ironman. You can plan and train for this grueling event but all of the planning and training doesn't help you for race day unknowns. On the first half of my first loop I was averaging 18.7 MPH and trying to keep my effort steady and under control. I was on target at this early point in the race. I reached the turnaround and the ride back to Tempe is a slight downhill so I was confident now in my bike time. As I rode back towards Tempe the winds, rain and even occasional hail started. But the toughest part was the wind. As I fought the wind on the way back I saw my average speed slipping downward. After one loop my average speed was 17.2 and I knew unless the weather changed my bike time goal and my sub 13 hour Ironman was out the window. The second loop was  worse with gusts up to 25 MPH and no place to hide. I saw numerous racers drafting which is not allowed in Ironman races. One of them had an Ironman tattoo. "You call yourself an Ironman sucking wheel?!" As bad as I wanted to suck wheel myself I was not going to taint my first Ironman. At least my stomach was feeling better and my calf was not seizing up on me. My wife was volunteering at one of the bike aid stations so I pulled in to say hi and use the potty.

At this point in the race I knew I couldn't make my bike goal time and I have to admit I was a little mentally defeated. I had a great swim and now the part of the race I enjoy the most was not fun. The unrelenting wind was just beating me down. If you ask most bike racers or triathletes if they prefer wind or hills, most will say hills. They have a beginning and an end. The wind just keeps coming at you. I had to keep pushing on and oddly enough I was looking forward to the run. My biggest concern would my calf react to the run?
I want to thank the IMAZ volunteers at the bike aid stations. It was cold, windy and rainy and they always were pleasant helpful and had a smile. Amazing!


The bike course was so brutal I was happy to get back to transition and begin my run. At this point I wasn't too concerned about my transition time. I wanted to make sure that my feet were fully prepared. This meant putting Body Glide between every toe and on every inch of my foot before putting on my compression socks. This would be my first marathon and I didn't want to take any chances of developing blisters or hot spots on my feet. I left transition and started the final leg of my Ironman journey. The IMAZ run course is also three loops which makes it spectator friendly. It's so awesome to be running and have hundreds of people cheering for you and ringing cow bells. Fired up from the cheering and happy to be off of my wind battered bike I started my run feeling great. A woman caught me and saying "great pace" and we started running together. I  looked at my GPS and the first four miles were all sub 10 minute miles including a 9:19 and a 9:36. I know nothing about running marathons, but my wife who runs them regularly has always cautioned me about running to fast at the beginning. With my goal pace being 10:29 minute miles I decided to let my new running friend go and slow down my pace. I was feeling great and God had answered my prayer..."please Lord,don't let my calf be a problem on the run."
Things were going well as you can see by this video and I thought if I cant meet my bike goal, I can meet my run goal! I really wanted to run a sub 5 hour marathon on my first attempt at a marathon. At 10 miles in to the run I was on track towards my goal time of 4:35:00.

Then as I reached the 13 mile mark, the longest distance I've actually raced before, my mile splits started slipping. I still felt pretty good but I was slowing and I was having a hard time keeping my pace up and I was losing motivation to keep my pace up. That's were the mind games start. "I'm not meeting my overall time so I will just slow down" or "Even if I walk the rest of the way I would still cross the finish line before the cutoff" You can see in this series of videos how my run was gradually coming apart at the seams.

At mile 20 I had now hit the wall. I was now running over 12 minute miles. I tried drinking coke, had a GU with double caffeine but nothing helped me to run faster. I never walk during runs except to take on water at an aid station. I walk just long enough (10 - 12 feet) to drink my cup and then keep running. At this point I was walking as I got to the aid station, drinking my cup, and then walking until the very last trash can to throw my cup away and then start running again. I kept justifying this as a way I could still meet my personal standards of never walking on a run except to take on water.

This is where you really begin to understand what it takes to become an Ironman. I began to think about all of the people who had so generously given to Homes of Hope and all of the prayers of supporters, friends, and family and I was asking God during this most difficult time..."Lord please hear their prayers and give me strength to finish" Then I heard an announcer at one of the run aid stations say "If you want to finish under 14 hours you better keep running!" I managed to pick up my pace and started calculating the distance and miles splits and realized if I picked it up I could finish under 14 hours and I could still do a sub 5 hour marathon! I kept praying and focusing and as I reached mile 25 I knew I could do this. I went from a 13:29 mile at mile 23 to a 10:26 mile at mile 26. I want to thank all of you who were praying for me those final miles. I could not have finished strong without you!

As I finished my last lap and turned left to run my final meters I started to think about what my finish would look like and how I would react. I've had many visions of it in training. I wanted to be sure I honored God as I crossed the line and often thought I would drop to my knees after crossing the line. As I reached the final stretch and saw the grandstands with hundreds of people cheering I was overcome with joy and wanted to share my joy with every person who was witnessing my finish. As I crossed the line I pointed to the sky and was just so thankful that our loving and merciful God had allowed me to take this journey and finish it as strong as I did.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SATURDAY UPDATE (The day before race day)

Today I slept until 9AM. Liz got up early to go to a volunteer orientation. She will be volunteering at bike aid #1 for a three hour shift. This will also allow her to gain access to all areas of the transition to support me if necessary and of course take photos.
After a small breakfast of a bagel and banana I headed out to do my final training prep of a 8 mile bike and a 1.2 mile run. Just enough to get the blood flowing and the body ready for tomorrow's effort. I felt great today and had to hold back on both the bike and my short run.

With my mini workout complete I now had to start organizing my gear for the race. This to me is one of the challenging aspects of doing a tri. You have to make sure you have equipment for three separate events. Ironman helps organize this for you by providing you with five large plastic bags with drawstring that you place your number on and put your gear in. You have a Morning Clothes Bag, Bike Bag, Bike Special Needs Bag, Run Bag, and Run Special Needs Bag. The special needs bags are your "emergency bags" that are available to you once, halfway thru the bike or run course. In those bags you put, nutrition, medications, clothing, tubes, CO2, whatever you think you may need out on the course. I have a checklist for each bag but it's still a little stressful. You don't want to forget something like shoes, sunglasses. 
Greg and the IronSister
With this task done I was off to transition to check in my bike and bags. Because I'm an athlete who did the Janus Charity Challenge fundraiser I received a preferred bike slot in transition right next to the Pro athletes. My bike is racked near Sister Madonna Bouder who is 80 years young and has participated in over 40 Ironman competitions. In fact they had to make an 80+ race category just for her. Of course I introduced myself and shared with her the Homes of Hope ministry and my verse 1 Cor 6:20 and when I told her this is my first Ironman she got so excited and gave me a hug and had this advice for me..."God's will never takes you where God's grace isn't sufficient for you" What an amazing woman. I was so humbled and inspired. Her number is 96 if your interested to see how she does.

Today I was reading my devotional and wanted to share part of it with you. It seemed so appropriate for tomorrow and this entire Ironman journey...

          Behold, as the lilies of the field, and as the grass, so your life is
                 but for a season.
          Yes, though you flourish in health, yet your time is short. You
                 have no sure promise of tomorrow.
          Therefore live each day as though it were your last.
                 Seize each opportunity, knowing that it may be the last.
          For it is certainly true that no situation presents itself twice the
                 same. The opportunities of today are not those of tomorrow.
          Do not live as though they might be repeated.
                 Do not fail to enter every open door, or be held back by a
                 feeling of unreadiness. I Myself am your preparation.

Here are my goal times. I honestly don't know what to expect. I feel my times are reasonable, especially my bike split. Talking with so many Ironman veterans I'm told every race will have it's own personal challenges that you can never predict. With the weather forecast calling for rain tomorrow that adds just another challenge to Sunday's adventure. I know that our Heavenly Father and your prayers will sustain me thru the day. Thank you for offering them and your support!

Swim 2.4 Miles    1:44:00
Bike 112 Miles    6:20:00    17.7 MPH Avg.
Run 26.2 Miles    4:35:00    10:29 Min. Mile Pace
T1                            :10
T2                            :09
TOTAL                12:58:00

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today with no workout planned Liz and I slept in and then headed to the Ironman expo and registration area so I could check in. There was a line of about 30 minutes but it was well organized and I had an opportunity to meet on of the featured athletes for this race, Craig Finkbeiner. Craig was diagnosed three years ago with a rare cancer that left him with a prognosis of certain death. He has been undergoing a steady treatment that has kept the cancer at bay. He is one of 25 test subjects for this study. He made the decision with the support of his doctors to suspend treatment so he could train for the dream and goal of completing an Ironman. It was so humbling and such an honor to meet Craig and to talk with him about his journey. Craig's number is 97. Please pray for him and check his times. it was a great moment to pass the time in line. Then it was off to body marking so I don't have to worry about it race day. This year they did the numbers the same way they do the pro athletes. With large styrofoam block numbers dipped in black ink, pressed on, blow dried and then powdered. While it may look cool to be numbered like a pro and for sure these numbers will not come off any time soon, it was a much slower process and I had to stand in line for an hour. I look like a cool Ironman, but standing in long lines two days before the race is a little disconcerting.

Next we went to Ironprayer, which is worship, testimonials, and message for Ironman athletes. We had a great time singing worship songs and listening to the testimonial of a man who, after going into cardiac arrest in an emergency room due to a drug overdose, came to Christ and found a new addiction: Ironman. He's now an 8-time Ironman finisher.

Then it was off to the Welcome Banquet, featuring the youngest (18) and oldest (80) female athletes at Ironman Arizona. After hearing other Ironman athletes speak, and eating lots of pasta and chicken breasts, we were given course instructions and rules for the race.

We also went to a pro athlete Q&A session. If you haven't heard, Ironman Arizona has an all-star professional field, second only to the Kona World Championship race. Chrissie Wellington, who is arguably the best female athlete of any type in the world, is here. So is Chris Lieto, who could probably place in the top 10 in a Tour de France time trial, and is the fastest triathlete on the bike in the world. It's awesome to think that I'll be on the course at the same time these athletes are on the course, only they'll be finishing their last lap on the bike while I'm doing my second lap.

Some people have said that you shouldn't go to all of the Ironman events because it takes too much strength out of you before the race. But if you're a first time Ironman participant, I recommend you go to everything and experience all that is Ironman! The camaraderie and easy friendships that develop during time at the expo is worth it all.


The drive here to Tempe went smooth with little or no traffic. Liz and I got checked in to our room and went out for a short 10 mile bike. I'm feeling so good now and being here has certainly heightened my excitement. The ride was a semi hammer session and it was hard for me to hold back hitting speeds at times of 27MPH.
We finished the ride and after a quick shower we headed to our first Ironman experience. A private party hosted by TriSports for their preferred customers doing Ironman Arizona. I did't know what to expect or how "private" this party would be but I have to tell you that TriSports made us both feel like elite athletes. We were treated to an all you can eat buffet an open bar, and free schwag not to mention a chance to meet Samantha McGlone defending IMAZ champion and former world 70.3 champion. Matt Long a NYFD 9/11 survivor who is also an Ironman and Mike Riley the voice of Ironman. This was at a small gathering of maybe 50 people. We ate and made  new friends with some athletes from Philadelphia and had a great time. I'm proud to say that I was the last person still going to the buffet line and eating which should not be a surprise to any friends reading this. Thank you to Seaton and Debbie owners of TriSport for your hospitality.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I hope I don't see this place for awhile
After a couple of days of struggling and feeling horrible I'm happy to say I'm back on track. How do you cure the taper blues? Two days of hard but short workouts at two venues I don't plan on seeing for awhile. Then put your fast race wheels on your bike! 

Tuesday was another drag day of still feeling like I was caught in a fog. I got home and my scheduled workout was a 10 mile bike followed by a 5.5 mile run...whatever. I did get some inspiration form a Homes of Hope donation to my website that evening and thought if people are donating to my cause, I need to get off by butt and train! Getting out on the bike with my aero race  wheels got me fired up. Before I knew it I was hammering down the road at 26MPH in my aero bars. After four days of having the blues I was feeling like an Ironman again. The run went just as well running my first "warmup" mile off the bike at an 8:27 pace. I had to tell myself to slow down as I'm on taper heart rate restriction. That night I went to bed starting to feel confident in my training again.
I have a love hate relationship with the track.
Wednesday for me was a 2,000 yard swim in the morning and a short track workout of :30 min. in the evening doing intervals of 400 and 100 meters. I've been swimming twice a week now for almost a year and I still do not look forward to going to the pool and swimming. Today was different. This is my last workout before Ironman. The last time I stare at the black lined tile going back and forth lap after lap with only an occasional random band aid floating along the bottom to break up the monotony. You can find plenty of motivation driving to your last swim's like visiting the orthodontist for the last time.
My track workout later was incredible. I love the track and I hate the track. I love it because it's flat, you can run faster, meet interesting people and its different from my 14 mile long slogs. I hate it because my track workout is about speed and pushing your speed to its limits with the idea that you will eventually get faster if you don't throw up first. Usually I feel tired at the track after my morning swim but today was different. I was running 400 and 100 meter hard intervals like it was nothing. It didn't hurt that I had some high school cross country boys on the track racing me a few times while they were supposed to be cooling down from their workout.
Tonight my confidence in my training is renewed and tomorrow I'm off to Arizona!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Tapering is the practice of reducing or tapering off, exercise in the days just before an important competition.
Today I'm one week away from my first Ironman and I feel crappy. My final long ride on Friday was more difficult than I planned and I never felt strong during the ride. My easy taper run on Sunday (1 hour at a 9:00 min mile pace) was easy but I felt sluggish and uninspired. Not to mention my right knee was hurting and my right knee never hurts. What's strange about these symptoms is that this is how I'm supposed to feel. This is part of the tapering process for an Ironman. This is what happens when your body adjusts and repairs itself after being pushed thru huge amounts of training volume. I've never tapered for an Ironman before but I've talked to experienced Ironman athletes and they tell me not to worry, that this is normal. I never would have guessed when I started this journey that at some point my weekend of an 80 mile bike followed by a 6 mile run or a 14 mile run on Sunday would begin to feel "good". I certainly wouldn't have guessed that doing a mere 50 mile bike and no run on Saturday followed by a 7 mile easy run on Sunday would make me feel "bad". My new "normal" is now feeling crappy because I haven't trained as much...strange.

Common Taper Symptoms

•At the beginning of the taper, some athletes say they feel more tired than when they were putting in long training hours. For those who are tapering their volume over several weeks, this feeling leads to a temptation to resume higher volume. Resist the temptation; it'll pay off on race day.

•When tapering for a key race, many athletes feel flat and fatigued during the final workouts, wondering how they'll ever make it through the event. This feeling can sometimes cause athletes to test themselves on the actual race course or distance to be sure they can make it. This is what I call fear-based training—and giving into this feeling can harm your performance.

•As the taper continues, many athletes notice (or more likely their family and friends notice first) that they're slightly grouchy—OK, some athletes are more than just a little grumpy. Often, family and friends will urge the athlete to put in more hours, in desperate hope of extinguishing the foul mood. Take their comments and observations to heart and lighten-up. Apologize for any over-the-edge behaviors and educate your family and friends about the tapering process.

•Roughly half the athletes I work with begin to notice little aches and pains they never noticed before the taper period. The pains show up for no apparent reason. In fact, these pains were nonexistent during the high-volume training phase, making it tempting to resume longer training hours. If aches and pains emerge, resist the urge to increase training volume.

•Some athletes may feel slightly blue or depressed the week before the race. Others feel they have so much energy they'll go nuts if they don't work out. Don't act on either of these feelings—just let them pass.

•Within one or two days of the race, most athletes feel good. They're typically ready to race and are anxious to race—immediately! This feeling is exactly what you want, and why you've tapered your training volume. Unfortunately, the feeling comes late in the taper process and it takes a leap of faith if you've never experienced the feeling of racing with a rested body.

Monday, November 8, 2010


 I've posted about my Ironman training but I haven't posted about why I'm doing an Ironman. Sure I want to experience the personal achievement of finishing an Ironman, but there is a ministry that I have had the privilege to serve with for the past four years that has touched my heart. It's called Homes of Hope. Homes of Hope is a non-profit organization that builds homes for impoverished peoples of Mexico and Jamaica. My goal is to raise enough money to build a home for a family that is currently living in what I like to call a "garage door shack" with a dirt floor. If you feel led to do so, please sponsor me as I try complete my first Ironman with the goal of raising $5,100.00. Just click on the tab above which will direct you to my donation page.

I love Mexico. As I child and teenager I made many trips to Baja with my Grandparents and Father mostly to go fishing and SCUBA diving. What attracts me to Mexico is the simplicity of life. I'm not talking about life in the big cities of Tijuana or Ensenada, but life in the suburbs or "colonias" as they are called in Mexico. There you know all of your neighbors and they are your close friends because you rely on each other for support and help. Parents work extremely hard to earn maybe $200 a week. Going to the store takes planning because you don't have a car. Life is hard but they are proud to have saved enough money to buy a small piece of land that they can call their own.  A little girl is happy to be playing with a doll, her only doll, that has one arm missing. Her brother plays with a soccer ball that doesn't hold air very well. They will never go to Disneyland or have a Wii or a Facebook account, but they have a simple joy and laughter that you don't see with kids here in Orange County. When I'm in Mexico spending time with these families, I feel like I've forgotten what's important in life. I've become so entrenched in the worldly desires of life and culture in Orange County that I've forgotten how blessed I am to be able to take a hot shower for as long as I want or to simply flush a toilet. Why when I'm in my comfortable home using a computer to download my favorite music and transfer it on to my IPod or when I DVR my favorite TVshow because I'm going out to dinner to eat sushi...why do I often feel like my life is boring and I need more?

Going to Mexico and working side by side with a family to build them a simple home has brought all of these questions and many more to the for front of my life. Why has God given me so much and yet I spend most of my time squandering what he has given me to satisfy my own desires instead of using it to make a difference in the lives of other people? I'm not sure that I know the answer to this. I'm not saying that we shouldn't enjoy what God has given us and there is certainly nothing wrong with going out to eat sushi (unless you just don't like it).

Homes of Hope has allowed me to gain a different perspective of  life and the lives of others who I would not have otherwise had any care or concern for. Working side by side with a family you have just met to make a dream come true for them has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life. An overwhelming feeling of joy, love, and sadness always accompanies these projects. Joy when you see how radically you have changed the life of a family. Love expressed to you from the family for what you you have done for them and sadness when you have to leave them behind because you have formed this unspeakable bond between one another.

I want to thank all of you who have sponsored me and contributed to Homes of Hope and I encourage each and every one of you to invite radical change in to your lives. From a life of succumbing to the desires of what culture and the world tells me I need leaving me empty, to a perspective of I've been given so much, how can I make a difference in
the lives of others that will truly leave a lasting legacy for generations.

As Jackie Robinson once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives"