Monday, July 9, 2007

These Are Days

These are days youll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know its true that you are blessed and lucky.

-These are Days. 10,000 Maniacs

Well folks, I just got back from an awesome weekend of training on the Ironman Wisconsin course with the Race Athlete Team, some great people from my Tri-Shark Club and about 50 other Tri Geeks. We all converged in Madtown for the second Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure or WIBA. A huge thanks to Iron Wil for coordinating the entire weekend. She did such a great job that we had about twice as many people as we thought for dinner Friday night!

The weekend in brief looked like this: Friday- Power Clinic presented by Saris/Cyclops at the very cool Zoned 4 Fitness club. Then we went for a dip in Lake Mononoa and a shortish run in the stifling heat and humidity. Saturday was truth time with a long morning swim followed by riding the scenic but challenging Ironman Wisconsin bike course and then another run to cap it all off. Sunday morning saw a bunch of stiff and sore triathletes waddling around Madison on a long run.

The workouts showed that my training is on the right track for Sept. 9th, but I don't really feel like writing about all that. It was on the drive home that the 10,000 Maniacs song kept running through my head. That is what I want to try and convey about the weekend. I love this sport. There were many times over the weekend that I experienced pure and simple happiness just to be outside training with friends, family and my teammates. As triathletes, we really are all blessed and lucky to be able to do what we do.

These are days you'll remember. For all the hours I spend training alone, triathlon will always be a social activity for me. WIBA was so great, in part, because I got to spend time with my family, my friends and my team. I loved bringing these groups together. My brother Andy, his fiancee Heather and my wife Cara were all along on the trip. Ironman Wisconsin will truly be a family affair since Andy, Heather and myself will all be racing. Cara will be 7 months pregnant in September, or she probably would have joined in. Even though she has outgrown her wetsuit she joined in the open water swims in Lake Monona. This will be the first Ironman my brother and I have ever done together. My teammate Bolder took this hilarious (because it wasn't intentionally posed) shot of us at the Cyclops power clinic that I had to post:

Andy is crazy enough to have done Ironman Wisconsin 3 times in a row (this year will be #4). If you want to know how to manage the brutal Ironman Wisconsin weather, talk to this guy! I had a very solid and tough ride with Andy and local Tri-Shark Chris Daniels. If I hadn't been having a good day, I'd have been left in the dust. Andy- can't wait to get out there and tear up the course on race day with ya! (he's dropped almost an hour every year, so that's a tough trend to follow). A huge thanks to Cara, Andy and Heather and the rest of the fam for their support this season!

In addition to the family unit, I managed to bring along about 15 members of my local tri club. We have a strong contingent of around a dozen club members doing Ironman Wisconsin. This takes me right back to the social aspects of triathlon. It is soooo much easier to train for one of these things if you have a strong support network in place. Want to start a long ride at 5AM on a Saturday morning to beat the heat? I can come up with a small pack any time of year! Whenever you get in a slump there is somebody to pull you up. You guys are the best!

Last, but certainly not least were my Race Athlete Team members. Due to logistics, we couldn't get the whole team to Madison, but Stu being the local was there. Wil was super-organizer, Rural Girl came down from the Northern reaches of the state and Bolder joined us from the Great West. Stu was kind enough to demonstrate to everyone how not to manage your race day nutrition. Talk about taking one for the team!!

Something that the Race Athlete team and the rest of blogland doesn't know about me is how essential the concept of a team is and always has been to me. A quick bit of Sweet history. I ran cross country, track and swam from grade school all the way through college. I thrived on being part of a team that was working towards the same goal. So much positive energy can come out of a strong team. You can reach levels way beyond what you could do alone. When I graduated from college, I was in a bad funk for a couple of years because I went from being on 3 very close-knit teams to nothing at all. A major pillar of my support structure just disappeared. When the Race Athlete team is at its' best, I get that same sense of working together towards a common goal. That's where we were at this weekend. We confronted the course under difficult conditions. We encouraged each other. We shared advice. We made fun of Stu.

These are days I will remember.


Bolder said...

in my sophomore year of triathlon, i'm also glad to be on a team, and that you have been part of it!

next stop for us now:

The Big Show.

58 days and counting...

Michelle said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I cannot imagine going this alone, which is what I would have been doing had it not been for the racAthlete team. You all have been a blessing to me.

And Bolder, stop with the counting!!

qcmier said...

Pleasure running with you Sunday morn, or at least trying to run with you. Good luck at IM WI.

gavnunns said...

Hey Chris is was great to finally meet you even if it was brief. You and your brother looked strong on the bike its going to be a fun race :)

The course is a fun one.