Thank You for the Support

Thank YouThanks to the generous donations from family, friends and some very kind people who I’ve never even met, I’ve raised more than fourteen hundred dollars in support of Save the Children.

I joined Team Save the Children seven months ago to honor the memory of my close friends’ daughter and I committed to raising at least $500. I was a little nervous if I’d be able to reach that goal, but I knew is would be totally worth the effort. I’ve been blown away by the generosity and support I’ve received ever since, surpassing the goal by almost three times. That money is going to make a direct and positive impact for some kiddos somewhere in the world that urgently need help.

To everyone who has contributed to this campaign, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tomorrow morning I’ll be standing on the beach of Lake Nokomis, waiting for my wave of the Minneapolis Triathlon to be called to the starting line. And I’ll be ready to give it everything I’ve got, hoping to make you proud. Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of children throughout the world. Thank you.

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Making Lemonade with Life’s Lemons

JoshBikingLong story short — my car was in the shop for most of the week for some unexpected repairs and I had to get a little creative on transportation in the interim.

Time constraints forced me to utilize ride-share services on the first morning. But after work I decided to ride my bike to the gym so I could jump in the pool and knock out some much needed laps. A relaxed pedal to the gym was the perfect opportunity to dust off my mountain bike, which was still outfitted with a pair of more road-friendly tires from races past. This was my first time on the saddle of the mountain bike since getting my first road bike earlier this year. I had almost forgotten how much fun this bike was to ride — the big comfortable frame and disc brakes that stop on a dime.

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Riding the ol’ mountain bike also made me realize just how much faster and lighter I am on my new road bike. It’s almost hard to imagine that I completed four triathlons on this bike. It’s heavy. The geometry isn’t the most aerodynamic. And most of all, you run out of gears way to fast. I’m really thankful to have a road bike this year.

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Anyhow, back to the gym. 32 laps are about equivalent to the .47 mile swim I’ll be tackling in the first leg of the Minneapolis Triathlon next weekend. So that’s what I did; I swam 32 consecutive laps and finished with a time of 00:14:52. Not bad. For perspective, last year I swam a 00:16:05 at Minneapolis. It’s really hard to compare pool swims to open water given the contrasting conditions, but as least I know I’m in the ballpark. I took a short break, swam eight more laps and called it a workout. It was a short one, but I was a little excited to jump back on the bike instead hopping into a car for the ride home. In a way, it was almost like mini brick workout, transitioning from one sport to the next. This one just had a longer transition time from pool to bike. Still good practice.

Sure, it was frustrating to be without a car for a few days. But that part was out of my control. The car needed repair and I needed to wait for the work to be completed. Rather than getting down about it, I found a way to get to the places I wanted to go and got to have some fun along the way. It was surprising how much joy was found in riding an old bike. And now I want to get the knobby tires back on it and hit some trails. Sometimes we can’t control what happens in life, but we can control how we react to it. We might even be surprised with what we find along the way.

Cheers to the glass being half full.

Ending the Laps Lapse

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Swimming. I’m always amazed by triathletes who feel it’s not the most difficult leg of a race. Open-water swimming is an animal of it’s own, but then add in a hundred other swimmers around you, who you may or may not accidentally swim into, or who may or may not accidentally swim over you or grab your leg, and you have what I like to call organized chaos. But it’s really not all that bad either. It’s kind of a rush. It’s an obstacle that once completed, you know it should be downhill from there, in a good way.

This month, I finally got back in the pool after a few months off. I never planned to take that much time away from swimming, but that’s usually what happens anytime you say you’re going to take a break from a routine. You see, I’m not a great swimmer. Sure, I know the basics of swimming. My parents had me in swimming lessons as soon as I was old enough. And I grew-up spending my weekends on the Mississippi River. But now that I’m trying to be somewhat competitive, I realize I still have some work to do.

Last summer, I got into a habit of swimming at least twice a week – and it really helped me prepare for the triathlons I did. Last May, I could barely swim more than eight laps before feeling exhausted and needing a break (the .25 mile swim at Trinona is equal to about 16 laps in a lap pool). I got a little better with each swim practice, swimming a few more laps each time without a break, and was ultimately able to make my way through Trinona ok. I was exhausted when I got out of the water, but I made it through.

I stuck with the twice-a-week practices. I mean, I had to, especially knowing the MPLS Tri sprint distance was .47 miles, almost twice that of Trinona. It would be my longest swim yet. Somehow, during the swim leg of the MPLS Tri, I became comfortable keeping my head under water and using rythmic breathing. Somehow, someway, something just clicked. Not only did I feel more confident in my ability, but I also noticed I was swimming more efficiently than with my previous doggy-paddle form. This was a turning point. I was getting faster and more comfortable with the distance. Oh, and using a wetsuit didn’t hurt either. The buoyancy gave me the mental piece of mind that helped me relax in the water. I realized open water swimming was something I could actually do and not be scared of.

At the end of the year, I told myself I was going to keep that swimming routine and be an even better swimmer this year – never letting up. Well, as I already mentioned, that routine fell off.  But I’m back at it. A few weeks ago I went for my first swim since October and was pleasantly surprised to knockout 32 laps (just a tad longer than .47 miles) in about 15 minutes without a rest. I didn’t lose much of a step, which was quite a relief. I took a short break and then swam eight more laps just for good measure, making the total distance 1,000 meters, or the length of a football field just under eleven times.

I’ve been back to the pool a few more times since. Realizing that my first race of the year is only three weeks away, it’s definitely time to step it up a notch. Or a couple notches for that matter.

What are most focused on heading into tri season?

 

 

The Need for Speed

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As someone who’s not the strongest of swimmers, the bike leg of a triathlon is a perfect opportunity for me to make-up some time and build momentum. I’m even more excited about that possibility now that, thanks to my dad, I’ve added a road bike to my race day gear.

Last year, I completed all three triathlons using my mountain bike. Sure, I swapped out the knobby tires for thinner, smooth road tires to reduce rolling resistance. But I could still only go so fast. I felt like I knocked out some respectable bike times, averaging over 17mph in two of the tree races. But I vividly remember being maxed-out on gears and pedaling as hard as I could, hitting about 19mph max on smooth straightaways, and getting passed by guys on road bikes going so fast that I felt like I was standing still. There was literally nothing more I could do. I was going as fast as I possibly could.

Split Time Split Pace Distance
Trinona

43m 40s

15.12 mph 11 miles
MPLS Tri

51m 4s

17.63 mph 15 miles
Maple Grove Tri

37m 58s

17.39 mph 11.5 miles

Bike times from my three 2016 triathlons

Excited turn the pedals and shift some gears, I took the new bike out for its maiden voyage last weekend and boy was it a night and day difference from my mountain bike. I was hitting 17mph with a steady pedal. I continued pushing, reaching 19mph, realizing I still had a couple gears left. Reaching 21mph on a smooth straightaway was a joy. Then maybe a little more scary, mixed with fun, was speeding 32mph down a winding hill. Don’g get me wrong, flying down the hill was a thrill, but I was still getting used to the caliper brakes. The mountain bike I had rode for years to had disc brakes that stopped on a dime. The caliper pads on the new ride still needed to be broken-in. But all went well. The 14 mile ride was over before I knew it. The first ride was a success.

I’m pumped about the possibilities this bike will bring this year. It’s light. It’s geared for faster speeds. The tires are thinner and capable of holding higher air pressures. I should definitely see some improvements in my times.

But I also know that equipment can only take you so far. And Trinona is only a little more than six weeks away. Time to get back to training!

 

Helping Girls Grow into Bold, Empowered Women

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Today is International Women’s Day – a day to raise awareness and honor the movement for a more inclusive and gender equal world. As I reflected on the day, I was reminded of the amazing work of Save the Children and how they’re helping girls grow into bold, empowered women.

In the photo above, 11-year-old Sarawati from Nepal tells Save the Children she wants to run an NGO when she grows up. She attends a meeting at the children’s club where Save the Children advocates for child rights and against child marriages. With support from the government and local partners, they educate and raise awareness to end child marriages so girls like Sarawati can stay in school and follow their dreams.

Hearing stories like Sarawati’s make me so proud to be a part of Team Save the Children for this summer’s LifeTime Tri Minneapolis Triathlon. I know the funds that we raise are going to help make a positive impact in the lives of children around the world. This has me motivated to keep adding to my fundraising total between now and race day. And when race day comes, I’ll be extra motivated to make my supporters proud, knowing that together we’re making a difference.

To make a donation, please visit my personal fundraising page here.

*Photo and Sarawati’s story provided by Save the Children

My 2017 Triathlon Season Preview

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At this time last year, the idea of doing a triathlon wasn’t much more than a fleeting thought. Almost three more months would pass before registering for my first race of 2016. Things are different this year. My 2017 triathlon schedule is set and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’m kicking-off the season at Trinona, the race where it all began for me. In 2010, my wife and I volunteered on Trinona’s green team, helping sort recyclables and compost. This was my first exposure to the sport and it had me dreaming of tackling the race some day. In 2014, I completed my first triathlon at Trinona. The sense of accomplishment after crossing the finish line was like nothing I’d experienced before, proving to myself that I was capable of something I’d doubted I could do. In 2016, I raced Trinona again, sparking a love for the sport and completions of two more races that summer. This year, I’m looking forward to having two close friends participating in this race too. I’m sure lots of camaraderie and friendly jeering will enjoyed before, during and after the event.

Next up for 2017 is the LifeTime Tri Minneapolis. This one will be special because I’m not just racing racing for myself. I joined Team Save the Children for two reasons: to raise awareness about worldwide hunger and poverty and its affect on children – and to do so while honoring the memory of Olivia Ann Christiano. I get goosebumps just thinking about this race. I pledged to raising at least $500. Thanks to the contributions from family, friends and some very generous people who I’ve never met, I’ve already exceeded that goal. But I’m not stopping there. Between now and race day, I want to keep adding to that fundraising total. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children throughout the world. If you’d like to contribute, please visit my personal fundraising page here.

In August, I’ll be tackling my most adventurous event yet – the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon. Adventurous is open to interpretation, but traveling out of state for a race, and the thought of swimming in Lake Michigan, both say “adventure” to me. This will also be the largest event I’ve competed in. For a comparison, last year’s Minneapolis Tri Sprint race had 641 participants; Chicago’s had 2,237. Biking and running along the lake shore and through downtown Chicago will provide some spectacular views. Plus, celebrating with a slice of deep dish pizza sounds like the perfect prize.

Setting the race schedule felt like an accomplishment in itself. But now the real work of training becomes the focus. I’m just happy that this year, I’ve planned ahead and allowed plenty of time to prepare for the season – a season with a lot to look forward to.