It all starts with an abrupt comment, made by a small man as he exited my local coffee shop (Banyan Cafe). While I was enjoying my early am. almond milk latte, this little guy sat next to me...silent. I asked him a couple of questions about Tonka trucks and Ninja Turtles (typical man stuff). Oddly, he didn't answer any of my questions, he just starred at me in my military uniform. 10 minutes pass and the little lad and his Dad are on their way out. I'm pretty sure he took 5 to 6 steps, did a 180, ran back inside and screamed a phrase that changed my life (or at least my week). He stomped in, paused for 3 seconds and screamed "You look like a tree"! That seemingly insignificant moment reminded me how FUN it was to be a carefree, nose picking 6 year old. EVEN though I still occasionally pick my nose, I kinda wished I was a kid again, filled with blind courage. Soo really, the "take away" from this moment leads me into something I contemplated on my 5 hour drive home from Panama City. No matter what, focus on where you've been and LOVE what you do. Keeping it simple and innocent makes a big difference.
The main reason I wanted to travel to this race was so I could support a close friend as he tackled his first triathlon as "Race Director". I don't usually try and fill 4 weekends in a row with races, but I thought I would give it a shot. Sprint triathlons are intense enough, however there is usually a 2 hour post workout involved. I suppose the real test will be in 2 weeks, once I've competed in two highly competitive Olympic distance races. So here is the White Sands Triathlon low down.
It was so awesome to travel to Panama City stopping at awesome vegan/organic restaurants and cafes along the way. I stopped at this place called Sweet Pea Cafe, a totally raw/delicious experience. Small venue, walls lined with ingredients, menu written in chalk and EVERYTHING is homemade right in front of you. Moving on, the food was awesome during the whole trip...Mellow Mushroom Pizza, a farmers market falafel wrap and fresh caught blackened fish at a neighbors!
This race is very "up and coming" and is definitely the #1 sprint on the Emerald Coast. Since this event is under New Management, I see it growing larger and larger every year. Sharing the course with Gulfcoast Triathlon and Ironman Florida, this race has a lot of history behind it and is obviously a great venue! Smaller, locally organized and sponsored races really bring a great feeling. Local races that don't treat athletes like dollar signs really keep this sport alive. The Swim came with crystal clear water, calm rolling waves and the water temp was perfect. An unseasonal cold front rolled in the night prior but actually led to perfect conditions. The Bike course was well marked, safe and was rather fast! Despite the wind and being blown around a bit, it was perfect. The Run was a simple out and back, well supported and flat. Honestly, it was everything you could expect from a first class event.
Alright, it's obvious from that large smile on my face, I had a blast and I will be soliciting many of you to join me next year!
Back to my general thought about racing and getting back to our "roots". I had a lot of thinking time today, which means my mind was content listening to static on the radio while my mind was jumping around through hundreds of random thoughts. I LOVE competition, but I think being too focused on the numbers, results and overall place can be taken a little overboard. Triathlon is a way of life, not just something we do. We aren't just a "brand" or an advertisement and it's easy to forget that. We race for our own reasons, each story taking a unique twist. Essentially, I heard a really awesome interview with Macca today, it reminded me that even the top pros take a step back to appreciate the sport, it's heritage and how fulfilling it can be to race with your heart. It all makes sense when I heard a guy crashed at Kona, broke his bike, picked it up and carried it the last 20 miles so he could "Finish" the race. IF that doesn't freaking rock, I don't know what does.
It often takes something small to remind us that we are taking life a little too seriously (kids are a great example). It doesn't mean we have to severely change anything but it's nice to stop and appreciate what we have, remembering we can truly accomplish anything if we focus enough time and energy. So I hope for a great race this next weekend at St. Anthony's and at future races as well, but I truly believe I'll get better and better just by loving what I do and surrounding myself with others who feel the same way:) I'm grateful for all of the support and great friends I've met thus far.
P.S....Still need to check out Tom Cruise in Oblivion. I hear it's amazing.
This picture says it all. I shed a tear every time I think "a small child has seen Hank Campbell in a speedo". However ridiculous we may look, I assure you we took this more serious any anyone in the history of Ragnar Key West. Not only did we WIN the "fun run", we came in over 2 hours ahead of the next 12 man team. That's right, over the course of 197 miles we literally ran past over 6 thousand people (probably) and it ONLY took us 22 hours and some change. This year we incorporated 1 full time driver and 1 full research team from Barry University. We were turned into sweaty, butt fungus, smelly armpit test subjects. This year was much warmer and the humidity was stifling. I think the only thing we really needed to bring more of was dry towels. Around 3 am, we'd all been through 2 or 3 legs of hard running, that's when the reality set in. Someone may literally die (probably Owen, but hopefully Gus). The highs and lows throughout the race will forever be remembered. From being lethargic, to feeling like a king (5 hour energy) we certainly had to rally our "man goods" to finish this race on a high note. I'd like to highlight that this years race lacked severe IBS (squatting in random grassy areas), a van that smelled of dead people (6 runners in a minivan), air humping and near death experiences. Having two vans and "dedicated" drivers, made the trip 100% better. There was however, lots of blood. Our trustee scientist from South Africa took over 30 blood samples from each runner over the course of the trip.
To sum up Ragnar Relay, Key West, I'd like to say that despite us not really "winning" anything spectacular, the memories and true BROner love will always make me want to do it again. I had to remind everyone on the team that "Winning at this race, isn't really that cool". However true that may be, it's important to me that we smashed everyone else and seriously pushed hard to finish at the top. I'm more than proud to have raced with such a great group! I think it also goes without saying that the after party and awards ceremony brought out all the important people from Tampa who support us! My friends are such a great support group and really gave the Broners some great love! Thank you!!
other stuff that's important to read about....
If you've never met me, you should know that I LOVE making homemade pizza and taking pictures before I eat it. Not sure why the pictures are important, but I like to look back at them from time to time and smile at that delicious pie. I' made a great new pizza with an avocado base, roasted veggies and salsa, topped with an egg. Quite a delicious mexican pizza!
SOOOOO it's back to reality. December, brought some seriously amazing memories, lots of beer, delicious meals with great people and about 5 pounds of belly fat (which I already lost). It's time to plan out the next few months, which are sure to be tremendous. My Mom and Dad are visiting, I have a Half Marathon, Half Ironman in Puerto Rico, cycling camp and many many many miles ahead....(hopefully I am able to run again soon)
This month has been an absolute FREAKING blast, from the Colorado Rockies to the beaches and parties in Key West, I've been on the move. I'm astonished that I'm lucky enough to meet such amazing, genuine people. In the big picture, this past year has been a re-birth. While reflecting on life (as we all do this time of year) I can't say I would have done it any different. I might have saved a few extra pennies here and there but I always say "we have our whole lives to earn more money". Anyway the past 2 weeks consist of the following:
The week before Christmas went along as most weeks do. Training, work and eating. Luckily, during this seemingly normal week I found a new favorite drink and a favorite quick meal and it's not pizza. I would say I'm addicted to Culture Club's Ginger Kombucha. The fact is, most people will never like it and probably think it's gross. If you're not sure what it is CLICK HERE. All I will say is, give it a shot...you might have a better bathroom experience :) The new snack is delicious red cabbage, broccoli, red quinoa, red onion, diced sweet potato, spinach and kale topped with avocado. I'll always thrown in some roasted garlic, homemade salsa or generic italian spices too. Satuee everything but avocado until it's to your desired tenderness, add quinoa and avocado....eat up and refuel. Finally...it's been getting very cold down here (37 during the sunday AM run). The vivid colors and placid lake made for a nice picture before the run started. Still knocked out 13 miles though, no big deal. By the way, just because I'm from MI, doesn't mean I like the cold!!!
Key West For Christmas: I have to start by saying, I definitely miss the old days where my whole family would get together and celebrate. I ALSO have to say I think my family has evolved into crazy people who could possibly kill each other if left alone in a room for more than 5 minutes. Surprisingly, there were more families wandering about in the evening, leaving the streets bare, except for the late night karaoke singers and the prostitute dressed as Mrs. Clause. As it was my Mothers first trip down, my friend Katie and her family (KW locals) gave us the grand tour and welcomed us to their home with open arms....and scooters!!! Essentially, we all ate a butt load, stayed up way past my bedtime (9pm) and spend a ridiculous amount of money in the name of FUN! This takes me back to the beginning of this blog! Without meeting amazing people like Katie, my level of fun and experiences wouldn't nearly be as memorable. I mean she literally flew me over Key West and landed me on the ground safely...how freaking cool is that? Finally...my dear friend got married and reminded me that I need to get my act together if I ever plan to have a sweet family to support my triathlon endeavors!
I'll be in Key West again this weekend, but will be in much pain. Ragnar Relay, a 199 mile relay with 6 of my crazy fast running pals is set to commence this Friday. I'll be meeting more amazing people along the way and having fun with Jessica Crate, Jessica Glover from Jet City Espresso and many other Tampa road runners...Until then!!!
NO MORE TRIATHLON's UNTIL MARCH! Whew, now that I've gotten that off my chest, here is a Tri Key West recap!
First off, the race was just an appetizer. The real treat and victory came in the hours following the event. Honestly, there was nothing more reviving than having a morning drink and lobster Benedict with some good friends at Blue Heaven. I LIVE for "post race" high.
The event overall went off well if you consider it was in Key West (not a very organized or regulated place). That being said, there was definitely room for improvement. The Swim course buoys were spaced a little too far, leaving you quite lost if you were in the front. My major complaint was swimming under a pier and then having zero indication of where to go afterwards. The only thing that made sense was to head to shore, where 2 flags waited for you (they were practically invisible). I think it goes without saying, we're lucky it wasn't very choppy because it could have been dangerous under the pier.
The Bike course (Olympic) was actually accurate, which is very rare at a grassroots event. Unfortunately, due to poor course marking and haphazard directions by volunteers, this was the biggest disqualification list I've ever seen. Some negative highlights of the bike course were:
- Bike out/Bike in at the same location
- Sprint course 2nd lap turn around directly in front of "bike out"
- Single lane sharp corners without any seperation between between coming/going traffic
Seriously, the corners were the worst part. I would be surprised if there weren't any head on collisions due to people cutting corners.
The Run course was just lovely, with an amazing view along the cost. Yes, I said it was lovely, which seems wierd but Key West will do that to you. Oh wait...I had to run across oncoming runners in order to get to the finishing chute, which meant dodging a 6ft 5inch tall giant as he trudged out of transition. I also dodged a few bikes, not sure what they were doing there either. Thankfully I avoided the handlebar of a purple Huffy from impaling my stomach.
FINALLY the awards ceremony, in all of its glory....was ruined by MulitRace. They botched the results despite my efforts to "verify" standings prior to the ceremony. The 3rd, 4th and 5th guys were called up as 1st, 2nd and 3rd...leaving me with a "WTF" expression and disappointed attitude. We work hard to make podium, so when that seemingly insignificant moment is taken away from us, it takes a lot of the fun out of the ceremony. Plus, no one likes to have to coordinate getting their award. Multirace didn't have a reason for the mix up and with a very condescending attitude told me I should have "checked the monitors" (which I did). Either way, they treat athletes like cattle and totally do the bare minimum as far as customer service. NONETHELESS, my spirits were as high as they could ever be because I raced well despite injury and all of my friends had a GREAT energy which totally turned things around. Plus, like I said....it was an appetizer for the events to come.