My Inferno.


I’ve probably said this before – but I’m not very creative, so I’ll repeat myself: I have a strange way of dealing with stuff that I suck at.  I wasn’t very comfortable with speaking in front of a group – so I took stand-up comedy lessons in a club here in Manhattan.  I got heckled by drunken strangers that I knew I would never again see in my life, and confronting this fear allowed me to get over it.  So now I have another fear: I’m afraid of failing to finish Ironman this year.

 

It’s a realistic fear.  It’s a fear that comes as a result of trying to walk the walk after talking the talk to my daughter.  For a while now, I’ve tried to instill in my kid the basic concept that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough.

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I keep telling her this….but I think it’s also important to show her that I can back up my words with deeds.  That supports the other concept that I’ve tried to drill into her head over the years – to quote Ovid:”Facta Non Verba”.  Put simply – Deeds, Not Words.  (Or, to put it as Batman once did – It’s what we do that defines us.)

 

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I used to dream HUGE as a kid.  I’m betting that all of us did, didn’t we?  Well becoming an Ironman has been a dream of mine since I first learned about it in high school.  I used to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and I remember some buddies of mine at Fordham Prep telling me that a person had to be a little nuts to try something like that.  Terms like “those dudes need checkups from the neck – up”, to “their elevators definitely don’t go to the top floor”, to the ever-so-colorful “the cheese fell off their crackers a long time ago, dude” were normally how I heard triathletes described when I was a teen.  When I transitioned to college and joined the school’s crew team, I remember one guy on our varisty men’s squad was a triathlete – and this was when the sport of triathlon was not nearly as mainstream as it is today.  This dude wasn’t muscular.  He wasn’t really tall.  He was not the best varsity oarsman as it came to rowing technique.  But there was one thing his dude had in spades, and that was endurance.  He simply never got tired.  When everyone else appeared to be on the verge of burning out, he would get stronger.  I looked at him as if he were a human power plant.  That was how I wanted to be.  We discussed the sport of triathlon, and it further fueled my fire to give it a shot.

 

But…as the song goes….life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

 

As the years went by, the dream of becoming an Ironman stayed with me, but I never actually did anything to pursue it.  Then my kiddo came along, and my entire way of thinking was flipped on its butt overnight.  While its always been my goal to allow my daughter to be her own person and let her figure out for herself what she likes and dislikes, it is a proven fact that kids observe and absorb their parents’ actions and preferences.  That simple fact made me begin focusing on how I spend my time.  I needed to show her that it’s important to have a goal, and then work like hell to achieve it.  And that, quite simply, is how I found the  sport of endurance running.

 

After taking up marathoning in 2005, I stayed with it and began to up the ante a little bit over time in an ongoing attempt to demonstrate to Mini Me that, if you continue to work hard at something and do not quit, you can accomplish things that you never thought were possible.   2012 saw me try a marathon a month to raise money for the Dream Team Project.  In 2014, I tried a multi-day event (the inaugural Dopey Challenge).  In 2015…well I got a little nuts and did a long distance run from San Francisco to Anaheim to benefit Do Away With SMA (www.doawaywithsma.org).  That last one did a real number on me, as I returned home to New York City after Labor Day Weekend rather burnt out.  The past few months have gone by in a haze of unfocused training and lackluster effort.  Well that changes right now.

 

I’ve decided that 2016 will be the year that I chase after that goal that I’ve had hidden inside me for 30 years: The Ironman.  My original goal was to run the Vineman in Sonoma on July 30th – but I don’t believe I will be ready in time.  So, I am announcing that it’s my intention to compete in Ironman Maryland on October 1st.   I’m going to compete in this event as part of a larger 2016 effort, in order to raise awareness and donations for Do Away With SMA – a charity that helps fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

 

Since this event takes a TON of training, I’m going to use this blog to be my daily training log.  And, since this training should make me stronger (and maybe even a little faster), I might as well take advantage of the juice that my hard work should zap into my body, right?  Glad you agree.  So I’ve put together a series of races that I’m going to attempt on the heels of the Ironman that I have lovingly named after Dante’s masterpiece….

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My 2016 Inferno:

October 1st: IRONMAN Maryland

October 9th:  Chicago Marathon

October 16th:  The Nationwide Childrens Hospital Columbus Marathon

October 30th: The Marine Corps Marathon

November 6th: The TCS New York City Marathon

November 19th: The New York City 60k

…and, since there are nine rings of Hell within Dante’s work, my 7th ring will be attempting to run at least 2,016 miles in 2016 (which means that I’ll need to average 8.36 miles a day from today through December 31st to hit that number), the eighth will be to log enough miles on the bike to cover the distance from Central Park to Disneyland (which is 2,793 miles –  meaning that I’ll need to average 11.60 miles per day starting today and going through December 31st), and my final goal will be to earn my Coaching Certifications from bother the Road Runners Club of America (“RRCA”) and Ironman U.

 

I have a game plan.  I just need to execute it.  And whether I am successful or if I choke miserably, I hope you’ll follow me on my quest.

 

 

 

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Sometimes It Feels Good To Grind…


So 2016 began with a few fun long weekends in Florida and Anaheim, where my friends and I completed something referred to as the “Coast to Coast Challenge”.  This consists of runners completing a half marathon in Walt Disney World and then another half marathon in Disneyland.  So the first weekend in January, we flew to Orlando and ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  It’s a well-organized and very unique event, and the atmosphere is completely non-judgmental, making it a perfect first half or full marathon destination for rookies.  The half marathon takes runners through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and provides solid entertainment throughout the course.  The following weekend found us in Anaheim, California, running the Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland.  The first 5-6 miles of the course sent the athletes through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure…and the remaining 7-8 miles of the course wound its way through the streets of the city.  The level of entertainment was not as strong throughout the course at is was in Walt Disney World; however, Disneyland is much smaller and requires the use of public roads to host part of the event – so some leeway needs to be given, in my humble opinion.  That being said – the highlight of the course was the 501st Legion’s station close to mile 9 – storm troopers, Boba Fetts, Han Solos in abundance.  Even the cars were designed as X-Wing fighters, including R2-D2’s.  THAT was cool.

 

Once the bling was earned and awarded, we parted ways and I headed home.  It was an excellent kickoff to my athletic year…but the result of the back-to-back events along with the travel involved resulted in something that I call the The Runner’s Blah.

 

The Runner’s Blah is that feeling you get after the event(s) that you trained for are in the books.  Other people have other terms for this sensation – this one is mine.  I felt the blah as soon as I sat down in the plane to LaGuardia…and it stayed with me for days.  I was supposed to run a half marathon in Central Park yesterday (The Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon), but 24 inches of snow caused the New York Road Runners to cancel the event for safety’s sake.  As a result, I spent the long weekend planning how to wake myself up, shake off the blah and get back to work.  Here’s how I did it:

 

  1. I got on the computer and began to plan out my training for the coming weeks, using http://www.trainingpeaks.com.  This site allows users to link their activities saved on their GPS watches to planned exercises, estimate calorie burns, and budget your time to get the work in.  20131113-110750.jpg
  2. Then I went on to http://www.myfitnesspal.com and began logging my food intake.  This part sucks, because the only way it works is if you are honest with yourself and log every single thing you take in.  The good thing is that Training Peaks and My Fitness Pal talk to each other – so calorie intake is summarized on your workouts, breaking out carbohydrates, fats, and protein as percentages of your overall fuel intake for the day.  This allows you, the athlete, to weigh ans measure your performance versus the types of food you eat.  By using Training Peaks as your daily workout log, you can write down notes on your performance – which will help the analysis and assist you with improvement.
  3. After I got the tech side of things squared away, I knew that I needed several carrots to hang in front of me, so that I would not lose focus.  So I signed up for a bunch of smaller races here in New York City, added them to my Training Peaks account, and set time goals for each race.  Now I have specific speed targets to aim for as the year progresses.  The biggest carrots for me for 201 are Ironman on July 30th, the Chicago Marathon on October 9th, the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th, the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6th and the NYRR 60k on November 19th.  The strategy here is to maximize the importance of daily training early in the year so that I can perform well in the fall without much of a dip in energy level between races.
  4. After covering these three steps, it was on to step #4: longer-term goals.  I needed to prioritize what I wanted to achieve in the coming years.  So I created my Pie-In-The-Sky list.  On this list I added KONA (that’s my unicorn), qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Marathon des Sables, and competing in the Western States.  Hard short-term goals make me prioritize training in the here and now (helping me get rid of the BLAH), and harder longer-term goals make me keep my foot on the gas.  The combination should make me feel that daily sense of urgency to get to the gym when it opens up in the morning.
  5. Knowing how weak I am from the neck up, my next step was locating a group to share my dread with.  People who were as focused on beating themselves up in order to prepare for challenge athletic events.  I chose to join a triathlon team – The Terrier Tris.  They are well – organized and seem like a dedicated bunch of like-minded alphas.  I cannot achieve goals that I have had in the back of my mind for years while purely running a solo mission.  Instead, I need help staying the course.  By joining a team, I’ll train with people that are stronger than I am – and that will push me to get better.
  6. So steps one through five addressed the physical requirements for the goals I have set for myself.  But like I just mentioned, I am not the brightest bulb on Broadway.  So, I needed to set up a plan to keep my head dialed in daily.  I went on to Youtube and created a playlist / watchlist / whateverthehellelseit’scalled, and I added a bunch of motivational videos.  Speeches by famous coaches.  Speeches by Les Brown.  Eric Thomas. Lou Holtz.  Lombardi.  Valvano (Jimmy V rules – just needed to say that).  I’ll need them ready to go when the fire gets a little dim.  And it will.  Guaranteed.
  7. Last but not least, I needed to address logistics.  Every evening, before I hit the sack, I’ll review my plan for the morning.  Go through it a bit.  Try to picture how I want the workout to go.  Positive visualization should help me get up each morning looking forward to the grind.  I’ll also leave my workout clothes on the floor right next to my bed.

 

Motivation is quite important to me.  Wrapping this up, I’ll share with you one of my favorite pieces, written by Tecumseh.  Tecumseh was the leader of the Shawnee, who fought against the occupation of native american lands during the War of 1812.  HE was killed in battle in 1813 – but he is remembered for basically being a hard-nosed combatant and incredible role model.  According to numerous accounts, he was an incredible speaker, and could motivate his warriors to perform above what they thought were their limits.  He put pen to paper a number of times – and this is my favorite passage…

 

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My Unicorn…


This is a big weekend in endurance sports.

We start on Saturday, with the Ironman World Championships in Kona.  2.4 mile swim, 112 on the bike…and then a marathon.  The gun goes off at 7am.  All athletes have until 9:20am to hit the first transition area (otherwise called “T1”) – miss that cutoff by a single second, and your day is over.  Then the athletes hop on their bikes and crank out 112 miles out in the open Hawaiian sun, fighting the fierce Kona winds (which are known to knock grown men off their bikes).  All athletes needs to hit the second transition area (“T2”) by 5:30pm.  Again: miss the cutoff time by a single second, and your day is through.  Once you make it through T2, you throw on your running shoes and begin your 26.2 run.  By now your arms and back are tired from the swim, and your legs are burning from the bike.  You also become aware of the final countdown: you have to cross the finish before midnight.  140.6 miles.  1,800 athletes, all of them absolute BEASTS.

Now here’s something cool that the athletes in Kona do that I wish other races around the world would embrace: there is a tradition that the male and female winners at Kona return to the finish line for the final hour of the event in order to cheer on the final athletes as they fulfill their dreams.  The athletes that finish in the last hour may have their medal draped over their necks by the champion.  Here’s another incredible fact about Kona: as the sun goes down and the night begins, the crowds don’t lessen.  They get bigger.  They get louder.  The final hour is magical.

This is my unicorn.  To cross the finish at Kona and have those magic words yelled over the loudspeaker: “Joseph Kolinsky, you are an Ironman!” by the announcer has been a dream of mine since I began following the sport in the late 1980’s.  I’d watch this incredible race every year on ABC’s Wide World of Sports (and for those of you who have never heard that iconic theme song for this show, go and google it – trust me, it’;s worth the keystrokes), and see the level of pain the athletes were willing to go through in order to complete this event.  I was absolutely blown away.  I’ve been a fan ever since.

On Sunday, the Chicago Marathon takes place.  Over 40,000 will run this one.  The course is flat and fast, and extremely fun.  I ran this one a couple of times, and it was 5 hours of bliss.

These events serve as an ongoing reminder: impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men.  You can do anything you put your mind to.  It doesn’t need to be a triathlon or a marathon – just choose a goal and work at it until to achieve it.  And if someone tells you that what you are shooting for is impossible, just tell them “…maybe for you it is.  Not for me.”

Macca

June 30th – WHWL (What Have We Learned?)


Today I was reminded of the strength of the human spirit. I ran the New York Road Runners Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 mile race in Central Park…and it truly is my annual reminder that a person can accomplish any goal as long as you never give up hope. I try to run this race every year – and I never shoot for a PR (a Personal Record). Why? Because I’d rather go slower and legnthen the amount of time that I am surrounded by this incredible athletes.

I cheered a female wheelchair athlete on as she slowly made her way up Cat Hill. You could see that the hill was giving her all she could handle – yet she fought back and continued to edge her way to the top. Many runners, myself included, yelled constant cheers of support as she traded blows with the hill. There was grin from ear to ear plastered on her face while she was locked in battle – you could tell that she actually embraced the challenge. Eventually, she dealt the hill a knockout blow, and reached the top. The cheers she received from everyone around her were INCREDIBLE. It was one of those moments where you realize just how strong people can be on the inside.

I ran alongside a gentleman that was the recipient of a heart transplant. I ran with Marines that were wounded in Iraq. I ran with a man that used two crutches to get himself around the 5 mile course.

So what have I learned today? I was once again reminded that there are two types of people out there: those who say I can’t, and those who say I CAN. When you surround yourself with people – even total strangers – that embody the I CAN mentality, it makes you a better person.

Now I need to embody that I CAN attitude more effectively. Being around those courageous athletes gave me the mental kick in the rear-end that I needed.

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June 28th – What Have We Learned?


So what have we learned today? I, for one, have learned the following:

I figured out what separates humans from all other animals and mammals on earth. It’s NOT opposable thumbs. It’s air conditioning.

I learned that, in running, there is a gadget for everything. I found a sock that keeps your toes bent at an incline while you sleep, so that you wake up without much pain from plantar fasciitis. It looks like something made in the labs within the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot by Dr. Nigel Channing.

I discovered that I should not be allowed to associate with other humans in a decaffinated state.

My dog is smarter than me. At least she knows to stretch before doing anything remotely active. I, on the other hand, I will only be able to touch my toes if someone does me the favor of chopping them off and handing then to me. I am an inflexible tool.

Tomorrow: the Pride Run in Central Park.

W-T-F.


Well, it’s been almost a month since I’m embarked on my Ironman journey, and what an educational few weeks it’s been. So let me take a few minutes to catch you up on what’s been going on. IN short, however, the past month can be summed up with three little letters: WTF. That’s right…

W – Water
I joined the Reebok Sports Club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, mainly because they offer all the tools for me to train throughout the year (an indoor pool, an outdoor track as well as tons of dreadmills, and virtual cycling machines that are fairly fancy). Each weekday morning I find myself in the pool somewhere around 5:15am, getting my laps in. The first few mornings were rather humbling, to be quite honest. Being born and raised on City Island (a little island in the Bronx of approximately 5,000 – 6,000 residents), I’ve spent a ton of time on and in the water. So I just figured that the swim portion of the Ironman would be the part of the race that would concern me the least. Now, after four weeks of swimming alongside a couple of Ironmen and Half-Ironmen, I realize that I may be able to swim well…but I am truly not efficient in the water. And as far as endurance is concerned, I have some serious work to do. I went into this endeavor thinking that I’d just need to work on cycling in order to be successful. I was about as wrong as a person can be.

In order to move on to the cycling portion of the Ironman, I must complete the 2.4 mile swim in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes. 140 minutes. That’s all the time I have. I’ve watched YouTube videos of people being informed by race officials that their Ironman day was done as they hopped out of water with an official time of 2 hours and twenty minutes…and 7 seconds. That’s the stuff that nightmares are made of, when you train for this event. Of course, The Tool has begun to show up poolside, busting out one of those really creepy speedo bathing suits and inflatable floaties, along with a neon pink swim cap. I picture the little 4cm tall schmuck sitting on the edge of the pool, laughing at me as everyone makes me eat their wake as I clip off my laps. Each time I touch the wall where he’s perched, he holds up a rude sign: “2 hours, 20 minutes and 2 seconds…hahahaha”, “you’re as buoyant as a rock”, etc.

I have some real work to do. And I need to get to a point where the 140 minute limit does not scare me. I am NOT there yet. Not by a long shot.

(I’ll re-blog my entry where I introduce The Tool as my main antagonist shortly…)

T – Tricycle.
I signed up for the 2014 Ironman Texas and I didn’t even own a bike. I believe the last bike I owned was actually a Mongoose. I used to love riding my dirt bike….when I was 12. So how much different could this be?

Well….I’ve found out that it really is different than riding my old Mongoose with the thick dirt tires and the plastic racing number on the handle bars (oh yeah – my old Mongoose was pimped out. Big time).

For the first two weeks of training, I hopped out of the pool in the mornings and transitioned immediately to a virtual cycling station where I logged anywhere between 5-11 miles. The amount of sweat that riding these virtual bikes drew from me was ridiculous. Since this is all new, however, this cross-training has been an amazingly positive influence on my running. I’ve noticed an improvement in endurance and speed. So – note to everyone reading this – cross-training is a GOOD idea. It DOES help.

About two weeks ago, I conducted my search for my first real adult grown-up mature bicycle. I went to the local bike store, checked out the whole gamut of selections available (aluminum and carbon) and decided on a Scott Speedster. They fitted the bike for my specifications in the store…and, of course, I almost fell on them as I sat in the saddle for the first time. Unreal. I wasn’t even out of the store yet with my new bike, and I already almost caused a casualty. I couldn’t help but overhear some jackass proclaim “that guy should have training wheels…or better yet, fit him for a tricycle”. Now – anyone who knows me also knows who one of my heroes is: Dr. House. Honor dictates that I had to respond, channeling the good doc…

“Hey dipshit – are you sure you are allowed to be outside unattended? Now go home and tell your Mommy and Daddy that you’ve been a very bad boy. Then go to your room and don’t come out until you’re sorry for what you said.”

The laughter from the other people in the store was enough to change the mood in the store. Ten minutes later, I walked out with a new bike and a free helmet (as a gift for the good belly laugh).

I’ve been steadily raising the daily mileage to a morning ride of 12-15 miles completed in approximately 45-48 minutes. In order to continue on to the marathon portion of the Ironman, participants must complete the 112 mile cycling course by 5pm local time. So if an athlete exits the swim portion of the event in 2 hours and 19 minutes, and the race begins promptly at 7am, the athlete has approximately 7 hours and 50 minutes to complete the distance. This means that I’ll need to average an approximate speed of 15.5 miles an hour throughout the cycling portion of the Ironman in order to ensure that I have enough of a time cushion to transition to the marathon.

So far it seems to me that one of the keys to a successful Ironman attempt resembles the key to comedy: TIMING.

F – Frackin’ Running
While I’ve been continuing to participate in races each weekend, my weekly mileage is now beginning to creep up the way I had hoped, as I’ve now begun the marathon training season with the New York Road Runners Team for Kids (running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) and Team in Training (on Tuesdays). I have learned one fairly interesting concept: transitioning from a long bike ride to running in Central Park is REALLLLLLY hard. Your legs get into a rhythm while riding a bike at a fast, even pace. The lactic acid builds up in the thighs, and it’s got nowhere to go as you ride. Then, when you hop off the bike and transition quickly to running, it feels like hopping off a sailboat after being at sea for a month. You have to get your landlubber legs back in a hurry.

The first time I tried to transition quickly from the bike to running….I tripped and fell. Over my own two feet. In front of a bunch of people. Oh yeah – I’ve checked my pride at the front desk and I’m really being humbled by the effort that this undertaking requires.

I’m expecting the months of September through December to be loaded with running miles. Will I make the goal of 2,013 miles for the year? I will try my best. It has become increasingly tough because the physical toll that this effort exacts requires rest days each week – making my required running miles for my active days each week to consistently increase. My weight has begun its downward trend – so I’m close to beginning to post my weight lost and pounds to go. Close….but not quite there yet. Still embarrassed about the amount of pounds I need to lose and my lack of consistent effort to correct my crappy diet. I’m a work in progress, I guess.

I cannot lose focus now. I have to consistently remember the motto of the Ironman, which is simply “I can”……
__________________________

A Quick Statistical Snapshot of Where I Stand as of June 25th 2013:

Goal #1: Run at Least 2,013 Miles in 2013
Miles logged: 516.32
Miles to go: 1,497.68
In order to accomplish my goal, I need to average7.6 miles per day through December 31st, 2013. There are 189 days left.

Goal #2: Drop to 185 Pounds
Starting weight: way too embarrassed to admit right now
Weight lost thus far: not enough to even warrant mentioning at this point
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to lose more than 25 pounds by December 31st, 2013.

Goal #3: Run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Less than 7 Minutes
Quickest mile run: 7:05 (2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile)
Quickest mile run in 2013 thus far: 8:03 (accomplished on May 22nd).
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my speed for the 1 miler by 1:04.

Goal #4: Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon
Fastest marathon run thus far: 5:07:36 (2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Fastest marathon pace maintained: 11:43 per mile
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my average marathon pace per mile by 2:30 (shooting for a pace of 9:13 per mile) in order to drop 1:07:37 from my best marathon time.

Goal #5: Complete My First Ultra
Furthest I have ever run: 29.5 miles (not run during an official race)
Distance of my scheduled 2013 ultra: 37.28 miles
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to finish the NYRR 60k on November 16th 2013.

Goal #6: Complete My First Triathlon
Furthest swim distance: 1,500 meters (June 3rd )
Furthest cycling distance: 15 miles (June 22nd)
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon, scheduled for July 18th. 1 mile (1600 meters) swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.
__________________________

BY setting some pretty challenging goals for myself, I am trying to generate interest in / donations to The Dream Team Project. This charity’s mission is to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the New York City Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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I’m All-In


I’m a movie nerd. Any film that includes car chases, gunfights, loud explosions and/or outer space automatically should warrant an Oscar nomination. So, of course, I am looking forward to seeing the new Will Smith film, After Earth. Things explode. Outer space is involved. There’s a ton of action and the dialogue probably isn’t straight out of a PBS special. Perfecto. Sign me up. So why am I bringing up this movie? Because the movie’s tag phrase really hit me as influential for my own personal activities:

Danger is real. Fear is a choice.

Fear is a choice. The rest of the movie’s dialogue can stink – and that’s OK. I’ve got a quote that use on myself for a long time. In fact, it made me think about my childhood fears, as well as one of the things I’ve wanted to do / become since I was in high school:

· When I was a kid, I was afraid of getting a needle whenever I visited the doctor. Was the pain unbearable? No. My mind just blew the experience up into a far more traumatic thing than it actually was / is. This fear stuck with me through college and even as I began my adult life.

· As much as I absolutely loved being in the water as a kid, I had recurring nightmares of being stuck under water, unable to surface as I felt my lungs beg for a breath of fresh air. All of the time I spent on the water, I hid that inner fear of not being able to surface.

· As I began my professional career, I realized that the ability to speak in public is vital. A professional needs to be able to handle the pressure of a crowd, and come across with confidence. I realized in short order that I did not possess a natural ability to stand in front of a group of suit-wearing co-workers and speak at length about a process or issue.

I know these fear seem rather basic. Maybe even childish / embarrassing to admit. But it’s true. A few of my childhood fears stuck with me as I became an “adult” (please – let’s face it – I need to put that word in quotes when referring to myself). They stuck with me until November, 2005. The first Sunday in November that year, I put aside my lifelong fears of failure and underperformance and was able to push through a physical and mental barrier by running the ING New York City Marathon for my daughter. I like to tell everybody that, after that Sunday in November, my kiddo’s grades began to steadily improve. Well, they did…but that’s not all that happened. I found something in myself that I didn’t even know I ever had: the ability to overcome my fears. After I healed up from that 26.2 waddle through the 5 boroughs of New York, I realized that I could overcome other fears one by one…as long as I actually did something proactively. They wouldn’t go away by themselves.

Some people decide to proactively address their fears by talking to others about them. Rationalizing them. Sorting the out so that he/she can cope with the internal concerns and move forward. I know that I’m not really comfortable talking about my own fears to other people – I think it’s because I’m more than a little insecure. I did, however, need to come up with my own way of re-writing some of my own faulty programming. So I decided to attack my fear of needles by donating blood every 4 months. I crushed my fear of drowning by learning how to scuba dive. And I defeated by fear of public speaking by taking stand-up comedy classes and then doing an 8 minute routine in front of 200+ drunken strangers. Before that Sunday in November, 2005, I wouldn’t have had the (and I’m borrowing a quote from a professional wrestler from the 1980’s here) “testicular fortitude” to face these fears head-on. And if I didn’t have the wontons to address my childhood fears, how on Earth would I be able to tackle something that I’ve dreamed of doing since I first saw it on TV over 20 years ago?

As I placed my significant childhood fears firmly behind me, my confidence began to grow. With every marathon I completed, I have continued to build on this confidence, like a dude playing Texas hold-em in a Vegas casino who’s enjoying a heater. Each time I crossed a finish line, my stack of “confidence chips” got a little taller. Like a decent poker player, however, I needed to know the right time to bet everything and go all-in.

Well, yesterday I felt like the time was right to go all-in, and begin my quest toward something I’ve always dreamed about. It’s official: as of yesterday morning, I am registered to compete in the 2014 Ironman in The Woodlands, Texas.

I used to watch the Ford Ironman World Championship on TV each year. It takes place in Kona, Hawaii, and the television footage used to blow my mind. A 2.4 mile open-water swim, followed immediately by a 112 mile bike, and then a full marathon (26.2 miles). Each year, they would show athletes collapsed on the side of the road, absolutely exhausted, looking as if he/she couldn’t take another step. And then, somehow, this athlete finds it within himself to get up and keep going. It was obvious to me that the Ironman requires the athlete to give every last ounce of heart and courage within him/her to earn that moment when the announcer yells their name and says “(insert a name here) – YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!” as the participant crosses the finish line. I’ve watched as participants literally crawled across the finish because they simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to even walk another step. I’ve seen Team Hoyt cross the finish, a father helping his grown son through the 140.6 mile trek (and trust me – if you ever want to read something motivational, google Team Hoyt). I’ve read all about the mental battle that goes on inside each athlete’s head as the long day takes its toll on the body.

For over 20 years, I’ve admired anyone that had the (and I have to use the phrase here again because it just fits) testicular fortitude to train for and complete the Ironman…but I always thought I would never have what it takes. It was one of those goals that I put on such a high pedestal that I lived with the assumption that I’d never attain it. Quite frankly: the thought of even trying to go 140.6 was like Ex-Lax…it literally scares the crap out of me.

I know now that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough. Right? Well then, this dream is perfect for me. This one has been my dream for over 20 years. And the quest begins today. May 17th 2014. The Woodlands, Texas.

….crap….I guess I should buy a bike.

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A Quick Statistical Snapshot of Where I Stand as of May 31st 2013:

Goal #1: Run at Least 2,013 Miles in 2013
Miles logged: 423.86
Miles to go: 1,589.14
In order to accomplish my goal, I need to average7.1 miles per day through December 31st, 2013. There are 214 days left.

Goal #2: Drop to 185 Pounds
Starting weight: way too embarrassed to admit right now
Weight lost thus far: not enough to even warrant mentioning at this point
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to lose more than 25 pounds by December 31st, 2013.

Goal #3: Run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Less than 7 Minutes
Quickest mile run: 7:05 (2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile)
Quickest mile run in 2013 thus far: 8:03 (accomplished on May 22nd).
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my speed for the 1 miler by 1:04.

Goal #4: Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon
Fastest marathon run thus far: 5:07:36 (2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Fastest marathon pace maintained: 11:43 per mile
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my average marathon pace per mile by 2:30 (shooting for a pace of 9:13 per mile) in order to drop 1:07:37 from my best marathon time.

Goal #5: Complete My First Ultra
Furthest I have ever run: 29.5 miles (not run during an official race)
Distance of my scheduled 2013 ultra: 37.28 miles
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to finish the NYRR 60k on November 16th 2013.

Goal #6: Complete My First Triathlon
Furthest swim distance: 500 meters (May 24th)
Furthest cycling distance: 5 miles (May 24th)
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon, scheduled for July 18th. 1 mile (1600 meters)swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.
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BY setting some pretty challenging goals for myself, I am trying to generate interest in / donations to The Dream Team Project. This charity’s mission is to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the New York City Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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