Friday, November 26, 2010

The chronicles of Ironman Week

This is a long one so get a couple beverages and a snack and I hope you enjoy my mind dump of Ironman week.

Tuesday November 16

Kevin and I said our said our farewell to Sampson as we dropped him off at camp and we headed south to San Antonio where we stayed with Sean and Meredith since we had a 5:45 am flight to Phoenix. Uneventful, we arrived just in time for wonderful send off dinner and a great night of catching up.

Our gracious host were nice enough to drop us off at the airport so we could leave our car at their place (money saved could be spent on Ironman gear) and we were on our way to Tempe and IMAZ 2010.

Wednesday November 17

After a great and stress free flight we arrived and met up with Veronica at the airport. After grabbing our luggage we were off to pick up the rental car. IMAZ we’re here to kick butt & chew bubble gum, and we’re all out of bubble gum so get ready for a butt kicking!!

After a good lunch we headed over to Dorsey Place condos to check in and this happens to be where most of the T3 crew is staying so it’s T3 central. Since we’ve all been schooled by the great nutritionist Meredith Terranova, we knew getting our food shopping for week was a priority.

Grocery shopping check!!

Back at the condos, I had a good relaxing massage by Michelle and then it was time for potluck dinner with the early arrivers. We really didn’t start the potluck with a set menu/plan but somehow we had a wonderful well balanced meal, I guess this is how in sync we are with each other after the many hours of training we’ve spent together over the past 7+ months.

Thursday November 18

Our final condo mate Travis arrived and we were off for our first visit to Ironman Village. After hitting the store to pick up a few things and meet up with some of the crew it was time to go through the check in process. The check in process for Ironman is very different than regular Triathlons, but this is not just another triathlon this is IRONMAN.

After working my way through the many stations I get to the table where they go over the numerous bag stickers, timing chip and then the wonderful volunteer breaks out the famous Ironman wrist band. This is another point where it hits me; this Ironman thing is really going to happen.
After checking out the race site a little more I finally head over to Tempe Town Lake to look at where we will be swimming on Sunday. We’ve been here the past two year for Ironman as spectators but this year was different so I need to make peace with the water. Standing at the rail, I said another prayer and proceeded to have a short conversation with two of our volunteers for Sunday who will be signing up for the race on Monday. Wow, that was me a year ago, wide eyed and getting ready to start my Ironman journey at the registration table.

I found out of the guys was doing wetsuit stripping, so I asked him to keep an eye out for me and make sure he took good care of me. Of course I told him it was going to be easy to spot me. J

After a little more walking around I decided to go ahead and get body marked to save time later in the week. This was a very good idea because we would hear later on Friday that the lines were very long. Back at the condo we decided to head out for dinner and we met up with Andrew and his friends Adrian and Maurice from Colorado. A great dinner to wrap up another great day in Tempe.

Friday November 19

Since swimming wasn’t going to be allowed in Tempe Town Lake until Saturday, several of us decided to join locals Michael Nemeth and some other members of One Multisport for a swim at Saguro Lake. This lake was going to be alternate swim location if Tempe Town Lake wasn’t repaired and filled in time for the race. I’m so glad we went out there because it was absolutely beautiful. The water felt great and surrounding mountains made for great back drop for the swim. Back in Tempe, Kevin decided to go for a run with Kevin Russell and Frank and I took this as some well needed quiet time. Until this point I didn’t realized how much noise was around me. Time for Chris to recharge and I decided to start my race bag sorting and packing process. This quickly turned into another moment when I realized how many details go into race planning and prep, but following a checklist is a huge stress saver.

After a couple of hours of down time we got ready to head out for the evenings activities. We made it to the Tribe Multisport party and got to mingle and get pictures taken with several top pro athletes like Amy & Brandon Marsh and Matt Reed. After winning a few door prizes we headed back to Tempe for the team picture, welcome dinner and athlete meeting. It was great to see most of the team together for the picture and the dinner was better I expected. Once the welcome dinner officially started and they showed one of the Ironman motivational videos that I’ve seen many times but this time it was different. Goose bumps on my skin and tears rolled down my face because this time the video was for me as I prepared to become an Ironman. Then the voice of Ironman Mike Reilly officially started the welcoming party and it was an all around great evening.

Saturday November 20

Was a day full of activity and it started with the one and only practice swim in Tempe Town Lake where the race was going to be held. After meeting up with several other teammates to carpool we headed to the lake and there were people everywhere. Since the practice swim was only going to be open for two hours everyone had to get dressed, get in and get out in that time frame. After getting in my wetsuit several of us headed to the water and jumped in. Since the water was 61 degrees I braced myself for a bone chilling cold, and I was quite surprised that my chest didn’t lock up and I could breathe just fine. However, as soon as I started to swim my goggles started filling up with water. I think, no problem just clear them and move on. Tried once, no good, try again same thing and now I start to think what the heck is going on because the exact same goggles worked great the day before. I swim over to a kayak and try to clear them and get a good seal and the same thing happened when I tried to swim again. By this point I’m freaking out because my last swim to prepare me for Ironman and I’m having trouble keeping water out of my goggles. Finally I give up and start swimming back to the exit by only looking out of one eye because the other one is completely filled and it was like trying to look through a cloudy fish bowl. About 100 meters from the exit they both were filled with water again and I just kept swimming because I could make out the images. I get out of the water very upset because had this been race day I would have been in serious trouble.

I change back into my regular clothes but take a minute to gather myself to not let the swim bother me and put negative thoughts in my head. I thought, tomorrow no matter what make sure I have good seal on my goggles before getting in the water.

After running a few last minute errands, we grabbed lunch and prepared for bike and gear bag drop off. It was smooth and seamless and while over dropping off my T1 bag I ran into Barb and her sister who we met the night before. We chatted and I happened to mention my goggle issue earlier in the day and she asked if I had my goggles over or under my neoprene cap? I had it over it and she told me she had the same problem the previous week because just the little extra thickness of the neoprene cap can prevent getting a good seal.

Back home for dinner and quiet time before heading to bed it was officially IRONMAN EVE.


As many of you know I get up two hours before I need to leave before a big training weekend or race so this way was no different, follow the plan that’s worked for this long. Since Kevin was volunteering for the early shift he needed to be there by 4:30 which meant we needed to leave by 4:15. Therefore, I had to get up at 2:15 am, but what the hell let’s just make it 2 am just to keep it an even number.

The clock goes off at 2 am and I get up well rested and ready to engage my race day plan. I had written out a few notes the night before to make sure I didn’t forget anything and laid everything out that I needed. Start brewing the coffee, grab my banana and check a few emails and see lots of good luck messages. I also, grab my three cards that were given to me and told not to open until right before the race. First, I read the one from Kevin, followed by the one from Jen and then Shawn. They brought tears to my eyes because they all have gone through what I was about to go through and they all wanted me to succeed. With all of this support and encouragement I said a prayer for good day and to cross the finish line.

The weather forecast as the week went on the forecast got worse and it proved to be true. It was cold around 50 degrees and the winds were already blowing around 10 mph.

I proceeded with my morning breakfast menu and got the rest of the crew up at 3 am. By Just after 4 we were heading out the door to the race and I put on my noise canceling headphones and started my IMAZ play list. I immediately went into the zone and would probably not speak another word for the next hour.

We head over to drop off our special needs bags and by the time we got back to transition they were letting in athletes

After entering transition I head over to drop off a few nutrition items in my T1 & T2 bags and then head to my bike to get it ready. I go through my mental checklist probably 3 times and make sure everything is just right.

Once everything was set I headed over to the morning clothes area where some of the other T3 team members were hanging out and we settle in to chat and relax before the race. Before we know it, it’s 6:15ish which meant it was time put on our wetsuits and get ready for the day we had been training for the past 6 months.

Wetsuits on, good luck wishes and fist bumps are flying around and Kevin gives me one last hug before I head off into the unknown of Ironman. I walk over to the water with my teammates and we’re all excited but very nervous about what’s to come. We’re all standing near the water and the cannon goes off for the pros and then it’s our turn to jump in the water.

I had my swim start location picked out based on some advice I was given by a local so I jumped in the water worried about my goggle issue from the day before and YES sealed!! Energy is getting high, heart rate is through the roof as I swim to my planned spot and then I just tread water for a few minutes taking it all in. Looking at the people on shore they must have been 5 deep as far as you could see down the lake, I turn and look above to the Mill street bridge and wave at the people up there and then I turn back to look at my 2,300+ close friends all bobbing in the water with me. I look for the helicopter but because it was a windy day no helicopter.

It was almost 7 am somehow I found myself in the water about to start an Ironman race. Still today I find it hard to believe 18 months ago I didn’t know how to swim and was afraid to be in water over my head and now I was about to swim 2.4 miles in water way over my head with people who would swim over me and punch me in the face just to get clear water.

Right at that moment, one of my favorite songs started playing over the speakers, “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay and at that moment, I became confident that I was right where I belonged in my first Ironman race.

Mike Reilly got the crowd pumped to cheer us on throughout the day and then asked us if we were going to be an Ironman at the end of the day?, we yelled yes in reply and then the famous Ironman cannon blasted and our seventeen countdown started.

I felt comfortable right away and settled into a grove and the meters went by one by one. A few times people tried to swim over me and when I felt them I gave them a kick to get back and when someone got to close from one side or another I gave them an elbow or push to get back. Somehow I had instantly turned into an Ironman swimmer and deserved to be there just as much as anyone else.

Finally we reached the first turn and 1.2 mile done. Going down the back side of the swim I probably had a smile on my face because at that point I knew I was going to make it. A few times I caught a draft off of other swimmers but quickly figured out they were even slower than me because I had caught them. So I pulled around them and kept swimming. Finally one more left turn and there was the swim exit and it was time to go have more fun. Out of the water, I reached back to start undoing my wetsuit and my hand cramped up. Not good, I thought. I let one of the volunteers undo my zipper and continued down the carpet a little ways because based on my viewing the last two years I knew this area was less congested.

Wetsuit off I was onto T1, one of the volunteers immediately came over to help me with my things and then asked me if I wanted to change outside? I thought to myself, are you crazy it’s cold out here. However, I just replied, I’m doing a full change so I need to go inside. Inside two volunteers helped me get my things out of my bag and organized and probably would have dressed me if I had wanted. I put on my full cold riding gear and out of the tent I went. Kevin & Frank were waiting there to cheer me on when I came out and there was my bike waiting for me from the bike valet volunteer. Grabbed C1 and off I went giving Joe a high five and I left. Mount line, on the bike and off I went. It felt great to be in this race and I know I had a smile a mile wide because I was going to be an Ironman at the end of the day. Out for my first loop, the cold that was there at the start of the day was still there and the wind had picked up. Crap this was not in the plan. As our coaches always say, “you don’t know what race day bring so be prepared for everything”. Ok, cold and rain I can handle you so let’s just get this thing done. Out on the Bee Line Highway, I stat seeing more and more of my teammates and everyone is looking good. But the wind is behind me and I going up hill with ease and I think this is not going to be good going the other way. After the turn around I was going down hill slower than I was going up because the head wind was so strong. Right about that time I noticed my left shoe sliding back and forth on the cleat and peddle so I stopped at the bike tech area to get it checked and good thing I did because one of my screws was about to fall out and another one was very loose. Quick tighten and I was back on the bike. Back in town it started to rain and I thought REALLY!! First cold, then wind, and now rain, oh well Ironman isn’t supposed to easy. The rain picked up and backed off and I finished the first loop with the loud cheering of the T3 support crew.

Back out for the 2nd loop which was pretty much the same and but this time I would get to have my PBJ at the halfway point. When I got there and got off my bike this lady was standing there with a not so happy look on her face and said she was very hungry. I gave her some of my PBJ and she was very thankful. Finished my happy snack off I went. The miles few by and soon I was back in town and going out for my 3rd and final loop. More wind, more cold and more rain oh well I’m at mile 90 of Ironman and I had he biggest smile on my face. Other cyclists were looking at me and I saw them smile when they saw me so it was great and we’re in a freaking Ironman race. I cruised back into town and there was the T3 crew still there cheering for us while everyone else was long gone. Talk about loving your teammates, I really felt the love and “flat Chris” was still out there. Back at the dismount line the volunteer was there to take my bike and asked me if I needed anything off of it and I responded “no, you can have that thing.” I love C1 but we need to spend some time apart. Off the bike it was time to test out the knee that failed me 3 weeks ago.

As I had been told by many others make sure you have your head wrapped around doing a marathon before leaving T2 and that’s exactly what I did. I got dressed, chatted with the volunteers found out who won the race and then set out for my last 26.2 miles of the Ironman race. Right out of transition I saw Dan so he and I ran/walked together for the first 5-6 miles and then he went on with his race and I was actually feeling very good and comfortable with my run/walk pace. Again I couldn’t believe I was actually on the last 1/3 of my Ironman race and I would finish with some time to spare under the 17 hours. Coming to end of my first loop I was going to ditch my arm warmers and the contents of my special needs bag to Kevin when I saw him on the second loop and then it started to rain. Nope, decided to keep the arm warmers and told Kevin I would give him the special needs contents when I saw him.

Just as I started my second loop I needed to stop in the port-o-potty. When I came out I saw this lady who was doing her Ironman shuffle and by this time I was power walking. After about ¼ of a mile we noticed that her Ironman shuffle and my power walking pace were the same and we quickly knew we were meant to be together. After meeting my new friend Jill from the Tempe/Phoenix area we said we’re in this together to the end. So off we went and there was no stopping us. Mile by mile went by with Jill, we introduced each other to our support crew, I dropped my special needs bag with John because Kevin was away eating at the time and Jill and I continued our Ironman marathon. For the most part we were both very upbeat but there were some low points that we wanted the pain to stop but never once did we consider stopping. We knew we would finish this race and we were committed to keeping each other going. When one of us stopped the other waited and vice versa. We ran into teammates from both of our teams and Ali even asked if I had met Jill before tonight because we seemed like such good friends. I responded no but we’re friends now. At the start of the 3rd loop I turned on my new light saber and it was game on because we were going to be an Ironman. The miles went by, 21, 22, 23, 24, then 25. I got teary eyed because the dream I started almost over 18 months ago was about to come true. We quickly talked about who was going to go first because we both wanted our moment in the finish chute so we agreed since I had a little extra left I would go. I picked up the pace and made the big left that said “FINISH.” I saw Natasha taking bikes back to trailer and she gave me a cheer. A little further up the road I could hear people calling my name it was Kevin, Dionn, Joe and a few others I gave them a high five because I was about to make the biggest left turn of my life. That’s when I saw the finish line. I was about to become an Ironman. Because I’ve been to a few of these before I knew your name was called before you cross the finish line so I slowed up coming down the chute, gave several people in the crowd a high five, did several jumps in the air as I heard Mike Reilly say those magical words “Chris Garlington from Austin, Texas, for the first time YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”

I had done it, I beat the swimming demons, battled through the cold, wind, rain, hail and the knee that had failed me three weeks before held up perfectly.

After crossing the finish line I immediately saw Chrissie Wellington and I gave her a big hug and she said congratulations to me and I replied the same to her. I continued through the finishing area with a volunteer and that’s when I saw Kevin and many of my other teammates. It was a great ending to a truly magical day that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Post Race
Finishers Gear
Kevin and I both got our Ironman tattoos
After party with many of the IMAZ racers and support crew
4 days and Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon with Kevin and 5 others from the IMAZ race and support team.

Answering the common questions:
1. Was it the hardest thing I’ve ever done? Yes
2. Will I do it again? In a heartbeat, in fact #2 will be on May 21, 2011 with Kevin and several other close friends
3. Am I sticking to only doing two Ironman races? Probably not but I will take some time off to fix my knee after the 2011 race season
4. Am I happy with my time? Yes, I finished but I will be more aggressive for the next one

Until the next time,


Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Can, I Will

Written in the car on the way back from OKC, so this could get a little long and boring for some.

In the beginning, there was a 40 yr old male who couldn’t swim but wanted to do triathlons and compete in an Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run) race. Fast forward 18 months the same male stood in the water ready to put all of his swim practice to the final test before the ultimate goal of competing at Ironman Arizona. But let’s back up before we get to the actual race itself.

Going back a week before this weekend race I preparing for a week of work training in Pittsburgh and I had made arrangements for my bike to go up with my friend Lynn and the rest of my gear was going to go up with my friends who I was rooming with Tim & David. But as faith would have it work was crazy busy for two weeks leading up to race and my training was postponed until December. This was a blessing in disguise and now I could follow my normal pre-race routine.

Friday morning came and we met at Tim’s place to load up and head to Oklahoma. The drive was uneventful and several other friends were either already in Oklahoma City prepping for the race or they were on the road with us and Coach Charles blew by us along the way. After a quick lunch stop and couple more hours drive we arrived in Oklahoma City and headed directly to race site to get checked in. We ran into Bekah & Dan right away and several other friends were at the athletes briefing getting the race low down.

After a quick chat with friends we headed to our hotel to get checked in. Upon arriving, we found this hotel was not up to our standard. Through the goodness of modern technology and iPhones David found us a much nicer hotel closer to the race and near other friends. After dropping off a few in the hotel room we headed back to the race site to drop off our bikes and gear and it was then time for an early dinner.

The alarm clock went off at 3am and it was time to start the pre race ritual. My body was feeling good, I had all of my normal food and my Achilles felt 100% and just before 5am we headed out for the race. We arrived and you could immediately feel the excitement in the air. Heading into transition Dina greeted us with a smile and hug and it felt great to have so many friends from Austin there racing together. After getting transition all set up it was time to chill for a little bit, chat with friends and hang out in the chit chat line J

As 6:30am rolled around it was time to become a human sausage (put on the wet suit) and head down to the water. Finally it hit me, I’m about to swim the Ironman distance in a race and this will tell me if I’m ready for Ironman in about 50+ days.

The shot gun went off and it was time to go, I started swimming and I immediately felt relaxed and knew I was going to be a good day. I rounded the first turn and then the second and thought wow, this a great swim and even started passing people. I finished the first 1.2 miles and looked at my watch: 55+ SCORE!! I was stoked because the last time I swam this distance in a race it took me 1:11. I completed the second loop in about the same time and out of the water there were Dina and Ginger cheering me on the whole way (thank you!!!)

In and out of T1 I was off for 112 miles on the bike. Feeling great after my swim I probably has a smile a mile wide. A few miles out I started seeing friends on the course and we were all having fun and having great races. Loop 1, loop 2 and now this was getting old and I had two more loops. On loop 3 I was really starting to feel it and thank goodness it was time to stop and have my PBJ J Just after I started back Coach Charles came by me and yelled out to him “damn this continuous riding is hard.” What I realized on the ride was how much of a break we get by stopping at traffic lights or at the store to refill on water. During an Ironman none of those breaks are there so it’s time to man up because if it was easy everyone would do it.

Loop 3 was my toughest and just when I was in a low point, zooming in the other direction was Tammy and shortly after her were two people on a moped and one of them was Dina. When she yelled “go Chris” it was a huge lift in my spirits motivated me to finish loop 3 take it out for my last loop. Knowing this was my last loop, it no time to go conservative and my mind took over and I started going faster and faster. Mile after mile went by and soon I could see the dam wall of Lake Hefner. I had just completed 2 of 3 distances of the Ironman within my time goal of 9 hours. During this race I accomplished my goal of getting the confidence going into Ironman Arizona, but I also learned a lot about myself.

Huge credit goes to me for having the guts to get on this Ironman journey and sticking with it. However, it would not be the same without my great T3 teammates on this journey with me and the excellent T3 coaching. And as many of us endurance athletes know nutrition is key part of our success, huge thanks to Meredith Teranova for helping me dial in my nutrition plan. And most of all, thanks goes to Kevin for all of his encouragement and support, thanks for being the best partner in the world.

Much to my surprise on the way home I get a text from friends who stayed for the awards banquet that I got second in my age group.

Wow, to that I will say “I Can, I Will”

To be continued………..

Monday, July 5, 2010

Alex vs. Ironman, guess who won?

Well this weekend was the 4th of July long and Kevin and I had lots of plans and Tropical Storm Alex, threatened to disrupt our plans.

Friday started with a nice swim in Barton Springs and then it was time to watch a World Cup game at Third Base with some friends. Later in the day on Friday rain from the storm was moving into Austin so our plans could get derailed. So going to bed Friday everything was TBD weather depending.

Kevin was set for his scub diving certification but lightning would his certification would be delayed or cancelled. Saturday, arrived with light showers and very wet roads and after a few discussions with my training mates we decided to do our 15 mile run and save the ride until Sunday. Somehow before even leaving the I twisted my knee and it did not feel good enough to run at all let alone run 15 miles. However Ironman training is all about overcoming pain and pushing through it and that what I did. At mile 10 it really started hurting and I had to run walk the next 15 miles. Mission accomplished, it was time to head home with a stop at the store for four bags of ice because I was going to need all the help I could get to recover for Sunday 70 mile ride followed by a 30 min. run.

After spending a couple of hours with friends at a cook out it was time to head home and get ready for Sunday. Sunday turned out to be a great day to ride and the crew put our wheels down from Brushy Creek Park to travel a new route. My knee felt better but not 100% and it seemed everyone was feeling the miles we put on our legs from Saturday's run. No matter what we were determined to get it done and so we did with a smile on our face. The best part of the day was at the finish. In Brush Creek Park there was a children's play area with water fountains and standing in the cool water felt great.

After gathering up our things it was time head home and Sunday also happened to be Sampson's birthday. He was his normal self until he got his special Bully stick so this gives him something to play with for at least a week.

Since a few of us had today off and as if we hadn't done enough training this weekend the gang decided to meet at Barton Springs for a swim and then go for breakfast.

So in the end, Ironman won the battle with Tropical Storm Alex and Kevin is now a certified scuba diver.

Time for bed to rest up and reload for the coming week.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So much has changed in such a little time.....

Well since my last posting got accidentally deleted this one is going be short and brief.
Kevin, Sampson and I are doing great and life is treating us very well. Work is keeping both of us super busy and I just learned that I will have a few training trips this Summer as if I didn't have enough going on.

Kevin is just about ready to start running again since his stress fracture sidelined him almost two months ago and maybe I'll be able to keep up with him on his first comeback runs :-) However, since he had some free time on his hands from not running he's been studying for his diving certification so that he can dive with Laura and Rick while in Honduras for Michael and Gisselle's wedding in August.
I'll keep my swimming to triathlons for now thank you.
Last week I completed my second sprint triathlon and my first without my wetsuit since my first triathlon last August. The race went great, I survived the swim and beat my previous time by 5min.
After getting back into the swing of things this week the talk about a full Ironman race coming to Texas was in full swing. And Wednesday it became official, Ironman Texas May 21, 2011 and registration was set to open Friday 6/25. Well Kevin and I said we were going to our second Ironman together and this one would be close, lots of our friends would be there either racing or cheering so should we do it????
Keep in mind I'm only into my second month Ironman training and it's insane to think about signing up for number two so early in training for number one. Well....................I guess I'm insane :-)
That's right, Kevin and I will both be racing the inaugural Ironman Texas next year and to add more excitement to it our good friends from Toronto and Ft. Lauderdale will be coming to do it with us. We can't wait and it's going to be so much fun.
Well, I'm off for a Hawaii in Austin party tonight, this shoud be interesting since Kevin and I will both be wearing grass skirts.
Much Love and remember,
"There's a lot of things to think about, but nothing to worry about" -Matt Koepke

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vacation is over, let Ironman training begin!!!

Kevin and I spent a great week in Liberia & Flamingo Bay, Costa Rica over Memorial Day weekend and this vacation exceeded our expectations.

The planning for our vacation started late last year and once we decided not to stay in a nice hotel we were super lucky to find an apartment on - this slice of paradise is a must if you planning a trip to this area of Costa Rica. Here is a link to the homeowners website Our Host Babe and her husband Don were wonderful and made us feel like family visiting for a week.

While we were in Costa Rica we did lots of relaxing but we did get out for two great tours in addition to our site seeing of the area. We first did a canopy tour near the Rincon Volcano This was a great adventure, we got to zip line upside down, repel down into a canyon and then rock climb out and after the tour we had lunch and did a two hour hike in the forest near the volcano. The hike took us up to 30ft waterfalls and at several points there was lava bubbling up from the volcano. Not your average hike in the city.

A couple of days later we decided to go white water rafting, since this was my first time I was a little apprehensive but once we got there I was more than ready to go, The family that owns and operates this operation were great and took very good care of us. Once we got to the water we were informed that there were class 3 & 4 rapids and we should be prepared to be thrown out of the raft. They were right and Kevin and I got bounced/thrown out several times and once the raft landed on my head. Not to worry the tour guide instructed us how to get out of this situation.

All in all it was a great trip and we would highly recommend visiting this country.

After arriving back in Austin and taking a day to settle in, I eased back into my training routine and it felt great to get back after it. Today was my first official long ride of the Ironman training season and the schedule called for a 50 mile ride followed by a 30 min run. After speaking to the coaches to have a goal for every ride I decided to make this my ride for high cadence so I would feel good for the run. Mission accomplished and my run was awesome.

This is going to be fun and I'm ready for the first long run tomorrow, 11 miles of glorious fun.

Until next time be safe and keep living life to the fullest.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What will you do when Ironman throws you a curveball?

Well that's the decision I was faced with this morning. However, before we get to what I did when the ball got to me we have to go back a few months.

It was this past Winter when we were training for Lonestar 70.3 and several of my training friends and I had our weekend all planned out and Mother Nature had other plans in mind. I don't remember what we ended up doing that weekend but what I do remember from that weekend are the words John Jobes said "when things don't work out as planned because of weather we'll have to train when we can"

Simple enough right?

Back to this weekend, the plans were:
  • Saturday, go for a 40-50 mile ride
  • Sunday, swim stroke clinic and then go for a 8 mile run

This weekend roll of Ironman was played by Mother Nature. The storms from Friday night rolled right into Saturday morning and it was very easy to just turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep because it was raining. Shortly after getting up the rain stopped and the wind picked up. Still easy to blow off the ride because wet roads with wind wasn't safe. The little guy in my head said it's ok, it's just one ride and you can miss it and have no problem. True but would one missed ride turn into two, then three and so on over the next 5+ months.

Throughout this decision process I was exchanging text messages with Eric C. and one of his text messages said, "he and John were going to swim and then ride because he wasn't giving in that easy." That's what I needed to hear. The little Ironman to-be inside was kicked in the rear by those words and I said to myself. "Yes you were going to ride today but I must be flexible and get the training in when I can." So after I changed some plans around for Sunday afternoon my day opened up a little more to allow for ride so it was time to go for a run.

This turned out to be one of the best runs ever!! I saw several friends and training mates at the start and then I took off. My pace was fast, I focused on staying relaxed (thanks Coach Leslie), and watched my crossover (thanks Richard). One thought that kept coming to mind while I ran was, if I would have given in to the weather what would this mean for the rest of the summer when Ironman training gets really tough, was I going to give in? No because while the training plan calls this phase pre-endurance training, I think it's really pre-gut check training and time for us to ask ourselves "how bad do we want it?"

Ironman, I'm ready to take your best pitch, show me what you got because I'm ready to show you what I'm made of!!!

Thanks everyone, you motivate me with the small things to keep going

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tri to see things from a different view

This update is going to be a little bit different than some of the others, hope you can see things from my point of view.

Well after 4 1/2 months of solid training my body and mind started giving me signs that it was time for little break. These signs worked out pretty well with an upcoming business trip so it should be easier to relax and enjoy things which are different from my normal day-to-day activities.

Once, I decided to listen to the calling signs and not try to train through the weekend before leaving it was only natural for me to go out and cheer for a couple of races. This is where I got to see things from a different point of view.

Saturday morning took me out to the Chuy's 5k Trot, where a friend Amy Colquette was participating in her first 5K. I saw a couple of other people I knew but this day was all about supporting Amy because she has always been there to support us in our races. It was great to see her gearing up for her first race because there will only be one first and for many others you could tell they were there to either change their day or possibly change their life by getting healthy. One of the most memorable moments of the day was when man ran by Eric and I and yelled at us, "I'm 77 years old."

Those few words reminded me, it's not about how fast you get finish line but that you're still getting to the starting line.

This morning brought a very early wake up call for volunteer duties at the Rookie triathlon. Never mind the name, this is a super sprint race where a lot of the veteran athletes go and see how fast they can go for this short distance race. But it's the true Rookies at this race that make me realize why I love triathlons. The excitement, nervous energy, and seeing so many familiar faces all make race day very exciting.

The excitement is what lights the fire inside to want to keep doing this sport and I know after a short break and a great vacation to Costa Rica I'll be ready to tackle the next 5+ months of training as I keep my eye on the prize.

Congratulations to all of those who raced this weekend and don't every lose the excitement because I won't.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't try to eat the whole elephant at once......

Well, while I eat lunch today I thought it was a good time to talk about the hard cold reality I slapped myself with this morning.

When I logged onto Facebook this morning I notice someone had a link to an application to countdown the days to your next big race and post it to your facebook status.

I proceeded to the application and from the drop down of races I selected Ironman Arizona 2010 and plugged in the race date. Hit submit and bam my status was updated, very innocent right?

NO, NO, NO, my status update now said "Chris Garlington is participating in Ironman Arizona on the stated date. 200 days left" HOLY CRAP!!! There it was in black and white and although I just completed my first 70.3, I'm truly scared of what's to come in the next 200 days.

I have great support system, I'll be training with the best triathlon training group around and a lot of my friends and training mates will be experiencing the same highs and lows I will. So I have to keep faith, trust the training program that has worked for so many others before me and not try to eat the whole elephant at one time. Slice it with a sharp training plan and eat it practice by practice, day by day, and week by week. I know life is going throw road blocks and speed bumps my way over the next 6 months and I'll need to put my big boy undies on face them head on.

To my training mates, you will probably get to see sides of me you didn't know were there but we're like a family and families see the good and the bad. Kevin, you've traveled this road before and I know you will slap me upside the head when I get more crazy than I am normally.

Wow, writing this out made me feel better than I thought it would.

Note to self, be careful of Facebook applications, it may be scary when reality slaps you in the face!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Have a plan, set goals, and never stop believing!!

If I could rewind time by just one year I would be getting ready to start the T3 swim clinic because I couldn’t get from one end of the pool to the other without being out of breath.

Coming back to just a few days ago, Kevin and I packed up car and headed to Galveston, TX with several of our friends and training buddies for the Memorial Herman Ironman Texas 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run). If you haven’t guessed by now I’ve gone from no swimming to attempting a 1.2 mile swim in Galveston Bay. We left Austin with a five car caravan and everyone was in great spirits, lots of nervous energy, and excited to race.

Once we arrived in Galveston we stopped for lunch and then headed over to Moody Gardens which was race central. We cruised through packet pickup, bought a couple of things at the expo and scored big time with a nice pre race massage from the great folks from Memorial Herman. From there we got checked into the house we were sharing with friends Tom Bressie, Jen Walker, and John Jobes and then it was time to go for a practice swim. Have I mentioned that last year this time I wouldn’t go into the deep end of the pool and now I was going to swim in Galveston Bay, my first salt water swim?

The swim went great, I felt comfortable but salt water is yucky in your mouth. Pre race swim check!

Going into the weekend, I had three goals and only one I could control the outcome of so let’s see what happens. After everyone was cleaned up we met up with some other friends at Salt grass for dinner. Great dinner and as I was going to the restroom out comes professional triathlete Andy Potts. I reached out my hand introduced myself and wished him a great race on Sunday, goal one complete!!

Friday night around 3am a wicked rain & wind storm blew into Galveston with 75mph wind gust and we could feel the house moving back and fourth. This did not look good going into the weekend with the Sprint & Olympic distance races set for Saturday morning. I got up around 5:30 and the wind was still blowing pretty hard and then it started raining and lightning. I told John if this was our race morning I would be crying my eyes out.

After a leisure morning we head toward Moody Gardens to see our friends racing on Saturday and traffic was terrible. We tried an alternate route with no luck, and while stuck in traffic what else are you to do but check Facebook. We found out the Sprint & Olympic distance races had their swim cancelled because the water was dangerous and not safe for swimming because the wind was so strong. Later we found out a police boat capsized because of the wind the previous night. I would say with wind that strong it would be unsafe for swimming. This did not make me feel any better about my upcoming 1.2 mile swim. After sitting in traffic about 30 minutes we decided to abandon our attempt to get to Moody Gardens and hopefully our friends would appreciate our efforts. Back to the house we decided it was time for one last bike check ride. All of us dressed in our T3 gear headed out and merged right in with cyclist riding the Olympic race. Everything felt great and back to the house we went. After what turned into a great group lunch, we headed home to chill for couple of hours. Then it was time for bike check in. On the drive to Moody Gardens to check in our bikes is when it truly hit me what I was about to take on. I was having trouble breathing and tears came to my eyes and for a second I had doubt I could do it. I quickly dismissed any negative thought and thought to myself trust your training and “I Can, I Will”.

After a nice dinner at the house we were off to bed because it was almost “Race Day”.

The alarm clock went off at 2:30 and I was up to start my pre-race ritual. Coffee, breakfast and spend some quality time with the Trigger Point set. We were out the door bags and coolers in tow as planned at 4:30. We weren’t the first ones there but of course other teammates pulled up just as we did. Did our Coaches train us to also be the first ones at the race?

After a few pictures, body marking, we were ready to enter transition and that’s when I put the iPod in for some of my favorite pre-race music as I set up my transition area. The activity in transition quickly picked up and you feel the pre race nerves and all of them were positive. This is where goal two comes in; Kevin came over and told me professional triathlete Chris Lieto was coming in. I went over and introduced myself and wished him a good race. Three goals coming into the weekend and one to go, faith had allowed me to meet two of them and now it was all up to me. After setting up my transition area, I greeted many of my friends and training mates and proceeded to cruise around take pictures and soak up the experience.

Around 6:30 the T3 team gathered for a team picture and then it was time to make the march to the water. Once again I’m trying to relax and not think about the magnitude of day and what I about to take on and take it one piece at time. It’s just another 1.2 mile practice swim. After getting our wetsuits on Kevin, Brad, and I realized our wave was already lined up. Oh crap guys we have to go!!

Over in herd like cattle, we have our gear on and we’re ready to jump in. Did I mention I’ve never had a deep water start and just a year ago I was not a swimmer? The count down went much faster than I thought it should have and off the horn went. Oh boy time to swim. The water was super choppy and it’s a great thing that I did Champions Tri and the Lake Travis Open Water Swim to prepare me for this day. I took something before the swim to help keep my stomach settled and it’s a good thing. Waves were slapping me in the face and on my head and I had to struggle to catch a breath sometime. But I had to trust my training. In the back of the crowd where I’m comfortable I started my swim. I’m thinking to myself “stay out of the chaos, and just relax”. Stay out of the way is exactly what I did and then over my right shoulder I see a life guard coming up to me and he blows his whistle, and points me back on course. I was way off course and swimming more distance than I needed. Back on course I felt comfortable enough to get in the mix and I got hit a couple of times. No problem I’m bigger than most so they can’t swim over me. Then I felt my swim cap coming off. Off it came and went in front of me and with this being my first 70.3 swim cap I didn’t want to lose it. I grabbed it when my right hand came over and using a “3-3-3 swim stroke” with my left arm. I kept swimming while I stuffed my swim cap down the front of my wetsuit. Around the first turn it was time for the long straight away, this seemed like it went on forever. Now swimming in a different direction it was time to adjust for the waves. I did and started getting hit more since I was in the mix. So what I thought, just keep swimming because they can’t stop me. I made it to the last turn and thought, “WOW, I’m really going to make this.” Out of the water and up the exit ramp I see Head Coach Maurice and Dr. Chris Sellers. Wetsuit off, rinse the salt off and then head for the bike, was my plan and executed like clock-work. Friends were there cheering and gave them all a high-five. At my bike I focused, take don’t panic and do everything in the order they have been laid out in. I’m out of transition and now in my element on the bike.

After briefly forgetting how to work my watch I got it going and hit the seawall and started picking off other cyclist one by one. I focused on keeping a high cadence so my legs wouldn’t burn out and be conservative. By this time I knew goal three was going to happen, finish what I start and become an Ironman 70.3 finisher. The wind was strong and I looked for a flag to see how it was hitting us. Headwind ok, deal with it for 28 miles and then I can fly back home and make up speed. I see the leader Chris Lieto heading back in and the others are chasing him down. I then see Tom, Kevin and several other training mates. My nutrition is right on target and I get to turn around and briefly stop to switch my bottles around and then I’m off. I quickly think, what the heck, this is supposed to be a tail wind, NOPE!! It’s hitting me from the other side of my face and I think CRAP!! Oh well, I went conservative on the way out so I can push it on the way back and that’s what I did. I held a higher cadence and pushed it back home. The miles counted and at mile 46 I started my end of the ride nutrition plan, water only and settle all the other nutrition down and I started counting down the miles 9, 8, 7etc.

Back into transition, put on running watch and the rest of my running gear and I’m off. Right out of the gate, there was the T3 crew and it was great to see them there. I’m feeling good and I’m going at a sub 9 pace, oh crap that is way to fast so I slow it down and try to settle in. I started seeing other teammates on the course and that really helped because this just now a multiple loop long run with the people I’ve trained with for the past 4 months. I see Kevin and this really boost my spirits and I press on. Loop one done, 3 more to go. It was hot and I was taking water and Gatorade on until my stomach got un-happy. Enough my stomach said, ok ok I get the point. I thought if I don’t walk a little and settle my stomach down this could be very bad. So I did, and things got back on track. Run Chris run, that what I needed to do and that’s what I did. 2 ½ more loops and I met up with Gwen at mile 11. We were both heading to the finish line and we kept each other going. Mile 12, I couldn’t stop smiling, 12.5, the crowds got deep and we picked up the pace. I told Gwen to go on and I then turned on the after burner. There it was the finish line and I wanted it all to myself. I crossed the finish line and jumped in the air. I did it!! I was now an official Ironman 70.3 finisher!!

It’s one of the best feelings ever to know you did something all on your own and no one gave you anything.

Thank you to Kevin for your love and support, my family for never telling me I couldn’t, and thank you to all of my great friends, training partners, and the great T3 family.

Now it’s time for some rest and relaxing training before starting the Ironman journey in June.


Saturday, April 17, 2010


Yes a week before my first Half Ironman race I think it's time to start updating the blog (I'll try to post at least weekly until Ironman in November). I've even updated our race schedule for 2010.

As I sit here looking over the workout schedule for the upcoming week, I reflect on how far my training has come over the past year. If you recall I started swimming almost a year ago after spending a couple of years on duathlon circuit and this time next week Kevin and I will be dropping our bikes off in transition for the Ironman Texas 70.3 on 4/25. This also happens to be Kevin's birthday and he just couldn't think of anything better to do for his birthday.

When I started the swim clinic last year my very long range goal was to be able to finish a 70.3 in the next couple of years but after having my first taste of triathlons at Jack's Generic Triathlon lat August, I was hooked and wanted more. More is exactly what I've gotten since. I've spent many many hours swimming and building up my distance and next week I will put it all to a test.

Stay tuned more to come!!!