So yes… I owe a few blog posts…but..Here is something new.. “Our journey towards Ironman”

So yes… I know I was just here saying that I owed a few Party blog posts… from last year and this year.. and once I have a moment – I very much want to do that… my vendors were awesome and it was a FABULOUS day… well.. both days… BUT I have decided to utilize this blog for something more… As some of you know – My partner in crime.. Technically he is my boyfriend.. but when you are say older than 25yrs old and share two children together.. BOYFRIEND.. doesn’t really seem to really express it.. and while I often refer to him as my partner.. in this day and age you sometimes get sideways glances… I digress…so – as many of you know.. Eric – My guy! has had a total life shift in the past 9 months… and I think it would be interesting to chronicle it and his journey – which is many ways has become the entire family’s journey towards IRONMAN… there are a lot of blogs out there written by the athlete and I love those,… but I don’t see many written from the other side or the support team.. and well.. being that Eric is a man of few words.. I don’t really see him sitting down to blog about his journal.. and he may very well not appreciate me writing about it either… but until he tells me that – I will start 🙂 Besides.. these entries don’t require me to go through the photos and vendor lists and take but a few mins to write…So this will be a chronicle of his/our journey – but from my perspective.. unless i can convince him to write up some things here and there.. and of course you will still get my other ramblings… 🙂

So on October 3rd 2011 the journey began – His eldest daughters 14th birthday… and no one really knew it.. Eric stopped smoking… after being a 1-2 pack a day smoker for 20years and constant bugging from everyone.. and by everyone.. I mean everyone… we tried to bug him.. let him be.. not say a word… well… he quit.. without saying a word to anyone… and while I noticed that he wasn’t going out for his smoke breaks… I decided to wait a few days before saying anything… When I finally did.. he bluntly said he didn’t want to talk about it… so we didn’t.. but we all silently supported him… it was a rough month+ but he is a very special man who once HE puts his mind to something… accomplishes it….When he stopped smoking – he also decided that he needed to do something to prevent the weight gain that usually comes along with quitting.. so he started to run.. He has always been athletic.. He ran track and played football in High School and even went through a running period about 5years ago.. so he started with less than a mile.. and began to work his way up…

Eric is a General Contractor and was in pretty decent shape to being with… but the running was like starting from scratch….He would get up before work and run to the end of the street and then push it a little further… and being the goal oriented guy he is.. decided to set his first goal… of running 13.1 miles or a Half Marathon.. At the time – He felt like this was a HUGE undertaking… but with a little research – and a training plan from – he was literally off and running!

And the shift went beyond the quitting smoking and running… it over-flowed to how he ate and what he ate… I was 7 months pregnant when all of this started – and we all started to eat like Eric.. I now affectionately refer to it as “Body By Eric”…  We replaced white flours (Breads and pastas) with Whole Wheat and Whole Grains… switched from white rice to brown rice.. started to track what we ate and become educated about sugars and sodium…He upped his veggies and leafy greens (I have not be able due to breastfeeding and the baby’s sensitivity) and made sure all proteins are lean.. lean cheese, lowfat/low sugar yogurt, boneless-skinless-chicken, pork, turkey and limited red meat and if he is going to eat it – it will be as lean as we can buy… but I can’t remember the last time he ate beef…

The results have been amazing…. since October Eric lost over 50lbs… and if you asked me a year ago if he had weight to loose.. I would have told you no… and he has started to add on more muscle – without lifting weights…

Since January – I have lost 60lbs and counting.. and without much exercise because with a full time job, a 5.5month old, 3 year old and soon to be 6yr old… there is not a lot of time left in the weeks… and being the support team for – Team Connell in training, takes some extra time…

So.. in these 9 months.. Eric not only completed his first Half Marathon.. but ran 2 half’s and completed his first full Marathon in June.. Finishing in 3hrs 34mins and 34secs.. and during this time he shifted his goals to IRONMAN.

What this means is that the Marathon became part of his training… because 26.2 miles is 1/3 of an Full Ironman distance race… you also swim 2.4 miles and Bike 112miles.

Ironman Triathlon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race, where the Ironman race starts at 7:00 AM, the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim is 2 hours 20 minutes, the bike cut off time is 5:30 PM, and all finishers must complete their marathon by midnight.

The name Ironman Triathlon refers to both the original Ironman triathlon and the annual Ironman World Championship. Also called Ironman Hawaii, the world championships of the event, held annually in Hawaii since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982), are now preceded by a series of qualifying events. Ironman Triathlon became known for its grueling length, harsh race conditions, and television coverage.”

So once we realized what his goal was.. it was time to formulate a plan. Eric started his research and I reached out to one of my best friends from College as her husband is an Ironman.  He made some suggestions and put us in touch with his previous coach.

After a lot of thought we decided to hire Chris Hauth of AIMP Coaching… Chris is an avid Ironman and just placed 8th over-all and 1st Amateur in his last 70.3 race… he and his coaching have been amazing…

In the past 3months while working with Chris – Eric has improved his fitness and lactate (resistance?) by 30%.. its such an interesting process to watch and is all based on target heart rate zones and by slowing down, you actually speed up.. Eric has taken about 20mins off his half marathon pace and probably more… but has not set out to see how fast he can run 13.1miles in a while.

Eric is currently signed up for his first two training races: the Olympic Distance Tri in Pacific Grove, CA and the Olympic Tri in Santa Cruz, CA (Swim =.93miles Bike=24.86miles Run=6.21miles).  These will be quick but should give some insight into transitions, pace, etc.. they are the training grounds for his first 70.3 Ironman (or half Ironman… but 70.3 miles should never be referred to has “half” in my mind) in Austin… we are currently choosing his full IM distance races – and from our current standpoint.. he will probably be running 1-3 per season… but it will depend…

We have learned so much this far in the journey and I am sure many many many more lessons will be on their way..

First off… Triathlon training – especially IM distances is fully a team effort!  Eric does the work and let me tell you.. it is some serious work at 12-20hrs of training per week…from speed drills to 4hr+ distance bike rides… and I anticipate the training will become even more; longer and harder.. If we didn’t work as a team.. either he or us or both would fail… We tag team the grocery shopping and food prep – we crock pot A LOT of chicken and are on the look out for healthy and “Eric approved” snacks and meals.. he is diligent in this – as he is with everything…Low fat/low sugar/low sodium is the name of the game

I try to take care of the house and the kids as best I can so that he can train.. he gets up at 6am on Saturdays so that he is complete or near completion of his long rides before the kids wake up so that we can still spend the day as a family.. he is routinely up at 4:30am during the week to hit the pool, the treadmill or the trainer.. and sometimes our family time is the DVR while he sits on his bike on the trainer… we have shifted our way of life to support the goal… and as I said.. we all benefit.. the kids and I eat better – we all try to eat like daddy… we are more active as a family and in turn – it brings us all together and we are closer than we have ever been… Its a family adventure to drive along West Cliff and look for daddy after an 1.5hr+ run – so that daddy can avoid hills on his return and avoid an IT band injury.. we pack up his “after bag” and go on the hunt…or all venture to the track while speed drills are done and the kids and I kick around a soccer ball or Mackenzie will try to run with daddy.. We make time for dates – even if its just some quiet time alone…

For us as a family.. it goes beyond that… it means that on race day we all get up at 5am to get to the start line and stretch and wish daddy luck.. then make our way to the finish to cheer him in… its an adventure that as tiring and trying as it can be.. is beyond rewarding…

Sure… it’s sometimes hard to have daddy (and your partner) in bed and asleep before its dark out.. but I think we would all take this healthy version 2.0 over the previous versions or the alternative…

I am now a believer that behind every Ironman/ironwoman has a support team and structure.. there has to be in order for it to work (unless they are single with no kids..LOL)..but let me tell you.. its inspiring to watch and feel all the changes…and this is a HUGE benefit.

Some things to consider before deciding to go for Ironman…

* It is a MAJOR time commitment.. think 10-20hrs per week in addition to your normal 9-5 job and family.

* It is NOT an inexpensive sport… it is 3 different sports and disciplines – all with their own gear and requirements and I would HIGHLY suggest a coach… This has been invaluable… Chris provides Eric not only with a weekly training guide.. but really helps make sure he is training smart and efficient… if you are going to work THIS HARD you probably want to get the best results and most out of that training…and get the lactate acid testing.. this is ESSENTIAL for endurance sports.. and again.. makes training smarter = faster…

Simplified Gear List

* Garmin Fore-runner watch with Heart-rate monitor or something similar: Monitor your HR, Miles, Cadance, etc..

* Road Bike to train on.

*GPS for said road bike to track miles – maps, etc..

*Candance sensor to talk to your watch to watch your cadance/rotations and watts

* Trainer for your road bike for in-home rides/training

* Biking gear: Shoes, shorts, jersey’s, helmet, gloves

* Tri Bike for Races – for IM distances and 70.3 this is going to be key.. you can probably get away with a decent road bike with clip on Aero bars for shorter races.. but this plays into the train smarter and be more efficient.. the research says that the lowest tri bike will be better/faster than the best road bike.. and when you are looking at spending 4-7hrs on a bike during an endurance race.. speed.output and efficiency will be key.

* GOOD Running shoes.. that are changed out about ever 300-400miles

* Nike Ipod Chip – at least in the start – to help talk to your iphone/ipod is helpful

* iphone/ipod for music/distance tracking, etc…

* Shorts and gear to run in

* Swim trunks

* Swim cap

* Swim coach.. LOL.. or Master’s class.. not gear but recommended… Eric’s swim coach has been instrumental for him… while he knew how to swim… its very different than being able to swim for 2.4miles in a race setting and typically in open waters…

* Swim fins

* Kick-board

* Swim paddles – all of the above helps with drills, power and training

* Swim/Tri wetsuit

*tri gear – pants/shorts and shirt/tank – specifically designed to race in…

* You can also get an ipod shuffle and the waterproof cases if you need/like to train with music

* Gear bags – gym bag, swim bag, after run bag (This helps me), travel or transition bag, Bike travel case..

Other things to keep in mind.. when you go on vacation.. the gear must go.. when you travel for races.. the gear must go… shipping or flying with a bike.. takes coordination and $..

Other than that.. and I am sure I am missing things.. it is an awesome and incredible journey.. one I count myself as lucky to be apart of!

And here is an interesting comparison…. a picture of us from Alex’s and Mackenzie’s combined Birthday party last June (and yes I was a little extra puffy from being newly pregnant… but still… I was WAY over-weight…) and then a picture of us from just last month…. its crazy to see them side by side…

Us June 2011- Photo by Tim Cattera Photography

compared to last month

I know I can feel the happy gush forth and others are noticing…. being healthy together has reconnected us and our family and I continue to look towards the journey!

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