Life, Racing, and a Greater Purpose….
Hey everyone! It has been some time since I sat down and put some thoughts to paper. We are already into July and the race season is in full swing, BBQ’s are plentiful, and watching the kids play in the water is one of the greatest joys I have as a parent. Today is going to be an update on a few different topics that you might find interesting….enjoy the read and talk soon!
I don’t have to tell any of you that being an Athlete after High School/College is a tough gig. It isn’t an activity, it is a lifestyle. At least 5 out of 7 days (and yes sometimes on the weekend too) I’m up before 4:30am. For me, the only “predictable” part of my day is between 4-6am. After that, all bets are off! So if you want to compete, train for multisport, or just live this lifestyle…it is hard work!
My little ones, Lyla and Mason, are 4 and 2 now. They are so much fun and it has been the absolute joy of my life having these two around. They keep Ana and I on our toes and they NEVER seem to stop going! I think some of that might have come from me J I am really passionate about showing them about hard work, setting goals, and living healthy. Most mornings Mason comes up and asks “Daddy, you go running today?” It is so sweet and it makes me happy that he notices that this is happening.
Ana has been doing really well with her Group X career and has been passionately involved in spreading the word on Essential Oils. That is a topic for another blog, but suffice it to say, I have been surprised at how well they incorporate into the healthy, athletic lifestyle that I have built. We even had time for a little getaway to Italy in May! WHAT A TRIP! I can’t express enough how awesome it was to experience the country with my wife. Whatever expectations I had, they were blown away. It was great to get some 1:1 time with Ana for an extended vacation. Very much needed!
At work, things are NUTS. I am responsible for a sales team that spans Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. I have 10 direct reports and the organization I lead spans to over 75 people. We will run a business this year close to $80 Million in revenue. This is no small feat! I have an absolute blast at my “day job” and we have built a team and culture that I look forward to being a part of every day. It isn’t without its challenges, we are in the middle of the biggest technology merger in History! So yeah, work is NUTS.
I write all this out for one simple reason…life is full of choices. I choose to be fit. I choose to get up at 4am to train. I choose to give 100% every day. I choose to “get after it!” So if you are reading this and you have aspirations of living a healthier, more active lifestyle…you can. You just have to choose and commit. And hopefully, you have a wonderful support crew like I do to share in the journey!
So 2016 was pretty much an epic failure for me by lots of accounts. I crashed (see previous blog) on the bike in a Triathlon about a year ago and it set off a series of disappointments for the rest of the race season. I had a choice to make…I could feel sorry for myself and let one tough year derail my goals and ambitions. Or, I could use it as fuel to get back out there and see what I’m capable of. I chose the latter.
On the books for this year is an aggressive schedule. My 2017 races are as follows:
Cary Half Marathon
- Leon’s Olympic Triathlon
- Madison 70.3 Triathlon
- Lake Zurich Olympic Triathlon
- Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
- Tri Rock Olympic Triathlon
- Ironman Louisville
As you can see, there are a lot of chances to redeem myself from 2016! The first 3 races of the year I had one goal in mind, race and finish strong. Time, place, competition, speed…none of that mattered. What I needed was mental victories in these races. Everything was off last year and I needed to get my mojo back.
At Cary, it went as well as I could have asked. I had a good build to the half marathon and executed a very strong race in the hills. It wasn’t my fastest race I’ve done there (I think I’ve done it 7X), but I passed over 50 people in the last 6 miles…finish strong, that was the goal. Goal accomplished.
In the Leon’s Tri, the goal was simple…steady effort the whole way. All of my times were a little slower than previous years, but that was OK! I was able to work really hard, stay strong the whole time, and finish feeling like I left nothing out there. If you want a good laugh, you can see me interviewed on the coverage on CSN (you can find air times on the Leon’s website). Goal accomplished.
At the Madison 70.3, I was racing the very next week after Leon’s. Conditions were calling for high temps and winds, and it didn’t disappoint. The swim was solid. My bike was a major improvement over just a week before…it was a TOUGH course out there too. My run, it was redemption time. It was 90 degrees (same as last year) and I had one goal…run every friggin step of the 13.1 miles. Last year the run ate me up…this year, I smashed it. Ran every step…and stayed strong the whole way. It was a HUGE victory as I was just trying to race myself into “shape.” Goal accomplished.
My mantra for the first 3 races and the rest of the year…”The stronger you are, the faster you will finish.”
Strength, both physical and mental will win the day in Triathlon, not pure speed. So that is what I’m concentrating on this year. I’ve been working for almost a year with Ben at BeWell Fitness in Libertyville and it has been amazing. I’m “built” so much stronger now. Posture is night and day. Power in the hips is explosive. Form on both the bike and run have improved dramatically. I knew going into this year that I didn’t have more time to give to the sport, but I could be smarter about the time I did have. My biggest improvements wouldn’t come from another bike or run. It would come from a serious dedication to strength and recovery. So far…SO GOOD.
Lastly, I’m back being coached by Jen Harrison! It has been wonderful to put my plan in someone else’s hands again. One less thing I need to worry about! And there is no one else I would trust with my plan! I have big goals for the rest of the year and I know Jen will help me achieve them! Next up is the Lake Zurich Tri (this weekend) and Steelhead…I’d love to see some improvement from Leon’s and Madison….I have no doubts I will.
Last year before the bike crash, I really started to enjoy riding and running longer distances again. It has been a few years since I’ve done Ironman and for some reason, which I question often haha, I got the itch to do it again. While it would be awesome to get back to Kona, the reality is that it will take a perfect day to get there. Even though it has only been a couple years, the game is faster and stronger. So we will see. I have a time goal and we can talk about that in a later blog. But I would be lying if I haven’t struggled with consistent motivation for this race. Ironman is a monumental effort in all facets of life and you really need to be 100% in to reach your potential.
While searching inward for the motivation to smash the training, I was very lucky to be introduced to Julie and Elizabeth from the 12 Oaks Foundation.
For those that have known me for a while, I’ve only run once in the 100+ events I’ve done for a cause. Running for my sister in the 2014 Chicago Marathon was a humbling experience that I enjoyed immensely.
When Julie and Elizabeth reached out and asked if I would be interested in being an ambassador for 12 Oaks, I was hesitant at first to be honest. As you can see, I’m REALLY busy. Family, work, coaching, and my own training take a tremendous amount of time and effort. How could I possibly fit one more “obligation” in?
Then I read Matt’s story. I was instantly touched. Being a father of two, giving back to children is something I’ve grown very passionate about and try to help whenever I can. Matt was a young, energetic athlete full of life at 12 years old. Involved in team sports, winter sports, and running…Matt was a boy that I hope my Mason and Lyla grow to be as well.
Unfortunately, Matt lost his battle with cancer at the very young age of 13. I can’t even imagine the thought. While there are many phenomenal options to help and donate to the war on cancer, I found 12 Oaks particularly touching in how they help the families that are fighting these circumstances.
The reality is that life stops for the entire family. As Julie states on the website, they wanted to do more for their other kids, but were financially and emotionally tapped.
12 Oaks is an organization that helps to defray the costs of sports and community programs for the children of families suffering financial hardship. A very noble cause and one that I’m proud to be a part of. Here is a quick note on why I was asked to be a part of this cause:
“Last year our founder, Julie Hupp did an Ironman in honor of what would have been her son Matt’s 21st birthday. Her “Iron Journey” of both training and race day inspired so many people on so many levels, in addition to the $20,000 she raised for the foundation. Our goal is to recruit Ironman triathletes annually to choose 12 Oaks Foundation as their “Charity of Choice” in honor of Matt, and for the children who need our help to stay in their activities while a family member is being treated for cancer. You see, Matt was a budding young triathlete and gifted athletically, and we all knew he would be an Ironman someday.”
Julie and Elizabeth asked if I would be their 1st Ironman Ambassador to carry on the “Iron Journey” memory of Matt. I could not be more proud to do so.
So on October 15th, I will be competing in Ironman Louisville for my family, for myself, for my support crew, and for Matt. I will be blogging monthly from here on out and expanding on this journey. In the next week, I’ll have more info out on how you can donate on behalf of myself and Athlete Factory.
I could not be more excited to be racing for something bigger than myself and to help children in need achieve a little bit of happiness and health in trying times.
As with everything I do, I will be setting a goal (for fundraising) and I hope you choose to help along the way. More can be found about the 12 Oaks Foundation at the link below.
Thank you to Julie and Elizabeth for including me on this “Iron Journey.” I’m proud and humbled to be a part of it.
Dedication, Passion, Results