Planning a day out in the wine country….

Run 5K? You must be joking, where’s the car….

Yes, I would have said the same thing not that long ago. Having been built more for comfort than speed, I could never fathom why anyone would want to run at all, let alone a 5K/10K/half-marathon or, heaven forbid, a full marathon.

I remember many years ago when I was racing motorcycles that my team mates Pat and Eric were training hard for an upcoming four-hour endurance race by cycling and running around the track while I cheered them on from the shade with a beer in my hand, thinking they were mad.  I also have a vague memory of running in school on a relay team, and running even faster when being pursued by a couple of angry skinheads one night in the early 80s, but that was a long, long time ago. My wife ran half-marathons a few years ago and I thought that was complete madness when we had two perfectly good cars for that kind of distance.

So, how did I end up signing up for Ironman Santa Rosa 2018? Well, it started like this…..

To get some basic level of fitness back after my treatment, and to prepare for my epic ride to Santa Monica, I was attending a high-intensity bootcamp at Transform FX in Concord every morning back in early 2017, trying to build up from the pitiful 139 lbs I weighed at the time. After a few months of recovering some strength I joined a Tough Mudder team with other TFX members. TFX had organized a team in 2015 for Tough Mudder in Lake Tahoe and we all had a great time, except after escaping from the ‘Arctic Enema’ (no additional description needed).

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I had to skip 2016 due to my “sore throat“. The original location for this event, Lake Tahoe again, was still covered in snow in June 2017 so they moved it to Sacramento, which is closer, flatter and at zero elevation (compared to Northstar where you start at 6,500ft and keep going up!). Having been somewhat bulkier and stronger when I did my last one, it was humbling to have to be helped up and over so many obstacles rather than being the helper, but that’s one of the great things about the Mudder Nation – it’s all about the team/tribe, and not about the individual.

A few folks on the team were runners and suggested I join them for the annual July 4th 5K in Concord in a few weeks. Not being a runner (see above) I just laughed at the time but I found myself with nothing else to do on the 4th and so I entered the event. My Mudder teammates ended up heading to a party somewhere but I was there anyway so ran my first ever 5K at a great event.

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I must confess, I was a little bitten by the bug and within a week I was looking for another 5K to run. I found one in some place called Herald, but it came with a swim first and then a bike ride before they let you do the 5K. I knew I could bike the 11 miles, I knew I could run 5K and figured I could splash my way through a lake for 1/2 mile with a low-ish risk of drowning or a cardiac incident. What’s the worst that could happen eh?

So, on July 15th I get out the map, find Herald and head off to see what this triathlon thing is all about. I hadn’t told my lovely wife, who was in the UK at the time, but I decided it was probably best to come clean in case she got a call about her husband drowning in a lake miles from home. I fired off the email and got ready to “compete” before she could reply with some choice words.

On this first event the water was deemed to be unsafe due to the bacteria in the water so they changed it to a run-bike-run format. I know that I vaguely enjoyed the 5K two weeks ago but come on, two runs on the same day? All that disappointment after being so excited to swim in my new hat!

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A quick shout out to the very helpful people at Sports Basement who recommended the bright color. I figured out later that it was to make it easier to spot your body if you don’t quite make the distance…..

With my panniers still attached from the “great ride“, I was all set and found some space to lay out my stuff. My sincere thanks to YouTube and those of you that have posted helpful tips to help us newbies figure out stuff and, apart from running in 88F heat with my bike gloves still on, everything seemed to go quite well and I finished in 1:40 – not last in my age group. Perilously close, but not quite last!

Rocking the panniers so that I could take my extensive packed lunch, stop somewhere on the way, take in the view etc.

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Despite the lack of swimming (or because of it?) I was hooked. I joined Active.com and began Actively (get it?) searching for my next one.

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To fast forward I did a couple more sprint distance events (which included swimming this time) and even roped my wife in to joining me for a few events.

In September I did my first longer event with a 700yd swim, 19 mile bike and 4 mile run followed by a couple of Olympic distance events where we switched to the Metric system with a 1200m swim, 36k bike and a 10k run.

I was hooked but far too quickly, the season was over 😦

I really still wasn’t a big fan of running so I started entering events just to force myself to run, which is how I ended up doing the insane 30K Diablo Summit Stomp. 5.25 hours of runwalkcrawling up and down Mount Diablo. Their tagline is “the summit is the halfway point”. Luckily it was misty at the summit so my tears were not overly noticeable.


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I also found a way of mixing in my love of zombie movies with trying to find a love of running, a 10K run where zombies chase you…..

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A couple of weeks later I felt brave enough to enter the very scenic Monterey Bay Half Marathon, my very first one! Lorraine and I had a great run/walk along the beautiful coastline to finish with one of these lovely ceramic medals.

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I finished in 2 hours 25 minutes, without a cardiac incident and my ability to walk mostly intact.

With a few more 10Ks sprinkled throughout the latter half of the year I started thinking about what to do for my next birthday after my epic journey for my 50th. Somehow I found that there was an Ironman 140.6 almost on my doorstep in Santa Rosa. Leaping to a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run seemed like a tall order, but then so did getting out of a chair and walking briskly just a year earlier. Carpe diem!

So, I enrolled, confessed to the wife about what I had done and then started figuring out the rest.

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