Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turn Dreams into Reality in 2012

Beautiful sunrise in the Columbia Gorge

The New Year is always a time of hopeful new beginnings!  Whether you call it a New Year's resolution or goal it provides an opportunity to look at your life and assess the path you're choosing.  The challenge for many people is taking an honest, yet realistic look at their life to determine the life changes or dreams and how to make those dreams a reality. 

 For me last year this process was completely different than in past as I was recovering from heart surgery and honestly completely starting over. I felt so blessed to finally have some resolve and be able to feel like I was living my life again instead of feeling trapped inside a body that was failing me. I learned in 2011 not to take life for granted and enjoying the journey for me was all about giving back more than I take. I feel completely blessed to have my 2nd chance to share my gifts with others and help to inspire other people to reach their goals.

In 2011, my goals were simple.... start living again, spend time with family and help/inspire other people through my situation by showing people that even though life doesn't go as planned it is truly how we respond that defines us.   I feel I accomplished these goals proving to myself I could participate in triathlons and running races even if I wasn't as fast as before I heart surgery.  I truly learned to appreciate the participating and enjoying the process no matter the result.  I was just thankful to be able to participate again.  I proved to myself and others that anything is truly possible as I completed the Ironman only 6.5 months after heart surgery!

I believe that anything is possible, although so many people put limits on their dreams and unfortunately they never become reality.  I feel many goals are about having the mental confidence and consistent dedication to make it happen.

So, what is holding you back in 2012?  Many people have fear of taking risks, although dreams can never become reality if we don't take a risk.  The risks I speak of vary from person to person based on our individual goals.  It's all about priorities and perspective. 

In 2012, my primary goals include....

  1. Staying Healthy (Being consistent and listening to my body)
  2. Maintaining Life Balance (Prioritizing family, exercise, coaching and work)
  3. Giving Back (I feel that giving more than I take truly fuels my soul)
  4. Inspiring  (Use my experience and passion to encourage others)
  5. Enjoying the Journey  (Focus on the process and keep it fun)
My secondary goals include:

  1. Improve my cycling!  (I need to bike more with purpose)
  2. Boise 70.3 ~ 6/9/12 (Train consistently starting 1/1)
  3. Ironman AZ ~ 11/18/12 (Race to my potential and enjoy the journey!)

So, why no time goals?  One of the many things I learned recovering from heart surgery is that time goals only matter to me (so I'll post them on my mirror =)), although motivating they can also add extra pressure. The challenge with time goals is the variables involved are out of our control.  If you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon time goals are key, however otherwise enjoy the journey knowing you did all you could in training to do your best!

Over the last 12 yrs. since I started this endurance journey to the lose the 40 lbs I gained after swimming in college my best results have come when I know I did all I could to consistently train to prepare both mentally and physically for the challenge. 

I recommend writing down your realistic goals and placing them on a mirror so everyday you have the reminder of your goals to fuel your motivation.  Set mini goals between your big goals to keep you motivated. 

For example many people want to lose weight, however establishing a mini goal of walking 3-5x week for 20-30' is more realistic than losing 20+ lbs.  Weight loss needs to involve lifestyle changes!  Don't fool yourself into thinking you're going to realistically lose more than 1/2-3/4 pound per week and keep it off.  The Biggest Loser is inspiring, but let's be real as some people are juggling many balls with family, work, and other unpredictable life challenges.

I recommend getting active, eating healthier, drinking more water, and sleeping more consistently.  Surround yourself with positive people that motivate you and rid your life of toxic energy draining people!  Connect with reliable training partners and workout first thing in the morning when you can control the time before the day gets chaotic.

What road will you take in 2012?

So, what does it take to turn dreams into reality? 

It takes time management!  I hear so often from people, I don't know how you do it as I don't have time.  Really?  If you figure there are 168 hrs in a week and you subtract 48 for work which includes prep, commuting etc. You now have 120 hrs left and if you subtract 56 hrs for sleep you now have 64 hrs left.  Now subtract 21 hrs weekly for eating, 22 hours for family/TV/social time, you're left with 20 hrs!

The above scenario can be very realistic, however many people waste more time than they realize.  I encourage everyone to set up their life in the 168 hr example above and you might be surprised at how much time you have available to make your dreams your reality in 2012!

Thanks reading and supporting! Remember to enjoy the journey in 2012!

As the sun sets on 2011, what dreams will you make a reality in 2012?

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Recap

Reecer the elf was looking cute as could be on his last day before the two week Christmas break.  The night before the last day of school Reece decided he wanted to make all the other Kindergartners in his class bell necklaces.  It was one of those proud moments as a parent when you see that your child even at 6 yrs old is starting to get it and understand that it is important in life to give more than you take.  He felt so good about giving all his little friends a holiday bell necklace.

This year he has been an absolute trooper with me recover from heart surgery, yet he's been such a great kid and continues to bring joy to all those around him.  He's physically grown so much this year,  lost not two but three of his top teeth and three of his bottom teeth. At one point I called him "gummy", although as Christmas approaches he now has a mouth full of new permanent teeth! 

He started Kindergarten this year and really loves school! He actually listens really well according to his teacher! (we're still working on this at home=))  This last year was highlighted by Reece's new house/play structure in the back yard (thank you Grandpa Fred), playing soccer, completed 3 triathlons, catching his first fish and snorkeled/surfing in Hawaii. 

Reece's big catch!
Tristin's 2011
The year started with Tristin taking care of me as recovered from heart surgery, which was not an easy task. I'm not a very good patient as I don't handle being sick or injured well, although she wouldn't let me get down and continued to encourage me to focus on the positive. She would consistently remind me that I needed to take it one day at time and focus on my life ahead.

Tristin taught full day Kindergarten, although unfortunately her job was only one year and ended in June. She continues to amaze me with her persistence in trying to get another teaching job. As everyone knows the job market is terrible, yet she continues to stay positive while substitute teaching and look for a full time job.

Family mtn biking in December proved to be a fun, yet cold experience.

Hopefully 2012 will bring Tristin the opportunity to inspire and shape the lives of young people again through full time teaching job!  Reece & I are very fortunate to have such an amazing wife and mother in our lives.  She is truly a positive light to all those around her.

Team Blaze had 32 members take on Ironman CDA 2011 and all finish!

My year began in recovery mode after my heart surgery to replace my mitral valve I began the road to recovery with the support of my family, friends and inspiration from Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club members.  In February when I finally received clearance to exercise again I couldn't even lift my right arm above my shoulder and my first swim I looked at Tristin after 50 yds. and said, "I have long way to go".  In her always glass half full response said, "you now have all the time in the world". 

Going through and recovering from heart surgery provided me with endless life lessons about what is truly important.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I learned how truly blessed I am to live the life I do.  It's so easy to take everything for granted until it's all sudden almost all taken away. Life doesn't always go as planned, however I've learned the only thing I can truly control is attitude by finding the positive in every situation.
Team Blaze members training in Hawaii (Gretchen, me, Tristin, Kim, Tobin, Lora and Diane)

In April we took a Hawaii "trication" with Team Blaze friends was exactly what I needed to get me back on my feet again! We spent 8 days training and playing on Oahu and built some amazing memories! It was on this trip I started to reflect on goals for 2011, yet some of them seemed crazy even to me.

I've always been determined and willing to work hard to overcome. At a young age I've always been so internally driven to win and push the limits, yet when I was recovering from heart surgery I was truly starting over with so much uncertainty.  I knew I couldn't jump back into my old life, although I needed to have some goals to start living again.  So, I wrote down three goals and kept them to myself which included: 1) Inspire and help others #2)complete the Ironman triathlon again #3) Run the Portland Marathon (ideally in under 3:15 again).  As I coach and athlete I feel goals are key to motivation and focus in staying consistent with training, however after just having heart surgery 3 months before who was I trying to kid or convince?  I was determined to prove that anything is possible!

Goal #1-Inspire & Help

In order to reach my first goal I needed to view my heart surgery as a blessing.  This was initially challenging as I spent day after day sole searching as to why this was happening to me, yet over time I came to accept and understand everything happens for a reason.  Once I came through heart surgery I realized god was giving me a 2nd chance and I needed to make the most of it.  I made the decision to use it as vehicle to inspire others and connect with groups like Ironheart Racing Team.  I was able to turn my situation into a positive and share my passion for helping others through my gift of coaching to give more than I take. I continued to help people quit smoking through my job as an Outreach Specialist at Alere Wellbeing and help people reach their fitness/life goals through coaching triathlon.

Some the amazing members of Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club giving back to our community though volunteering at 2nd Harvest Food Bank. 

Goal #2~ Ironman

After getting my doctors to give me their blessing so long as I didn't "race" the Ironman, now the only thing left was to convince my wife.  I was pleasantly surprised when she said OK as long as you take it easy.

 The only problem was that I wanted to complete IM CDA which was only 6.5 months after heart surgery and I only had 6.5 weeks to train.  I had more than one person question my sanity.  "Did you have heart surgery or brain surgery one person ask?"  I knew this was just the challenge I needed!  I was already coaching +30 athletes and club members participating, so why not get out there with them and enjoy the journey?  I had a great time training with everyone the last 6.5 weeks before the races and surprisingly arrived on race day in decent shape. 

Norma and I after IM CDA
The IM CDA 2011 was my 4th IM, yet unlike any other as I wasn't racing it, but instead I was supporting, encouraging/inspiring others and living my life again!  I truly learned during my 140.6 mile adventure why people do the IM. It's all about the journey or process and everyone has something different that motivates them to persevere through the challenges of the day.  When successful these inspirational people of all ages and ability levels join this select group by reaching the white line in the middle of road at mile 140.6 to call themselves an Ironman.  It's an emotional and amazing experience to finish an IM, although when it's all said and done it's the process and journey that leave a lasting memory.  I will never forget this amazing experience and friendships that developed along the way!

Goal #3-Marathon

So, I had completed goal two and now I was super motivated to start training for the Portland Marathon, although I had no idea what to expect as I was now entering uncharted waters. Training for IM CDA was actually simple as I wasn't trying to go fast. Now I had time goals and I didn't really know what was possible. Everything was going great training and I ran with my neighbor who just happened to be an athlete I was coaching so it worked out great. My times were getting faster and training volume was solid. My confidence was the highest level it had been in 15 months then I strained my calf 3 weeks before the marathon. Hindsight is 20/20, yet now I realize I should have just rested after the injury until all the pain/tightness was gone, but of course I didn't and somehow convinced myself that running the marathon was a good idea.

I actually felt great running with the 3 Team Blaze athletes at the beginining of the marathon and then all of sudden my calf was tight by 13 miles and by mile 18 I was reduced to a painful run/walk, although I was determined to finish what I started no matter the result. In retrospect I probably should have stopped at mile 13 and avoided tearing my calf in two places which resulted in yet another recover period of no running for 8 weeks. Now that my claf has healed and I look back I'm glad ultimately that I finished the marathon to partially meet goal #3 albeit much slower than planned.  In the future I learned that if I'm injured the only way to get healthy is REST.

As 2011 comes to a close I'm hopeful that my roller coaster ride of health challenges and injuries are now behind me. Life doesn't always go as planned, however I've learned the only thing I can truly control is my attitude. I feel truly to blessed to be surrounded by some amazing people that support and inspire me to be a better husband, father, friend and coach.

Ironheart Racing Team members and I signing up for IM AZ.  All of us have gone through heart surgery and plan to participate in Ironman Arizona on Nov. 18th, 2012
In looking forward to 2012, I'm motivated to continue to set and achieve new goals. (still thinking about those now)  I want to inspire and encourage others to reach their goals by realizing that anything is possible if you consistently dedicate yourself.  Remember to live life to fullest without limits, keep it positive in 2012 and enjoy the journey!

Happy Healthy Holidays and thank you for supporting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bionic Birthday!

At 7am on November 15th, 2010 I kissed my wife good bye and I literally put life in the hands of someone else.  It was truly the first time in my life I had reflected on my journey with honesty.  Today  marks the 1 yr anniversary of my heart surgery or as my wife likes to say the day I become "bionic" with my new St Jude mechanical mitral valve.  This has truly been the most difficult yet rewarding year of my life.  I've learned to appreciate all the blessing in my life.  I reconnected and opened my heart to my faith in god.  I have spent endless hours sole searching and trying to remain positive enlight of some dark days.   I'm so fortunate to come through surgery and regain my zest for life.  As those close to me know I'm passionate about family, friends, healthy living, challenging myself through endurance sports and helping others. 

Words can't begin to express how I feel about these two special people is my life.  My wife Trisin is my rock and she always sees the glass half full, supports me in all do and lifts me when fall.  She's an amazing mother and friend.  Everyone that knows Tristin is fortunate to be blessed by her spirit and compassion for helping/giving to others.  My son Reece  is so full of life and continues to make me a better person.  He was so young he didn't really understand all I was going through, yet he was always there to help provide the that full of life spirit I needed when I was recovering from heart surgery.   

Team Blaze Spokane Triathlon Club which Tristin and I started in 2004 is an amazing extended family.  I'm truly grateful to all of you that came to see me in the hospital, sent me positive messages, called and inspired me to start living again through contagious spirit within the club.  This group has now blossomed to 180 members of all ages and ability levels.  I feel blessed to be able to coach and share my gifts with such a fun group of people that support and encourage each other.

I also feel so fortunate to have connected with Ironheart Racing Team and meeting David Watkins who is an amazing guy that has so much energy and passion for life that it's contagious!  Ironheart Racing Team has now grown to over 150 members throughout the world.  This group does amazing things to raise awareness about heart health, supports several charities and provides free heart screenings for high school students.  This next year several of these athletes including myself are planning to race Ironman  Arizona in November of 2012 as we continue to raise awareness and inspire others to live life to the fullest!  I encourage others to check out this awesome group. and

Team Blaze Ironman CDA 2011 group provided me with truly a once in a lifetime experience.  I was 4.5 months post heart surgery and coaching most of the 31 members participating in IM CDA when I went Hawaii for a week on a "trication" with other Team Blaze members  and upon my return to Spokane I decide to sign up for IM CDA.  It was crazy idea, but hey you only live once.  I only had 6.5 weeks to train, which is less than ideal, yet I was super motivated and inspired by all these amazing people. 

IM CDA race morning!  I can't remember how many people ask me on race morning if  I actually going to participate. Yes, although after that frigid swim I had my doubts,  Wow, it was cold! 

 I felt I had good plan for the day and it wasn't about me.  It was about supporting and encouraging these amazing people that had supported and inspired me, although some of them didn't realize all they had done to encourage me to start living again.

My IM CDA race day pacer!  Norma is an amazing lady that I've had the pleasure to coach over the last 5 yrs.  She has made amazing improvement as she's a model of consistency and become a good friend!  IM CDA was a special experience as it was something we did together and finished the journey!  I was so impressed by the determination that all the Team Blaze athletes displayed as all 32 athletes that started finished!

These picture above represent another milestone for me which involved racing my first triathlon since heart surgery which was a sprint triathlon in Chelan.  This was fun weekend with multiple races and camping other club members.  It was fun to race again and watch Reece do another kids triathlon!

Annual trip to Green Bluff to get some pumpkins!  We ended up with a 35 lb monster pumpkin!

Roy family Halloween photo!  We always enjoy dressing up and the Monster Dash kids run provided a great opportunity to have some fun.

Reecer is now 6 yrs old and thriving in Kindergarten!  He continues to keep me young as he's full of life!

As many of you know I've traveled down a bumpy road this last year, however last year they told me this picture wasn't possible any more.  I'm living proof that anything is possible. We can all do more than we think we can.  I want to continue to the best person I can be.  In 2012, I want to continue to inspire people , coach and share my gifts with others.  I've learned so many lessons, feel truly blessed and hope to continue on the smoother road this next year. 

Ultimately, we all only get one journey through life and although at times it may not seem fair or feel overwhelming I truly believe that god has a plan for all of us.  He doesn't give us more than we can handle and through us we share can share his love with others.  I've believe that he sends special people into our lives that help guide us, believe in us and lift us back on our feet. I'm blessed to have so many of these amazing people in my life. I want you all to know I appreciate you and I wouldn't have recovered the way I did this last year without you.  

During the last year of my life I've truly learned the importance of not taking it all for granted.  I've learned to slow down, be more observant  and give back to others as we all can make time to support those around us.  Thank you to my family and friends for helping to lift me up when I needed you most! 


Thanks for reading & remember to enjoy the journey!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another lesson learned ....

I recently ran the Portland Marathon after suffering a strained calf three weeks before I knew running this marathon was a gamble, although it was one I was willing to take.  I had been training since July and really felt ready to run a solid marathon again as I was running times I had run when I was healthy!  It was such an amazing feeling to be able to train at higher level again and challenge myself.  I even got use to and looked forward to the super early morning runs with my neighbor that has a crazy on call schedule and some mornings I think he only got a few hours sleep after bringing new life into the world delivering babies in the middle of the night.

I knew when I went to see our Team Blaze Athletic Trainer before the marathon for an assessment and she recommended running with real caution and encouraged me to drop out if I felt pain it was a gamble, although I really felt much better on Wed. through Sun. morning with no pain. Unfortunately, when I got to mile 10 it felt tight and after going up the St Johns hill to mile 18 in the marathon my calf was done, so I walked and jogged back to the finish. 

Should I have quit?  What would you do? 

 I personally have always felt that once an athlete starts dropping out when the going getting tough it makes it easier to quit in the future.  By the same token if I had quit at 13 mile maybe I wouldn't be injured or maybe I would be and then regret the fact I didn't finish my journey.  In retrospect I'm glad I did the race as it was my opportunity to run a marathon less than 11 monhs after heart surgery and as my wife reminded me, you finish in 3:48 and so many people would love to run that time!  Thanks babe for always supporting and giving me the glass half full perspective!

Of course hindsight is always 20/20 and I now realize I was really fooling myself to think my calf would hold up for 26.2 miles.  Unfortunately, after training since July and feeling better throughout the week I decided to roll the dice and now I'm paying for it.  My challenge since heart surgery is that my motivation and passion for challenging myself has impacted my judgement.  So, now I rest, let this heal effectively and build the solid foundation to hopefully support me in 2012 and beyond without ongoing injuries!

After visiting two doctors in the last two weeks....

I had an ultrasound and the specialist said I tore the muscle in two places (inside of mid-calf and near my shin) and another Dr.  confirmed it today, although he said it wasn't as bad as he thought based on the ultrasound relative to how it looks.  It still hurts really bad to walk, so he set me up with boot and said NO RUNNING, which should be a given as I can't walk without pain. I can swim with a buoy and do core/upper body exercises, however I must reduce all weight bearing activities if I want this to heal.

What did I learn through the experience.....

* I learned that sometimes it's better to sit on the sidelines and support others. 

*I learned once again that even if I'm in pain and obviously going to run slower than planned I can't quit.  So, in the future I need to use better judgement instead of letting my motivation cloud my judgement.

*I learned that although this sucks and I'm now chilling for the next 4 weeks that it could always be worse. 

*I learned why I do all this crazy stuff.  I truly love the challenge and resting to effectively recover from this will in time help me.  As my wife always tells me, "in time this will be a small bump that will pass." 

*I learned that I'm going to really focus in 2012 to build an effective foundation to hopefully stay healthy and enjoy the racing again!

* I learned that for Halloween I 'm going to be a cardiac storm trooper as I already have the heart pillow, spirometer and now the walking boot so why not just grab my afro wig and try to have fun with this latest bump in the road.  Remember to enjoy the journey and keep the faith!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Portland Marathon 2011

The 40th annual Portland Marathon last weekend was my 21st marathon since 1998 and honestly meant a lot to me.  It was less than 11 months ago that my future was very uncertain as I was going through heart surgery.  Sure, I knew god had more plans for me, however I didn't know if I would ever swim, bike, and run again.  I viewed the Portland Marathon as my chance to finally run a solid race on this course, unfortunately it wasn't my day, although it's this challenge that will drive my motivation this winter to challenge myself as I look forward to IM AZ 2012!

As I began training for the Portland Marathon in July I knew I had a long road and many miles in front of me to get back to where I wanted to be.  I was actually surprised after 4 weeks of training just how much fitness I regained.  My confidence and fitness continued to build through the training to the point I was running times I ran before heart surgery!  I was running more 45-50 mile quality weeks than ever before, so I thought I was really ready to run a solid half marathon in Sandpoint on 9/18 and then I proceeded to go out too fast which lead to me going symptomatic with a heart rate of 182.  I also experienced tightness in my right calf that continued through the race.  I was disappointed with the results, although I realized this was completely self inflicted.  In retrospect I should have rested more right after this race instead of trying to get back to training again.

Unfortunately in the 3 weeks following this race my right calf never recovered even though I tried every treatment approach I knew.  I rested, iced, elevated, compressed, used anti-inflammatory meds., aqua jogging and even resorted to the goofy compression sleeve.  The week before the marathon I ran 12 miles to test the calf and felt great for 10 miles, but then the calf tightened again.  So, I decided to take the entire week off running and aqua jogged/swam before the marathon as I thought it was my only hope of running a solid 26.2 miles.

On marathon morning I actually felt great with no pain or tightness for the first time in 3 weeks!  As I arrived at the starting line and saw other Team Blaze members (Daniel, Scott and Gretchen) it great to be there again taking on the marathon challenge!  We'd all decided to run together for the first part of the marathon, which work really well.  I went through the first 10 miles in a comfortable 7:15 pace and my HR was only 162, however my calf was starting to tighten, so after stopping to stretch it I told Daniel to go ahead as I knew couldn't maintain that pace without pain. 

I stayed fairly steady through mile 16 until the 1.5 mile climb up the St. Johns Bridge which lead to my calf balling up. As I reached mile 18 I thought about throwing in the towel as I knew the cramping wouldn't stop and my pace was slowing with a jog/walk approach.  I soon realized that I was better off to keep going as I was closer to the finish by pressing on.  During the last 8 miles I had time to reflect and search for motivation to keep going to the finish, unfortunately my left calf and hamstring were now cramping too, so I would jog about 1/3 mile then walk/stretch to prevent cramps. 

At mile 24 for the first time in 21 marathons I came to a table and sign that read, "free beer".  I thought to myself why not, I'll take two cups please.  I had to laugh when one of the guys I was walking with ask if he could have the whole pitcher. After drinking a few shots of beer I pressed on to the finish, although I kept cramping which resulted in more walking.  Once I was 1/2 mile from the finish my new goal became running under 3:50, so I pressed on to finish in 3:48.

I was pleased to learn other Team Blaze members had great races with many new PR times and first time marathoner!  It's a great feeling to help guide others to achieving their goals and frustrating when I see athletes I coach that I know trained really hard experience a day similar to mine when it doesn't go as planned.  We all desire those days when it all comes together, however as anyone knows that has raced many races that things don't always go as planned.

What did I learn through this experience?

1) If I continue to stay focused I will continue to improve my fitness.

2) Learn about the injury by going to the Dr. right away instead of trying to manage it myself.

3) Rest means complete rest from running or the injury won't get better.

4) Take responsibility for your injury and stay positive as feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help you recover.

5) Maintain a positive attitude as research shows this will in fact help your recovery!

6) Get support from others which is something I learned during heart surgery and still attribute to my quick recovery.

7) Set appropriate goal- I learned that although I know I can run sub 3:15 again that I need appreciate bring able to participate and not focus on old times.  (This is really tough for me.)

8)Maintain my fitness through cross training activities like swimming, cycling,aqua jogging, elliptical, pilates etc. is key to keeping my sanity.

9) I learned once again I can finish what I start when the day isn't going as planned.  This is a tough decision as I feel sometimes athletes should stop before risking further injury.  I was basically at point the marathon of no return as I had an 8 mile walk back to the finish either way so why not finish.

10) I need to listen to my body and rest so this doesn't become an ongoing injury.

So, my new post heart surgery marathon PR is 3:48, which as my wife reminded me is a time many people would love to run and I just had heart surgery less than 11 months ago.   I really appreciate all the support, encouragement and perspective from everyone.   My whole life the challenges I've faced have always driven me to work harder and continue to persevere on my journey.

As I finished the marathon the first thought that came to mind wasn't I never want to run another marathon, but instead it was focused on when my next marathon will be to establish a new PR!  My new goal  right now is to run the marathon in Ironman Arizona Nov.20, 2012 faster than I ran Portland!
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

11 months and 11 years

Tristin, Reece & I

 As I sit here typing I’m reminded of my last 11 months since I underwent heart surgery.  Some days I almost forget and then I hear the tick, tick, tick in my chest.  There is not a day that goes by since Nov. 15, 2010 that I don’t thank god for giving me more time on the rock to live my life.  I’m so truly blessed to be given a 2nd chance at living an inspired life and trying to in turn inspire others.
Over the last 11 months my life has followed a bumpy road, although I truly feel god doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  I’m so fortunate to have an amazing support system in my life that has truly helped me smooth my bumpy road.  My wife (Tristin) has been a key in this process. My son (Reece) makes me laugh and reminds me daily to enjoy the little things in life. My family has been there with me every step of the way.  My friends and athletes I’m so fortunate to coach have inspired me more than they will ever realize to keep living and maintain my passion for living a healthy life.  Special thanks to Dr. Daniel Zwiesler for helping to keep me motivated during the Portland Marathon training with too many 5:30 am runs and 50 mile weeks to count.  (you've done the work so now make it happen!)
My parents and I after my first Portland Marathon 1998

As I toe the start line tomorrow for the Portland Marathon, I will truly let my heart lead the way as I feel blessed to be at the starting line again.  I’ve learned over the last year that it’s more difficult sometimes to get to the start than the finish.  My training for Portland started in July with minimal fitness, however I’ve been able to continue to improve each week and feel as fit as ever.  I had reached almost all my fitness goals and then on 9/18 while running the Sandpoint Half I strained my right calf.  Although at first I chalked it up as my own overzealous attempt to run faster than I should have run the first 5 miles and general soreness, it’s turned into another bump in the road.  I ‘ve basically been forced to take the two weeks off running and aqua jog/swim as I had to give myself the best opportunity to get to the starting line in one piece.
I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to stay positive, use every injury treatment tip I know and honestly reflect on why I do all this crazy endurance stuff.  The answer is simple: I LOVE the challenge of pushing myself mentally and physically.  It’s the mental challenge with the marathon that keeps drawing me back.  For me this Sunday it’s about me vs. the Portland Marathon course.  This will our 5th battle and unfortunately the score is not in my favor, however I’m hoping all my hard work training over since July will lead me to my solid day.  I know I need to take a more patient approach and really listen to my body. 

Trisin & I in Maui, HI after getting married on Oct. 10, 2000
This Monday, Oct. 10th will also be another special day as it’s our 11th wedding anniversary! It’s amazing Tristin has put up with me this long and feel so blessed to have her in my life. She’s always maintained her unconditional love and support for me.  She has been there to pick me up when I fall or just listen when I need to vent about the bumps in the my road. She is truly a special person that touches the lives of others with her positive spirit for life.  You’re an awesome wife and mother to Reece!  We’ve made so many awesome memories and I look forward to years of adventures as our road hopefully takes a smoother path.

The future with endless possibilies!
 All of this has taught me to more clearly understand the idea of success being measured by getting to the starting line.  I continue to strongly believe in the importance of enjoying the journey and looking forward to the future as I take on new challenges!
Thanks for reading and supporting!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunset in Seattle

Mount Rainier, Qwest Field, Safeco Field

On Monday I left Spokane early in morning and flew to Seattle for work this week.  Fortunately I don't usually travel a lot for work, so I'm usually home every night to see my wife and read my son our nightly book and tell him a story.  I'll be honest I fully expected to come to Seattle and spend the week in the cloudy & rainy Emerald City, however today I pleasantly surprised when the sun came out!

Usually when I come to Seattle I always bring my running shoes and really enjoy running along the water as the views are amazing.  Unfortunately, I strained my right calf, so I decided to stay with my patient plan and go for long walk instead of running after dinner to enjoy the sunset.  As you can see from my cell phone pics it was simply amazing!

During my 30 minutes sitting at pier 62 I had time to reflect on my life and especially the last year of my life.  Now that I'm a father to my 6 yr old son and I've gone through heart surgery I'm more patient than I use to be, although I still have to work at it.  I encourage everyone to take time to reflect on their life and evaluate the path they are choosing. Remember to not take life for granted!

Somedays when I struggle with sort out the answers to "why" or "what's next" the spirit in my heart calls me to open up to believe and find the positive.  After heart surgery I truly feel more connected to god than any other time in my life.  I've always believed in god, however I now see and feel signs of his presence in my life.  Tonight is perfect example of something calling me to walk down to the pier and experience the awe inspiring beauty of the sunset.  I truly believe god has a plan for all of us if we open our hearts to follow.

Enjoy my sunset in Seattle!

Remember to take the time to enjoy the sunsets and reflect on all that is good in the world.  I'm really looking forward to getting back home on Friday to see my little buddy Reecer, my wife and our three rascal dogs Scooby, Barkley and Lulu!

Thanks for reading and supporting me!

Reece at the movie Dolphin Tale in 3D.  This is a great feel good movie and 3D was really cool too!

Bubble boy!  Reece is truly a blessing in our life and loves to have fun!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blessed Runner

Scenic Half Marathon 9-18-11

This was my first longer running race since heart surgery 10 months ago even though I've been training consistently and specifically since July.  I was really looking forward to this race and thought based on the training that 1:28 was very realistic, unfortunately my poor race execution cost me.  I appreciate the fact I was able to participate, although I feel this excitement led to my somewhat frustrating day. 

The weather was wet on the 75 min. drive to Sandpoint, however it stopped raining by the start of the race! The course is tougher than I expected with several short rolling hills during the first 6.5 miles, so after over 100 races and too much motivation to contain my patient pacing approach I went out too fast and paid for it. Here's my splits/HR, which obviously explain why I felt dizzy at mile 5 and had to walk to regain my senses. A little scary, but self inflicted!

1=6:27 @164

2=6:35 @ 176

3=6:45 @ 181

4=6:45 @ 182

5=7:51 @180 (dizzy and walking-Thank you Daniel Zwiesler for talking me into common sense)

6=7:30 @174 (Right calf cramping)

7=7:06 @ 179

8=7:02 @ 179

9=6:44 @ 178 (downhill HR still high?)

10=7:05@ 179


12=7:12@180 (HR still too high & right calf super tight)

13.1=1:33 (Average HR 178) (Ouch!) *2nd Age Group/17th Overall

*My hat award says "winner" on the back which definitely made me laugh/smile.

What did I learn? After over 100 races I still always learn something.  Even though I'm running tempo runs at 6:30-6:40 and track intervals at 5:30-6 min. pace on the flats since heart surgery I can't run the hills at that kind of sustained effort or pace. Today all the short climbs on the way out left me feeling really dizzy and somewhat puzzled as how my HR during 400 intervals could be 178, yet today my average pace was 7:05 and HR 178. I obviously need work into pace and be more patient during the Portland Marathon as I really feel the fitness is there to run a solid race, however I need race smart!

I need try to continue to not to focus on old best times, although I'll be honest it's really TOUGH. When I train consistently/specifically for something I expect to see race results that match up to the training and today it just didn't happen, although it's the individual mental/physical challenge that I love about endurance sport!

As I was driving back to Spokane from Sandpoint reflecting as I always do after every race I tried to remind myself that I need to be thankful I can still run at all as less than one year ago I was told I couldn't continue to do all this endurance stuff. I know I need to focus on new PRs, so I guess the positives definitely outweigh my internal competitive wiring which is completely based on my own previous best times. As I was driving back I thought to myself, wow, how did I ever run a 1:23 half or 2:59 marathon? Well, I trained consistently for 6 years to become a better runner and need to remind myself I'm in much better shape now than when I was 24. At that time I ran 1:50 half and 4:55 full marathon and weighed +200, so there is always some positive to be found!

Great job to all the Team Blaze athletes that participated today and continue spread the positive Team Blaze vibe! 

This is a very well organized event! Every athlete receives a nice medal and cool shirt. They had plenty of volunteers, consistent aid stations, tons of food/drinks at the finish and free massage!  It was fun to come home, ask my son about his cycling race today and then give him my medal!

I recommend this race as it provided me with the perspective I needed moving forward to the Portland Marathon on Oct. 9th and beyond.  It was great reminder of the fact I've made a great deal of progress in the last 11 months, yet I still need to listen to my body and race patiently! Most importantly I need to remind myself how blessed I am to be running, healthy, able to participate and help other achieve their goals. 

God has given me another chance to inspire others and help them live healthy lives which is much more rewarding now than it ever use to be.  At the end of my journey it is very important to me that I know I gave back more than I took.

Remember to enjoy the journey!

Thanks for reading and supporting!

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Marathon Adventures

Recently, I've been ask several questions about how to train for the marathon and run your best race.  First off I'll say the marathon is one of those "love/hate" experience for some, bucket list items for others and measuring stick for me.  When I began my fitness journey back in 1998 after gaining 40lbs after swimming in college it all started by training for a marathon. 

That's me on the right in 1996 while traveling in Spain with my friend John
"Woodsy" Coats.  I had hair and +40lbs of extra love I had gained.

Why would I take on the crazy marathon challenge?  Well, it was in large part due to the fact my Dad's Uncle Dave encouraged me to do it.  I was in awe of all of his running feats with +40 marathons completed,  several Boston Marathon qualifying runs and positive outlook on life through running.  Back 1998 when I toed the line at the Columbia Gorge Marathon at 24 yrs old I had no clue what I was doing.  Uncle Dave was 64 at the time and I thought if he could do it then I had no excuse.  One slight problem, he not only knew what he was doing, he always trained and ran +50 miles a week vs my 15-20 miles weekly.   Even though I was way out my league I though what the heck let's do it! 

My next monumental mistake was to select a course that climbed +2000 over the first 9 miles and try to run with Uncle Dave. After feeling like I was done at mile 8, I had to walk the first of many times.  As I was excited to see family and friends as I came down into the town of Mosier at mile 16, however I wasn't quite sure how I was going to run or even walk the next 10 miles as my shoes were too small and my feet were blistered.  I decided at that point my survival strategy was to run from road sign to another and walk in between.  As reached mile 26 mile Uncle Dave was there to encourage me to the finish.  As I finished I was absolutely spent, I lost my two big toe nails and Uncle Dave had beat me by over 45', although I learned many valuable lessons and I was HOOKED!

Ultimately, following a consistent and specific training program is going to lead to the best possible outcome. I jokingly say to athletes on occasion that "magic doesn't happen on race day", so with that in mind it all comes down to training with purpose and finding an ideal race weight to set you up for success!

Let me again mention I didn't run in high school or college, I swam which although great for triathlon doesn't help me on the run. I weighed 164 while swimming college and then gained over +40 lbs the year after college which made running both painful and challenging. I started running again in 1997 as means to lose weight and obviously it has worked, however I've learned in order to improve in any discipline you must CONSISTENTLY and SPECIFICALLY train that sport.

Here's an example of my marathon history and weight:

*1998 Columbia Gorge Marathon (time=4:55/weight 185 lbs)

(This was a hilly course, however I was heavy and only completed one run of 10 miles or longer. I survived, lost both big toe nails and I was determined to take the marathon challenge again.)

*1998 Portland Marathon (time=3:45/weight = 172 lbs)

(Big PR and I was hooked!)

*2000 Portland Marathon (time=3:35/weight = 168 lbs)

*2002 Portland Marathon (time=3:25/weight = 166 lbs)

*2002 Honolulu Marathon (time=3:19/weight = 164 lbs)

*Trained really hard, however humidity and bad blisters did me in at mile 20)

*2003 Las Vegas Marathon (time=3:14/weight =164 lbs)

(Brutal +20 mph winds which blew over all the aid stations made for a rough day)

*2005 Portland Marathon (time=3:11/weight = 162 lbs)

(I went out in 1:26 (stupid) and bonked big time with a +40' last 5K. I had to have 2 IVs at the end. Lesson learned: magic doesn't happen on race day and hydration is key!)

*Jan. 2006 Las Vegas Marathon (time=3:11/weight = 162 lbs)

(Cramped at mile 24. )

*Feb. 2006 Phoenix Rock Roll (time=3:11/weight=161 lbs)

(Cramped at mile 25 right as I thought the Boston time of 3:10 was finally in my grasp.)

*Oct. 2006 Chicago Marathon (time=2:59/weight = 160 lbs)

(The best race of my life! I trained smart by doing all the right things, figured out my hydration challenges and focused of running at specific pace in training with quality intervals. I negative this marathon running 1:30:30/1:29 with a 20:20 last 5K! I finally qualified for Boston!)

*April 2007 Boston Marathon (time=3:04/weight = 160 lbs)

(I only ran 3x per week due to the weather and family health challenge, however I made every run count and keep my weight down in the winter!  Boston was an amazing experience with horrible weather.)

*Oct. 2009 Portland Marathon (time=3:17/weight = 168 lbs)

(I hurt my knee in the winter by falling down some stairs and I couldn't run for 6 weeks. When I started training I weighed 178 lbs and my fitness level was zero. I felt like I need another 4 weeks of training to be ready and it showed over the last 4 miles when I lost about 50" per mile over the first 22 miles.)

Ironman Triathlon Marathons include:

2004 IM CDA (time=3:58/weight = 165 lbs)

2005 IM CDA (time=3:35/weight = 162 lbs)

(Excellent pacing on the bike and run pace/training lead to a big PR)

2008 IM Canada (time=4:00/weight = 167 lbs)

Granted the Ironman marathon is much different, however feel the many of the same principles for success apply.

*You MUST train the bike if you ever expect to run a solid marathon in IM.

*Don't over bike in the IM or run will suffer.

*Run consistently in training, however don't run mega long runs at slow pace or you become a slow runner during the IM.

*Being patient in the IM on the marathon is key!

So, why did I share all this information? I want people to understand some key factors to running a solid marathon or IM marathon. As I mentioned above I never ran XC or track in high school or college, I was a swimmer that taught myself to run through trial and error over the since my first dreadful marathon in 1998.

I've done tons of research and experimented with my own training/races and weight to determine the best approach for me, however the most valuable lesson I've learned is that NOTHING can replace consistent and specific training to lead to positive outcomes.

There are no short cuts! 
Here is one of great resources I've used to really help me to improve as a runner & coach. I encourage everyone to follow this guideline to marathon success!

I know some people may question my sanity when I say the IM is easier for me mentally than a stand alone marathon, however I've found that when I'm racing a marathon at higher heart that the last 3-4 miles is what keeps me coming back for more. I've now run 15 marathons and one ultra marathon since 1998 and through all these races I feel I've only had one race that went as I planned. In 2006, when I race the Chicago everything came together and I felt like I floating to the finish the last 5K (20:20) with a negative split run and sub 3 hr marathon. As I prepare to toe the line for Portland Marathon Oct. 9th with my new found perspective after going through heart surgery I'm searching again for that great day I experienced in Chicago in 2006. I'm focused running my new PR, which involves running a smart, steady 26.2 miles based on all the lessons I've learned and enjoying the journey!

Let me know if you have any questions or interest in letting me help guide you to a new PR!

Healthy training,

Coach Scott

Thanks for reading!