Monday, December 28, 2009
I will say this, once I win those mini battles and get to the training it is soooo much fun. The swim workouts are my favorite. The bike and running training are pretty equal as far as enjoyment. I’m sure that is going to change once I begin cycling outside again. It is waaaay too cold to bike outside. Whatever the temperature is outside, subtract 20 degrees and it will give you an idea of how cold it will feel on the bike. In Charlotte, the average temperature during the winter is 40 degrees. A bike ride in this weather would feel like 20 degrees; well below freezing.
It has also been difficult training through Christmas this year. I just finished my targeted half marathon after months of training and I wanted to splurge a bit. The only issue is I am at the very beginning of the Ironman training. I must admit I have wavered! I ate more cookies in the past two weeks than I have all year! Well mostly because I don’t eat cookies or sweets very often at all! For some reason though, my will was weak. That coupled with working an insane amount of overtime to fund Christmas and entry fees made it EXTREMELY tough to get training in. Glad Christmas is over!
Back on track and looking forward to continuing to test myself. Speaking of Christmas, I received two key training gifts that I am extremely grateful for! My brother gave me the Total Immersion Open Water DVD and Kristi gave me the Finis Lap tracker. Thanks guys! These will be instrumental in my success!
I recently changed Half Ironman Venues. Initially White Lake Half Ironman was going to be my first Half Ironman. However, I ran across the New Orleans Half Ironman which started just two weeks before New Orleans. New Orleans is a better choice for several different reasons:
It’s an Ironman Brand race. Ironman is a registered trademark. These events are well known and respected Internationally.
It’s a much larger venue than White Lake! The equivalent of going to the county fair vs. Six Flags Great Adventures.
Because it’s a larger venue, there is going to be a lot more cheering participants. 3,500 was the estimate of cheering folks for 2009. I was concerned White Lake HIM will not have a lot of fan support! I was sure there was going to be a lot of alone time during my 6 to 7 hour race. This equates to plenty of time to get inside you head; equals mental torture.
The event is also scheduled just two weeks before White Lake Half Ironman so it doesn’t disrupt my training plan by much.
Finally, because this is one of the first races of the triathlon season, many of the big names in the sport of triathlon will be there. Natascha Badmann, undoubtedly a future Ironman Hall of Famer, and a host of other major triathlete and Kona Champions both male and female participated in this event in 2009. What treat to be on the same stage, in the same transition area, in the same city as these guys!
This event also appears to be a little easier for my family, who is traveling from New Jersey, to attend. The rural area of White Lake did not seem appealing to some of my family. Now, not only will they be supporting me, but they will also be in NEW ORLEANS! The Big Easy! Cant beat that!
To stay motivated I look at several Ironman videos! I mean A LOT! I came across one that told a lot of my story. This is one of my favorites!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I’m not much of an expo kind of person but the expo for the Charlotte Thunder Road was pretty good. Although I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it, some of the vendors had great products for sale. There was one vendor I couldn't help but stop and view. It was Finish Line Framing.
Over the years I have collected a couple of finisher medals and race bibs; some more sentimental than others. The problem is my bibs and medals, even the sentimental ones, are packed away in the garage somewhere. This lady’s framing was beautiful. She had one of her personal finisher medal’s from the Marine Corp Marathon framed. What a site to behold! The finishing medal alone was reason enough to put MCM on my list of things to do.
Race day morning.
All week the weather was calling for a wintery mix. I was prepared for the worst but praying for the best. As the week progressed, the weather forecast for Saturday’s run continued to improve…slightly. By slightly I mean instead of a wintery mix we were only going to expect freezing temperatures.
I was a little nervous about the temperature for the run. Not that I haven’t run in freezing temperatures before. However, my last run in the freezing cold didn’t go so well. I didn’t have enough cold weather gear and following the run my knees were frozen and painful. It was from this experience I decided I needed to invest in some additional cold weather gear. I didn’t get much; just gloves and a moisture wicking under shirt.
On race day, December 12, 2009, I woke up at 5am even though my alarm was set for 5:30am. I slept ok for most of the evening but the adrenaline and excitement about finally settling the score with this race kept me wired! I checked the temperature and saw two numbers that should never be associated with running; 29 DEGREES! I’m not sure what the starting line temperature was but I believe it was around the mid to upper thirties.
I meet up with my run group whom I have not seen because of my work schedule and noticed they were small in number. I get down to the start site and into the starting chute. It didn’t look like a lot of people. Apparently, people were huddled rather closely! Pre-race announcements- blah blah blah. Followed by the Star Spangled Banner! This song always gets me pumped! After 4 years in the army, it is definitely one of my favs!
The small crowd that once huddled so closely together became a sea of bodies in motion! As far as the eye could see, there were bodies running. Nearly 4,500 people moving on the same plane with a common goal; cross the finish line. It was an estimated 3000 half marathon finishers and just under 1500 full marathon finishers.
As I approached the start, I started my trustee Garmin 305. I had been here at this start before; two years prior. This race felt very different than it had two years ago. I was nervous then. Unsure if I could complete a half marathon as it was my first attempt. This start I was excited and ready to confront those Demons past! It was a battle to me. Alcoholic Hassan (2 years ago) vs. Sober Hassan. I was game on!
It was so cold at the start that if they said the only way you would warm up was to run a half marathon, even YOU would have gladly said OK! The start was fast as to be expected. My run group and I tried to maintain our pace but it was nearly impossible. It was like a stampede. Running of the Bulls! Every man, woman, and small child for himself! We ran a pretty fast first mile. We expected as we moved forward the crowd would slow down and we could find a rhythm.
Let me also add the first three miles were pretty bad for me. It felt like I was running on ice sickles for feet. After about mile three, things began to settle. The congestion had passed and my run club and I were in our grove. My feet were beginning to feel like feet again. My hand, thanks to Under Armour cold weather running gloves, felt like they were in a toaster. These gloves were seriously the best cold weather running gloves I have ever used!
Everything was perfect! Well except I really had to go potty!!! At mile four, the feeling did not pass. In the distance I saw a tall, slender, beautiful green plastic sccene of joy! A PORTA JOHN! It was at the mile 4 aid station. I knew my group would take a little time moving through the aid station and I could partake in some relief! Oh yeah baby this is great!! I “sprint” to the Porta John and a LINE! I never felt so betrayed or rejected; so violated; so used! But like most relationships, I healed and moved on in search for the next one.
This particular aid station was on Providence Road. I hate Providence Road. Seemingly, every half marathon in Charlotte will have two hills; Providence Rd. and Morehead St. Providence Rd isn’t that bad. It just seems like forever! It just seems to go up and up! I finally Peak the top of Providence and turn right on Sharon Amity (I believe). This is always a great section of the run. There is a good group of people that stand here and cheer for the runners.
As we approached the 10k split, its time to gel and take Endurolyte capsules. I take out my capsules and they spill all over the ground and into the dirt! The 5 second rule was totally in effect! Not taking these capsules now meant severe pain and cramps at mile 9 through 13.1. Without blinking, I grabbed those powder filled capsules of joy and ingested them; dirt and all! At the 10k split, I am feeling really good! We nailed the 10k split right on target for time.
Mile 8 I jokingly asked fellow runners, "Does holding your pee burn energy?" I was really needing to go at this point. Unfortunately, as to be expected every porta john had a line. I knew I was on track to hit my target time so I just held it! And held it…and well…held it!!
Mile 9 I began feeling the stress of this run. I was beginning to feel a blister on my right foot. I usually use body glide on places I have had blisters before in the past. Never had I had an issue at this particular location. So, of course, Murphy’s Law, the ONE place I didn’t use Body Glide was the ONE place I had a blister. (lesson learned.). At mile 9 I also began feeling a cramp in my right groin area. I’m sure this was an electrolyte issue because at mile 10 it had passed. Note: I will probably need to use the electrolyte capsules before the 6 mile mark.
Mile 10 was a glorious marker for me. When I ran this race two years ago, it was here I wanted to quit and almost did. Except two years ago, I knew my brother was working a traffic point at mile marker 11 ( he was a police officer too). He was my motivation to get to mile marker 11.
When I got there he was waving a 13.1 sticker and asked me how badly did I want it?! I shouted, “Hey bro! I’m hurting!” There was no hiding it! The pain and agony. Like Lance Leo said about the Ironman, there was no hiding from this pain. My brother, in uniform, ran down to me and then ran alongside me for about a tenth of a mile! What support! That was one of my fondest memories of that race!
On this day, unfortunately my brother wasn’t at marker 11. He has since left the department and moved to Germany with his family. Although he was not there, that memory was still very much alive in me. I began to relive that moment and I yelled hoping he could hear me all the way in Germany! “I’m OK BRO!!!” When I finished this race, I talked with my brother about his tenth of a mile run with me two years ago. He told me I looked like I wanted to quit and so he risked getting in trouble by leaving his post to run with me that short distance. Is there anything we are not willing to do to see our loved ones succeed? He was right! I wanted to quit and had spent the last mile before seeing him deciding how I wass going to quit. Seeing him and having him run with me changed my race. I dont know if he really knows how much that meant to me!
At mile 12, the marathoners and half marathoners separated. Boy did that last 1.1 mile seem to last forever! And did I mention I had to potty! UGH! You know when you rush home, the closer you get to the door, the more you have to go! That is what was going on here. Along the race were bands and other entertainment. I remember at the Aquatic Center, mile 12 through 13, there was a band playing and they were singing we have hope…or at least that is what I heard. That song seemed to shorten the last mile for me. I made eye contact with the lead singer and shouted a thank you to them. She smiled back and I have to wonder. How many other runners where inspired by their song as they moved toward the finish line?
I turn the corner and the streets were lined with people! Mile marker 13!!! One glance at my Garmin! I know I’m going to make my target time! I try to conjure up a sprint! I dig deep! Scream GET SOME (from my old Army Days) and take of on the heroic sprint to the finish!!!!!! Yup! I felt like I was sprinting. Buuuuut, I’m sure it didn’t look like it to some of the spectators!
I raise may hand to the Glory of God and look up to thank Him. I know without His grace and love, I would not stand here today the determined person I am!
I would like to tell you that after holding the potty for 13.1 miles, I rushed off to the restroom and the day was saved! It didn’t exactly go that way!!! After crossing the finish line, NOTHING! I didn’t have to go anymore!!! How in the world did that happen! People and our bodies! Geesh! This was a great run! I did a personal best at this race by 15 minutes! I will likely never run this full marathon because it looked so lonely out there. The final score card! Who won?! Alcoholic Hassan v. Sober-God Loving Hassan. We all know the answer to that question.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wrote this when I had time over the last three days.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Rudy Garcia-Tolson Here is a guy, a double amputee, that DNF (did not finish) Kona. Kona! The Ironman of ALL Ironmans! And instead of pitying himself, turns around six weeks later to Finish Ironman Arizona. WOW! Time did not matter with him. Why does it matter with me so much I asked? I am reminded of my mile markers blog entry. To become an Ironman, you have 17 hrs to complete the task. Rudy Garcia-Tolson will likely never read this blog. Without ever knowing it, when he crossed the finish line he was the answer to my question. "What is the best time to complete and Ironman," I asked. 16:59:59!
Drive on RUDY! Thanks for your inspiration as I move forward with my training that starts "officially" on Monday.
Drive on RUDY! Thanks for your inspiration as I move forward with my training that starts "officially" on Monday.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Before work yesterday, I met with Lance for the first time (pictured left). I met him at his home which was about a 10-15 minute drive from home which was perfect. I wanted to take a little time to tell you how I came across Lance. I have heard about Lance and Studio 7 prior to my race. As with every race, I did some research about the course, looked at times to complete, and who was the previous year’s winner. It was none other than Lance Leo. I found out later he also came in 3rd at White Lake Half Ironman which will be my first Half Ironman
The bike route for my first triathlon was also nearby. Actually, it is in the same neighborhood Lance Leo lives. I took the opportunity to ride the course which started at the NOMAD aquatic center. While at the center, I had the chance to meet Lance which was awesome. I knew the bike course was hilly because I patrolled that area on shift. Long story short, I did a practice bike ride and died! I had to walk my bike up part of the hill. I knew I was doing something wrong!
I made it back to NOMAD and I asked Leo if he had a second to talk. He came outside and I was so embarrassed to admit I couldn’t get up this hill. I told him what I was doing and he gave me advice on how to take on hills. I was taking on hills ALL wrong!!! He told me what to do and on race day I smoked those hills!
At the race, two weeks later, he comes up to me and says “What’s up?” I thought it was really cool that he would even remember me and even take the time to say hi. At this point, I wasn’t sure about completing this triathlon much less an Ironman. So, this guy is being genuinely nice. Not because I was a prospective client, but because, I feel, he is just that kind of person.
We have a meeting and I know I am talking this guy’s ear off because I am so excited about it all! As I’m talking to him, I can really feel his passion for the sport and for helping people achieve their dreams. There was one thing he said that stuck with me about Ironman. I asked if he ever wanted to quit an Ironman. He said in Ironman the pain is very real and there is no hiding from it. All I could think about was how I hid from my pain (emotional) with alcohol. In this pain (physical), there is no hiding. I will confront myself on this journey and I am looking forward to it! There is something I have always wanted to tell him!
Any who, the lactic threshold test and that thing smoked me! I was put on my bike and a power meter. I would pedal and he would increase the resistance. Periodically he would take blood samples to see how much lactic acid was present in my blood. He would also check my pulse oxygen and rate of respiration. The whole point of this test was to find out what my optimum training heart rate. I had to go to work afterwards and I was sooooo sleepy. At work today I felt like I was still recovering hahaha. I think this was the first time I felt like an athlete. With all the testing and having a "coach" I feel like an athlete. It's kinda cool. I have never been the athletic type. I guess to do an Ironman, you need someone guiding you. Well, my plan starts on Monday and I cannot tell you how excited I am about starting.
I have Thunder Road Half Marathon this Saturday 12/12/2009. Im a little nervous about it because of my issues with PF I haven’t been running as much. I have been stretching it and I isn’t bothering me…for now. I am excited about being in a racing atmosphere again. I hope I have time to cheer on some of the other runners!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Why did I get up at 530am this morning! I didn’t have to get up for another hour!
Yesterday morning I went o the YMCA for an early morning swim. In the men’s locker room there sits a scale. I don’t weigh myself very often these days. I walked over to the scale and I saw an old enemy. The scale had been left at exactly 232lbs!!! That was my max weight! Immediately, I am aware at how significant this moment had already become. There it was! The pain I felt at 232lbs, the embarrassment, the resentment I felt because of that number… it was all staring me in my face. What were the chances that the rare moment I weigh myself the scale would be set exactly at 232lbs? And then I knew it wasn’t about chances. It was about getting a reminder from God. When I have God in my life, nothing is left to chance!
I jump on the scale and I slide it down to 180lb; the scale doesn’t balance. WHAT! Did I gain more weight?! I look to the right and the scale is indicating I need to lower the weight on the scale. Lower the weight??? The main bar is at 150 while the top number was 30. I delicately tap the bar to the left. Then tap; 179lb no balance. Tap…178lb no balance. “What?! Did I break 180lb?!” I begin to wonder. At this point, I give a relatively hard tap all the way down to 175lbs!!!! BALANCE! “YEAH!” I couldn’t believe it! I am 175lbs! I jumped off the scale and looked at it again to be sure. I can tell you exactly the last time I weighed 175lbs! Eight years ago after leaving the police academy and I haven’t seen that number since. That brought total weight loss to 57lbs! I am so grateful for this journey.
When I started my second set of swim lessons to refine my stroke, a member of my group asked me why I wanted to put myself through so much for an Ironman. I began to fill up with emotion. Although, at that time, I didn’t have an answer I do now. It is partly for my belief in Christ, partly for City of Angels orphanage in Cozumel, Mx, and partly to heal some old wounds. It wasn’t until this morning I came to that realization.
As a child, my brother and I were called really mean names. Our clothing would…well fit us a bit snug and we were called “Huggies.” We have both since had children and both have refused to EVER buy the pampers brand HUGGIES! It’s amazing what an 8 year old can say to you that will hurt for the rest of your life lol! That is just one of many stories.
This Ironman is my way to quiet some painful demons. It is the pain of being overweight, the pain of addiction, and wanting to die but being too afraid to kill yourself. The pain of not feeling good enough. Not even feeling good enough to be loved! Since, I have become a Christian, I know now that I am good enough to be loved because for God so loved me…-John 3:16. It is for these reasons I want to hear the words “Hassan Peterson! You are an IRONMAN!” because at that moment, I will also hear you are worth being love. Live your life; walk with Christ. More importantly, there is absolutely NOTHING!!! in this world you cannot do when Christ is your biggest support! I think this explains why I become so emotional when I watch the Ironman. I am so excited for those people that cross the line. At the same time, I know what crossing the finish line will mean for me.
First Meeting with Lance
I meet Lance Leo for the threshold testing then off to work! UGH! I am really excited about the test; not so much about work! There is nothing like working on your days off! I’ll admit too, I’m a bit nervous about this test! It will tell me where I am as an endurance athlete! Lol I don’t think I want to know ha! One last thing! I am reading this new book called Chi Running! It’s a really good book. I’m at chapter 4 which is said to be the crux! We will see.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one that ever reads this blog! :)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Speaking of weight, I recently received my new driver’s license. I looked at it and noticed how lean I looked. I put my driver’s license picture up to my police ID which is a picture of me when I lost my first 15 lbs three years ago. All I could say was WOW! I will post the pics when I get a chance.
Running and my relationship with God
I truly believe that endurance events can better a person’s relationship with God. When I run, I feel prepared to listen to God. I can honestly say, unfortunately, when I’m at work and dealing with the hustle of the day, I thank God and praise him. Yet, I’m not always listening to him. I hope that makes sense. When I run, I feel like I am in the same room with Jesus.
One thing I have prayed about constantly was for God to use me to inspire others. I have to say that for me THAT is the greatest joy of this journey. Getting leaner and healthier is great. However, when I hear people say, “You inspired me!” I am speechless. I know that it isn’t me but the Jesus in me that has inspired them. I know, then, my Father is using me.
This week three people made that statement. My twin brother was one of them. He started taking swim lessons and has committed to train for Ironman Cozumel in 2011. WOW! Good Luck Bro! I will cross that line at whatever pace WE need to in order to complete. (translates to: I will slow down a WHOLE LOT in order to not SMOKE you hahaha love you mean it!) I am really, really excited of even the thought of being able to share that journey with my brother. I heard someone say that completing the Ironman is the single greatest day of a person’s life that doesn’t involve a wedding, birth, or death. I hope I can share that day with him!
I digress. So, talking with Lance about the two big races I wanted to do this season and he suggested I add Augusta Half Ironman. I thought about it for a couple of days and decided I needed to add that to my lists of things to do this year. So, looks like I will be participating in the Augusta Half Ironman.
I’m taking it easy over the next few days. The Thunder Road Half Marathon is this Saturday. This was my first Half Marathon two years ago and it KILLED me. I am looking for a little revenge! I was at my peak with my drinking when I ran this race. This race means a lot to me; probably as much as the Ironman! I can’t say I won’t cry during this race. I know I will when I cross the finish. I know this because as I write this, I can feel the tears in my eyes.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Found my breathing rhythm.
Got a Triathlon coach.
I am scheduled for my lactic acid threshold testing next Tues. I am really excited about that! I told him about my two races; White Lake Half Ironman and Ironman Cozumel. He wanted me to add Augusta Half Ironman. It’s a Ford Event and would be an awesome experience. It will replicate my Full Ironman as far as transition and using transition bags. I would love to do it but it means a couple of things. I will probably not be able to run Cooper River and a $225 dollar entry fee UGH! We will just have to see about this one.