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Rest In Peace (Week 18)

Rest In Peace (Week 18)

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I usually have mental and physically struggles with my training. Either it be fatigue, frustration, etc. its always something that I can push through. But this last week has been a lot different. My struggle wasn’t mental, nor physical, but EMOTIONAL. This summer has been full of ups and downs. Recently I have reached a low that I haven’t experienced before. The passing of my (and plenty of others) friend Inyata Thomas Jordan has left me with a sense of sadness and FEAR. First let me give you a quick background on Inyata.

I met Inyata through a mutual friend that we shared Alphonso when I transferred schools my sophomore year of high school. I was coming from the other side of town that was dominated by the “Blood” Gang to a side of town/school that was mostly “Crips”. Now I never really got into the whole gang thing, but people affiliate you with wherever you are from, so there was already tension when I got to school. Anyway, sports always seemed to keep me away from that and Yata and Phonz shared the same interest, along with girls. Here were these two guys both tall and skinny (Phonz standing 6’11”, Yata 6’3”) approaching me and taking a natural liking. I guess they could tell by my wardrobe that I wasn’t really into the whole thug scene. Yata was one of the first people I met and talked to that let me know that you can be you and still be cool, and that there are plenty of people in the world that you can have friends just for being you. Even though it was very tough to do that because most kids don’t want to feel like an “Odd-Duck”, but Yata and Phonz made me feel comfortable in my own skin. And I thank both of them for that.

Last week Inyata was found dead in his home after coming back from playing basketball. It was later found out that he had a blood clot in his heart, and that caused his death. He leaves behind a wife and a Beautiful Daughter. It was great seeing how far he had come and where he was going. I was proud of the man he was and really excited to see the man he was going to be. Rest in Peace Yata.

I really took the death of my friend hard. Harder than any other death that I have experienced. I found that my days seemed to drag a little longer because of all the thoughts that went through my mind, and how I felt that it wasn’t fair. I’m no stranger to death because I have other friends that have been shot and killed. But this is the first time that I have had someone die of “natural causes”. I figure could take myself out of situation (i.e. my neighborhood with gang violence) by leaving and going to school, and that would prevent my chance of me dying by a bullet. But with the death of Inyata I felt that wasn’t something that I can avoid by moving. It has been very hard to exercise at all because of the fear I have that something could happen. I caught myself not sleeping well. Waking up sporadically, even setting my alarm to go off every two hours so I can wake up and make sure I’m still alive. In the back of my mind I would be thinking that if I died right now, who would know, better yet, who would find me, being that I live alone. The fear of dying in your sleep is no joke.

It wasn’t until recently (four days ago) that I exercised. I went to workout with my friends Sarah and Elliott. That same night I went on a run with the Boulder Running Company. It felt good to get back in the swing of things. It felt really good to see familiar smiling faces, specifically my friend Eric Marcum, who is always encouraging and funny. Even with the brutal workout of lifting and running, I still couldn’t sleep. I thought working out til exhaustion I would sleep like a baby. Yesterday I went to his funeral service, which was a good thing. I almost didn’t go because I couldn’t come to terms with it face-to-face, but I didn’t want to disrespect him. The funeral was really good and good for me. It felt good to cry with my boys and let it all out and let it all go. When I went home I finally was able to get a good night’s sleep. I woke up this morning refreshed and energetic. From this experience I learned that I have to really take advantage of the time I have here and also don’t sit back and be lazy! I was in a funk for eight days and it sucked. I think I almost gained some fat (lol). I’m back in the saddle and riding hard and fast.

On a lighter note, as you recall my best friend Andru brother Pierce was shot in the Arora Theater tragedy but he SURVIVED. We’re having a fundraiser to help him pay for his medical bills. It’s a GOLF TOURNAMENT! So if you or if you know anyone that may be interested in helping a great cause, feel free to sign up. The flyer is below.

2012 Healing with Hope Event Flyer

 

I appreciate y’all taking the time out and reading. I promise, next week should be a little more up-beat. I feel like its going to be a tough one, I need to get back in the groove. Speaking of groove, I’m about to go Salsa Dancing! Until next time….

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Off Course (Week 17)

Off Course (Week 17)

SPOILER ALERT!, SPOILER ALERT! (I think that’s appropriate considering the Olympics are going on), I set a person record (PR) in my Triathlon yesterday. Things seemed to go a little better, well a lot better I should say. My swim, I have never felt so comfortable physically and mentally. I think my preparation leading up to this race was different. I shouldn’t use the word different, but I should rephrase that, more “tuned” to what I was going to be doing. A friend of mine, Sarah Awe, who is a FITNESS GURU, gave me some pre-race advice that really helped me. I think what mostly helped me with my race was knowing that all my professional friends won’t be racing (lol). They actually did the Boulder 70.3 (Half IRONMAN) this morning. I think 7 people who I workout with finished within the top ten, male and female. That goes to show you the crowd that I’m with. People come from all over the country to race here, and seven people from my gym, not to mention the overall winner, dominate the competition. I will be there sooner than later! Speaking of me (lol), the only struggle I had this race was the Altitude. I live and train in a place a mile (actually: 5,430 feet (1,655 m)) above sea level, and my race was approx 7500feet. Needless to say, it was quite an adjustment.  It seemed I could never catch my breath. One thing I found weird, I felt more comfortable on the swim than I did the run. I stopped twice on my run to catch my breath. Long story short, I improved in every aspect of my race, time wise. I cutoff 12minutes on my swim, 7minutes on my bike and 7minutes on my run. I think I’m really starting to get the hang of this. Well not really, yet. My “Sprint” swim is equal to my pro buddies swim, but theirs is twice the distance (lol).

Being around the Triathletes and seeing how serious they are about their sport, you’re quick to assume that all they do is train. But talking to a lot of them and getting to know them I realize that many, and not most, have lives outside the triathlon world. For example, a married couple named Kim and Jake are the co-owners of a great bakery here in Boulder Colorado called Kim And Jake’s Cakes. I think the name took them a while to come up with (lol). I went there right after my race to indulge in a couple of cupcakes and a cake that had tomato, celery, and some other vegetables. I know it sounds kind of weird, but two things: I’m a weird fellow, and to be honest it wasn’t half bad. Sorry about just showing you a picture of the box, but nothing was in it. As I stated before, It was eaten! Probably before I even walked out of the bakery.

Another married couple Matt and Kelly own a Yogurt Bar called “BOOM!” I didn’t even know they owned it until one day I was caught there studying and Kelly walks in like she owns the place. And what do you know, she did!(lol). I have also met a couple of people who write for the newspaper and/or various magazines. While I’m writing I wonder if there’s a link between being a triathlete and owning your own business i.e. working for yourself. I assume it’s because you have to be able to make your own schedule. You need the time during the season to train, and with a typical nine-to-five career, you probably can’t. Thinking further into the topic, the challenge of running your own business is pretty challenging. And maybe these Triathletes need another type of challenge outside of what they normally do. Its kind of like me taking on the challenge of doing this triathlon stuff. Its really cool to sit down and talk to them about how hard is was, has been, and will be to run a business. Its in parallel to me and the process of getting into medical. We all share the same views: Nothing comes easy, Hard work pays off, and Failure in INEVITABLE. But its not about the failure, its about how you recover and what you learn from it.

This is somewhat of the topic, but I think it’s pretty cool. After my race I needed to relax, so a friend and I decided to go to the Denver Zoo. I don’t know if it is me being in college and becoming more analytical, and me being a student in Boulder, but the Zoo doesn’t have its same appeal. I look at the Zoo in a whole different light. The first think I noticed was how the animals interact with each other. If you have been to a zoo, you know that they have random facts about the animals. I realized that us as humans ought to be grateful we have these brains and aren’t in the jungle, grasslands, etc. because we would be demolished. Reading about these Lions, Gorillas, Hyenas, etc. ALL of them physically battle to be the head of the herd and the reward is to mate, and mate for only a few seconds. Can you imagine fighting multiple men at one time in order to get one woman? But if you think about it, we do compete for the attention of the opposite sex, but I’m glad that Human women are attracted to multiple things, and not just the brute strength of a man.

Another thing I noticed about the Zoo was that its pretty depressing. I’m not a PETA activists, you know, throwing blood on a fur coat, etc. I own a couple pair of shoes that have leather, I eat meat, etc. But the whole time I was there, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I want to set you all free!”lol. These big animals live in these cages, which give them hardly any room to do anything. People just stare and them, yell at them, sometimes even throw things at them, and they can’t do anything about it. By the Primate exhibit a Gorilla weighing about 400lbs, and standing approx 1ft away from the glass, made eye contact with me. I think we shared a moment. I felt he wanted to tell me, “Tyler, c’mon man, open the gate. I swear I won’t do anything to YOU.” I was waiting for one of the Primates to stand up, break through the glass and quote the line from the movie ‘Gladiator’ “Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?“ With the same British accent (lol). Continuing my shameful walk though the zoo I tried to cheer up and read the interesting facts. One thing that amazes me is the strength and weight of some of these animals, for example Rhino, Elephant, etc. and knowing all they eat is PLANTS. It is hard to phantom, but a half ton Rhino, knowing how strong he/she is, and they don’t eat any meat. Now knowing this isn’t going to make me a vegetarian, because the physiological aspects of these animals differ from you and me, so I get my protein from meat. But it’s still cool none the less.

You can look at the animals being caged up in various ways. Another perspective could be that most of these animals could have been born at the zoo, so they don’t truly know where they “should” be. But I bet something inside them is just urging to get out and run freely. They may not know exactly where, but they know they are bigger than the zoo. I somewhat relate to them is the sports sense. All I knew was basketball, football, track, and “common sports.” I wasn’t exposed to anything else, just like those animals weren’t/aren’t exposed to anything but their exhibits. Furthermore, I relate it to me and college. Growing up all I knew was “the hood” in this example, could be compared to a tiger’s exhibit. Something inside me always felt that I had to get out and expand my horizons. And college was the exact thing I need to stretch and run around. There may become a time when you feel larger than your surroundings.

Oh, below is a picture of me at the Zoo doing a broad jump. As you can see, they compare you to various animals. Mind you, I jumped 11+ feet, with no warm-up! I’m around the range of an Ostrich and a Wallaby. I admit, not the SEXIST of animals. Maybe I can talk to the Zoo about having more exotic: Jaguar, Cheetah, Impala, etc.

Its about time I for me to go. I don’t know if I will go Salsa Dancing tonight. My legs are killing me. Well…maybe not killing me(lol).

I appreciate you taking the time and reading. Feel free to keep the comments and emails coming. I dig it. Until next time….. you keep reading and I’ll keep writing.
Special thanks to those who forward my blogs to others. I checked my stats last week and I have 262 views from Grenada! I don’t even know anyone in Grenada(lol)

 

The Itch (Week 15/16)

The Itch (Week 15/16)

As I sit here getting my haircut, the gentle vibration of the clippers begin to massage my head. Just what I needed, because my mind has been wandering like no one’s business. This training is going to be the death of me, I swear. The good thing about doing a new activity is that you always get better. But on the contrary, you always find something that you aren’t doing well. With me, its still my swimming. I thought I was doing decent, and now I realize (because of my coaches) I’m still swimming WRONG! Keeping my chest down, because my legs are still hanging low in the water. When I think about doing it, I do it correct, the only thing is when I turn to breathe, I lower the pool level about 5cm. I guess the Chlorine Cocktail is starting to become my favorite drink. One thing that is encouraging is that I’m beginning to get sore again. I take that as I must be doing something correct, because I’m using the correct swimming muscles. Even though it hurts, I stay with it. At least for now. I’ve been watching the Olympics and personally I do see that much of a discrepancy between me and Michael Phelps(lol).

My barber just asked me how my life has been since my race. I figure this is a perfect transition to talk about mental strength that I seem to have. This past week hasn’t been going my way personally. Work at the hospital has been crazy. I literally was standing on my feet for 17 hours straight. On top of that I got a 84% on a exam, and it really bummed me out. I studied so hard and to come up short doesn’t make me feel too good. A close friend of mine is going to jail for making a stupid decision. Not to mention, the tragedy here in Aurora Colorado was in my neighborhood, and someone close to me was really affected. With all this instability going on in my life at one time, I felt like just running away. But I figure I’m too grown to “run away”, so I did the next best thing, run! And I ran a personal record of 18miles. I don’t know what got into me, was it frustration, anger, sadness, etc. but whatever it was it took 18miles of running to get rid of it. It’s funny, when you go into a zone, you forget about how your body feels. After my run my legs wear completely locked up! I remember laying down taking a well deserved nap and woke up to a “Charlie Horse” in BOTH GLUTES. You don’t know pain and fright until you wake up in that manner. I could only imagine it on the same par as two Vultures trying to eat me. My screams went unanswered, but soon became laughter. I can’t lie, if I caught my friends in the position I was in, I would fall on the floor laughing. As I sat, better yet laid there in tears, I started to think about my run and how it made me feel. I narrowed it down to therapy. With all the inconsistencies in my life, what has been consistent the last couple of weeks have been my training. Sometimes we feel we don’t have any control of our situation. And sometimes we don’t. That’s why I sought to find something I could, and that’s been my swimming, biking, and running.

On a lighter note, I went to my first “Triathlete Party”. At first I felt out of place because it seemed I was the only American there, but after a while I started to “blend in”, not physically of course. I’m still taller and muscular than most the guys. Now the women, that’s a different story. A couple of these women look as if they do a mix of Triathlons, Crossfit, and P90X. They’re bigger and more ripped than most the guys (lol). I tell you, this people know how to party. Every single person who came brought something to drink. If you know me, you know that I never have drank a sip of alcohol, but I did bring something, my favorite: Cranberry Juice! The food, or lack thereof, was almost nonexistent. I think they had some Chex mix, and maybe a couple of Cliff Bars.

[Speaking of food, I went grocery shopping the other day and I tried to do it the correct way. Usually I just walk up and down the aisle and grab whatever looks good, but now I had a plan. And I made it a point to make it healthy, or my version of healthy.]

Anyway, the party was pretty fun. I noticed there are a lot of things that I don’t know about the world. Everyone seems to have traveled and experienced great things and has great stories. It motivates me even more to save my money, throw a dart at a map, buy a ticket and travel. I didn’t believe it when they told me, but when you do one triathlon, you will want to do another one. I think I have the “Itch”.

One bright spot of the week was that my God Daughter (I think she’s 7) called me and told me she wanted to do triathlon, and she wanted to take swim lessons. The good thing about that is her and I could probably take the same classes. So this upcoming week she is going to be in the pool. I just need to find out where and when they have kids triathlons.

Sorry for such a short post this week, the time constraint I have on Sundays in minimal, mainly because I go SALSA DANCING! I may not look good in the water, but out the water I’m one of the smoothest guys you’ll ever see!

But next week should and will be a lot better. Until next week…..

Before I go, I have to give a Shout-out to Pierce O’Farrill the brother of my best friend Andru. Pierce was shot in the arm and leg during the Aurora Theater shootings. He’s a survivor! Get well buddy!

Also, CONGRATS to two close friends of mine Chris Arellano and his wife Ruth Lopez on their 1st child Marcelo.7/21! Weighed 7lbs8oz

 

Reflection (Week 13/14)

Reflection (Week 13/14)

I actually did it. 10 weeks of learning how to do something, and I actually competed in a triathlon. As I sit here after my class, my mind still wanders. But more of focused wanders, if there’s such a thing. Last blog entry I talked about the race and how I physically felt, but I figure I will let you in to the mind of Tyler Matlock. Now if you decide to come, excuse the feeling of being cramped because its full of ideas, memories, etc.

As I sit back I feel/think that the best and worst part of the race had to be the swim. Worst, because it was the most difficult and my time was HORRIBLE, but best because of what I got from it. If you read my last post you know how much I was cramping, and hurting during the swim. I can’t begin to verbally express how many times I wanted to quit, especially half way through the swim. As I was fighting for air, and battling not just the waves of people and the physical pain I felt, I was also battling myself. In all honesty I WANTED TO QUIT. I seriously contemplated taking off my cap and signaling the lifeboat to come in get me. But doing that time I started to think: My whole life I have been around and raised by quitters. Before I was born my father quit on my mother and myself, when I got a little bit older my mother quit on me. Throughout my life I have noticed that many people (particularly family) have made the choice that when things got tough, Tyler was the first thing to go, to lighten the load. But not this time, I wasn’t and couldn’t quit on myself! This thought may have seem that I wanted to use this thought as some type of motivation, some way of “showing” them. On the contrary, I don’t do anything to spite people (well not anymore), I don’t things to prove it to myself. Growing up I had a notebook, somewhat a journal that was filled with “Wood Words.” Wood Words are words and/or phrases that people have said to me that would put fuel to my fire. For example, you can’t, why try, no, you’re not good, etc. Now I still have Wood Words but they’re motivational i.e. Good job Tyler, keep working hard, you can do it, etc.

After taken a deep breath, I put my head down and my butt up and continued my swim and finished. Coming out of the water I was somewhat delusional. I wasn’t about to pass out but I felt kind of dizzy. When I was walking onto shore I felt I left a lot in the water. All the worries, all the problems I had with people, all the things that stressed me out, were all left in Boulder Reservoir. Now that I think about it, it could be seen as a type of Baptism. The race wasn’t over, but as I was walking on the sands, I felt a sense of accomplishment (not to mention relief) that I have never have felt before. One thing that did bother me (for just a quick second) was the fact that some people (family and friends) who said they were going to attend my race didn’t come. But this just reflects the type of relationships that I decided to let go. And most these relationships are “one-way.” Basically, you only have a relationship with someone when it’s convenient for THEM. BUT it was a great feeling seeing people who I didn’t even think was coming, cheering for me. There were even some people who came up to me who I didn’t know screaming my name. After the race four people came up to me and asked if I wanted to train with them. Did I mention all four were women (lol).

[Cool story: before the swim, three gentlemen came up to me and asked was I Tyler. I told them yes, and they told me they have been reading my blog and thought it was cool/courageous that I was doing that. One guy said something that I would never forget, “you don’t know it, but you already won.”]

From this experience my whole mentality changed. I reached a threshold of motivation/ambition that I didn’t know existed within myself. I put the feeling on the same par as when someone gets motivated after a close family/friend has died, someone having a baby, and other life changing experiences. Now I haven’t experienced these two personally, but talking to people who have, the feeling isn’t that different. Something weird, I feel as though my entire life I have been “cheating” myself. But I know that I haven’t because I didn’t discover this part of myself until now. But now I have no excuse not to be full throttle towards my future.

Its crazy the amount of the support that I have received from the people I workout with. Some people even entertain the fact that they’re shocked that I didn’t win. I have been in the pool very often (at least five times a week), and with a determination that I didn’t have before. I have even started saving up for a better bike.

One thing that does get under my skin is when people asked me did I finish. What do you mean “did you finish?” Of course I finished! When people have asked me that, I respond “There’s no TRY in Triathlon, you do or you don’t.

I can honestly say that I am NOT that man I was that Saturday before the race and its been better for me and the people around me every since. Sorry about not blogging that often, but I’m going to be back to it EVERY WEEK. Let’s stick to Sunday, that way you can read this while relaxing and start your week. You may ask when my next race is, and I have to say…sooner than later.

One more funny story. I have been training a lot and that consist of me working out with all these athletes from different places from around the world e.g. Australia, England, etc. So one day I was swimming and I forget the context of the conversation, but I said “CHEERS.” It was funny to me and others because it flowed so nicely and I didn’t even think about saying it.

So until next week, cheers…..

 

Race Day (week 11/12)

This week blog is going to be pretty wordy. Reason being, I’m taking a different approach on the process of how I’m writing it. The difference this time, I’m writing in over a couple of days so you can know how exactly I’m feeling at the moment. So if you don’t like reading that much let me give you the gist, I LOST!

Right now I’m in the recovery ice bath that I made myself in my house. Six bags of ice from the gas station, a bathtub full of cold water, and Pandora playing on my IPOD, who needs a fancy health facility? My legs are completely numb, and these skeletal muscles are shaking, i.e. I’m shivering. But let me take you back to how I got to this point.

Friday (June 15): I just left the gym and seems like everyone knows that my race is coming up. I’m finally on the tapering part of my training and it feels good to do a “cruise” type workout. After my swim was over, I was bombarded with tips, advice, and everything else, from what it seems like 100 people. Eat this, drink this, do this during the transition, wear this, don’t wear that, etc. I don’t know if it was good that I actually tried it all. Every single person I bumped into had to mention my race as if I didn’t know the day was coming. But it felt good to know that people were almost excited as I was. Right now I’m chugging an old milk jug that I rinsed out and put water in. I’ve been hydrating myself like crazy this since Monday. I even bought two HUGE things of Pedialyte, and it taste great! Well I’m off to bed, after I read this great book: The Ant and the Elephant. Check it out; it’s a easy and good read.

Saturday (June 16): I woke up this morning to 19 text asking me what time my “wave” started tomorrow. Its crazy because its 3am and I’m getting ready to go to the hospital. Boy it must feel good to be able to party all night long, til 3am. It was a pretty calm day: I went to the farmers market here in Boulder to just relax and do some “sight seeing” if you know what I mean (lol). One thing that was pretty cool/awkward was a couple of people came up to me and my friend and asked was I Ty. They told me that we have a mutual friend and they knew I was doing the triathlon tomorrow, and that two of them were doing it too! We chit chatted for about 10 minutes, and we were on our way. My friend looked at me and said, “Oh man, look who’s famous.” After the farmers market I went to go get my haircut. Its crazy how Denver is only 30 minutes away from Boulder, but seems like a whole world away. While getting my haircut I wasn’t asked once about my race, which was really good, at first. It was a break from answering the same questions and it also calmed my nerves a little bit. On the other-hand it did feel a little bad that I wasn’t’ asked because it kinda let me know that I was somewhat disconnected from where I come from. After getting a bald taper, it was back to highway-36 and back to Boulder. While back in Boulder, I went to register for the race, I had to officially check-in. The walk up was exhilarating, I paused for a minute to just think about how I’m actually about to check-in for my first triathlon. The process wasn’t hard, stand in a couple of lines, get some paperwork, a wristband, tracker, and a t-shirt. The moment I got to the section of getting my wristband I began to get nervous. Not because of the woman putting my band on, but more because it just sank in that I’m racing tomorrow. I was somewhat embarrassed because my hand was shaking like the lone leaf on the tree during the autumn months.

Its approximately 10pm and I can’t sleep. My heart feels as if though its going to jump out of my chest. Literally, as I lay on my back I can see my necklace bounce from my heartbeat. I just checked my heart-rate and its 146bpm! I have to do something to take my mind off of this race. I thought about going to Pearl street (a local region of town that has bars), but it would be a waste of time. A) Because I don’t drink (that usually doesn’t’ stop me from going to go dance), and B) I’m not trying to stay out til 3am. So I decided to do something I always did whenever I couldn’t sleep, play basketball. I walked over to Coors event center (The University of Colorado men’s basketball team arena), entered, turned on the lights, and shot my nerves out.  Ironically til 3am(lol). Afterwards, I went home, took a shower and fell asleep. Well maybe its better to say took a nap.

Sunday (June 17): I woke up around 5am, and got my stuff ready. Shoes (check), Backpack (check), Wetsuit (check), Bike (check), Helmet (of course), etc. When I got to the Boulder Reservoir it wasn’t as packed as I thought it would be. But looking at my watch, I was extremely early. After about an half hour the masses began to come. Car after car, bike after bike, a endless line of people started to gather behind me. I started observing how people interacted: you could see the serious people, the people there to have fun, etc. With my eavesdropping I heard people comparing the prices of their bikes. But not the whole bike itself, but piece by piece: frame, brakes, tires, etc. Doing the quick calculations in my head I totaled some bike just south of $13,500! I thought my bike was somewhat expensive, but compared to these people, I could have been on a Big Wheel and it wouldn’t seem that different. By this time my heart was coming out of my chest so far it resembled a Pepé Le Pew when he would see the female black cat. I quickly started to put on my wetsuit, that way it wouldn’t be so noticeable, but also the festivities we about to start. The first wave left off at 7:30am and my wave was at 7:45. I took this time to get warmed up (which is funny because the reservoir is cold water) by swimming with the other people waiting for their wave to take off.

The Race:

SWIM –Two minutes til the race my wave began to line up. We were in a mosh pit type of atmosphere on shore. What amazed me was that being in the water made all my nerves go away. I was cool as ice. If you seen me, you probably would have thought I’ve done hundreds of these. I guess you can say I had my game-face on. Ready, set, and then the loud air horn goes off. People ran immediately, but not me. I didn’t want any of that craziness. I counted to 10 and began to swim. I was doing pretty good the first 150 meters. My stroke was great, I was breathing normally, and I felt comfortable. Strangely enough, it seemed silent. The only thing I heard at that time was the deep inhale of myself getting air. Suddenly I hear a pounding, somewhat like a drum noise. It was a person in a Kayak telling me and another person to lookout. I stopped my momentum for a quick second to glance around and SMACK, I get hit in the bridge of my nose. At this point all my technique went out the window. I wasn’t prepared for such a blow (somewhat like Victor Ortiz when Floyd Mayweather knocked him out). I began to see little stars, so I rolled on my back and tried to gather my thoughts. As I did that, I was placing my goggles back on my eyes which were down my lips. Right before I put them on I noticed blood on my lenses. I almost lost it! I began to do breast stroke and backstroke. I was super tired by this point and I still had half the swim to go.

“Ok Tyler, get it together, only 400 more meters, you can do this”. That what my mind was telling me, but my body was saying something completely different. My arms were burning, I had a shortness of breath, and I started to CRAMP. This wasn’t good, I had all these things going on and the wave behind me was starting to catch up. So now I was in another sea of people. Nose bleeding, nose hurting, cramps, can’t breathe, people swarming me, were just the beginning of my problems. I wanted to stop by I quickly remembered that I couldn’t touch the ground like I could in the training pool. So I had to hold on to a Kayak (which many were strategically place around the course) for a couple of minutes to calm down. After the calming, I began to swim again, this time focusing back on my technique and slowing down. But I began the battle with cramps once again. This time they were getting worse, so I had to hold on to yet again another kayak. While holding on I tried to stretch my back the best that I could.

On the kayak, the safety boat came up and asked me did I want to quit. I looked at the driver and asked “you can’t be serious. How much further do I have to go?” she responded about 250meters. I let go of the kayak and began to swim, with the shore in sight. Once again my lower back began to tighten up, and now my quadriceps was really fatigue. But I was determined to finish, so I kept going. My logic was the faster I finish, the quicker it would be over.  Eventually I finished the swim, better yet, SURVIVED the swim. When I got out the water I felt a sense of tiredness that I haven’t felt before. But I also felt a sense of accomplishment!

While running and ripping off my wetsuit as if I was some sort of superhero about to save the world, I made it to the transition stage I made sure I hydrated to the best of my abilities, and then it was on the bike.

BIKE — The bike, my strong suit. I had complete and total confidence that I could make up some time on my race, which I did. But it didn’t come without a price. About four miles out of the gate I was pumping so hard my calves started to cramp, especially my left. I didn’t want to stop, so I unclipped my left foot (unclipped because most bikes have pedals that you have to have “special” shoes that clip you in, so you don’t have to just push down, but you can also pull-up, which is more efficient) and pedaled with my right leg. After about a mile of this, my leg felt good enough that I could become a normal cyclist again. During my life I have thought of myself as pretty coordinated, but once again I proved to be wrong and let me tell you why. While riding the bikes they have these stations so you can refuel with water, Gatorade, etc. But the whole ten weeks that I have trained I haven’t practiced grabbing water while riding. The first time I did it, the woman (I assume she was approx 20 years old) held the Gatorade bottle out. I was deadlocked on this bottle, Hawk-eye engaged and I was ready to quench my thirst. When I grabbed the bottle, or at least tried, I took the woman with me. Either I grabbed her, or she was dead-set on not letting go of that bottle. It was so fast I can’t remember which one it was, but no matter the case, she spun and flew about eight feet!

[Whoever (or is it whomever?) that woman is, and if you’re reading this, just to let you know that I am very sorry!]

Ok, back to the story. The rest of the bike ride wasn’t that eventful. The uphill portion was hard, but nothing compare to what I have already done. This is the section of the race where I felt my training really paid off. The cool part about this portion of the race was I could take somewhat a break going downhill. This is where that 192lb frame + gravity paid off.

RUN –“I’m almost done, I’m almost done, one more part. You got this!” That is what I was saying to myself as I was putting on my running shoes. Hopping off the bike and going into a jog is harder what most people may think. Imagine if you were running in rice and your legs were part concrete for the first 300meters. But after that initial run, you start to get the normal feeling back. I got a boost of encouragement from a friend Eric Marcum who ran onto the beginning of the course to slap me high five as I was on the last stage. I don’t know if thats legal, but thanks Eric! Usually I brag about the beauty of Boulder Colorado, but not today. This is the one time I dreaded the clearness of the skies. While running it felt as if me and Devil were racing and he was right behind me. And behind the Devin was the Sun. It was extremely hot, and I know this may be hard to believe, but I got some tan lines! While in a three way tie with the Sun and Satan, I had another opportunity to redeem myself with the hydration station. This time I wasn’t going to take out someone. Here is comes, here it comes, success! I grabbed the cup! Now how do I drink this without stopping? Another part that I wasn’t used to doing. How many people actually run and drink from a CUP at the same time? Water bottle, yes, but cup, no! With the full cup they gave me, approx. 1/4 of it actually made it into my mouth. Then I grabbed another one, but only for the cool points. I have always seen these runners on TV grab water and throw it in their face, so I wanted to be cool like them. 1….2…..3…. I grabbed another water, then SPLASH! And I see why they do it, it felt GREAT! During this whole time I was on autopilot, my legs were pumping, I was sweating to a point that my earlobes were dripping. I didn’t know earlobes could sweat (lol). Sooner than I thought the finish line was in sight. I began to smile from ear to hear, but as quickly as that smile came, it went away. Reason being, my old nemesis “Cramp” was back to say hello. This time she was here with a vengeance. She said, “you got rid of me the first two times, but this time I’m here to stay!” I wonder can you get a restraining order from Cramps, because she has been harassing me! Anyway, she was in both quads at this time and actually caused me to stop running. But me wanting to finish so bad, I made a compromise with her and said if she goes away right now, she can have me for the rest of the night. Which at that time seemed great and later that night I found out was horrible. She told me as long as I run faster she would go away. So I turned into Usain Bolt, well a jogging version of Mr. Bolt. As I started to get closer to the finish line it sounded like the Coliseum from the movie ‘Gladiator’. The roar of the people and the clapping made my face and my heart smile. A really cool thing that happened is that the announcer said my name as soon as I approached the finish line. With the overwhelming happiness I felt, I was distracted from my pain. Seems as if that arch that I passed under was magical and dismissed every physical bad feeling I had it the time. I guess “pain is temporary”

When the race was over it was great to see my friends there waiting and cheering me on. Also it was good to see the Triathletes (who finished way before I did) waiting also to give me a pat on my back. Finishing the race was very good for me. It gave me a sense of self that I didn’t know existed. Starting from ground zero and actually doing this was one (if not THE) hardest things I’ve ever done. A lot of people say that I have the itch because I have kept my training up since the race. But I feel this journey has helped me so much, not just physically, but mentally as well. I will talk about that the next blog, I feel this one had gotten long enough. Hopefully you keep reading, because I’m going to keep writing.

Until next Thursday……

Oh yeah, after that long morning, I had class right afterwards. So technically I did a Quad-athlon!

 

Shaved! (Week 9/10)

Shaved! (Week 9/10)

Last week was a pretty eventful week. Full of many activities, training oh and did I fail to mention MY BIRTHDAY (and yes I do take belated gifts(lol)). A typical birthday consist of party hats, birthday cake, balloons, etc., But I’ve noticed in the triathlon world this doesn’t apply. Birthdays are an excuse to amp up your training, and this is what I found out the hard way. I began the day with a 2500meter swim, which probably took me two -three hours. I’m not proud of the time, but more that I actually completed. It was really humbling because I started at the beginning of class and didn’t end til the next class was over. After the brutal swim and since it was time for a bike ride. Just my luck, my birthday fell on a Wednesday, the same day that we meet at the Club and bike. My friend opened his mouth and told our fellow cyclist about the special day, and they decided it was a great time to go on a 25 mile ride (HARD). We started from the club, and rode up to the Nation Center for Atmospheric Research ( NCAR). From the name you can assume that NCAR sit atop of a pretty high “hill” (I don’t want to say mountain because that would be disgracing the real mountains of Colorado). Let me give you some details:

Details of the NCAR climb

  • Grade: 5.7 on average
  • Distance: about 2 miles, maybe longer depending on your starting point
  • Total elevation: Almost 700ft.
  • With sections of 8% grade.

Going up the hill was I experienced a pain in my quadriceps that I have never felt before. I swear if I were to wear regular shorts I would have bust out of them like Bruce Banner turning into “The Incredible Hulk.” [Speaking of the Hulk, I seen “The Avengers” movie, and it wasn’t that bad. Somewhat long (2.5 hours), but still worth the relax time. But not worth seeing in 3-D].  One thing about the NCAR ride that was pretty cool is at the bottom of the hill is there is a radar sign that tracks your speed. Funny thing is that I almost estimated my speed off of pure mathematical calculations. As I was “flying” down this hill I projected the speed I was going by knowing the distance of the hill and dividing that by the amount of time it took me to reach the bottom(speed=d/t). I guess that physics actually came in handy, thanks to my Professors: Mr. Stump and Dr. Kram. I approximated I was going 41 MPH (66kmh) and when I reached the sign I surprised I was ACTUALLY going 39 mph! I was shocked and upset, I can’t believe I go that wrong, but I only had a minute or so and no paper(lol). I guess this 193lb frame was moving!

Here’s a video of the ride:

After the NCAR hill we (well THEY) decided to ride to Eldorado Springs/Canyon. The ride to Eldorado Springs was extremely hard. After the swim and the Hill Climb, I thought my legs were going to fall off! But this is the time I decided to go into my zone, and that’s when I began to think about my bio-mechanics research. But my engineering side started to peak out. I started to think about how I could cheat this ride and maybe my future race(s) (look at me being optimistic about doing more before I have completed one) by attaching an inconspicuous motor. I would be willing to sacrifice the weight to assist in the power.

Following the bike ride, I probably did the slowest/worst transition to the run.  With all the bugs, dust, and sweat all over my body, I decided to take a shower. Afterwards I hit the ground running, and ran my 2.5 miles. I’m surprised my legs weren’t silly putty. Running down the road I felt that the sun blazing had a personal vendetta against me. I come to the conclusion that this was the day “No-Shirt Wednesdays”. Running down baseline up to Chautauqua Park I felt and somewhat looked like ‘Boobie Miles’ from the movie “Friday Night Lights”. Overall it was a pretty great and exhausting day!

This past week I participated in my first “Open Water” swim at the Boulder Reservoir, with a group called Boulder Aquatic Masters (BAM). Just as luck would have it, it rained the night before the practice swim and that made the water level a little higher than usual. Oh, and I failed to mention, lower the temperature. The night before and the morning of I was advised to do a checklist of everything I needed when doing a open water swim: Wetsuit, swim cap, tinted goggles, and most of all a THERMOS! I got out to the “res” around 6:15am shaking like a leaf. The thing is, I wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or the nervousness of doing this. What calmed me down was a couple of familiar faces, my swim coach (well one of them) Jane Scott.

When I got into the water my breath IMMEDIATELY escaped my body. It was FREEZING! But I told myself I have to get this done, and I put my head down (chin tucked of course) and began to swim. What was shocking is that my stroke vastly improved. Well that’s what the lifeguard and Jane told me. I figured out the more I swim, the warmer I would get, so these arms kept of pumpin’! I caught myself about 300 meters out and I began to get tired, mainly because of the chest compression from the wetsuit. Me not “realizing” I was in open water, I relaxed as I were in a lap pool, which means I took a vertical position. It didn’t take me long to realize that there wasn’t a bottom! I began to panic! No seriously I thought I was going to drown. Then my PARASYMPATHETIC pathway started to take over and the Fight or Flight response was initiated. That only lasted for a couple of seconds, I say about 30 seconds and then I begin to calm down. What calmed me down was a song that popped into my head, Bob Marley’s “Keep on Moving”, which ironically fit the situation. I turned onto my back and began to float and stare at the sun. Every second that went by I felt my heart rate decreasing. Eventually I was in a place that was very placid. “Alright Tyler, time to get it into gear”, is what I told myself. Back on my belly I went, and I started freestyle swim again. I eventually finished the course. It took me a while, but I finished (well finished my loop). The loop was about 400 meters, about half of the distance I need to complete during my official race. A funny thing happened while I was swimming. I was in the final stretch of my loop and a single woman (single meaning she was the only one, I don’t know her relationship status) ahead of me about 20 meters ahead of me and no one else was within 200meter radius of us. I’m finishing strong and have a groove going with my stroke. All of a sudden, as soon as I look up trying to guide myself into shore, BOOM/POW/SMACK and whatever type of sound effect you want to use, I get KICKED IN THE FACE! I wasn’t upset at all, I just laughed because whats the odds of that happening? No seriously can you calculate that because I tried and can’t(lol). Two people, 25meters apart, no one else around, in a giant reservoir, and they collide.

Today (May 31st), I swam again in the Boulder Reservoir, and nothing went right! I was having major problems breathing. Along with that, my stroke went down the drain. I couldn’t hold my form at all and I was using my shoulders more than my lats. Using my lats vs. my shoulders have been a setback for me since day one. Most of the sports I have played have consisted of me having strong shoulders and using them more than my lats. I guess I haven’t isolated those muscles before, so it’s a new part of my body that I need to learn to control. Today was also kind of frustrating as well, not because of me but of other people. As I was struggling coming back into shore two women were laughing at me. Matter of fact one of the women was the woman who kicked me in my face. I know this because she said “Do you need me to kick you in your face again?” My belly began to catch fire and my eyes turn black as a shark. When I got to shore I contemplated “telling them off”, but I couldn’t imagine disrespecting someone (especially a woman) just because of some immature giggling (or anything else). Needless to say, being laughed at isn’t fun at all.

My whole life I’ve been able to pick up many sports quickly. But swimming is a whole new monster. To tell you the truth, it gives me a “rush” to be on the other side of the fence and not be good at it. I get excited with the thought of going to practice and getting better. I like the challenge of stepping into a new arena and working towards perfecting it. Now I know what it feels like to be that kid that is trying so hard to dunk and can’t, and me and my friends are looking as if dunking is a natural thing and he should be able to do it. Being that kid doesn’t feel good at all, but with every attempt that kid tried to dunk, I respected him more and more. I feel as if though with every practice I show up to, and every 100meters I swim, these Triathletes may be laughing at me, but I have a feeling that they respect me.

I’m going to get a bit off topic in this last section because some funny things have been happening this last week. Let start off with me losing my brand new swim bag. You may be asking why is losing your bag funny,  it isn’t, but how I got my bag made me laugh. One of the guys I workout came up to me and said “Tyler, is this your bag?” and I was excited because it had all my gear in there,

“Heck yeah”, I responded. “How did you know it was mine?”

He said, “Because I found this “science chip” in there and I know you’re a smart guy so I figure it must be yours.” He was right, I had a Human Genome Project chip in my bag. Don’t ask me why, just let me be the geek that I am.

Another hilarious story, my buddy just got back from a week-long trip to England this week and he brought me back a quid (look that word up if you don’t know what it is. Never mind, I’ll tell you, it’s English currency). I was at a Baker Street Pub here in Boulder watching the NBA playoffs, and this girl comes up to me and ask me where something is, (I really can’t remember but that’s beside the point). After hearing her speak I realized that she was from a different country. Being around most these Triathletes I encounter people from Bermuda, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, etc. I asked her where she was from and she said LONDON. Guess what I so happen to have in my pocket, the QUID! Long story short, great conversation starter, and this girl and I talked for about 1 hour. I have dubbed that quid my lucky coin and carry it wherever I go now!

Something that makes me laugh whenever I talk and look at some of the guys I train with is that most (if not all) of them SHAVE their legs. It makes me laugh because they have perfected it better than some women have. When I ask them about that I got plenty of advice of what to use and what not to use. They even offered to show me the correct way to use a razor or a cream. FYI, most of them prefer the razor, reason being, the creams (Nair, Veet, etc) irritate them in the pool.

One more thing before I go, I’m  really a movie buff and a real nerd. Sometimes I being so literal I can’t separate fiction from actuality. Let me tell you, I was watching Forrest Gump the other night and I began to get a little ticked off. If you seen the movie you can recall Forrest just deciding to RUN for no reason, or as he put it, He “just felt like running.” The thing that ticked me off was Forrest had no prior long distance running and could just run halfway across the country. NOT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE(lol).

Oh and by the way, my race is JUNE 17th and here’s the course map:

I’ll keep on Tri’ing. Until next Thursday……

 

Up & Up (Week 8)

Up & Up (Week 8)

I’m back at it and feeling better! Last week was a physical waste, reason being, that darn chest infection. But I finally got some medicine and I’m feeling 100%. What really took a hit was my endurance. Who knew taking a week off could really set you back? As usual, I’m learning from my mistakes, and this week wasn’t any different from the previous weeks. I figured I could just jump back into the groove and OH BOY, was that one of the dumbest things ever.

It started with me going out for a swim this past Monday. It was cold and rainy, and the typical spontaneous Colorado weather.

[For those of you who aren’t form Colorado and/or never been here, we have a saying (at least me and my friends do). Colorado is the only place where you can use your Heat in the morning and your Air Conditioner in the afternoon. You can walk to class with jeans, boots, scarves, gloves, etc. and when class is done you will see people in flip flops and shorts. Well, that’s not saying much, because the kids in Boulder were flip flops and shorts with 4 feet of SNOW on the ground.]

Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to open my new gift which happened to e a brand new wetsuit. And it was no coincidence that the weather was perfect. The suit worked wonders, it was as if I was gliding on top of the water. It helped me so much with the buoyancy and my confidence. So much so that the next swim class with Anna I felt more relaxed in the water than I have ever felt before. The only thing I need to get used to is how tight and restricted I felt with my breathing.

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I made a promise to myself to elevate my cycling to a whole new intensity, and I did! I started riding on average 20 miles a day on difficult routes and not just the flat routes I normally ride. This past Wednesday I actually thought my legs were going to FALL OFF. The scenes were so beautiful, but the hills were HORRIBLE. I would climb a hill and BOOM, there would be another one, and another one, and another one, and this continued on for about five times, but it felt like 1000. I was in the highest gear. In my mind I didn’t want to stop and I’m glad my legs didn’t. I just kept saying to myself was “Tyler, just keep pedaling, keep pedaling, do you hear me talking to you, KEEP PEDALING!” When the ride was over, I fell to the ground and decided his was the perfect time to do Savasana. You can tell Boulder has changed me quite a bit because I know the name of some YOGA poses.

I’m going to keep this blog kinda short, reason being I don’t want to overwhelm you with words, because I have plenty of photos and a VIDEO this week. And if you can name the Composer of the song I used in the video, better yet, MY FAVORITE MOVIE where I got it from, DINNER IS ON ME!

So until next Thursday….. Oh and thanks Brant for the video, I just wish you could spell! LOL

And this is me after a brutal bike and run workout.