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Hi there!

First blog to Swim Bike Run – LoneWolfSBR.com

Well here we go, my journey into sport and becoming an elite athlete in the sport of Triathlon. What the hell have I decided to do? I have never ran before, well maybe in grade school, and here I am taking it to a whole new level. Thanks for your support as I explore the pain caves and find my way around them. #SwimBikeRun #Triathlon

SwimBikeRun

 

Rest Day Motivation – #1

Hello everyone! Rest Day Today!

Tonight, my fabulous girlfriend and I were watching an awesome documentary called “Rising From Ashes”. It is about the Rwanda cycling racing team and the journey of the lives of everyone involved.

Here is the trailer and I really suggest you go purchase it and watch with loved ones.

This documentary really touched me in so many ways in how perseverance, drive, dedication can motivate so many. From every dark cave where all the evil and bad things can happen and how it changes people, how it humbles people and how it strengthens people in a way that is indescribable. Extremely moving film.

Anyway, the film reminded me what my purpose is in life. I want to do my very best to stay humble, to motivate when I can, to coach others to be their best and to inspire others to reach their goals in life, in sport and in being human. I feel it is a huge responsibility that I have and I must do it in the best way I know how to do.

Believe me, I do love winning, I love healthy competition and I love getting medals of achievement but the most important thing I love is seeing others better themselves. With a healthy body comes a healthy mind. I truly believe this mentally boosts people into a better place and out of the dark caves.

Life is not easy and these days, it is not getting any easier. So, just remember, life is short, live it to the absolute fullest you can, be around fantastic people and do what you can to motivate, inspire and help people get to be their best-selves. Yes, my new word.

Fill your lives with positivity. Help a cause, buy a bike for someone, go help spread the word of just being positive and excellent to each other.

ThinkPositiveBePositive

Remember, haters going to hate, trolls going to troll.. ignore the noise and just smile in the face of adversity and wish them a great day. Never be ashamed of your achievements, share them with the world as they WILL inspire someone even if you don’t know it and that is OK.

Stay positive my friends. I love you all.

CJ

My First Triathlon! – Chicago Triathlon 2017 (Sprint 18.6 Miles)

Well I did it friends! I completed my first triathlon and what a weekend it was. This was an awesome experience and I hope it inspires you to Try-A-Tri and see if it something that you would fall in love with like I did. Here is how race weekend went…

SATURDAY – PRE-RACE EXPO

Since I was doing the Sprint, my girlfriend and I needed to head downtown to get my packet (REQUIRED) and the Chicago Triathlon organizers had an “early check in” where we could rack our bikes early which will save a ton of time figuring out where I needed to head to during T1 (Transition 1 – SWIM TO BIKE). We took the train down and with my Tri-Bike in tow, we headed to the Expo, went through the required safety briefing, picked up packet, bib/bike/helmet numbers and racked the bike. Quick note on the Expo: The vendors had so much stuff from car bike racks, to wet suits, to transition bags, to medal holders to.. well you name it… Everything Triathlon! It was all setup very nicely.

SUNDAY – RACE DAY!

We woke up at 5 AM to get ready, double check I had everything for my transitions. I was wave 40 of the race and my race time was 9:19 AM so I had quite a bit of time to prepare and get ready for the race. We had pre-paid for parking so we parked really close to the event. With gear in hand, we head towards T1 where I had a two hour window to get my transition area setup. It didn’t take too long, I just needed to get my towel down, running shoes and everything else I was going to need for my bike and run portion. I had my bike kit on so all I had to do was pull my wet suit on and jump into Lake Michigan come race time. They gave us a pre-race gear bag to put flip flops, and anything else we wanted to check just before race time which was very nice so I didn’t have to walk around with bare feet for an hour or so and we could pick it up right after we finish. At this point I started getting excited for the start. My girlfriend and I decided where we both would be during the swim as I KNEW this was going to be difficult for me as I am not a strong swimmer. I decided I would swim near the middle of the pack and my girlfriend would walk along the sea wall spotting me. She told me to endure the swim, CRUSH the bike and get through the run… so that was the plan… It was time to head down to the starting point and get in the water.

READY, SET, GO!

9:17 AM – We are directed to get into the water and get ready. They would count down our wave and sound the horn. As I stepped down the metal steps into the 72.2 degree water, it took my breath away a little and I only had a few seconds to gain my composure and control my breathing as I let water into my wet suit, it was chilly but I got used to it fairly quickly. As the countdown was getting closer, I started getting focused. 9:19 comes along and the HORN SOUNDS and we are off! The strong swimmers fly past me and about oh… 20 seconds into the swim I was gassed. I knew I was going to have a very long .47 mile swim so I did the freestyle, then the backstroke and then to side stroke and eventually doggy paddling. Yeah, it was rugged but I stayed the course. I felt bad for a few folks who either panicked or just didn’t want to endure the water anymore and quit. A number of others were floating on the kayaks to catch their breath but I told myself just keep swimming and I did. During the swim I could see and hear my girlfriend cheering me on. It was very uplifting as this part of the race was a mental challenge. Your body wants to quit and get out but you know if you get through this, you will be one step closer to finishing. I finally could see the swim exit which gave me a bit of a boost. As we got closer to the exit, the waves kicked up a bit and I just rode them a little like when we are snorkeling in the Caribbean which made me smile. I finished the swim in 27:13. I won’t mention where I was placed amongst my fellow age groupers.

TIME TO BIKE!

Here is where I can make up time from that challenging swim. I had it in my head I was going to push as hard as I can on the bike and i was feeling really good even after that swim. Out of the water,  I had to run 500 meters to get ready for the bike. I get to transition and it was chaos but I knew where I needed to go and get ready. I mount my GoPro, put on my helmet, get my shoes on and head out to the bike course. Our course was up and back on Lake Shore Drive (15 miles). I knew it was going to be fast. There were a number of up and downs in terms of the elevation due to the overpasses but I started passing so many people it just boosted me to keep going! There were only a handful of folks passing me and these were either teams or people who were seasoned in triathlons. My bike was completed in 46:20 (323rd out of 2289 competitors) – Not bad for my first triathlon.

(Here is the raw video of my entire ride. I suggest playing some background music if you watch the whole thing.)

 

TIME TO RUN!

Now that the bike portion is over, it is time to run. Running off the bike is an interesting feeling as the blood flow needs to change so it is important to start out steady and run tall! I did a bit of jogging, walking as this was a WHOLE NEW feeling for me but I was feeling better and better as i got close to the finish line. In T2 (Transition 2 – BIKE TO RUN) I took a bit longer than I should have but I wanted to get socks on and get my breath, again realizing I need to continue my training to get my body used to all this but still loving the experience! I get my shoes on and head out to the course. Again, my fantastic girlfriend decided to run/chase me along the course as it is quite open for spectators which was nice cause she would ask me about my pain, how I was feeling and continue to cheer me on. I told her about the bike and I couldn’t wait to show her when we got home… anyway, back to the running. Our run went down the shoreline and past the museums and back then up to the finish line. So many spectators out there cheering everyone on and seeing so many people from ages of 16 to 81 it was AWESOME and very inspiring. As I got closer to the finish, the race guards, other runners and spectators were getting louder and coaching us along. I could hear the announcer so I knew I was getting close and I found some energy from that and kicked my way to crossing the finish line. I was overwhelmed with emotion and happiness that I just did something I never thought I would do… and let me tell you… I AM HOOKED! This is an awesome sport and I encourage ALL of you to do a supersprint or a sprint just once so you too can experience this great sport. You will love the achievement you will feel when you cross that finish line!

I FINISHED!

I did it! I started at 9:19 and crossed the finish line 2 hours and 17 minutes later. I can’t wait for the next one and all the training I will have to do. I am determined and WILL cross that finish line in Kona Hawaii 5 years from now. Thank you all for supporting me through this journey!

HUGE thank you to my Mom and my Girlfriend for your support, love and coaching. I love you with all of my heart!

CJ

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Triathlon getting popular!

Since I have latched onto this sport, I have seen an uptick in popularity and engagement from the community and the Internet. Just watch some of the Ironman World Championships on YouTube and you will see what I mean.

Just a few days ago, the Global Cycling Network on YouTube has launched the Global Triathlon Network. Here is the trailer for the channel which is AWESOME!

If you are interested in getting started with Triathlon, first thing to do, start running. 🙂

Then RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! There is a lot that comes with this sport so make sure you understand each aspect of the sport.

Have fun out there!

CJ

 

 

My Triathlon Journey (5 Year plan)

Hello Friends and Family!

As I continue my journey into the fantastic sport of Triathlon, I am learning so much about this sport. It is very complex and of course there are a lot of acronyms, distances and terms. For this blog post, I am going to break down the distances of each Triathlon up until my goal of getting to Kona, Hawaii for the Ironman World Championships. In future blogs, I am going to explain a lot of the terms and acronyms so when you hear them, you know what is being said without having to pull out your Google app to search for them. I won’t go over ALL of the distances in Triathlon as there are so many so I will focus on the ones I will be doing.

Zeitfahren / Triathlon Silhouette

Let’s define TRIATHLON. The word “triathlon” is of Greek origin from τρεῖς or treis (“three”) and ἆθλος or athlos (“competition”).
(SOURCE: Wikipedia)

The modern day triathlon consists of a SWIM, a BIKE and a RUN. There are different distances based on organization, sponsor, etc. Sometimes small town events even hold Triathlons for folks to try them out. “Try-A-Tri”.

MY TRIATHLON DISTANCES:

Athlete training on bicycle

My first Triathlon will be a “Sprint” distance triathlon in the Chicago Triathlon. Below are the distances of the Triathlons I have in my plan for the next 5 years and years after.

SPRINT TRIATHLON – I will do a few of these throughout the next few years until I am comfortable with the longer distances.
– SWIM: 750m (.47 Miles)
– BIKE: 24k (15 Miles)
– RUN: 5K (3.1 Miles)

INT’L/OLYMPIC TRIATHLON – The Int’l/Olympic distance will help me build my endurance to get prepared for the Ironman 70.3
– SWIM: 1500m (.93 Miles)
– BIKE: 40k (24.8 Miles)
– RUN: 10k (6.2 Miles)

Half Ironman 70.3 TRIATHLON – The Half Ironman is yet another way for me to prepare for the qualifying, FULL Ironman, event in which about 80,000 people attempt each year and only 2,000 people make it to Kona.
– SWIM: 1.9k (1.2 Miles)
– BIKE: 90k (56 Miles)
– RUN: 21.1k (13.1 Miles – Half Marathon)

FULL Ironman 140.6 TRIATHLON EVENT (Qualifier for Kona) – This is it, this is what I need to do to get to Kona Hawaii. Again, Over 80,000 Competitors will be gunning for a spot. (There are three other ways, but in the true spirit of competition, THIS is how I will work to get my spot in Kona).
– SWIM: 3.86k (2.4 Miles)
– BIKE: 180.25k (112 Miles)
– RUN: 42.16k (26.2 Miles – FULL Marathon)

ironman Nice

Ironman World Championships – Kona Hawaii
– OCEAN SWIM: 3.86k (2.4 Miles)
– BIKE: 180.25k (112 Miles)
– RUN: 42.16k (26.2 Miles – FULL Marathon)

What makes this the ultimate test is that there are so many factors that I have not much control over. Unlike the other events, I can choose where to go. In Kona, you could have massive swells in the ocean, over 100 degree temps with cross winds that could knock you off your bike and a marathon right after the bike. Just thinking about it gets me excited and scared all at the same time but it is the loftiest goal I have ever set for myself. LET’S DO THIS!

As always, I love you all and thank you for your support in my journey!
CJ

Dealing with pain in training an competition.

As my journey into becoming a triathlete continues, I find going into what some call the “pain cave” is a deep dark place. But, it is truly a mental game as much as it is a physical one. Pain is never fun for anyone especially in competition but there are a lot of professional athletes who have conditioned themselves to push beyond their pain thresholds. You can too as I am learning that anyone can become an athlete. It just takes time and consistency.

Weight a factor?

Weight is a definite factor. In January, I was in the upwards of 320 pounds. I am now below 280 and still have a ways to go. Starting to run, the impact on my legs was pretty big due to the fact of how much weight I was carrying. So slimming down is important if you want to get into competitive sports. One other factor I have against me is I have 22″ calves and large quads as I have very strong legs so carrying large muscles will impact me so keeping them strong to carry me and deal with the impact is a painful adaption. I can generate so much power in my legs, I had to have my mountain bike converted and special wheels (Tandem bike/40 spoke) installed to deal with the torque I was generating. But having lean muscle and a balanced body mass is important for sure.

Kinds of pain I have had to this point…

Sore legs, sore ankles, sore back, strained hamstrings, sore toes, super sore quads and sore shins. Yeah… some other pain too but WELCOME TO THE PAIN CAVE!
Now don’t let this shy you away from fitness, just know it is NOT overnight and will take some time for your body to adapt. Remember, I have only been doing this for a few months and most training plans are weeks/months. But proper fitness, proper rest/recovery and proper nutrition is key in all this. Learn to enjoy cold showers and ice baths. They really do help and you get used to them and actually look forward to them.

Let’s talk MENTAL game…

The Navy Seals have what’s called the 40 (40% rule) where you have to overcome the mental barriers that exist. For some it is easy, for most it is one of the most difficult things to do but as long as you stay consistent, you CAN overcome the barriers.

My mental barriers are the “pain cave” but learning how to push past it when running and swimming and even when I am cycling, I hit the wall sometimes but verbally telling myself to push on is something I have to do is what helps me get past it.

How about listening to music? Yep, music/motivational videos/etc. will help. For example, I have YouTubeRED so it allows me to play videos without my screen on so I have Ironman World Championships playing in the background. When I need a big boost, I have a playlist in my Spotify called Becoming Batman which has all the soundtracks to the Batman movies playing. That seems to push me pretty good over the mental hills.

Favorite YouTube video to play while I run:

Pain is a reality and once you accept that fact, you can push past it each and every day. Grow your fitness social circle and have people who will inspire and motivate you to push on. There will be tough days I ASSURE you but having a strong support system and good recovery tactics will get you to your goals.

Remember, ALWAYS check with you doctor/trainer before starting an exercise routine. Make sure your body and heart can handle what you are about to serve it. Going 100% right out of the gate is not possible when you are starting out. your body needs to adapt into the new habits you are going to teach it. Results WILL happen, just give it time.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and I LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you for your continued support everyone!

CJ

 

Multi-Life = Multi-Sport

I love challenges… So much so, I wanted to do as much as possible before I am no longer on this planet. I tried many different jobs, experiences and sports. As a wee little guy, I wanted to be a race car driver. Then I wanted to be a police officer. Then I found computers cool and guess what, that is what stuck. Same for sports… I played baseball and kind of liked it, then I watched college basketball every morning before going to school and then realized even though I was tall, I could not hit a basket or slam dunk if my life depended on it. I then got into hockey but living in Arizona at the time, wasn’t really an option. I loved diving (swimming pool) and cycling as they were a ton of fun but BMX’ing and mountain biking became my “thing” for a long time. THEN I got a job and then sports took a back seat for a very long time.

I have tried a lot of things in my life and as much as I regret not jumping into the sport of Triathlon earlier in my life, I am glad I found it now. It goes well with me as each one is a challenge and even more so back-to-back-to-back. I also find being an introvert it is a sport I love hence the “Lone Wolf” signature. I don’t run will with packs as I don’t always agree and egos are not something I enjoy being around. I love the motivation and inspiration of sport but most people are driven by other means.

My goal in 5 years is to run a FULL Ironman (Preferably at the Ironman World Championships in KONA Hawaii – SEE YouTube videos below) and it will be a long road to get there. So here is how I deal with each of the 3 sports in this multi-sport called TRIATHLON. For this blog entry, I will focus on the Super Sprint, a great beginner course for anyone interested in getting into the sport. (My first is a Sprint distance – 750m/20km/5km as I am beefing up for an Ironman in 5 years)

Swimming:

Competitors swimming out into open water at the beginning of Triathlon.

As I said, I didn’t swim much as a kid or as an adult I just dove and I love to scuba/snorkel so open water doesn’t bother me but swimming at speed and in a race will be daunting. Talk about new muscles and new soreness O.M.G! Since I am starting out, I could opt for a Super Sprint distance (400m) but as I said I decided to go with a Sprint (750m) distance for my first race. Pool swimming is WAYYYYYYYY different than open water swimming for those who have not done open water. Open water, you have varying temperatures, currents, wind, waves and potential objects you have to navigate. So find your nearest lake or river or ocean and check it out.

Biking:

Triathlon at the beach evening time

Easy one right? Well keep in mind, at minimum, you need to go 10K/6.2 miles AFTER your swim in a Super Sprint distance. Then you have to save enough energy for your run. So as biking is a pretty simple thing to do leisurely, remember it is GO time and you will want to pedal non-stop as much as possible all whilst retaining energy. I carry water bottle to keep my body cool and take a swig here and there but know that nutrition (Energy gels, food, etc.) and water for longer distance will come more into play but most events have aid stations who have water and Gatorade. Many beginner triathlons have different age groups and classes. For example, I am a big dude and I could go for my age group alone or I could sign up for the Clydesdale/Athena class cause I am over a certain weight. You could pick a Mountain Bike division if you want to race with your mountain bike. but if you find you get serious with the sport, you will want to invest in a good TRI-Bike and possible a road bike for training purposes. ALL BIKES ARE NOT MADE EQUALLY! Geometry is critical especially when it deals with Triathlon as TRI-bikes are made for speed and take a bit of core strength and agility to manage one. So, get riding!

Running:
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We all have that one sport we don’t like and this one by far is my least favorite. It is something I don’t enjoy doing… YET…. but I am learning to like it. As I lose more fat weight it will become a little easier but time will tell. For a Super Sprint you will be running a 2.5K/1.5Mile run which for most beginners is a good run to deal with. But this is the part of the race you want to give it your all. Run like crazy to cross that finish line. To train for running, get a Couch to 5K app or other running training app. Find a friend who is an avid runner and ask for advice. Check out YouTube for tips and techniques on running. Get a great pair of shoes and train in them. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT buy a pair of shoes days before the race as you need to see if the shoes you get feel comfortable and don’t cause you unwanted/preventable pain. There is some pain we can avoid in a triathlon and this is one of them.

So in closing, multi-sports like Triathlon are very challenging but can be fun. There is a ton of venues coming up to support this sport. Research, train and go achieve something that you will never forget. Stay inspired and motivated from friends, family and some awesome YouTube videos like these I watch all the time. Remember, Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.

Thank you and remember… I LOVE YOU ALL!

How I started running

It all started in January 2017 when I decided to change my lifestyle by going vegetarian and focusing on my health. I was seeing too many people in my life have issues due to their lifestyle choices and I did not want to end up in the hospital or even worse, taking a dirt nap. I did a juice-only month (Jan) and then started eating healthy foods in February and let me tell you, that month TOTALLY sucked! I hated the change and enduring the transition and everything was annoying, but I knew i needed to stop the years of bad eating and sedentary life.

March comes around and my fantastic girlfriend was going to be running the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle with her friend (8K/4.92 Miles) on April 2nd 2017.

2017SS8K

I heard they have a walking event which I was considering, and I also wanted to walk around and get photos of her running. A week before the race, my girlfriend tells me her friend decided not to run it, and so what do i do?! I’m the 300lb/21stone/136kilo boyfriend who turns on his hero brain and says, “Well… I’ll run it with you.”

Now, keep in mind, I have not run anything since high school and that was running between bases (baseball). I had exactly a WEEK to train for a race I never thought I would be able to do. So everyday I would run/walk around the neighborhood, my girlfriend pushing me to do my best. The day before the race we head to the “Loop” (Downtown Chicago) to go to the Fitness Expo to get our bibs and packets. We didn’t stay long because my girlfriend said we needed to go to the high school track to train. We ran circles till my legs couldn’t take it anymore but I was really excited for the race.

RACE DAY!

I wake up fully excited and a little apprehensive of whats to come. but I get my mindset in the right place to look forward to something I never thought I would be doing. We head downtown and there are thousands of people and it just pumps me up! then the thoughts start sneaking into my brain about “will I finish?”, “will I collapse?”, “Will these snow plows motivate me as they bring up the rear?”….

plow

But no, I simply take in all the excitement and environment as my girlfriend gets me warmed up by stretching and jogging around Buckingham fountain before we start.

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JUST BEFORE START…

It is gray skies and sprinkling a little bit but the race starts for the Elites and then wave after wave it gets closer to our start. I turn around and see a huge amount of people and think, I just may be able to finish this thing.

Horn sounds and we are off!

I start of with a decent pace to make sure I can run as much of the course as possible. We run through the awesome city of Chicago on the streets where Batman was filmed! I am STOKED!…

I make it to mile 2 and we turn down State street, one of the longer stretches of the course and so many people cheering us on, you can’t help but get into it and the cheering certainly helps push you through the race giving you that boost of adrenaline and motivation. I am not running fast and at times taking small walk breaks… all while my girlfriend is giving me the motivation and inspiration needed to make it. Every now and then, I turn around to see a huge group of runners still behind me. This gives me a small boost in confidence as I thought for sure I would come in dead last or be carried off by EMT’s.

We make it to mile 3 and the brain starts playing tricks on me. I have slight pain in my knees and legs wanting to walk the rest of the race but I wasn’t going to let myself down. I get to the first aid station and take a cup of Gatorade and then water. I enjoyed every bit of that small drink. I feel my feet sticking to the ground where the sticky Gatorade is and still hearing the cheers from the onlookers continues to give me a boost.

I see the 4 mile mark! More people, my girlfriend continues to support and motivate me through this race. The sun comes out and the crowds get louder…

Running

I find a new step in my run and the pain lessens, or my brain stopped fighting me and started getting into this damn race. But I am not stopping as much and there are still a ton of people behind me. We round the corner up the final 2 turns and there it is.

The finish line is in sight! My girlfriend runs ahead of me to capture me crossing the suffer fest I am in but in the time alone, I see the other finishers with their medals and they are standing on the sides cheering us on. As I get closer and closer to the finish, I am overwhelmed with emotion that I actually did it. I ran… I ran an 8K… I FINISHED an 8K. My first run EVER!

CrossingFinishLine

I want to thank my girlfriend for her dedication to me crossing the finish line and believing in me, I want to thank my mother who supported me and wished me the best of luck from afar… Trust me, you were with me through the whole thing.

I love you all!

Now, time to find the next race to run. I caught the bug.

Oh, if you were wondering, here are my results:

8K/4.92 Miles:
Finished in 1 hour, 7 minutes and 6 seconds
Out of 20,005 runners, I placed 17,883rd place. CERTAINLY not last.
Out of 1,018 in my age class, I placed 967th.

Not bad for my first ever run.