Tag Archives: Chad Nikazy

Father’s Day weekend

I realized on Monday morning what a great father’s day weekend I had. I spent Friday night at Daniel Tardy’s house, because we had to get up at 5:00am on Sat. morning to drive to Bell Buckle, TN for the RC Cola and Moonpie 10 mile run. We met Bill Hampton down there and enjoyed the run – keeping the pace nice and easy instead of racing it like I’ve done in the past.

Saturday when I got home Karen gave me my Father’s Day present; an old fashioned wooden homemade ice cream maker. I’ve been wanting one for years, but have always been too cheap to buy it. That night we had her mom and dad, brother, and two nephews over for a cookout. The first batch of homemade ice cream turned out great! Afterwards we enjoyed watching Izzy, Max, Kate, Thomas, and Alan all splash in the little pool in the backyard.

Sunday after church we went up to Hendersonville to have Father’s Day with my parents. Same deal…cookout…icecream…kids playing. Another great day to wrap up the holiday weekend.  Here’s a pic of “Papaw” with Izzy and Kate:

papaw and his girls

It’s race week this week. I have the Old Hickory Triathlon coming up on Saturday. As some of you know, that’s my top priority race of every season. It’s normally early in September, but this year they moved up to late June. That prospect makes me a little nervous as it usually takes me until mid August to get in top shape. Last year, I finally won my age group out of 40 something guys despite a challenging year (to say the least). The crowd is fast this year, so I’m hoping for a top 3 finish this go around.

I have lots of motivators these days: the strength of my wife who endured so much more pain and suffering than anyone will ever realize – she took 3 solid months of Magnesium straight to the vein. Research that – you’ll find out that most women can’t bear it for longer than 24 hours. I have Max and Kate who have both been through so much in 8 months of life. We almost lost them multiple times, but they have shown the strenght of God and are now strong and healthy. I have my mom – who just had breast cancer surgery last month and beat it! And as always I have my angel, Izzy. She found some of my old race medals last night and asked if she could wear them. Later we found her like this:

daddies medals

Karen has always said that I’m Izzy’s hero. I know it’s true, but the truth is she doesn’t really know when I win and when I lose. She’s just proud that I’m out there. She does know that my medals mean something. Glad she likes them. I want to win more for her.

My results will be a bit of mystery this Saturday. I haven’t raced since last September. so I don’t know where my lungs are. My legs are leaning out though, because they are starting to look gross:

triathlon legs

Back in the swing of things…

I had a nice training weekend. Daniel Tardy, Branden Verner, and I rode 25 miles at a decent clip covering a few big climbs on Saturday morning.  I’m trying to push the pace a little to prep for race season. We did a 2.5 mile BRICK run immediately following the ride. It was Branden’s first experience running right off of the bike. He did great, but asked “is it normal for your feet to tingle?”. Yes, it is.

Sunday morning I ran 9 miles at a very easy pace keeping my heart rate under 160. It’s amazing how easy running can seem when you keep your heart rate in check. My average HR for the run was 155. I’m thinking I’ll run the RC Cola and Moonpie 10 miler aerobic as well. My PR there is 1:14, but considering the year I’ve had I don’t think this is the time to go for a new “personal record”. I’ll probably just run with Tardy and Hampton nice and easy and consider it a training run. I got another 2 mile run in late yesterday afternoon making the daily total 11 miles. Been awhile since I’ve logged that many miles in a day.

Still thinking about the San Antonio Marathon in mid November.

Izzy’s first swim meet is tomorrow! I can’t wait! She’s so excited. She’ll swim 25 freestyle, 25 backstroke, and the freestyle relay.

A Good Training day and a pic

Today was a decent training day…not too hard…not too easy. It helped that it was 75 degrees outside. I swam 2000 this morning as:
2 x 250
5 x 100
2 x 250
After my swim I spent some much needed time stretching. I stretched for around 30 minutes. Felt great.
During lunch I ran up “The Mountain” with Bruce. The mountain is a 9% grade for 1 mile – pretty tough. The entire run took 35 minutes with an average HR of 170. My hr pegged out at 188. I probably could have pushed it to 190 or more, but chose not to try. Not a bad effort for our first trip up the mountain of the season. We’ll do it every other week as a way to build strength and earn some “free speed”. Hill training is a great way to build the muscles that allow you to run fast without actually having to run fast during training (although we do alot of that too).
Here’s a pic of me and my lifelong friend Moebes (we’ve known each other since we were 10 – 25 years!) last week after Dave Ramsey’s certified counselor training. I have a pic from ’92 of us that looks identical to this one except we’re wearing our wrestling team warmups instead.


This has been a great, but looong week. We do Dave Ramsey Certified Counselor Training (I promote and fill it up) every 6 weeks. We have 55 people in town this week including my buddy Moebes. We go about 12 hours a day from Tuesday-Saturday; lots of stuff to teach people who are going to have the chance to change lives. I’ve tried to squeeze training in where I could this week. I knocked out 4000 yards in the pool between Monday and Tuesday. I’ve also gotten a couple of runs in. I did my first “mile repeats” of the season in today. I kept it conservative and did just 2 of them.
I did a warm up mile at 7:50. The first true “mile repeat” of the season clocked in at 6:15 into a pretty vicious headwind (in one direction at least). Not bad, but not where it will be by late spring. That wasn’t wide up, but rather the pace I think I could sustain for 5k or so. The second mile ended up being 6:35. My pacing isn’t great yet obviously. I should have done that first one in 6:20 or so and then the same for the second one. One thing is for sure….OUCH!!!!

Some new pics

Seems I’m spending alot of time apologizing for the lag between posts lately, but . . . sorry, I’ve been busy.

Chugging away at my training. I’m still swim focused right now and will likely shift over to a cycling focus in the next week or two before shifting to some run focus as summer approaches. I’m going to try to periodize my trianing by sport this year. This winter I’m training like a swimmer and cross training with some time on the bike and some run time. I’ll shift and start training like a cyclist with some cross training in the pool and on the run…and so forth until I shift to a more balanced training plan in the heat of the summer.
Here are some cute new pics of the kids:
Mama said knock you out!
the little Cherub looking as angelic as ever
Izzy enjoying the first and probably last snow fall of the year

nice and easy

I’m still taking it easy, trying to fend off a cold. I swam 1500 this morning as:
2 x 250
5 x 100
10 x 50
I ran for 30 minutes during lunch at 158 average heart rate. I think I’m gonna take tomorrow off. I’m feeling crummy and I need some rest before a big week at work next week.
I’ve become addicted to TWITTER since getting my new iphone.

I’m sure I’ll be twittering all sorts of instant updates from my bike rides in the coming months, complete with pictures. Very cool technology.

Catching up

Sorry, no new posts lately. Busy Busy.

Here’s what the last few days have looked like on the training front:
Sat: 2 hour ride at 149 average HR
Sun: rest
Mon: Run 30 minutes (30/30/60 x4) workout with fast portions at 6:15 pace / ez portions at 8:30 pace.
Tues: Swim 2000 (1500 straight time trial in 22:03)

I love that 30/30/60 workout. This time I warmed up for 5 minutes then went into 4 repeats of that sequence. Do it like this:
30 sec FAST
30 sec Easy
60 sec FAST
2:00 Easy
repeat the sequence as many time as appropriate for the time of year. Right now that was 4 times for me.
I was pretty pleased with that 22:03 considering its only February. I wasn’t sure if I could even make it 1500 without stopping so I went at a very moderate pace. I probably could have taken :30-1:00 off of that time. My goal by June is to swim 1500 in 20:00 or less.

Thank you STUFFITTS! New racing sponsor

I finalized a new sponsorship for the season yesterday with a cool product called “Stuffitts“. I’ve been using them for about 6 months now and am a big believer in the product. Here’s a blurb from the stuffitts site:
Moisture is your shoes’ worst enemy – making them wet and smelly. Simply place these soft, foot-shaped forms in your shoes after work or work-outs to eliminate wetness. The pure cedar filling starts absorbing moisture in minutes and renews your shoes. Use them every day to keep your shoes in work-ready, race-ready, every day life-ready condition!

Here I am on their “sponsored athletes page (you might have to click on “sponsored athletes). That’s some pretty fast company there so I’m very honored to be a part of that team.

Stuffitts joins my long term sponsors!
Cambell Station Chiropractic
Franklin/Nashville Bicycle Co.

I’m enjoying a nice reduced training week. I’m chomping at the bit to start training hard again next week though. That’s the way an easy week is supposed to make you feel.

A good run,some tunes, and a quote

I had a nice comfortable 45 minute run on the treadmill out in the garage this morning. Average HR was 157 (low zone 2). I averaged a 7:45 which is still slow, but it felt very comfortable (ala zone 2 the whole way). The goal is to get back a 6:15 pace for 5k and a 6:45 for 10k by summer. It’ll happen; I can feel it already. I’m training with a chip on my shoulder these days, so I’m trying to restrain that energy until I’m fit enough to unleash my anger on my own training schedule and eventually in races.
I had a great shuffle going this morning on my old school nano. Among the highlights were: Blaze of Glory by Bon Jovi, Satin in a Coffin by Modest Mouse, New Year’s Day by u2, and If You Fear Dying (Then You’re Already Dead) by One Day as a Lion.
While reading tonight I came across a passage I like, and I can identify with these days, in “Every Second Counts” by Lance Armstrong. Enjoy:
“Suffering, I was beginning to think, was essential to a good life, and as inextricable from such a life as bliss. It’s a great enhancer. It might last a minute, or a month, but eventually it subsides, and when it does, something else takes its place, and maybe that thing is a greater space. For happiness. Each time I encountered suffering, I believed that I grew, and further defined my capacities – not just my physical ones, but my interior ones as well, for contentment, friendship, or any other human experience. The real reward for pain is this: self knowledge”

Some pics from last Saturday’s ride

Sorry for the delay in posting last weekends ride pics. These are from a 2:30 long ride through Theta and Leipers Fork.

The base of the Les Robinson climb into Theta

a little less than half way up the same climb

following Brett down one of the slower descents out of Theta

As for today; I ran 45 minutes this morning at 159 average HR. I’m getting stir crazy doing all of this easy base training. I’m ready to RUN and stop jogging!

Bonus picture! Spidergirl at the kitchen table apparently working on her pre-K workbook. She sat this way for about an hour.

one from the Archives

Hey Gang,
Sorry no new posts lately. Max was in the hospital again last weekend, so things have been crazy. Izzy went to Columbia to stay and Kate went to Hendersonville. Karen and spent days (and nights) at Vanderbilt with Max. He’s okay now and we’ll soon have both of our girls home as well. I did manage to train some, but that’s inconsiquential.
Here’s an old post from my other blog that I came across. I like it, so I’ll share it again (is it weird to quote yourself?):

“You gotta have confidence. The question is, what are you putting your confidence in: your own ability? And what do you believe about your ability? Do you believe you’ve done something to deserve it? Or is it a gift? I believe I have a gift from God. But then I also have to train really, really hard. So I see it as being a good steward of the gift God’s given me…it’s my obligation to God to develop this talent the best I can. So, I try and make that my focus rather than wanting to beat people. Not that it’s not fun to win, because it is…I think part of it too is just being content with whatever the Lord has for my life.”
-Ryan Hall as told to Runners World magazine

Good stuff, Ryan. I agree 100%. Although I’m not personally anywhere close to Ryan’s ability I feel the same way when I don’t want to get out of bed at 5:00 am on Saturday and Sunday mornings to ride or run. That little voice in my head telling me to get up is my gift. All of us have our own gift. Make sure you’re true to yours.

I’m a little under the weather from the stress we’ve been through lately – and I probably have whatever put Max in Vanderbilt. I’m motivated by reading my old training blog though. I’m capable of kicking some butt when I train. If you’re interested in those old blogs you can find them on Topstepfitness.com under “TS Blog” and “TS Blog Archive”.

I run for 30 minutes this morning at a 145 average HR then swam 1500 as 500 swim / 5 x 100 swim / 10 x 50 swim. I cut back my distances this week because I realize that external stress and a building training schedule don’t mix. I’m hoping to ditch the stress and the illness soon so I can “train like a madman” soon.

Weekend training and another funeral


Sunrise in Spring Hill prior to a cold Saturday ride

It was a nice weekend for being on the bike – 60 degrees temps in February. Brett and I took advantage of the temps on Saturday by riding mid-day. We went just shy of 2 hours at a 15mph average. My average HR was 142. It’s funny how the body can forgot what going 2 plus hours feels like. I’ve done plenty of 4-8 hour rides, but this time of year your body feels like it’s been 4-8 when it’s only been 2. I’ll get there eventually.

Sunday we went at sunrise so we didn’t get to enjoy the 65 degree weather. Instead it was 34. We only went for an hour though. Later in the day I was able to sneak out for a 30 minute run in the nice weather. I pushed a little on this run and averaged 169 on the heart rate monitor. That’s still below lactate threshold.

It’s been a trying few months. As most of you know Karen, Max, and Kate spent months in the hospital. I also buried a friend a few weeks ago – much too young. Yesterday we attended the funeral of a 6 year old girl. Somehow I’ve managed not to shed a single tear through everything we’ve been through. I’ve bit my lip and managed. When Karen and I walked into the funeral on Sunday afternoon I looked at all of the pictures of the little girl and lost it. I ran outside and around the building so that no one would see me “coming apart.”  For some reason, that was the moment when I finally broke down. It didn’t last long. This little girl was very sick and is much better off in heaven where she has a new body and can be with God.

I gave my kids a big hug when we got home. Here are some new pics!


Izzy in a new outfit


Max watching the superbowl


Kate’s version of “enjoying the superbowl”

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Feelin’ California plus a run/swim combo

I started the day with a 30 minute treadmill run at a very moderate pace. I’m trying to get back to training by heart rate, so I stayed well below my lactate threshold throughout since I’m still 5 months away from my race season.

I ran 30 minutes at an average HR of 157. Somewhere in there I peaked at 182 (still below LT).

I followed my run with a little lifting: 1 set of flat bench press with 50lb dumbbells x 15 reps, seated cable rows with rope handle x 15 w/ 130lbs, 10 pull ups, 10 commando pullups, 10 burpees.

I ate a Hammer Gel (rasberry) and hit the pool. I only had time for 1500 this morning.

8 x 50 on 1:00

2 x 100 pull on :20 rest

8 x 50 on 1:00

2 x 250

On my way to work I heard Zephry Song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. RHCP always makes me think of L.A. and summertime. It was immediately followed by a Doors song that I’ve forgotten the title to. It was one of those were Jim recites poetry instead of singing “I wanna tell you about Texas radio and the big beat…”. The song reminded me of the giant wall size poster that adorned the front wall in my last college apartment. My roommates and I would “ask Jim” when we were confused about something or deciding upon something by taping hand written questions on the poster. It was eventually nearly covered with notes. They were always funny to read the next day and most of them didn’t quite make sense. I can’t imagine why.

Here’s that poster:


The stubborness/stupidity of training, a bad haircut, and a swim

Last night I decided to shave my head. It’s been a year or so since I’ve buzzed it all the way down to a 2 guard all over. That’s usually my summer look and has normally signified a “flipping of the switch” when I’m ready to start training hard again. I’m pretty focused on this triathlon season for the first time in years. I’ll share reasons another time.

After I cut my hair last night Karen walked in and said “have you gone more grey?” Not exactly what I wanted to hear considering I thought cutting my hair shorter would show less grey. Truth is, it was a tough 2008 and I have gone more grey. It’s also thinned more on top. I leaned down and saw the truth; there is a visible “George Jefferson” hairline just below the surface.  Crap! Izzy then walked in and saw me. Her eyes said it all. She was horrified. I asked her if she liked it. Her response with a chuckle was simply “No.” Later she backed off a little and said it was “a little wild and crazy, but she wants it to be longer like a prince’s again.”  The good news is that it’ll grow.

It also dawned on me this morning how stubborn I can be when it comes to training. I was up last night with Max from 3-4am because he was wide awake. For an hour I just sat in the dark with my son on my knee until he finally started yawning. While I sat there I thought the smart thing to do would be to skip my morning swim and run combo. At 5:30am I was giving Max and Kate a bottle thinking the same thing. Karen gets up with the babies 95% of the time, so when it’s my time I should just committ to that and not worry about what my training plan says.

Here’s the stubborn/stupid part: at 7:00am I was in the pool cranking out 2000 yards a little upset that I wasn’t going to get my run in before work. The truth is though, I’m not a triathlete; I’m a competitive triathlete. I do it to win so I push forward when I should pull back sometimes. At any rate, here are todays swim details:

Warm up

8 x 50yd Freestyle Swim (even pace), rest 0:15 / 50yd

Build up (repeat 8 times)

1 x 25yd Single Arm (arm by side) 6 x left, 6 x right, 6 x full stroke, rest 0:10 / 25yd
1 x 25yd Streamline Kicking, rest 0:10 / 25yd


6 x 200yd Freestyle Pull with a pull buoy, rest 0:30 / 200yd

Warm down (repeat 2 times)

1 x 50yd Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:15 / 50yd
1 x 50yd Freestyle Easy, rest 0:15 / 50yd

Weekend Training and time trial

This weekend was a pretty typical January training weekend – cold, grey, and fairly easy (other than the hard part of dragging myself out into the cold).

Saturday – I ran 45 minutes nice and easy early in the a.m. This was a step back week. Next week I ramp back up to a 1:00 long run and continue building.

Sunday – Brett and I planned a 4.3 mile bike time trial on Thompson Station road. It’s a winding and rolling road, but is very lightly traveled, so it’s perfect to a TT. The weather was cold and the wind was blowing a bit. Brett started 2 minutes in front of me so that we couldn’t use each other as pacers or as motivation. I realized early in the TT that my fitness isn’t quite there yet. I was breathing hard. I glanced at my HR monitor and saw 180 which is about equivalent to 190 while running (running HR tends to be about 10 beats per minute faster than cycling HR).

My final results were:

4.3 miles

13:24 minutes

19.25 mph average

179 average heart rate (approx lactate thresold).

I did the same time trail a year ago January and it looked like this:

11:57 minutes

21.79 mph average

174 average Heart rate

Last January I think I was still reaping the benefits of the hard mountain training and riding I did the in fall of 2007. Total ride time for Sunday was 1:30 including warm up, TT, and cool down.

I’ll get back there eventually.

Swim and saying farewell to an Ironman

I attended the visitation for a good friend last night. Today I’ll attend the funeral. Several of us will follow on the funeral processional on our bikes. He would have loved that. He was a father, husband, and friend. He’s gone way too soon. See you on the other side, Jon.  Here’s your M-dot; you earned it Ironman.


I train in 4 week increments, going hard/building for 3 weeks and then taking a 1 week break during which I scale my workouts back to about half the normal duration. This week is my scale back week. Good timing as I have alot going on this week.

I did get a short swim in this morning. Here you go:

Warm up

2 x 100yd Any Stroke (even pace), rest 0:15 / 100yd

Build up

8 x 50yd Single Arm with fins (arm out front) 6 x left, 6 x right, 6 x full stroke, rest 0:15 / 50yd


4 x 50yd Freestyle Swim, target time 00:36 / 50yd, rest 0:15 / 50yd
4 x 100yd Freestyle Swim, target time 01:10 / 100yd, rest 0:20 / 100yd
2 x 200yd Freestyle Swim, target time 02:20 / 200yd, rest 0:30 / 200yd

Run / Swim

I did my normal run focus / swim  this morning. I couldn’t help thinking about my friend Jon throughout. More on that as it becomes appropriate. Here’s what I did:


15 minutes at 8:34 pace

3 minutes at 6:40 pace

3 minutes at 8:34 pace

2 minutes at 6:40

2 minutes at 8:34

1 minute at 6:40

4 minutes at 8:34

30 minutes total


(250 swim / 100 kick / 100 pull / 50 back-breast) x 2

5 x 100

1500 total

Saturday and Sunday workouts

I was supposed to get up early and run 11 miles with Bo, but the cold and the sleep deprevation of being up all night with the twins caused that not to happen on Saturday. I eventually set out for a run at about 3:00, but needed to be home by 4:00 so Karen could go get Izzy from a birthday party. It was lightly drizzling rain and the wind was gusting. Here’s what I settled for:

7 miles – 55 minutes

This morning I met Brett at 6:30am for a short ride. It wasn’t nearly as cold this morning as it was yesterday. Brett’s fancy bike computer said it was 34 degrees. I took a decent picture of a nice red/orange sunrise before we set out. I’ll post that here when the batteries charge. Here’s what we did:

1 hour 20 minutes at just under 15mph average.

Pretty lame effort, but we’re being cogniscent that this is January and not April or May. We’re still just riding a “chatting” pace. We’re planning a time trial for next weekend to establish a base line for our cycling fitness for the season. That should be interesting.

Today’s workout

This blogging thing is tricky. I often find myself really “reaching” for things to blog about. I’ve decided that I’ll just talk about what I know on most days. That said, I’ve decided to blog my daily workouts here as I lead up to the 2009 triathlon season. I’ve been training pretty consistantly for about a month now.

Tuesdays and Thursdays at this point are swim/run combo days. I usually make Tuesday a run focus with an easy swim and Thursday is a swim focus with an easy run. Whichever workout is the “focus” that day comes first. I’m still in the “Prep” (preparing to train to train hard later) phase of my plan, so there is very little really fast training happening.

Here’s todays workout – started at 6:15am at the Brentwood Indoor Sports Complex (best swim facility I’ve ever trained in):

Warm up

8 x 50yd Any Stroke (even pace), rest 0:15 / 50yd

Build up (repeat 6 times)

1 x 50yd Freestyle Kick with fins (25yd Easy, 25yd Effort), rest 0:15 / 50yd
1 x 50yd Freestyle Breathe and Kick with fins, rest 0:15 / 50yd


8 x 50yd Freestyle Swim, leave on 00:50 / 50yd
2 x 100yd Freestyle Pull with a pull buoy, rest 0:20 / 100yd
8 x 50yd Freestyle Swim, leave on 00:46 / 50yd
1 x 200yd Freestyle Swim, rest 0:30 / 200yd

Warm down

1 x 100yd Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:20 / 100yd
1 x 100yd Freestyle Easy, rest 0:20 / 100yd


I changed clothes, ate a Hammer Gel (Vanilla), filled my water bottle back up and hit the treadmill for an easy workout:

10 minutes at 8:30 pace

15 minutes at 8:00 pace

* Music: forgot my ipod today, but the last things I heard before starting the workout was Interpol’s “Our Love to Admire” album.

Goals 2009

Good things happened in my life in 2008; I landed a new position with great opportunity at work, Izzy continued to show us exactly how special she is, I finally won my age group at the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon (out of 40 some guys) and best of all Max and Kate were born on October 22. Truth be told though, 2008 wasn’t a good year at our house. It was tough on almost every imaginable level.  I don’t want to list the challenges here, because those who know us already know what kind of year we’ve had.

It’s crazy to say that I’m going to make 2009 better. In some ways you just can’t control what life has in store for you. I can’t believe that 2009 isn’t going to be a mountain top for us though.

Here are the things I’m going to make happen in 2009:

1. I’m going to make more money.  I’m fortunate to work for a company that is still thriving. I won’t stretch myself too thin with multiple jobs at the expense of family time trying to do this though.

2. I won’t let money (the lack of or the abundance of) control me. I hate the fact that money and insurance kept popping into my head while I was dealing with the premature birth of my children. It’s just money…and all of it’s God’s anyway. If I lose it, I’ll get more. If I make it, I’ll save it, give it, and (the hardest part for me) spend it on things I want.

3. I’ll come home every evening with a smile on my face. I have too many things to be thankful for waiting for me there. I came home to an empty house too many days in 2008.

4. I’ll take care of people and tell them I love them. Having spent many months cooped up in hospital rooms over the last part of 2008, Karen and I realized how much it helps to have people who care…sending meals, cards, well-wishes, etc. I have always been the kind of person who said “ah, they won’t notice if WE don’t visit or call”. Wrong. You do notice who does and who doesn’t reach out to you in your moments of need.

5. I’ll continue to put Izzy, Max, and Kate first. I committed nearly 5 years ago to not allowing my own hobbies to interfere with the time I spend with Izzy. Now that goes for all three of my children. That means lots of 5:30am bike rides and 10:00pm run workouts.

6. I’ll give my best effort. In my heart I still feel the same things that allowed me to be an elite athlete at one time. Over time though, I’ve allowed myself to give less than my best both in competition and especially in training. One of my biggest frustations is leaving a race having finished 10th when I know in my heart I could have finished top 3 if I gave my all to training. I used to hate losing. When that hate is gone there is nothing left for an athlete. I stopped hating it. I want that feeling back (I don’t want to lose though). God blessed me with some abilities. I’m not serving His will by giving him only half back.

7. I’ll enjoy triathlon again. Somewhere around 2006, just after racing in Hawai’i at Worlds in 2005, I started to not enjoy the sport. Early on it was all new and exciting. I trained with good friends and spent time with them outside of training and racing. As I got faster I started to enjoy it less…and then started slowing down, because I just didn’t care. Last year I only raced once. I missed racing. It’s my outlet and an expression of who God made me.

8. I’ll strive for a simple life. Part of me hates where we live. It’s hard to imagine that I’m still 30 years away from moving back to the simple quiet solitude of the salt marsh on Seabrook Island. I left my heart there many years ago and I’ll be back to stay eventually. My challenge is to be content with where I’m at until I can be there. (I’ve also gotta convince Izzy, Max, and Kate to choose one of these: College of Charleston, U. of South Carolina, or Clemson).

9. I’ll take Karen to the mountains for a weekend in the fall to watch the leaves fall. (yeah, I’ll probably climb a mountain on my bike while I’m there too :)

10. A friend told me a few days ago that I’m a “glass half empty kind of guy”. I knew he was right. I don’t want to be that guy.

More as I think of them.

Vision Quest, Wrestling, and Manhood

I’ve been noticing some parallels between the recent events in my life and the events that defined me as a 17 and 18 year old. When Karen had a C-section a month ago after spending nine weeks in the hospital I found myself in a familiar position. We were both scared to death because Max and Kate were still only 30 weeks gestational age. The whole scenario unfolded so fast that we didn’t have much time to think about it. She called me that morning, Oct.22, and told me that the doctors had informed her that “today is the day.” She had been laying there for nine weeks and now all of sudden it was time, because on an infection. I suited up in an operating room suit and made the long walk to one of the ORs with Karen and the team of doctors and nurses. Just outside of two double doors a doctor stopped me and said “you’ll wait here while we get her prepped. I’ll send someone for you in about 20 minutes.” I sat in one lonely chair in a deserted hallway at Baptist hospital. With each passing moment my heart pounded more. Everymoment of my marriage, our pregnancy with our first child Izzy, and the entire long journey we had experienced with Max and Kate flashed through my head. I’ve been through alot of big moments athletically in my life, so I was very familiar with that tingling feeling of anxiety. I recalled the Parade of Champions at the state wrestling tournaments in both 92 and 93. The parade takes place prior to the championship finals matches. The two finalists parade around the “big house” gymnasium side by side with the 3rd-6th place finishers following them. I experienced that moment twice, as a junior being huge underdog and as a senior as a very close favorite. Both times I remember, and have photographic evidence, of staring at the floor trying my best not to make eye contact with my opponent. I could go on about this forever – in fact, I’m well into writing a book that details the horrors I experienced cutting weight and trying to live up to expectations. My heart pounded as the national anthem played both times. I could already feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I can recall my senior season specifically. I was 42-1 headed into the finals match against a returning state champion (an eventual 2x state champ and Div 1 wrestler). I sat behind the officials riser in my sweat suit, my hood pulled over my head, with tears streaming down my face. I was sobbing so hard that I shook. My coach eventually forced me to pull myself together; although I was still wiping tears from my cheeks as I walked onto the mat (I won by the way). That’s the difference between being 18 and being 34, I guess. No one arrived in that hall to force me to pull it together at the hospital. I was alone and shaking again. I couldn’t control what was about to happen that day, but the nerves were very similar. The moment was similar…alone, suited up, feeling like the whole world was on my shoulders. A nurse eventually came and brought me through the double doors, down a long hall, and into the room where my wife of 10 years was prepared to deliver our miracle twins. I consider myself a champion (I’m an arrogant SOB sometimes), but no more of a champion than my wife. We were both ready and something changed in that moment. The nerves left us both…it was our time…our destiny…no matter how it turned out. There are times in life when the waiting has to end, the nerves have to be put aside, and you have to step up and face life head on. We now have 3 perfectly healthy children. And I’m looking forward to feeling those nerves again at some point in my life. Times like those help me know I’m alive.

I watched the 1985 film Vision Quest many many times as a wrestler. I listened to the soundtrack even more. Before every big match I listened to the song “Change” by John Waite. I still listen today when I need reminders about who I am. Here’s a video tribute to Vision Quest set to the that song (disclaimer – there’s lots of cheesy 80’s stuff included, but it’s still a great movie and song). “What’s in your heart will never change.”

A Tour of Karen’s temporary “home”

My wife Karen has now been at Baptist hospital for 7 full weeks keeping our twins, Max and Kate, safe. She claims that anyone would make the same sacrifices for their children that she is making, but according to the nurses that’s not true – there are lots of selfish people in the world. One thing is for certain – there are VERY few people who would do what Karen is doing with her grace. She’s a strong woman. Keep up with her HERE.

Here’s where she spends every minute of every day and night:

Welcome to The Predators Suite

marking off the days

Izzy’s decorations for mommy (including a page full of 4 leaf clovers)

my occasional bed

The meds (some of them)

The view of the capital

Aware of my uncertainty

Karen fell in love with this quote. Turns out it’s a perfect way to sum up turning 34 today amidst all the craziness of my life right now:

”The best navigators are not always certain where they are, but they are always aware of their uncertainty.” JIMMY BUFFETT

That’s me alright. Life would be boring without some of the wild rides I’ve been on.

I bought myself “Thicker Than Water” for my birthday. Check out the trailer here:

Old Hickory Lake Triathlon

My new theory on training: spend 8 nights sleeping in a chair in a hospital room, eating fast food, cokes, and cookies, and do zero training.

Karen forced me to go ahead with my one race of the season on Saturday morning. My heart wasn’t in it at all; I just wanted to stay with her and Izzy. She urged to me to go ahead and race because it was the only race I was signed up for all year – I normally do 7 or 8. When I left Karen’s hospital room on Friday night headed for my parents house in Hendersonville I was thinking that I wouldn’t do the race. My mom encouraged me to go ahead with it just to relieve some stress. I didn’t bother to set an alarm because I didn’t really want to get up. To my surprise my dad woke me at 5:45am.

We headed out for The Old Hickory Lake Triathlon, but my mind was still with Karen at Baptist hospital; I was trying to figure out how to manage my life and my 4 year old daughters life for the next four months without Karen. I went about my prerace stuff very casually. I hardly warmed up. I just stood around staring off towards the lake. I wasn’t thinking the tradional “rah rah” stuff…”come on dude, do it for your family!” That wasn’t there. I was just numb…and tired…and preoccupied.

I started 74th, which as usual, was too far back. I passed 40 or 50 people in the water. I was surprised to look at my watch when I exited the water at 6:19. I was about :20 seconds ahead of last years time despite having done almost no swimming at all in prep. I started the first 1.5 mile feeling a little slow. I wasn’t breathing well and started to think “ok, here it comes…the last 8 days are catching up with me now.” I kept passing people though. I had a smooth effortless transition to the bike. Cycling is the only thing I’ve done any race specific training in the last few months. I put the hammer down and passed more people, especially on the climbs. I started to think a little about Karen and Izzy. I wanted to get back to the hospital to see Karen. I wanted Izzy to always think that I’m “awesome”. I started the final 1.5 mile run feeling fine, but I was still unsure where I was in the race.

When I started triathlon 6 years ago one of my goals was to win my age group at the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon. My home town race. I’ve come close many times finishing 2nd a couple of times, 3rd a couple of times, and 4th. I normally hang around for the awards ceremony to see how I did. On Saturday we just packed up the car and left. A hug from Izzy was the only reward I needed. I showered and went straight to Baptist. Later in the day I checked the results to learn that I had finally won the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon. I finished 1st out of 47 in my age group. I was 1st on the swim, 1st on both run segments, and 4th on the bike. Overall I was 12th out of 450; another best for me.

This sort of thing happens in my life alot. I can train and train for things, constantly thinking about needing to win, but I still fall short. Something special happens when I compete with a burden on my heart or when I compete with some repressed anger. I can do anything. It’s the mythical “zone”.

Thank you God for this special day. My family needed something to celebrate for a day. Karen was thrilled when I told her. Izzy thought I had won anyway.

Bon Iver

RESPECT! to Chris Thomas for turning me onto the new album “For Emma, Forever Ago” (love the album title). He described it as “The perfect Chad Nikazy album.” So far The Figurehead is agreeing with him. Check out the video for The Wolves:

Get lost in this video.

Training Volume examined

Here’s what I wrote on my other blog today over at topstepfitness.com (TS Blog Train Like Me):

TS Blog (Train Like Me)


Ran  a couple of FAST miles y’day. Brett and I scaled back this weekend before we start our really long rides next weekend (5 plus hours). We did 1:40 on the bike this morning. I spent some time crunching numbers this morning as I really start to think about the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon. This will be my 5th time to race there…and I’ve yet to win my age group. I’ve placed 2nd a couple of times, 3rd, and 4th. I thought I’d examine my training volume from April to August since 2005 to show the lead in to the early September race date. I knew I had scaled way back on tri specific training this year, but the numbers are alarming. Funny thing is …I still feel just as fast…maybe faster because of the extra hours on the bike. Here ya go (cycling and running are hours, swimming is yards)


2005: 80,330 yards (this is studly)

2006: 50,887 yards (big drop off)

2007: 40,050 yards (another drop off)

2008: 17,375 yards (did I forget how to swim?)


2005: 59 hours

2006: 57 hours

2007: 64 hours

2008: 81 hours (so long Michael Phelps…hello Lance Armstrong)


2005: 41 hours

2006: 34 hours

2007: 39 hours

2008: 30 hours (gosh I hope all that H.I.T. training and plyo kept me in shape).

Total hours plus swim distance:

2005: 100 hours and 80,330 swim yards

2006: 91 hours and 50,887 swim yards

2007: 103 hours and 40,050 swim yards

2008: 111 hours and 17,375 swim yards

Let’s hope the extra bike hours keep me competitive. The good news is that swimming is the sport of the three that I’m most naturally talented in. I started scaling back my swim volume after 2005 because I noticed that I wasn’t slowing down any even with severly reduced training yardage. Running used to be a real weapon for me in triathlon. I could often catch the guys who passed me on the bike on the run. The real studs stayed away though because cycling is the key to winning in triathlon.  Starting last year I started really boosting my cycling hours and the difficulty of my rides, because it’s always been my weakness. I havent done a single tri yet this year, unlike other years when I normally do 5-8 by this time. My results at OHL will be a true mystery until race day. I’m headed to the pool in a bit (by the way Izzy is out of town otherwise I’d be spending Daddy time instead.)


Popcorn blogging

I was introduced to “popcorn prayer” a few weeks ago; that’s prayer where one person starts with something like “God, I’m thankful for…” and then people in the room randomly say things aloud they are thankful for.  I’ve been so busy with my new position at work that I haven’t had any real great blogging ideas of late so I thought I’d try “popcorn blogging”…just short random ideas and thoughts I’ve had lately. Here goes:

1. Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinting sensation, is a STUD. His laid back attitude towards sport is refreshing. He seems to know it’s not the end of the world no matter if he wins or loses. I love that youthful enthusiasm…he doesn’t celebrate to taunt…he celebrates out of joy.

2. World Party’s “Goodbye Jumbo” is one of the most underated albums in the history of music. I’ve always loved it, no matter what my mood, what the weather is like. You should too. All serious music fans should know and love the song “And I Fell Back Alone”

3. Lots of people, probably 10  in the last two weeks, have asked Karen and I if we know that Karen looks like this swimmer named Natalie Coughlin. Yes, we know. Weird…Karen used to be a year-round swimmer too.

4.Something about the changing of the seasons resets my thinking; I don’t like myself when I take myself too seriously…or when I take life too seriously. I don’t like being the classic definition of an “adult”. I think we sell ourselves short and deny ourselves much of life’s enjoyment when we try too hard to be “grown up.” I take responsibility for important things, but I also let go and have fun alot. This year one of my resolutions was to take “sport” less seriously. I’ve done a good job so far. I’ve enjoyed doing the things I do more since I stopped caring so much how well I did them.

5. I’m pretty sure my kid is not only a prophet (those who know the stories know what I’m saying), but I’m also pretty sure she’s destined to be a professional or olympic athlete of some sort (she makes the other kids look silly). Here she is “working out” and doing “gymnastics” on her “gym”. Oh yeah…she’s cute too.

yeah…she’s “hyper-flexible” too. Check out that freaky arm (Karen’s do that too)!

The Turkish Prison

Here’s where I train my clients:

We affectionately call it “the Turkish Prison”

Heavy bag / jump rope area is seen at the back of the room

I love Climbing

There are alot of things I love about riding my bike. One of the best things is that I get to see alot of beautiful rural countryside in the early morning hours before most of the world is awake. I seek out big hills – I’m a pure climber – too small to go real fast on the flats – but powerful enough to climb big hills and mountains better than most because of my anaerobic (wrestling) background. Here’s a cool little pic taken by my friend Bruce near the top of Pulltight Hill somewhere in Williamson (or is it Davidson or Rutherford) County.

Matt Hughes meets The Figurehead

Matt Hughes squared off with The Figurehead

Matt put the fellas and I through a brutal 2:30 hour workout on Friday afternoon at his gym in Granite City, IL. Everything about the experience was even better than we had hoped for. The H.I.T. squad (Hughes Intensive Training) gym was top notch as expected. Matt was super nice and really acted like just one of the guys – just one of the guys who is putting you through a brutal workout. We work out pretty hard during the week when we’re at home, but this was a new level. I’ve run marathons, done triathlons, gone through gruelling weight cutting workouts, and even ridden the equivalent of a Tour de France mountain stage and this workout rivaled anything I’ve ever done in difficulty. The staff at Matt’s gym were great as well. He runs a great business and I’ve gotta believe that everything from the cleanliness of his facility to the courtesy of his employees trickles down from the great leadership 9-time UFC World Champion Matt Hughes. Thanks for a great day Matt! We’ll be back.

post workout group shot: front row – JK Simms, The Figurehead, Chris Thomas. Back Row – Blake Thompson, Matt Hughes, Bill Hampton, Joe Leavitt, Brian Williams.

Great road trip boys! You guys all made me proud.