Saturday, December 27, 2014

Slow your Roll

There now is just a few days left in 2014, and I am ready for the New Year to get here. The last few months have been nothing if not trying. Just to list a few of the things that have happened:

1. ER visit with the oldest daughter for what turned into a an emergency appendectomy. This unfortunately was not her first visit to the ER this year. She had to go earlier in the year for breathing issues, and had to stay a few days.
2. Three weeks later 2nd ER visit with same daughter for broken arm.
3. A week or so later the same daughter came down with the Flu.
4. I had to have an MRI done on my shoulder.
5. Then for the first time in my life I was hit with the flu, and I am still trying to recover from it.
6. The youngest daughter is now sick with what is probably the flu.

In the grand scheme of the things these are such minor things to happen, but it has really made me forget all of the good things that have happened this year. Sometimes that does seem to happen when we get in the middle of trying times, no matter how large or small, and it becomes all consuming.

A few of the good things that have happened this year racing wise and beyond:

1. I finished my first trail marathon in the grasslands.
2. I spent 8 hrs in the saddle, and for the first time believed that I could complete an Ironman.
3. I finished Ironman Boulder!
4. We nearly moved but were reminded how much we love our life here.
5. I finally started a group at work that meets to discuss and encourage each other to live healthier.
6. I didn't have to have surgery on my shoulder, but will be in PT for a few weeks.
7. The flu has gotten me back down to race weight :)

Nine years ago this month I started a couch to 5k program to try to complete my first sprint triathlon. I was 50 lbs overweight, and really didn't realize that I was out of shape. I didn't look much different than most of the people that I knew, but I was about to become a Dad.

I did know what it felt like to think that your Dad is just one heart attack from being gone, and I knew that I didn't want my kid to feel that way.

I had seen a woman that was afraid that her husband was only one heart attack away from her raising 2 kids by herself, and I didn't want that for my wife.

I was under the belief that there wasn't much I could do about my own health. Then my bearded, opinionated, German neighbor told me that I was too young to be that fat.

Then 9 years goes by. I have had to say goodbye to the man that I never really thought would be gone. My thirties are just a few days away from being gone. I have raced so many times, so many different distances, in so many different places, that I have nearly taken it for granted that I will always be able to be able to do this. I hardly remember what it felt like to be 50 lbs heavier, and not able to run more that a few yards. Who knows if I will be able to always race, but one thing is for sure I have realized that I do have control over my health. I do have control over the example I set for my kids to choose to be active and eat healthy. I do have control over whether or not I fight.

After not getting out of bed for 3 days with 103F fever. I am still feeling like I will never be healthy again. I know I will be. The truth is I can't even remember the last time I worked out consistently or at all. I know I will get back to normal at some point, but now is the time to just slow my roll and get healthy again.

The Keebler family wishes all of you the best in 2015!

Thanks to my great Sister in law, Amy Odom, for this photo and the one below.






Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Battle of Palo Duro 20K

The Palo Duro Trail Run is always one of the races that we always try to make since I ran the 50k a couple of years back. Not only is the race one of the best organized with the some of the best volunteers ever, but it is one of the most beautiful and rugged places that we have to run in this part of Texas. Now I haven't been up for running the 50k again these last few years, but thankfully they have a 20k distance that lets you see the whole course. The only problem is that if you want to run the 20k you have to sign up in July, because it always sells out quickly.

This weekend was also a great time for Susan and I to get away for a quick race getaway. Sometimes even a night away just to actually have time to talk and enjoy a dinner is something every marriage needs.

After getting to Canyon and fitting in a quick shake out run we went in search of dinner. Actually truth be told we went in search of the necessities for a night cap after dinner. As a side note I was pleasantly surprised by the IPA selection at Eskimo Joe's, but the wine selection left a little bit to be desired. I guess you can't win them all.

Since the rest of the group from Lubbock wasn't going to be able to join us for dinner until later we decided to go ahead and eat. Thanks to Yelp we found a great pizza place called 575 Pizzeria. They really take pride in making great pizza, and they have a great selection in beer and wine. We had our priorities in place for the night before this race :)

Later that evening we met up with some of Susan's run club, and shared some laughs and drinks before trying to get some rest before a very early alarm clock. I will note here that we had prepared for breakfast the next morning since our very rude check in clerk at the Holiday Inn told us they would not have breakfast ready before we left. Then we went for our morning run to find that they did have it ready. Oh well! I think that next year we will find a new hotel to stay at for the race. 

This morning was much warmer then last year, but I will say it was still a little chilly. I really didn't have much of a plan going into this. I even joked with Tim that I was just going to start out as fast as I could and try to finish fast. Who cared what happened in the middle! I did know that no matter what, I would have to get in with the front of the pack so that my pace wouldn't be dictated by the group. To say I was nervous to be in the front of the pack, would be an understatement, I was terrified! 

When we entered the trail I hopped in right behind another member of our group, Ruben. I was really glad for this since he was keeping a great steady pace that was hard enough to keep us close to the main group, but not killing us. After a few miles in we switched spots and I took over the pacing. I am not the best person to be leading the pace, because I can't help it if I see the rabbits out front and try to catch them. Even with that in mind I kept it somewhat steady until about mile 3 at the first water stop. 

As soon as we all entered the water stop 3 or 4 guys that were ahead of us stopped to drink, and I decided to keep going since I had my water. Right off I heard someone behind me and assumed that it was Ruben. It wasn't until another mile or so we turned off that section of the trail that I found out it wasn't Ruben, but a guy in my age group named Mark.

I would say for about another couple of miles we had another guy with us, but after that it was Mark and I running a pretty hard pace. At least it was hard for me. At one point we were talking about race plans, and I decided to just go ahead and tell the truth. I was going to push it until I either made it to the finish or blew up. So somewhat my usual plan.

Palo Duro always seems to bring out something different in me. I think that since it is near the end of my season and I am usually mentally and physically done that I don't really care how hard I push it, or if I hit the wall and crumble. What was different this time is I really didn't know what to do with a guy chasing me, and me leading our pace. Do I keep leading and dictate the pace? Do I pull off and give him the chance so that he can push me harder than I can go? As usual I was debating all of this while I was trying not to run myself into the ground.

I can't even tell you how many miles it was just Mark and me matching each other step for step, climb for climb, descent for descent. Neither one of us willing to give an inch, willing to back off, or show any weakness. Then finally we got into a longer climb, and I was just doing my best to keep the same pace up the climb when I realized that I didn't hear any footsteps behind me. When I looked back Mark was gone so I just kept pushing my pace harder.

I knew that Mark was a very strong runner, so I knew that if I didn't keep pushing myself, then he would catch me. I kept pushing myself hard for a couple of miles until I started to hear a very familiar running step coming behind me. Mark was back, and it turned out he had cramped. As much as I wished I could have kept him farther back I was impressed at what it took to get back up to me. I am not sure if it had been reversed I would have been able to do the same, and very soon I was going to have to find that out.

Like I said I was disappointed that I couldn't have put more time in on him, but I was glad to have him back running with me again. Even though we had never met until this run, for me, it was like seeing an old friend after a few years.

When we got to the last water stop I knew that I had to stop long enough to take a gel or I was done. I had exhausted myself and used every bit of my reserves. I can't remember running this hard for this long. Then what I was afraid was going to happen happened. Mark was able to get out of the stop quicker than me, and the tables had turned. I was finally chasing, and I was pretty sure I didn't have anything left to chase.

Mentally for a short time this defeated me, and I nearly was resigned to just jogging in the last few miles. I was trying to keep him in sight, and he just seemed to keep getting farther away. Then we made a turn that didn't look like an uphill, but at this point of the race it felt like a mountain. The hill must have been just enough of one that Mark seemed to be getting closer and closer. Then the chance came for me to go for the lead again and with the last bit of effort I had I went for it.

I would say that at this point we were around a mile or 2 from the finish. I didn't care how bad it hurt I just knew that this was my last chance to stay ahead. I was running scared! I swear my water bottle sloshing sounded just like someone was right behind me. So I just kept pushing and pushing. My right side was cramping, and that is always my sign that I am going beyond my limits.

When I finally made the last turn to the finish I kept looking back and saw no one, but still didn't believe it and pushed harder. When I crossed the finish line there was nothing left. I couldn't talk and barely could stand. Few things are as satisfying as pushing your limits and breaking them down.

I stood there waiting for Mark to turn the corner to the finish, because you don't battle someone like that and not thank them. With a pat on the back and a thanks I told him that run was a battle worth telling people. This was the kind of run that I will always look back at and smile. If you read this here Mark thanks again for the battle and the run.

Sometimes you push your body to see what the limits are, and instead of finding the will to fight you only find the will to survive. I didn't intend on this being my last race of the year, but my body and life has decided that it will be.

Our personal life has been a little like the survival game recently, but after your kid goes through an emergency surgery your definition of survival changes. The focus on your own health goes to the back burner, and after more than a week it's hard to get it back on the schedule. So now is the time for a little off season recovery and hopefully a little more blogging.

Until next time,
Keebler

Driving home right after racing Palo Duro 20k. Trust me, if you could smell a pic this one smells horrible!

Another of life's curve balls. My oldest had to have an emergency appendectomy, but this is us leaving the hospital.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

IM Boulder Naked Race Report

I tried to get this race update on here as soon after IM Boulder, but life just wouldn't allow that to happen. I hope that I haven't lost everyone, but sometimes we all need time to recharge. This time it has just taken longer than normal. It probably would have been even longer, but I was blessed with a couple of opportunities to talk to groups about why their health should be important. That always seems to bring me back to putting my life back out here. 

I actually am glad that it happened this way, because it has taken me this long to really process what it has meant to complete my first IM. Preparing and completing and Ironman is enough to complely deplete all of you, but along with that Susan and I were struggling with some opportunities that would mean we would be moving our family to somewhere completely new. It happens everyday with families, but it was a very serious discussion that made us really evaluate our life. I never anticipated how emotional it was going to be for me to get through this race, but then you add the stress of making a life changing decision. The reality is that all of this did me in.

Most of this post was written right after IM Boulder for my coach, TIm Key. The comments that are in blue are what I have added to it. So I hope even if you might never be interested in an IM race, stick around. I would say that IM is as close to seeing an entire lifetime of emotions happen in one day. You will see and feel your highest, but not until you have gone through some of your lowest points. Then it seems to happen all over again and again and again. Below is my best attempt of describing what it was like going through my first IM. I hope you enjoy, and if not please come back I will be up to the same old nonsense soon enough. 

Before we begin I didn't actually race naked regardless of the title to this blog, but I did decide to go without electronics (except my bike computer). I didn't want to know my HR in case the altitude was making it act goofy. I was under the belief that I knew how my body should feel, and it would tell me how far I could push it.


IM BOULDER RACE REPORT:

Morning Before Swim:

A few days before I stayed good and hydrated so I was feeling good on that point. I woke up around 3:30 and fixed 2 bagels. I tried to have PB on both but it was growing in my mouth so I really just had a little on the 2 bagels. Then I mixed a GU electrolyte drink to sip on for the morning. I sipped on this until the start of the swim. 

As I mentioned earlier I was going out without a watch or HR monitor. Not that big of a deal for the swim, but it would have some ramifications for me later in the day. I also didn't want to worry about my splits, and instead wanted to focus on finishing. Besides just finishing I knew my run has been developing over the last couple of years, and I was really hoping that if I made it to the run I would feel like running.

I really didn't feel nervous about the day until I was standing in the very slow port-a-potty line (or the port-a-pooper, as Allie would call it), and I was starting to think that I wouldn't get there in time for the start of the race. I really was giving that horrible time to think too much about what I was about to undertake. 

The swim was set up as rolling start. Which means they had signs up with approximate swim times, and you were to self seed yourself. Taking the advice of Tim and my friend Jerred I decided to slide in with the group at the front of the race.This seemed like a great idea at the time :)

Swim:

I decided to start with the first swim group even if it was a little above what I can swim. When the cannon went off I was in the middle of this group. Things were good for the first few minutes, until I was halfway through the first leg of the swim. I suddenly had a bad side cramp that I knew was my diaphragm seizing. I don't think that I was swimming harder than I am accustomed, but I think that my pace combined with the altitude caused this. It was bad enough that I was having a very difficult time swimming at all. I knew enough that if I slowed my pace and slowed my breathing that my diaphragm should release. I made the first turn and it started to feel some better. I just tried to stay steady and keep my breathing every 3rd stroke, but I don't think that I was going near my usual pace. Then after making the next turn I finally started to realize it was releasing slowly, and it was getting much better. I started to stretch out my stroke some to see if that helped, but I kept my breathing at every 3. 

Throughout the swim I was in a crowd, but it was not too hard on me. Except once on the last leg when I got elbowed in the jaw. It brought me out the water, but I was able to get back in my rhythm quickly. Even with all of this in mind I was surprised to see that my swim was still within what I anticipated.

Susan and Jerred said that when they saw me I looked like I was not doing well, and of course they didn't know the tough time I had on the swim. I can say it now, but I was in enough pain at the time that it was a very real concern that I would not finish the swim. As bad as I looked coming out of the water I was really elated to just be done.

T1:

Coming out of the water I could feel that I had cramped bad enough that my side was actually sore to the touch. I tried to stretch it some, but it was just going to be part of my day. Looking back at the pics today I see the pain on my face from the swim. I really only remember being excited to be finished swimming! It was a fair distance to the change tent, and I walked part of this then started a slow jog. This made me feel better, and I was able to keep calm throughout the change. I was really focusing on not rushing, and not getting my breathing out of sorts again. I tried to jog in my bike shoes to my bike, but since my bike was at the very end of transition I had to take it a little easier. 

Thanks to Dr. Jaime Cooper and Coach Tim for giving me a lot of things to work on as far as nutrition goes. This was really the first race I have ever done that I really thought about what nutrition I was taking in to race. I know now how much of a difference a race can be if you get your nutrition right.

Bike:

The night before I had packed enough gu chomps, gels, and salt sticks caps to make it to my special needs. I didn't memorize my nutrition plan or print it out, but instead I knew I had packed what I needed for the first half so I instead kept to a set pattern. I knew that I needed to be taking in either 2-3 gu chomps or a gel every 20 minutes along with 1-3 salt stick caps. The first hour I took in only 4 salt caps, because I was afraid of starting off too strong and getting GI distress early. I also made a decision the night before to add a water bottle on the front of my bike in case I needed more water. I know the golden rule is to not do something new the day of the race, but I was really worried that I was not going to have enough water between aid stations. Starting on my bike I had an insulated water bottle frozen with Gu Roctane, and the other two bottles with water.

This turned out to be a very wise gamble since I sweat like a circus freak!  

As soon as I was out of the park I took in my first gu chomp, but did not take in any salt stick caps until the next :20. My plan for the bike was to just manage the inclines, and pick up as much speed as I could on the declines. I would have added picking up speed on the flat sections, but I am pretty sure that I didn't ride on anything that was not either up or down. I knew that I was going to have a lot of people pass me on the bike, but I felt that if I just stayed steady on the bike I might be able to run and feel descent.

I stayed pretty consistent on my schedule of eating/salt every :20 minutes. What I didn't anticipate was that my Gu Roctane bottle stayed partially frozen for the whole first half. This did make it difficult to drink that bottle, but it helped keep me with a cold drink all day. Since it was frozen it made it important that I had that extra bottle. The aid stations were every 15 miles so I ended up taking in Gu chomps for most of the eating times, and then I always took in a gel at every aid station then took the time to fill up all water bottles. I wanted to make sure I was drinking enough water to offset the salt stick caps. Everything was very repetitive for the rest of the day, so I won't go into everything play by play.  

Coming into special needs I had used all of my salt stick caps and everything else except one gel. I had the amount down just right, and I felt good at this point and had good energy. I added some of the jerky (I am thinking of marketing it as Keebler Racing Jerky) to my bag plus a stinger waffle ( we hadn't talked about this, but I knew I could handle it and I wanted an alternative if the jerky didn't work out), more chomps, gels, more salt stick caps, and another frozen bottle of Gu Roctane. I hadn't tried the jerky out before this race (yes I know that was #2 on risky behavior for the day), but I thought that if it didn't taste good I would just throw it away.

Let me first say that the jerky was the absolute bomb!!! It hit the spot and provided me that lift in spirit that I needed. Also, the insulated bottle with Gu Roctane was actually still partially frozen. I couldn't believe it! Also, it was great to have a cold drink for several more miles. The only thing that worried me was that I didn't put in enough salt stick caps to fill the holder back up. I was worried that this might mean I would be out of salt for the end of the bike.

The rest of the bike was really uneventful I kept waiting to feel my energy or fatigue set in, but I really never felt like it happened. I actually was able to really power through some areas and pass several people.  I did start rationing my salt stick caps the last hour, and finished right on track. The last 2 hours on 2 of my eating sessions I did eat some more of the jerky and the stinger waffle. Luckily I never felt like I was having GI issues during the bike, and was really able to keep a nice consistent pace. 

I thought that it would be hard for me having all of these folks pass me on the bike, but I just kept in mind that it would be a long day for everyone. If I had any goal for the day besides finishing it was being able to feel good for the run, and at the point that I was coming off the bike I was feeling good and ready to be off the damn bike!!

T2:

This was an stupid long run with the bike after the dismount. I stayed in my bike shoes, but after running in them for part of it I decided to take them off to be more comfortable. This was a great idea until I hit black matts on a bridge, and then it went from bad to worse when I got on the black school track. It was hot as the sun and I could feel my feet starting to blister nearly right off. They did have some cardboard down, but when I got to my bag a guys started yelling at me to put on my shoes. I did as quick as possible, and that probably saved me. I sat in the changing tent and took my time getting my breath while putting on my run stuff. This probably could of been faster, but I was glad I took my time to catch my breath.  

I can't emphasis how crazy hot that track was barefoot. Other than that I was really surprised that I didn't feel bad at all. The other thing that I must note here is that the level of unabashed nudity was a little surprising, but then again who really cares after that long on your bike. 

Run:

Going out on the run I took a bottle with Gu Roctane, gels, and salt stick caps. I had decided that I would get chomps and Gu Gels on the course. I can not express how good I felt when I started running. I was expecting for my legs to feel like hunks of wood, but thankfully I felt great! I was actually a little apprehensive with this for the first few miles. I would get to the aid stations and take in water and walk some. Then take off again. One thing that I was not thinking about when I decided to not take a watch was that I would not know when to take in nutrition. So I decided that I would take in a gel the first aid station, and then take in salt stick caps the next aid station. Then I would keep repeating this pattern though the race. 

Told you the watch thing would come back to haunt me, but one thing I learned from this day was that you have to adapt. This really didn't work out to bad for me, and I was still glad to not know what my heart rate was during some parts of the race.

I was able to stay consistent and felt really good for the whole first loop. My legs felt strong and my energy/spirit never seemed to drop off. When I was able to get to the end of the first loop  there was so many people and a few familiar faces that I was really able to run strong. I was feeling so good that at one point I was smiling when I heard someone say that I looked like I was actually enjoying it! That could not have been more true.

Reading this part again still makes me smile! Nothing feels better then to be pushing your limits and enjoying it.

 I had known when I came off the bike that if I felt good I should try to see if I could run back some of the spots that I had lost on the bike. My very loose plan was to survive the race, but I also felt that if I saved enough I might be able to run back a few of the spots I lost on the bike.

Getting special needs on the run was a little goofy. You could either get it on the 10th miles or at the 12th mile. I accidentally grabbed it on the 10th, but didn't open it and waited until the 12th to get into it. I did put in more power bar gels, jerky, another Gu Roctane bottle, and salt stick tabs. I had gone through all of my salt stick tabs on the first round, and at this point I was feeling good with no GI distress of any sort. During the first loop I did not ever feel like I could eat the chomps, and stayed with the gels. Considering this I didn't even try the jerky and just replenished the salt stick tabs and the power bar gels. My stomach really felt good so I decided to not worry about the stomach meds. Looking back I probably should have taken them in case of any issues, but thankfully nothing major happened.

Turns out Susan was arguing with the head bag drop dude about whether or not I had touched my bag or not, and if I should be taking out anything from it. Needless to say the guy didn't say anything else to me.

I kept the same pattern that I had on the first loop of alternating gels and salt stick caps per aid station. I was only walking the space of the stations through the 16th mile. I did take in a couple of times during this phase some coke. I could tell that my energy was fading a little, but I still felt strong when I was running. One thing that I was surprised to see was how many people were puking on the run. This started getting me a little nervous and I kept waiting for that feeling to hit me. In my limited experience I have hit my marathon wall around the 16th mile, and I had it so ingrained in my mind that when I got to mile 16 I just starting walking more. Looking back I can't really tell you if that was just me or my body really telling me to do that.

Somewhere around the backside of the 2nd loop I had to act like I wasn't walking when I ran into and got to meet Craig Alexander. I also was able to get to meet and talk to one of the most inspirational athletes I have ever seen during the race Fireman Rob. This is one of the greatest things about this sport is that pros and amateurs alike compete right along side each other.

One thing that I did notice is that somewhere in the last 4-5 miles. Near the end I was getting nervous about stomach issues arising so I started cutting my salt sticks down to one every other aid station. It probably is good to note here that I did pee 3 times after the start of the run. So hydration was spot on! I would say that I was able to keep my pace better when I got back in the crowd, but the last 2 miles it was harder to hold it for the whole space between aid stations. I also got to the point that the last 2-3 miles I could not make myself take in gels anymore. I tried to drink some Gatorade and Coke, but I finally could only take in water. 

I did walk some before the last turn to the finish, but as soon as I turned it all seemed to go away. So many of you guys had told me that would happen, but it was so weird to be so down, and then for it to instantly disappear. 

Still the weirdest feeling in the world was for all of the pain to just go away that when I started to run up the finish shoot. It really helped seeing part of the Keebler Crew right before I finished, and then getting to see all of the crew at the end. The added bonus not only having family and friends there, but all of the folks from lubbock racing and spectating. We have all been seeing each other for years at races, and they really helped me understand how special it was to finally decide to race an IM and finish. Susan and I felt really welcomed into a great new racing family! Thanks everyone from the FlatOut Tri Club!!

Post Race:
I was extremely nauseous after the race, but I did try some chocolate milk after a few minutes after and that seemed to help. Then later I was able to eat a piece of pizza. We ended up having pizza that night with a couple of beers. The days following I have been constantly hungry. I know that I raced hard and had nothing left, but I was surprised and happy to not be totally hobbled for days. 

An Ironman is really a family affair. The athlete might do the training, but it takes all of the family and friends to get them to the finish line. My first IM could not have been in a more perfect place than Boulder, and yes it is one of the most beautiful places in the world that any endurance athlete would want to live. With that being said the main reason it was perfect was having those people surrounding you that are always there to pick you up and keep you going no matter what.

I can not ever put into words how much I was moved by the support and love from so many people during this last year of training for this race. Especially the Keebler Boulder Crew! It goes without saying that the largest amount of thanks needs to go to Susan and the girls for being so understanding during those long training days.

All the day's Gu food laid out.

Bike Drop off and then a hundred mile walk back to you car.

The girl's getting some extra cash for travel expenses.

The Keebler Crew! Need I say more.

Bike drop off. I think that I was actually scared s**tless at this point.

I'm the painful looking splash somewhere out there.

The one and only documented sighting of Mr. Hurst spectating a race. I am glad to say this will not be seen again :)

Heading out and trying to decide if I was still in pain.

This was the high point of the bike seeing a lot of the folks from Lubbock. It was great! Photo courtesy of Jon Mark Bernal

Near the end and all the bad magically going away. Hell my feet aren't even touching the ground :)

Here's Jerred giving me that last bit of encouragement to make it to the finish. After all the years of training, racing, and more than a few beers together this really meant a lot to me.

I started this blog and mission to help others, and this is the rock that it was built on.

At the end of the day sometimes you just need a cold river to heal your wounds.




Until next time,
Keebler
#gucrew

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Sheriff's Car, A Wedding, and 14 years later

No, I didn't fall off a cliff in Boulder or got eaten by an Elk, and yes I did survive my race. It was such a life changing event that it is taking me a long time to process. Not to mention since we have gotten back our life has been in overdrive. I will get a full update on the race up soon with lots of pics, but I could not let today go by without recognizing its significance. 

Please forgive my grammatical errors, but this post is about the Keebler Blog Editor in Chief so she can't read it until I post it. Today was the day that I was delivered to a small Methodist church in Snyder by non other than a local sheriff's deputy for my wedding day. A long but somewhat typical story of me in general :) It was also the last chance that my beautiful wife, Susan, had to run away. Thankfully she chose to stick around!

I could not have imagined spending this last 14 years with anyone else. It really doesn't seem like it has been that long, and every step of the way we have always been there for each other. Just writing this I can't help but smile thinking of all the joy and happiness we have had together. Yes like any couple we have had struggles, but they have been blurred by the good times. In my heart I know that only together can we be the best version of ourselves.



Today also is the anniversary from when we were honored to dedicate a memorial for my Dad (JD) at the Heart Cath Lab waiting room at Covenant. I just watched the video again that was done by the City of Lubbock PIO department for the event, and the emotions from that day instantly came back. It is a physical reminder of my Dad, but like this blog, I hope it to always be a place for inspiration for a better you.



Also, on this day of anniversaries it reminded me of what a great Dad he was, and watching him with my Mom he was the best inspiration for me to be the best husband that I can be for Susan.

I hope that you check out the video and are inspired to want to be better, and then go out and inspire others to do the same!

JD's Heart


Saturday, August 2, 2014

A few more hours

Well it has been a few days and a few miles behind me since I last posted. We took our time getting to Boulder, and it was so weird to actually drive for 2 days through rain. I can't remember the last time that  I saw that much rain. Unfortunately, because of the rain, I wasn't able to get in some of my scheduled workouts, but at this point it is just good to keep moving. At this point, I am not going to do anything to improve my fitness for the race.

It is just so hard to chill out and relax. My family and the Hurst's (our travel buddies) have been off on some grand adventures, and I have been able to take in some of it. The majority of the time I have been trying to relax. You would think that would be an easy thing to do but it really hasn't been.

Even though I nearly always train by myself I really do like being around people. I always feel my energy comes from being around others, and I am hoping that tomorrow morning it really kicks in.

It would be a lie to say that I am not nervous, but I am surprisingly not overwhelmed with it yet. Maybe that will come in the morning. After thinking, talking, and training for this race all year I am ready to get it started.

I am most excited about getting to see so many of the Lubbock group racing tomorrow, and I wish them the best of luck and prayers for a great race for everyone:

Chris Toelle
Chad Elrod
Heath Pennell
Allison Pennell
Scott Burris
Nicole Adams
Jeff Hancock

Let's let Boulder see what it is like to have a lot of soulshine coming from Lubbock, TX!

I hope to see all of you on the other side of this Ironman!

Blessings.
Keebler

Just a few of the Keebler Crew at Athlete Checkin



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Soulshine


                                                                    "Soulshine"


The Allman Brothers Band


When you can't find the light,
That guides you on the cloudy days,
When the stars ain't shinin' bright,
You feel like you've lost you're way,
When those candle lights of home,
Burn so very far away,
Well you got to let your soul shine,
Just like my daddy used to say.
He used to say soulshine,
It's better than sunshine,
It's better than moonshine,
Damn sure better than rain.
Hey now people don't mind,
We all get this way sometime,
Got to let your soul shine, shine till the break of day.


I have been thinking about this post for quit some time, but it wasn't until today that I really was able to get it right in my mind. These last few weeks of training have really started to strip me down not only physically, mentally, but spiritually as well. What I mean by strip down is with so much going on preparing for this race that decisions are very easy to make. I always tend to try to go over every angle before making a decision in both my professional and personal life. As it is my personal life is consumed with all things Ironman, but my professional life has been consumed with many issues as well. So their has not been any free time allowed for anything that is not either professional or Ironman. 

A small example of this also gives you an update from the last post. I was asked by my cardiologist to try one more medicine to help bring down my cholesterol. The last medication that my doc had me on, I had a reaction to it and it took over 9 months to work out of my system. I feel that I know him well enough to know that he wouldn't push this if he didn't think that I really needed it. Anyway I called them this last week to tell them that yes I have muscle soreness, but geez I am training for an Ironman! Also, there is no way that I can find one morning that I can fast to get blood work done after working out for 1-2 hours before work. So I'll just keep taking the medicine until I can get past this Ironman.

Then a close friend sent me a text that said: I hope this isn't weird. I prayed for you and your family this morning. Prayed for your strength and courage to get thru the training for the IM. Prayed for patience and support for your family. This is from someone that has been through this level of training and racing. It really reminded me that I needed this kind of support, and it helped me more than this friend will ever know.

Around the same day I had conversations with two other people that have gone through training and racing the ironman distance, and they both told me that I needed to prepare myself for the reality that some time during this race you will go into a pretty dark place. Then they both added but remember that no matter what you have to keep going because you will get through it.

Tim has gotten me to the point of being able to handle this physically, and Dr. Cooper has gotten me to finally understand how important nutrition is for training and racing. I have been wondering if I have done what I needed to do spiritually to make it though this race. No matter what, this race is going to come down to my spirit being strong enough to finish. 

Today I realized that putting myself though this is forcing my soul to shine. It has to because everything is slowly being stripped away. Then I thought of not only all of the bad things in the world that we hear about daily, but also all of the ups and downs that we as individuals go through every year. There are many times we believe that we can't take anymore crap from this world, but that also seems to be when our souls shine brighter. 

Then the lyrics above came back to me, and I know that when I enter that dark period during this race I will do what I will not want to do. I will smile! It is the only way I know to physically let the others around me know that even as bad as it is my soul is still shining. Smiling is really the only socially acceptable way to give all the bad stuff in our world the bird. I am hoping that me smiling at my worst will help others get through their worst. So even if your life will never have anything to do with some crazy endurance training we all will have bad times. Even if it is just for a second…smile…and let your soul shine.

In all my soul shining, smiling, keeblerness I wish you all the best this weekend!

Keebler
8 Days until Ironman Boulder

P.S. For those of you that have never experienced the auditory greatness of the Allman Brother's Band playing Soulshine below is the video. It is worth the listen!









Thursday, July 17, 2014

Listen Up Princess

Not long after I published the last post I realized that I was ignoring something. Mainly the fact that after finishing a workout one day last week and I had the chills. Not really thinking that I was sick I decided to go ahead and check my temp. Boy was I wrong! I had a temp and an explanation why my body would not respond to what I was telling it to do.

This brought me back to a conversation that I had with Elliot taking him to the airport after the Buffalo 70.3 race. We were both talking about how when you are training and racing there is always a fine line between healthy and sick.

Then he said something to the effect that, "The reality is that a person's body is like a princess." 

At that time I just thought that it was a funny statement, but if you really think about, this is a very true statement.  

Most of us believe that if we aren't sick then we are healthy. The reality is that your body is always talking to you. It will tell you want it wants and needs. Like a princess, if your body is getting what it wants it is a smiley happy person, but if the slightest things is wrong or not right,  it will start kicking and screaming. Now the difference between being healthy and unhealthy is that the better you treat your body the better you can hear what it is saying to you. 

I learned this lesson after the Grassland's race, because my body was telling me something for a while and I ignored it. Then this last week I was probably pushing my limit again, and ignoring that I needed more rest. Hence getting hit with a fever and cold for the first time in a very long time and being forced to rest.

I am now less than two and a half weeks from the biggest challenge that I have ever tried to accomplish, Ironman Boulder. I am not sure if it will be as much about me surviving my first Ironman as it will be about me surviving the training.

For now I am doing my best to listen up to what my body is telling me with the workouts that Coach Tim is giving me.

 (Tim's comment to me yesterday was that he considers it a success when every day goes by and I am not texting him that my leg is hurt :))

 I am also trying to do my best with the tools that Doc Cooper with CNS Athlete has given me on nutrition. As much as we want exercise to be the only answer to how healthy you are it just isn't the only answer. You have to pay attention to what is going in for fuel.

Those of you that have followed me on this journey know that it will always be about more than the race, and who knows if I have what it takes to be an Ironman. All I know is that there will always be bad stuff that we will all encounter, and if you wait until that happens to you in your life you might not be able to fight.

So decide today, do you want to listen up and fight or just give up?

The Trail Running Princesses
Keep Fighting,
Keebler

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Nearly Broke A**, Machismo, and Other Tales of Recovery

 Tomorrow will be the 4 week count down to my first Ironman race, and it has been a bumpy last few weeks. Since I last checked in with all of you I was dealing with a what I believed to be an ITB syndrome issue that was keeping me from running. Well that diagnosis is not fully right, and more than likely it might be some lower back nerve issue. Now in my case this sounds worse than it actually is, but in my defense it is extremely annoying.

Near the end of May I was still not training as much as Tim and I would have liked, but I was able to stay active. Then our annual family trip to Concan, TX at Neal's Lodges came up. Even though I was stressed about my lack of training I knew this was a great time to recharge. I normally would not bring my bike on a family trip, but this year was going to have to be an exception. Tim said that if nothing more this was a great time and place to get in some bike miles, and just forget about running for the weekend.

The first couple of days I got in some great hill country riding, and was barely feeling any issues with my leg. This wasn't just a great place for training, but it was also some much needed family time. I don't know if any of you feel this way, but many days Susan and I feel like we just high five as we pass each other in the doorway. As I have talked about balance this is one of the most important ones, family!

After my bike ride on our first full day there we decided to go float the Frio since it was really flowing  after some much needed rainfall a few days before. The last time were at the river it was so low floating was more work than fun, but this time it was great! We even had a few rapids that we actually had to walk the kids around. As a matter of fact I even helped a slightly huge pregnant woman down with her tube while her husband saved the beer tube.

Question for you readers:  Is chivalry really chivalry when followed up by stupidity?

Now back to the story. So since I really didn't want to miss the fun of going down the rapids even though I had lost my tube at this point. Well the obvious choice at the time was to go down without a tube. I had barely gone a few feet before I made rapid contact with very large rock. Now considering that I hit it hard enough that I saw stars I was pretty sure I had broken my tailbone. Anyone that has ever done this knows the pain I am talking about.

My next thought was seriously I am starting to finally get recovered from one injury, and now I have done this. Not to mention the fact I am going to have to tell my coach I broke my a**!!!

Thankfully while you are in Concan, TX unless you have AT&T you have no service at all. In this case I am really glad I didn't have to make that call. Actually now that I think about it not having service was the best part of the vacation.

The next day I had a 3 hour ride scheduled and decided to give it a try. It wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world but it was manageable.

Sophia hanging out by the Frio River

Here I am very thankful for my water stop Mom's on my 3 hour ride 

Other than just hanging by the river we did a little weight lifting!

 Besides the little accident it was a great time to decompress, and get ready for the Ironman training to come.

This blog started with my first visits to my cardiologist last year with the fear that I was already starting to have the same issues that many men in the family have had before me. Well I had a follow up with my heart doc Dr. Borno for my yearly check up. To recap last year we went though a few statin drugs to try and bring my cholesterol numbers down, but I kept having reactions to them. Since then I had some blood work and my numbers were well out of the range. Even with my lifestyle he wants me to try the last drug that he thinks will work. In his words as high as your numbers are your lifestyle helps but we still need to be aggressive. The funny thing is that I am sore all the time now from Ironman training so I really can't tell if I am having a reaction to this medicine or not. I will have to redo blood work soon, and maybe we will find that this has helped.

Now on to the machismo part of this blog. A big part of my plan going into my Boulder plan was to race the 25th anniversary Buffalo Springs Triathlon. Since my recovery has been so slow on this leg injury Tim and thought it would be best to test my leg out on a shorted course and hope it holds up. Now this was my first time to race this year which means you have to work out the race kinks. The only thing that I was not prepared for was the zipper on my new race suit to break.  Some experience helped me here because I didn't freak out, but I did have the race bike mechanic try to fix my suit before the race. Finally I just figured it is what it is and I just needed to go race.

Besides that my race went well I was able to finish in the top ten, and place in my age group. The best part for me was that I was able to run all out and my leg never bothered me. Now this wasn't a marathon, but it gave me some confidence that I might be able to finish the race in August.


This is Coach Tim and I at the finish. Open Shirt + Gold Medal = Machismo! Photo Courtesy of the Great Cam Mencio


Even though it was a great race for me the best part of the weekend was meeting our home stay that was in town for the 70.3 race. His name was Elliot Holtham a professional triathlete from Vancouver, Canada. Who had just won Ironman Australia a few months earlier. It was really interesting how a professional athlete prepares the few days before a race. One of the biggest things that I learned was to trust your training and relax. He didn't have the race that he wanted, but I hope that he had as great a time as we did hosting him. Those of you in triathlon remember his name he not only has the right mindset, but definitely the right spirit to be one of the best. 


The pro men ready to start the swim
Elliot coming back into Buffalo 

Keebler and Elliot

It is crazy watching the dedication these pro men and women put into this sport. There is no other sport where we as amateurs are able to interact so closely with the Pros. It was a great pleasure for our family to know Elliot and we will always be huge fans and we wish him the best with his upcoming nuptials!

As usual this update has gone on long enough,  even though I have so much more to update you on. I am hoping to update more frequent since I am less than 4 weeks out from Ironman Boulder.

Even though things gave been a little rocky and tough everyone of us is going to have our issues, but it is about always trying. I used to think that I was doing this to add more years to my life, but only God knows how that is going to turn out. What I can do is try to make my quality of life better for the time that I have here. 

Keep fighting,
Keebler

P.S. I didn't have a broke a** just severely bruised, but even with that it has been painful.








Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Perspective

The road has been a little rocky since the Grasslands Marathon. What I originally thought was just normal race pain that was taking longer than normal to recover from I have to now admit is an injury. After a few weeks of the same pain in the same spot in my upper calf I started remembering my Dad's issues with blood clots in his legs, and then considering that 30 minutes after I finished the race I hopped in the car and drove 4 hours. When I first thought of a blood clot I felt like I was being a hypochondriac, but when you have my families goofy blood history it wasn't something to ignore. After several tests and doctors we ruled out everything that could be bad. Then an old friend from my first year of racing 70.3's came back to say hi. If you have been cycling or running for a number of years, and never had a bad case of Iliotibial band syndrome consider yourself very lucky.

My first 70.3 in Oceanside, Ca in 2009 ended with me walking most of the last 4 miles of  the race. As Jerred said at the time I had a hitch in my giddy up. What took me so long to come on board with this diagnosis is that it has manifested itself in a lower part of my leg, but regardless I can't run more than a .10 of a mile without having to stop. I wanted to believe that it just came up with the race, but the reality is that I was probably ignoring issues for sometime, and the race pushed them over the top. Even as bad as last year was with the muscle pain from statins I was still able to train, but this has immediately sidelined me and cut my training time sharply.

What does this do to someone that is used to keeping really active?

I can only speak for me, but for my overall health I have to have a pretty high level of activity to help me feel balanced. Being active is only part of it. Staying physically active keeps me balanced spiritually and mentally, and helps me be a better person is all other aspects of my life. Sometimes we try to compartmentalize all parts of our daily lives, but every part of our lives affect the other parts.

What do you do when this happens?

You recognize it and don't ignore the fact that you need all the parts (spiritual, mental, and physical) balanced. Then you take a deep breath and remember that even a little work on each is better than nothing. You remember that you can't control each and everything that happens in your world, but in what you do you always look up and never give up.

Granted this has been the most debilitating issue I have had in the last several years of racing, and I was really starting to question the future of being able to do endurance sports. Then as always happens God reminds me to keep things in perspective.

Within a two week period 2 people close to my family passed away after long struggles with illness. I believe that both of these people would have loved to have stayed on this Earth longer just to be around the ones they loved, but at some point no matter what our physical bodies are just done.  I have said many times that I have been blessed with bad genetics that remind me daily that if I don't keep myself in good shape I won't be here long. When I first started this journey it was to be here with my family for as long as I could be, but the last few years I have added to that another idea. Everyday you wake up is a day you get a chance to try to be better and inspire others to be better. To do more good in this world.

Sometimes to do that you have to go through pain and sadness, but you also get to go through joy and happiness. Remember it is always tougher somewhere else, and everyday is a chance to do more good. If you are reading this then you woke up today, and you were given that opportunity to do more good. Recognize that and go out with a smile on your face.

Here I am using a new recovery method called Cryoboost .  After a massage from Lauren Ripple of Cryoboost. This was a great way to reset everything. Thanks David and Lauren!



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grasslands Marathon - Blood, Sweat, and a Chupacabra


A few weeks now have passed since Susan and I ran the Grasslands Trail Run near Decatur, and we have both been taking a nice few days of easier workouts to recover. As usual the flow of life took up any extra time we had, but at least we were able to do a few other things besides workouts.

So the last time you heard from me I was talking about trying to find inspiration. Well I think that my mind was on that post instead of actually running a marathon. After  posting that last post Susan and I went and had a nice pizza dinner, and then went back and chilled at the hotel. It was finally around 9 when I thought about actually setting up my stuff for the next day. Normally I have set it all out that afternoon, and have gone through it 14 times to make sure that I didn't forget anything. I even had a new nutrition plan from Dr. Cooper, of Competitive Nutrition Systems, that I was trying out for this race (I will fill you in more later on her company). Needless to say I really didn't have my mind or spirit in this race. I can't tell you why that is, but it was not normal for me. I was actually not even thinking about the fact that I was going to run a marathon the next day.

After a great night of sleep, because I am pretty sure I still haven't realized at this point that I am going to run for several hours nor did I seem to care. I think I was just ready to start and see what happens. Either way we were prepared for cold and rainy and instead we woke up to cool and no rain. The actual weather app said that the temp was 61 and the high for the day was 56! Never trust weather apps. I need to make sure you understand this whole morning was just going too smooth all the way to the point of actually standing on the start line.

Many of you will not be surprised by this next statement, but by the time the race was about to go off I had made a new friend, a veteran Grassland marathoner, by the name of Jay. Well he was at the front so when I went to say good luck to him the race started, and the next thing I knew I was starting off the race with the front group. Now here is the point where someone that has done this for a few years realizes that they are going out too hard, and wisely pulls off to let the group go by. That person is not writing this blog.

The first few miles of trails were very sandy and somewhat technical, but other than that it was at a pretty fun pace just harder than I should have gone out. After the first water stop I knew that I was going to have to go for a "nature break" soon, and yes this is actually going to be important in a little bit. The biggest problem was that I didn't want to lose the group I was in just to go pee. As soon as I could I dropped off the trail and jumped back in as quick as I could, but I still lost sight of the group I was with before.

Over the next few miles I started running with a guy named Dan. Then as we start approaching a nice little hill we see the group that was ahead of us coming back towards us. This will be the first of two times that we are lost on this fine day, but at least we were all one big happy group. During this break I look down to find blood running down my leg. Somehow during my "nature break" I scratch the hell out of my knee. As much as it was bleeding you would have thought I had taken a spill.

There was a lot of drama on this first loop with getting lost and trying to bleed out, but the truth was that for the first time in a year I felt perfectly at peace with what I physically could or couldn't do. I was just running and enjoying the fact that on this day I was blessed with being able to run.

During this first loop I never once looked at my watch as it ticked down the mile splits. I knew I was going harder than I needed to and harder than I had been training. I mainly just broke it down to the simple things: trying to take in some calories every thirty minutes (more like 45), and do everything I could do to keep hydrated.

At the end of the first loop I ran into the water stop and the lady says, "What happened to your leg?"

My response: "A Chupacabra bit me."

Her: "Seriously?"

Me: "You never know what will happen when you go pee in the woods." ;)

I was very fortunate to be able to run with Dan and this girl named Beth for the first several miles of the second loop. It was really nice to have a small group of folks to share the pain with for at least a little while.

When I reached the water stop around mile 18 I knew I was low on calories and I had a headache starting from dehydration. I tried to take in some extra water at this stop, but that just ended up making me feel bloated.

Out of this did come another funny conversation,
Water stop lady: "Your leg looks bad. You fell? Do you want me to try to clean it up?"

Me: "Thanks, I'm Fine. I got bit by a Chupacabra when I went in the woods to pee."

Water Stop lady: She smiles and says, "If you have a your phone I should take a picture. It looks awesome!"

After this water stop I really hit the wall and for the rest of the race I had times where I had to run/walk some, but as rough as I was feeling I knew that I felt different than I had for the last year. I knew that this wasn't an all consuming pain, but it was pain that was endurable. It was pain that you have to go through to reach the finish. It was pain that you could smile about and keep going. It was pain that might have knocked you down, but it wasn't going to keep you down. Sometimes through pain we find happiness. Sometimes through pain you find inspiration.

Finish Time: 4:25:59 22nd Overall

This is what I got from Tim after running the race. Still makes me laugh!

Susan and our cousins Alyson and Greg. I'm already out running at this point, and they are about to start.


Up close shot of the Chupacabra bite.


Susan, Keebler, and Alyson at the finish!

I have to end this post with a picture of something that has been harder to find this year than a Chupacabra. 


A man sweating, bleeding, in pain, smiling and named Keebler.



Peace,
Keebler

Friday, March 21, 2014

Finding Inspiration



I am sitting here writing, for the first time in a very long time, in a hotel room killing some time waiting for packet pickup for my first race of the 2014 season and I have started thinking about inspiration.

One of the main reasons I started to write this blog was to help inspire others to want a better life. I say better because it isn't all about eating right and exercising, but instead many times it is a combination of many things in your life that equal up to something greater.

The last year has been difficult, as I have written, but really on the grand scheme of things it hasn't really been a bad year. I can only turn on the news or talk to my friends to find stories that make my issues sound like nothing. One of the reason I haven't written lately is that I don't want to come off like I am whining about minor crap when many of you reading this might have some really serious stuff going on in your life.

The real problem is that I lost my inspiration over the last year. This comes from someone who by most standards is always the glass half full kind of guy. Every time I have felt like I had turned a corner then something would knock me down again, and even a few times the idea of quitting creeped into my mind. I really thought that notion left me the day my Dad died, but over time it has tried to rebuild itself.

Then I thought back to the days before I started living this kind of lifestyle. Those were the days that I never felt bad, but I didn't know what really feeling good meant. I didn't know that out of some pain that your body says thank you by letting you know what good can feel like. I didn't know then that my body and mind were going to welcome long workouts like a fat kid loves ice cream. I have been so wrapped up in myself that I didn't realize how bad I needed inspiration.

Finding inspiration can be one of the easiest and hardest things to find.  As this year has gone on I have found it harder and harder to find inspiration. Since I started training for my first triathlon 8 years ago this last year has been the toughest, and that includes when I was 50 lbs heavier! I think that I was so used to just doing the training, and my body accepting whatever I threw at it. Then one day my body quit accepting what I wanted it to do. Then it was like my mind and body were at war with one another.

The real funny thing is that I can remember my Dad saying for years that he never felt good, and I never could understand how someone could never remember feeling good. Then I wondered if he was maybe having the same reaction from the heart drugs that I have gone through this year. Who knows if that is right, or not, or if I would have ever known that I even felt bad without changing my lifestyle.

Inspiration is a drug that for me comes in many forms:

It sometimes is in the form of my wife and girls just hanging around the house being loud.

It sometimes is in the form of my Friday men's bible study group that I am always glad I choose over sleeping or going to workout.

It sometimes is in the form of a song that comes on the radio that completely changes my day.

It sometimes it is in the form of hearing about a person that after reading about your story goes to get checked out because he wants to be there for his grandkids.

It sometimes is in the form of a good book about an old runner.

It sometimes is in the form of dinner with friends.

The point is that inspiration is always there and much like faith you just have to be open to it. So keep your eyes open and find what inspires you.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring with my race. I have been feeling better and better on my workouts, but I have still been hitting that wall. I wish I could say that I haven't missed any of my workouts the last few months, but it has been hard to hit them all. So that means tomorrow could involve plenty of pain.

What I do know is that tomorrow I will be chasing inspiration and at some point it will find me, because it always seems to be there when the fight gets the roughest. Have a great weekend and it's great to be back with you!

Here is our mile marker pole. Susan will be doing the blue loop and I will be doing the white loop and then the blue loop.
Susan checking out the course.
Trail Marker Signs
Another one.
Finally my favorite. This sign proves that tomorrow will be interesting!




Peace,
Keebler

P.S. Let me know what you find inspiring!