Beyond Iron
Life … when the training is finished


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Update, as I go to bed: We may not set up the meeting tent in the early morning. It might be afternoon before it’s set up, according to Heidi. Too much going on; too much uncertainty as to who will be around in the morning to help out. Hope to see y’all tomorrow at some point! – Ed

Not much to say. I’m pure energy and nerves right now and super excited. About 15 hours and 20 minutes until the start of the race.

I’m all packed. And now, it’s time to simply chill, relax and wait for the race. Weather is expected to be a little cold (morning and evening temps in the 40s, daytime high of 66) with a bit of wind. Nothing I can do about that now.

Tomorrow I swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. The Iron Experiment is about to come to a close for 2010. Tomorrow’s the finale. It’s also the best day.

Hope many of you get to come out and experience what seeing an Ironman race live is really like. It’s dubbed the “most challenging single-day endurance race in the world” for a reason. 140.6 miles stand between me, a medal and another day of Ironman glory.

I want to let out a virtual scream of excitement: “YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

There, I just did. 🙂

Stuff you need to know if you want to watch tomorrow:

My race number: 578

Live telecast and period results by segment, beginning at 6:30 a.m. MST:

Live GPS tracking of me, beginning at approximately 8:20 a.m. MST, when I get on the bike – for home computers and iPhones:

ALTERNATE (if the above doesn’t work for you) Live GPS tracking of me, beginning at approximately 8:20 a.m. MST, when I get on the bike – for home computers and iPhones:

For Blackberrys and other mobile browsers:

Cell phone to text me messages on my bike: 602.309.6232

Meetup spot: Heidi, Electa and some other family members will have a meetup tent at the following location … Enter Tempe Beach Park through the main entrance at Rio Salado and Mill Avenue; continue down the main walkway and look to your left – on one of the two grassy hills visible in this picture – there should be a tent set up. Phones are very difficult to hear at Ironman because of the all the loud noise, cheering, music, etc.

Other info: Swim is awesome to watch. Expect me in the water from 7 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. at the latest. Bike is kind of boring to watch – big gaps of time (2 hours) between seeing me and then I go by real fast. I should be on the bike from 8:20 a.m. to somewhere between 2:20 and 3:00 p.m. (check the live GPS tracking of me to see where I’m at). Run is great to watch – you get to see me lots of times, I can actually hear you, and I’m most in need of your support by then. I should be running from somewhere between 2:25 p.m. and 7 and 8 p.m. – hopefully I’ll be done earlier; but you never know what can happen on race day and later is certainly possible with a race of this distance.


Me and Eric – minutes after finishing second and first, respectively - in the Tempe Mayor's Ironman Charity Challenge - 7:30 a.m. this morning

Let me brag for a second. Those of you who know my good buddy Eric and I know we never shy away from a good time. We work hard and play hard, and balance the responsibility of kids (two in my case, three in his) in between work, and family and all the responsibilities in between.

So imagine our mindset when we showed up this morning at the Tempe Mayor’s Ironman Charity Challenge – a sprint 1/100th Ironman race in which the winner receives $1,000 for the charity of his or her choice.

You should have seen this field. Megafit people from the Valley’s media everywhere. Megafit beefcake Javier Soto from KTVK, all-around citywide season triathlon champ and photog extraordinare Tim Hacker, Sweat Magazine and mega-athlete superhcamp Sue Berliner and an assortment of insane athletes from the PHX area’s megapaper, The Arizona Republic – climbing junkie Michael Schennum and 3-time Ironman and 3:26 NYC marathon finisher Bob Young, among others.

With this field of 14, we thought we were dead – destined for a near last place finish. Instead, we finished first and second. Eric won his 3rd Charity Challenge trophy, and I finished second, bringing $1,000 to Tempe Community Action Agency, the nonprofit that we’ve dedicated our almost all of our fundraising efforts to since since 2006.

In fact, in that time, Eric and I, and the team at College Times have directly contributed, or steered, more than $15,000 in cash contributions toward the agency. In an insanely awesome twist that agency got more national publicity than it has ever received after one of its homeless clients opted to return $3,300 in cash he found at a Tempe train station to its rightful owner – an ASU student.

We kicked ass – schooling those fools. In the presence of so many athletes, it felt damn good – a testament to all the hard training he and I have done over the years, and for me, proof that I’m ready to tackle this race come Sunday.

Now, for the spectators details.

First for those of you both in Arizona, and those of you beyond, here’s what you need to know:

The Ironman is largely considered to be the single-most challenging one-day endurance event in the world. On Sunday, at 7 a.m., I will jump in Tempe Town Lake with 2,400f the planet’s most intense endurance athletes. When the gun goes off, we will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. We have 17 hours to finish. If we do not finish within 17 hours, we will be disqualified. My goal is to finish the race somewhere between 11 hours, 45 minutes and 13 hours, 30 minutes; although simply finishing would be a fantastic accomplishment.

I will be hooked up to a GPS tracking device that people across the planet can access via the web in real-time. To see me in real time on a computer, iPhone or iPad, simply go to this web address:

If you are using a Blackberry, PDA or Palm, go to this address:

For those on Blackberrys and PDAs, if you find that your software cannot accurately read the map, you may download the Opera mini browser, which is compatible with the GPS tracking device I’m using at:

We’re still working out the details for in-Tempe, in-person spectators. It looks like we may have a meeting tent on the Ironman site. Stay tuned for details on Friday and Saturday. Please know that if you can come at some point, I would love your support.

From a spectators perspective, the best time to come is either for the swim – seeing the swim start is insane – or during the run. The bike is largely an individualistic pursuit where, even if you do see me, I’ll blow by at 17-22+ mph in a fleeting second. The run is when I need you, cheering me on to the end – plus you get to see a lot more of me, many more times, and I can interact with you.

In addition, if you come for the run, you get to watch the finish. Watching an Ironman finish is a chance to see some of the most unhinged joyous human emotion you’ve ever witnessed. It’s powerful and insane.

So how will you know if I’m doing “okay?” Here’s a rough guide:

I can’t wear the GPS device in the water; so there will be no live tracking until I get out of the water. Saturday I will provide an official Ironman link that shows official split times. You can keep that up on your browser, too.

The swim starts at 7 a.m. MST (9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific), so if all goes according to plan, I should be out of the water somewhere between 8:05 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. MST. It’ll take me 5-10 minutes to change, so I should be turning on the GPS device and getting on my bike somewhere between 8:10 a.m. MST and 8:25 a.m. MST.

On the bike, my goal has been to average around 18.3 miles per hour. That should mean that I should be on the bike from roughly 8:10-8:25 a.m. to 2:15-2:45 p.m. There is no clock stoppage in Ironman – if you pee, if you crash, if you get a flat, it all counts against your time – so if you see me still on the bike at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. MST you know something has gone “wrong.” Weathermen are predicting windy conditions on Sunday, so that can dramatically change things. Keep tuned for details on the weather.

On the run, I expect a time of 4:45 to 5:45. This means my run could go from anywhere from 2:22-2:52 p.m. to 6:57 p.m. to 8:37 p.m. or later. It’s hard to calculate out that far.

As I say, I’ll have more specific details about spectator points for locals tomorrow.

Out of town people, please know this: I can use your support. I will be strapping my cell phone to my bike so that I can see incoming texts of support. If you want to send me a message pushing me on, please do, just make sure to mention your first and last name in the message, so I know who you are.

You can send texts to 602.309.6232. Send as many as you want. Knowing you’re all out there, pushing me forward, would be a HUGE boost, psyching me up and pushing me to the finish line.

All of you have said so many kind things these past nine months – you inspire me and drive me forward. Thank you!

57 hours, 14 minutes until the starting gun.

– Ed


Eric and I - 45 minutes before the start – Ironman Arizona 2008 – Tempe, Arizona

Every year the mayor of Tempe invites members of the Phoenix-area media to challenge him a 1/100th Ironman race – a .24 mile swim; a 1.12 mile bike and a .26 mile swim. The winner gets $1,000 donated to the charity of his or her choice.

I’ve done this race every year of its existence – save November 2008, a couple days before my first real Ironman. For those of you who don’t know yet, a real Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run, back to back to back. I’ll be doing my second one on Sunday.

But I’ll also be doing the Mayor’s Charity Challenge this year at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I figure I have a shot at winning this year. I made a pledge in April to raise $4,200 in 12 months for the charity I always work for – Tempe Community Action Agency. I figure this is a good place to start. (Don’t worry, even if I lose, I’ll still make good on the pledge by April – all my big fundraisers are coming up here in Tempe in the Jan-Apr time frame).

Many of you have asked – and I sincerely appreciate your concern – how the left leg is doing. The short answer is its holding up at somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of normal, depending on the hour. It’s good enough to do the race. The doc gave me clearance and said we can deal with permanent healing after the race is over.

I’m coming off back-to-back 12+ hour work days. It’s been crazy busy; and I’m actually still not quite done with all I have to do today.

As of right now, it’s 81 hours and 4 minutes until the race.

A heads up to all friends: I’ve paid for special GPS tracking that will allow friends all over the world to watch my performance real time online. I should have complete details on the web address; and directions for how to watch me (I’ll be a dot on a map), coming tomorrow or Friday. For Phoenix-area friends, I’ve been told that this software may be smart phone accessible, too; so as I have more info, I’ll provide it.

Also – details will be coming on meeting points at the actual race for people who want to get together and cheer. If you can make it out for any part of the race, I’d love it. Your support means a lot when you’re out there slummin’ it during a 11-15 hour race. Plus, for those of you who’ve never seen an Ironman start or an Ironman finish line, it’s something to behold. Talk about energy and emotion. It’s all over the place. It’s insane. You won’t be disappointed.

It’s almost here …

– Ed


Me and Mom - Mile 18 - New York Marathon - November 2006

After a lot of research, I think I understand what is ailing me. I’ve got some kind of damage to the tibialis anterior muscle, with pain flaring up during dorsiflexion.

In layman’s terms: the muscle just to the outer side of my my left leg shin bone has suffered some kind of damage and when I point my foot up or down – basically the exact motion you make when you run – it triggers, or affects, the muscle damage.

Many of you have called or commented today and demanded, in no uncertain terms, that I get to a sports medicine specialist immediately. So I will. Thank you specifically to Cori and Eric for making recommendations and putting out calls. I’m not taking this lightly. I’ll fight to get an appointment as soon as possible.

I remain confident that I will race come Sunday – it’s now 7 days until Ironman. I told Heidi tonight that if I swim and bike at my expected pace – 1 hr, 5 min swim; 6 hour, 20 min bike, 15 mins for transition 1 and transition 2 – I would still have 9 hours and 15 minutes to walk the marathon. That’s more than enough time. Even if the thing is damaged beyond repair, I’ll still finish the damn Ironman. After all this training, I’m going to get the medal.

For some reason, though, I still have faith I’m going to be okay. That somehow I’ll heal. Or that maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a doctor who can give me a cortisone injection and let me power through the race.

I’m willing to extend my recovery time – to injure to leg a little more in the long term – if it allows me to get through the race. It’s like the football players who beat their body up, knowing the off season is when you heal. In the grind, you do what you gotta do to get through the challenge.

For the first time in my life, I feel like a real athlete – somebody who puts the day of competition ahead of the logical decision. And I’m cool with that.

I’ve spent 1 of my roughly 80 years on Earth preparing for next Sunday. I don’t want to let some muscle injury hold me back now.

Today, otherwise, was a ridiculously incredible day. Have you ever been in Phoenix in mid-November? The leaves are changing. The mornings are in the mid-40s, the daytime highs in the mid 70s. The air is crisp and dry. People are happy.

We went to a charity event at my favorite restaurant. Unlimited wine and beer tasting; food entrees to die for – smoked salmon and fruit and veggies and ribs and cheeses. Good people, too. Then, before the kids came home from my sister’s, we snuck away to my favorite liquor store’s tasting room – had Stone’s Chocolate Stout, and a double IPA from Firestone.

I came home and decided to cook: made a habanero/chili/garlic reduction which I poured over shrimp and cumin rice; paired with bacon-fried asparagus. It was decadent.

Now I’m here typing. I’m not as scared as yesterday; mostly because I’ve accepted that if I have to walk the run part of the race, then I have to walk it. That will blow balls for observers. In fact, I wouldn’t expect most of you who are coming to watch to hang around for my late night finish if my injury doesn’t heal … but that’s how it goes.

So long as I finish … it’s all good.

Funny how your mind shifts.

All of this has made me remember just how insane finishing an Ironman really is. 7 days until the 140.6 mile challenge is upon me.

I think my glass needs a refill.

– Ed


Heidi and I (as Frida Kahlo and Tony Stark) – Our kitchen – October 23, 2010 - Pre Essex/Iverson Halloween Party

Houston, we have a problem.

Remember that “low shin muscle bruise that seemingly came from nowhere” I mentioned yesterday in my post? It’s getting worse. Considerably worse.

I’m not sure what I’m dealing with here. A shin splint? Muscle bruising? A stress fracture? I don’t know. But I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t have me scared, and concerned. We’re 7 days away from Ironman, and despite the fact that I’ve largely been sitting on couches, and airplanes and at my desk, I’ve somehow develop what is quite possibly the scariest injury since I wiped out on my road bike more than 2-1/2 years ago.

This one is freaky because I don’t really know where it came from.

Sometime Wednesday  morning, I noticed that a very small spot on a muscle or the bone on my left front shin was sore. It felt like I might have bumped into something, or pulled it. It concerned me, but it was so minor, I didn’t think too much of it.

Thursday, the pain didn’t seem much worse. Friday, it seemed to be the same, or maybe a little bit better. This morning I barely noticed it.

Late this morning, with my cold subsiding, I opted to go for a light training bike/run combo – a 30 mile bike ride, coupled with a 3-mile run. The bike ride in the beginning was tough – my chest is still full of crunk n’ junk from the cold, but my legs and quads responded strong. Lots of power, despite a 10-15 mph headwind. Great speed, good strength. “Despite the last 10 days of sickness,” I observerd, “I was easily biking far stronger than in my previous Ironman.”

“Jeez, this is a good sign,” I said to myself.

I biked from Mill and Broadway up to Shea and around 56th Street. Piece of cake. Felt about as easy as sipping a beer and watching football on the couch. Turned east, headed out to Pima and turned for home. Beautiful day, sun shining, happy people everywhere. “God, I love Phoenix in the fall,” I thought. Sunshine and light breezes and beautiful mountain backdrops. I even passed a classic car rally. Model T’s decked out in candy apple reds, and bikini yellows with tops down.

I rode home – 30+ miles in the bag and no exhaustion whatsoever. I put on my running shorts, tied on my shoes, said goodbye to Heidi and went out the front door to run.

Walked across the front lawn, got onto the pavement. One step, two step, start the light warm up jog. Uh-oh.

Stop. Walk. 10 more steps. Light jog again. Pain shooting up the leg. Pain shooting down to the foot.

So I walk back home. Tell Heidi I won’t be running. “Leg hurts. Same spot,” I say. “Have to rest.”

Then I forget about it. ASU is playing Stanford. Going to the game. Friends are coming over. So I eat some lunch. Offer to help cleanup the house. I eat lunch. Go out and buy some beer.

Come home. Play some bocce. Ride my bike to the game.

All is good. Injury forgotten about again.

Then, as I’m leaving the game, walking down the exit ramps of Sun Devil Stadium, the pain in my left leg spikes. Bad. To the point where I’m almost limping. I can walk through it. Walk normal. But it hurts.

I come home and start testing my leg. Flexing the foot up and down. And the pain is intense. There’s crunching in the muscle (bone?) when I flex it up and down. I touch it. And it feels like things are crunching in there.

What. The. Fuck?

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve read up on the symptoms. All signs point to shin splints. Or, worst case, some sort of stress fracture/injury – excessive use of muscles, constant pounding on the bones, pushing the body to extremes. I’ve done all the things the medical journals say causes these injuries.

But to have it come now, when I’ve largely been resting?

Why now? And furthermore: How?

The only thing I can point to is that early on during my cold, in New Jersey, say day 1, and day 2, I was still in that “must train every day” mentality. I swam and biked a week ago Thursday; and swan and ran a week ago Friday. Both days, not realizing the severity of my cold, I came home and told Heidi: “That seemed excessively difficult.”

I’m a crackhead, so I chalked the swim difficulty up to the increased density of water at lower altitudes (Tempe, Arizona, elevation 1,110 feet – Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, elevation 57 feet) [seriously, it’s true, it’s why water boils at lower temperatures at higher elevations], but I now realize, those workouts were difficult because I was really, really sick – and dealing with the emotional exhaustion of the funeral.

But that Friday, I also ran hard – really hard. Did I injure it then? Or did I injure it somewhere else? Did I bump into something and forget? Did I sleepwalk and damage it? I’ve done that before. Hell, I once sleep ran (true story – 6 miles – I also sleep drove that same night, over to my running partner’s house). I really don’t know.

But the prognosis is less than encouraging. Most medical sites on the web suggest my injury – if it is, indeed, some form of shin splints – will take several weeks to heal. I don’t have weeks. I have 7 days.

I’m sure I’ve commented before that many Ironman competitors will tell you that just getting to the start line in good health and good shape is an accomplishment in and of itself. And now I’m reminded of that.

In the past two years, I’ve watched two of my greatest sources of inspiration – two athletes whose skills and dedication are far superior to mine, Dominic Petrocelli and Eric Jelinek – drop out of an Ironman race due to injury. And with 7 days left, I hope I don’t have to do the same.

Dropping out after so much time dedicated to training is almost as difficult as doing the race itself. Imagine you spent 20 hours a week for 8 months, prepping for something, and then, all of a sudden, you had to give it up.

I don’t think I’m there yet. But now, the reality is, that I have to ask myself: At what point to do you listen to your body and realize something – however unexpected – may be wrong?

With shin splints, athletes who ignore the symptoms run the risk of creating stress fractures as the damaged muscles slowly pull apart the bone. Is that what’s going on in my body? I don’t know. If I don’t notice some substantial healing by Monday, I’m going to call a sports medicine specialist and try to sneak in an emergency appointment.

This has all happened so fast. I’m still stunned. Eight months of insane biking, running and swimming, and now that I’m relaxing, I get hurt? It doesn’t make sense.

My biggest fear is that I’ll claim I’m okay come race day and push through it, only to create a major problem out of something minor.

My hope, is that it’s just a bruise, and that this is nature’s (or maybe Grandma’s) way of saying: “Rest, Ed. Wait until race day. And then go out there and kick the shit our of this thing.”

Faith. And quick healing. That’s what I need right now.

I promise to keep y’all posted daily from here on out.\

– Ed

P.S. I just reread this for edits before I posted it and reading it, I thought, man, people are going to think: “This came out of the blue.”

I feel the same way.

I’m hoping with all the hope I have that this is just a bruise, and that I’m overreacting, and that super quick healing comes my way.

I’m ready for this. I hope, come race day, my left leg is, too.


Me, Beckett and Brody – McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park – October 2010

It’s come down to this. No need for workout reports or training updates. There are 8 simple days remaining until Ironman Arizona.

Nothing has gone according to plan since October 29. I’ve worked out a total of 4 times in the last two weeks. That’s not the way it’s supposed to go. And I have to live with that.

In the interim, life has happened. Grandma died. I unexpectedly packed up with Heidi and the kids and 24 hours notice and went to New Jersey. I contracted a nasty cold, complete with exhaustion, respiratory problems and lots of lots of mucus. I think I’m on day 10 of that.

I’ve had to let go of my OCD, let go of the control and trust that the previous 8 months of rigid training – the combined 54 miles of swimming, 2,200 miles of bike riding and 675 miles of running since March 15 (yes, that’s accurate) – has paid off. It hasn’t been easy.

I set a goal; and through all of the insanity of a calendar year, I’ve been able to stick to that goal with remarkable steadfastness. Hot weather, cramped schedule and family demands be damned, each day, with the exception of a rare few, I was there, each morning, ready to train.

But the mind plays tricks. It tells you: you’ve fallen off the wagon. You will fail.

Logically, I know that’s not true. Emotionally, I’m conflicted.

But above all else, I know I must get healthy. I must clear the cold. I must rest a very weary, achy, tired body.

I have slept, in the past two weeks, an incredible amount – 8, 9, 10, 11 hours a day. Every day. Without fail.

And something has happened. In the last few days, I’ve become incredibly more positive, more social, more kind, more patient – with my children, with the bumps in the road, with everything. I’m generally calm.

I’ve rediscovered the simple joys of my children. Yesterday, I played hide and seek in the yard for an hour; then I played “baseball” with the kids – pitching to them while a) Brody swung wildly at everything and b) Beckett knocked the crap out of the ball. Today, Beckett and Brody and I went to Gameworks, played video games and won lots of tickets. We ate frozen pizza for dinner. I had a couple beers.

My niece, Blythe, is spending the night here. We read bedtime stories on the couch together. We cuddled. It was fantastic.

I reserved my wetsuit today. Went with a sleeveless suit, despite the predicted low water temperatures. I opted for freedom of movement (versus the sleeved suit) and the motivation the cold will provide to get out of the water, over a little extra comfort. And, for a little bit, I meditated on the task at hand – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run.

In all honesty, I’m looking forward to it. I think next Sunday is going to be fun. Yes, I set this 12 hour goal. And yes, I stand a pretty good chance, still, of making it (if this weird left low shin muscle bruise that seemingly came from nowhere heals) if everything goes okay.

But even if I just rack up another 15 hour finish, instead, I’m cool with it. In the end, who gives a shit? Is that a failure, to simply finish an Ironman? Certainly, there are some crazy pro-types who might say yes, but then again, most of them don’t have a family with a 5- and 3-year-old, and a full-time job.

Race day is the reward for a year of hard work; I won’t – nay, cannot – lose that perspective.

I can’t quite say yet what I gained from my 7 days in New Jersey for the funeral. There were many key moments – watching the real meaning of death dawn on my son; understanding the depth of friendship and support my father and uncle have within their community; grasping the sense of unease and confusion death can deliver to individuals.

I sort of expected – knew – I would experience many of those things. Maybe what I was less prepared for was the concept of just how complex we are as individuals. I knew grandma one way, the same way a sizable number of people knew her. But many others had completely alternate interactions with her: the way a grandson knows his grandma is not the way a son knows his mother, or a daughter-in-law knows her mother-in-law.

An old business acquaintance of mine, David Leibowitz, recently quoted Plato on a Facebook post: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Without knowing it, Leibo found the quote that sums up the essence of my mind’s focus for the past year or so, because that’s what I’ve been seeing, thinking, feeling for quite some time now.

My battle, honestly, has been no different than yours. I’m always stunned by the people who fixate on the singular task I’m aiming to achieve: Ironman number 2.

They say crazy things: you’re an inspiration; I don’t know how you do it; Dude, that’s crazy. As a person who once thought the same thing about people who do extreme racing, I once thought the same thing.

I don’t any longer, because most of you who read this blog are dealing with your own insane battles; there’s no need to call each of you out individually, because you know what they are.

The point is: everybody else’s life seems crazy or different or awesome or insane or sometimes sad and brutal from the outside. But for those of us living it, we’re often dealing with pretty much the same thing. We face infidelity and divorce, job loss and health issues, financial problems and fears; and we revel in fantastic days, our children, a sports win, an unexpected cash windfall. Few of us are as rich as we appear on the outside, or as vapid as we sometimes appear on the inside.

We’re all in this crazy battle; just trying to make sense of life, and get by, and feel safe.

Ironman for me is about control; controlling addiction, fighting off a bizarre fear of weight gain; quelling an unease that I’m never good enough, that nobody likes me. My brain is a messy, messy place that’s always questioning where I’m going, the choices I’ve made, the person I’ve become.

I’m an imperfect mess who feels blessed for the life and friends and family I’ve been given.

And if I’ve learned nothing else in the last eight months, it’s that most of you are right there with me, dealing with the exact same shit in your own way.

So I’m working to take Plato’s advice – “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” – while at the same time prepping for my own battle in 8 days.

But unlike an all-out war, no matter what the outcome, I win.

Peace, friends.

– Ed


Me, Beckett, Brody, Grandma and Mom - February 2010

Training complete: 27 weeks, 1 day • Until race: 2 weeks, 6 days

Earlier this evening, Grandma Electa died.

I can’t believe I’m writing those words. She was the woman with nine lives; who beat comas, and cancer, and a broken heart, and cancer again. She beat a fractured pelvis, with the cancer setting in, and walked again.

She was a remarkable woman: loving and compassionate; tough and fiercely proud of her family; in love with her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. And she was also very loved – by me, by her family members, by those same children, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren she adored and by the many, many, many friends she kept in her company.

I can’t compress the scope of her life into mere words. Her presence, her meaning, is too vast for me to put into consonants and vowels, but I guess I’ll give it a first draft.

For me, Grandma Electa was always light. Not light in weight. She was light. Bright light. Laughter in a world with too little. Despite her incredible sophistication, she still thoughts farts and burps were funny. That kind of light.

She laughed at my dumb jokes, encouraged my ridiculous athletic adventures, she taught me to love the woods walking the paths behind her house when I was little, and to appreciate cooking. She liked to talk about anything – good looking men, stupid politicians, what I was doing at work, it didn’t matter. And if it was over a good glass of wine, all the better.

I loved that as she got older, it seemed as if her passion for life only grew stronger. She always wanted to do something when she came to visit – go to the zoo, go to a dive bar (she’d never been to one, she claimed), see a concert, take a drive to see some new sight. And we did all those things many times, as I know she did with her friends in New Jersey.

For many people, the passion for life fades with age. Not for grandma, not even with a sickness that increasingly made it harder for her to do the things she loved.

I’m switching between being an emotional wreck and having moments of clarity; but I know I’m thankful for so many things we got to do together these past few years – we went to that dive bar, some dump in central Phoenix and propped her a bar stool; we went and saw ridiculous celebrity impersonators at a Phoenix-area casino (and had an awesome time), she got to watch me finish an Ironman, and a few other big races and we got to have many, many, many dinners in my home, during which she laughed and laughed, and made my kids laugh and laugh …

My memories of her are fond, and happy, and wonderful.

Her life was a beautiful gift to all of those fortunate enough to be a part of it. Rest in peace, Grandma Electa.

As you always said to me: I love you dearly.

P.S. This Ironman’s for you.

Love, Ed


Brody and I, chillin' on a lazy Sunday – Pine, Arizona – September 2010

Training complete: 23 weeks, 4 days – Until race: 6 weeks, 3 days

So much has happened since the last blog, it’s hard to account for it all. There was the whole incident with grandma, when she fell here and fractured her pelvis. Through a miracle of sorts, after a couple weeks in a hospital and rehab facility here in the Phoenix area, she was able to safely travel back home to New Jersey. She’s back in Lincoln Park, where she should be. I’m tremendously happy for her.

But there’s been lots of good stuff, too. In mid-September, I took an absolutely awesome extended weekend vacation to Madison, Wisconsin to watch the Sun Devils take on to the Wisconsin Badgers. Madison is a great small city, easily walkable, with great people and lots to do. The setting – on an isthmus between two lakes – was a welcome reprieve from the Phoenix heat, which, by the way has finally broke. We had two days of heavy rain earlier this week, and now, as if by magic, the nighttime lows are approaching 60. This Sunday, I’m heading up to the mountains with the kids to check out the fall foliage – the aspens in the San Francisco Peaks are yellow; the oaks in Oak Creek Canyon orange and red now. I’ll take pictures. Arizona’s mountain autumn shows are stunning.

Oh, and in three weeks, I’ll head up to Las Vegas to compete in the Cuervo Games National Finals. A weekend of parties and competition, courtesy of Diageo/Jose Cuervo. The games will be broadcast live. I’ll provide details when I get them.

And then, of course, there’s the Ironman. It’s 6 weeks and 3 days away. I’m excited. I’m starting to get goosebumps thinking about the big day. But right now the focus is just on getting there.

I’m in what’s known as the peak training phase. What this means in essence is that I work out 3 hours or more a day, every day except Monday (which I take off), and Wednesday (which I only work out for 1.5 hours on). On Saturdays, I train 6 to 7 hours, on Sunday 3 to 4 hours.

Every week, I’m swimming close to 7 miles, biking more than 150 miles and running around 40-45 miles.

It’s exhausting. Yesterday, for example, my body didn’t respond to the exercise the way it should have – my heart rate didn’t elevate properly. To me, running fast felt the same as standing still. It’s actually one of the classic signs of an over-exhausted body.

So, today, I rested – I shelved the 2.2 mile swim and 30 mile bike ride; and instead watched TV with the kids and sat down to pen this blog. It’s important to not overdo it in these final weeks – a time when you’re very susceptible to injury and fatigue as you push your body to new limits. I like to think of it as being in survival mode – both mentally and physically.

The hours of solitude can make you crazy. In the pool for hours a week alone; on the road for hours a week alone; on the bike for hours a week alone. You have to be pretty comfortable with yourself; comfortable with silence and your thoughts to do this …

I have to say, it was nice to come home and rest for once. Can’t wait to do that with a little more regularity …

– Ed



Brody and Grandma - February 2010

Training complete: 21 weeks, 3 days • Until race: 8 weeks, 4 days

There’s a saying among Ironman triathletes: just getting to the starting line is an accomplishment in itself.

In short, we can set goals for desired finishing times. We can boast about how awesome we’re going to do. But in the course of the nearly 1 year it takes to think about, prep and train for an Ironman – with the risk of injury, and more importantly, the variety of things life can throw your way – just standing at the starting line on race day is a major, major accomplishment in itself.

The 12 hour finishing time goal can suck me.

That’s not to say, that somewhere deep inside, I still harbor that goal. Or that on the surface, I don’t believe I can’t do it. I think I can. And I think there’s a good chance I might.

But there’s been many reasons that getting to this blog have not been anywhere near my top priority for much of the past two months, and it has very little to do with the intense amount of training I’ve been cramming into an increasingly dwindling time pool.

When I did the Ironman in 2008, I largely battled the results of Heidi being laid off and the struggling state of my company and the world economy in general.

In 2010, it’s been family crisis. My sister and her husband separated in July. There was plenty that came with that. And now, on Sunday, my grandmother, who was in Phoenix to visit her great grandchildren, suffered a fall in our home. She fractured her pelvis and is currently hospitalized.

Due to many complications, Heidi and I and my sister are currently her only family in Phoenix,and thus the primary contact for her care here in Phoenix. We’re the only people who can go to see her, to support her, to help her get well. She’s sad. She wants to be home, in New Jersey. But right now, she can’t even walk, let alone get on a commercial airliner.

The goal is to get grandma well enough, as soon as possible, and get her back to her vast support network on the Eastern seaboard.

At times like this, Ironman becomes pretty secondary in importance. I’m a freak, so I’ll find the time to train. Today, I woke up at 4:30. Worked from 4:30 to 4:30. Got home, so Heidi could get in her workout, and rode a stationary bike while Heidi went to her workout class. I rode the bike for an hour, in between getting off the bike to help the kids get what they needed. I decided that mowing the lawn could easily be construed as a 4-hour run (it needed it); then made dinner from 6:15 to 7:15. Ate with the family and kids and headed to the hospital from 7:45 to 9 p.m. Tomorrow will be similar, I’m planning to use my lunch break, the period after work (I’ll take the kids then, too) and then maybe some time after the kids go to bed to visit grandma.

She may be transferred to long term rehab care tomorrow, and I want to be around to make sure the transition goes smoothly.

Oh, and I do the half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13 mile run) this weekend, too. Needless to say, the days will be full.

So, if you don’t hear from me much as I make the final approach, don’t worry. The race will go on.

It’s just that there’s a few more important things than this blog that have popped up.



Family and friends – Windsor, California – August 2010

Training complete: 19 weeks, 4 days – Until race: 10 weeks, 3 days

Week 19 training: Swim 5.562 miles, Bike 100 miles, Run 22.5 miles

I apologize that it has been so tremendously long since I last scripted an entry. I’ve been mega busy as the workout totals have continued to creep upward. In between all of that, work has been busy, the kids have been busy and I was helping my sister complete a real estate transaction. It’s been a monster month.

Oh, and two weeks ago, I managed to sneak in a heavenly trip to Sonoma County, California. Facebook friends will already know that I took a little time from training and instead engaged in another of my favorite pastimes: drinking booze. We hit Bear Republic and Russian River Brewery. Fantastic. In between all that, we played paintball on one of the fiber-optic technology creator’s ranch; went sport shooting in the Russian River Valley and had an all-day family and friends party. Old stories were told and retold. There was lots of laughter and fun and friends. I loved every minute of it.

In between all of that, fear not, I have been training hard and strong. I’ve ridden some killer big time bike rides way out into the desert, starred down big-ass hills with headwinds blowing, all in heat sometimes approaching 105 degrees and more or less rocked the shit out of it. I’m still injury free. Still committed to the goal. And feeling pretty darn good as we head into the home stretch. Just over 10 weeks to go. Tempe claims the lake is still on schedule to be ready for the race. Fingers crossed there.

I’d been promising to fill you in on what I ate. So on Saturday, which is my biggest training day, we recorded what I ate and drank. Keep in mind, this was a huge training day in which we rode all out 4-hours/70 miles, much of it up hill and followed it with a 45-minute/4.5 mile run; all in temps near or above 100 degrees. This is a major calorie burner, and most calculators estimate my total burned calories for the day at somewhere around 8,500-9,000 based on my weight.

Anyhow, here’s what I ate/drank.

4:40 a.m. Thomas Everything bagel – 270 calories

4:40 a.m. Two tablespoons, all natural peanut butter – 190 calories

4:40 a.m. Two eggs, scrambled – 200 calories

5:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (On bike) – 4 servings, malodextrin/soy protein formula – 1,080 calories

5:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (On bike) – 16 sodium, potassium replenishment capsules – 60 calories

5:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (On bike) – 1 Powerade 32 oz bottle – 240 calories

11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. (On run) – 1 Gatorade, 32 oz bottle – 200 calories

Noon – 1 king size Snickers – 542 calories

Noon – 2, 12 oz beef sticks – 280 calories

Noon – 1, 12 oz chocolate milk – 200 calories

Noon – 1 Gatorade, 32 oz bottle – 200 calories

12:15 p.m. – One serving, gummy candy – 110 calories

12:30 p.m. – 3 Hebrew National hot dogs, low-fat – 120 calories

12:30 p.m. – 3 slices, rye bread, 210 calories

12:30 p.m. – 1 serving, pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken – 200 calories

1 p.m. – One serving, gummy candy – 110 calories

4:30 p.m. – 1 Burger King Whopper – 670 calories

4:30 p.m. – 1 Medium fries – 400 calories

6:30 p.m. – 3 turkey hot dogs, 300 calories

6:30 p.m. – 3 rolls, 360 calories

6:30 p.m. – 2 servings, mustard potato salad – 450 calories

6:30 p.m. – 2 servings, corn – 160 calories

6:30 p.m. – Pint, Bear Republic Stout – 400 calories

7 p.m. – Pint, Bear Republic Hop Knot Rye Ale – 400 calories

8:30 p.m. – Dope glass of Bourbon – 160 calories

9:15 p.m. – Green Flash IPA, bottle – 243 calories

9:45 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. – Awesome cigar by fireplace, with add’l Green Flash IPA – 243 calories

11:15 p.m. – Bed

Total calories consumed: 7,998

Estimated calories burned: 8,500-9,000

So, yeah, I ate 8,000 calories and ended up at about a 500-1,000 calorie deficit for the day. That is both awesome and disturbing.

But mostly awesome.

By the way, that was quite a bit of booze that night. But a funny thing happens when you’re training like this. Your body, clearly in need of the carbs, and sugars, burns and processes it in a much different way. I was buzzed, but by no means “drunk.”

I woke up the next morning at 6 a.m., felt great, played with the kids, and then at 7 a.m. did a gnarly bike ride at 5,400 feet elevation up and down some big hills. Then I went and ran up the Mogollon Rim – running from a base elevation of approximately 5,400 feet up to the top of the Rim at an elevation of about 7,000 feet – closing a 1,600 foot climb in a span of about 3.5 linear miles. That night, I went to bed pretty early, tho.

Some big workout days coming up here tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Another 70 mile bike/5 mile run on Saturday. And then a 20 mile bike/13 mile run on Sunday.

It’s getting pretty thick, folks.

Hope you’re all well.

– Ed

is thinking he might skip a day of training tomorrow. Mental health day in order. Worked from 4:45 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. today at work and then installing flooring.