Sunday, August 22, 2010

In a nutshell, thanks.

NOTE: The Timberman Athlete Tracker link can be found here. Look for the link on that page for Timberman 70.3 athlete tracking. You can search by Bib Number or name. My bib is 1592, and Rach's is 545. Of course you can just search by our last name (Berry) as well. Rach should be leaving the water for her first time check sometime around 8:10-8:20, and the time checks seem to run about 20 minute behind or so. If you're tracking for me, my wave starts at 7:50, so sometime around 8:50 I should be leaving the water. After that it's just whatever intervals they say they're displaying times at throughout the day.

I can't tell you how many times I've started typing this post only to stop and re-think what I had to say. It starts a little slow, so please bare with me.

A little over a year ago, when I was in the middle of my first season of doing triathlons, and not long after we moved to Boston, my wife decided she wanted to start doing triathlons with me. Not one to start slow, Rach said "We should do a half-Ironman race". Of course she did it without thinking of what it would take to train and prepare for a race of that size. The longest race I'd done when we started talking about a 70.3 was less than 20 miles. We'd be undertaking a mammoth challenge to say the least. Plus Rach seems to forget I didn't just get fat by eating too much; I'm also very lazy. I love video games and TV's, and other sedentary hobbies.

But somehow I knew she was right. Not only should we do a half-Ironman, but we would do a half-Ironman. Now, the question became which one? Thankfully, there are many choices for this distance of race living here in New England, and at least 4 happen inside a couple hours drive. A few of those races are actually Ironman branded races, run by the World Triathlon Corporation. To Rachelle, these were of course the target, because she wanted to be able tell someone she didn't just do any half-Ironman, she did one of the "official" ones. Yes, my wife is that competitive.

Unfortunately, aside from being lazy and fat, I am also fairly phobic about sharks. I grew up in the midwest, where we don't have salt water, so the constant news stories about shark sightings in New England coastal waters have provided some road blocks to ocean swims of significant distance. This ruled out a couple of the local Ironman 70.3 races, and pointed us towards Timberman.

After we decided for sure which race to do, which was decidedly easy, then came the hard part; training. But at first, that was easy too. When it's winter here in Boston, and it's like 5 degrees outside, heading over to the warmth of BU FitRec for a swim in a really nice pool is fairly easy to do. I distinctly remember not having any problems getting up early to outdoor temperatures around 5 degrees because I knew I'd wind up swimming for long stretches.

Of course, long stretches back then aren't what they are now. When we first started our swim training, I could barely get through a few hundred yards before I'd be too exhausted to even pull myself out of the pool. I remember complaining about how tired I was and how hard it was, and that after I attended a swim clinic I was faster but I couldn't breathe worth a damn.

Depending on when you're reading this, I could be in the water at Timberman right now, pulling my way through 1.2 miles of choppy water and faster swimmers trying to get done under the time limit. Each stroke I take will be because of effort I put in during training.  Every person who read this blog, and offered me swimming advice or just commented to let me know that I could do it is responsible for some part of that effort. And for that I say thank you.

Maybe I'm on the bike course. If so, think about me smiling and enjoying myself. Because there will definitely be some of that going on. While training for swimming was a struggle at times, only rarely did i ever have trouble getting myself off the couch and onto a bike. But in the dead of winter, riding a stationary bike for 25 miles through a pattern of imaginary hills is kind of a pain in the ass. Especially when we're doing that instead of home on the couch watching my Blue Jackets.

Then there are those summer Saturdays with 90 degree heat and 95% humidity comes calling, and we've got a 40 mile bike , it can be less than appealing. So if you're reading this while I'm out on the bike course, don't worry about me too much. Because every time I turn the crank around and pedal my way up some hill, it'll be because of the support you gave on the days of the long hot rides, or when the bikes were stolen that helped me to dig deep and not panic. So thanks. Unless I'm working my way up some steep hill at that point. Because that sucks, and I'm not thanking anyone for that.

Maybe you're reading this while I'm on the run course. If so, I don't know if i can thank anyone for that, because running is still a shitty thing to do. Seriously, the person who added running to this races is just not a nice person. While my running hasn't improved much this season, at least I know I can walk the distance, and hopefully at a faster pace than what i did the 10k in on 1/1. I will be thankful for a lot of things during the running portion though:
- That every mile of swimming and biking is behind me.
- That each mile of walking brings me closer to the finish
- That all the general fitness improvement will allow me to get through the run
So I guess if you're reading this while I'm on the run course; Thanks. I think.

Whenever you're reading this on Sunday while I'm out there on the course trying to Become Timberman; Thank you. This experience has been gratifying, humbling, uplifting, and about 50 other words that end in -ing that I can't even think of right now. This blog has put me in touch with people all over the world, literally from every continent except Antartica, and truly helped to keep me motivated even in the worst of times. I didn't lose all the weight that I hoped, or become a monster triathlete in this process. In fact, for all my confidence and bravado, I don't know how today will turn out. I know that I've trained, and I'm ready for the distance and the effort.

Regardless of what happens, I won't quit.

In the end, dear readers, I thank you. For everything you've done to be part of this, even if it was just stopping by to read a post once in a while, I thank you.


There are a few people I want to take a minute to thank, and since it's my blog I know they wont start trying to play me off the stage.

To Bengi, Chuck, Dan, Tim, Barb, and all of my other friends. I thank you. Just by being the people you are you've motivated me in my life, and so I say thanks. I couldn't have gotten here without you at some points along the way.

To Derek, John, RAD70, Caratunk Girl, and every other triathlete anywhere who has made time to offer advice or encouragement here on the blog, I say thank you. I learned a lot from each of you, and saw what it really meant to strive to compete.

To all the members of Wheelworks Multisport, thank you. Whether it was riding with Sunny, competing together at the races this year, or just hanging out at the bar, being a part of this team this year has really helped this non-traditional triathlete feel like he belongs in this sport with the rest of you uber-athletes. So to you I say thanks.

To everyone from Bike Forums, Beginner Triathlete, Slow Twitch, and HookIt, thanks. Every person who has talked triathlon or just biking, and helped me with my millions of insecure newbie questions, I say thank you. The triathlon and cycling worlds are much to the better because of the existence of groups like these where people like myself can go and participate, and most importantly, learn! Again, to all of you, thanks so much.

To the sponsors who helped me get started this season, thank you so much. If it weren't for discounts from Rudy Project, That Butt Stuff, or half a dozen other companies, i wouldn't have been able to afford the gear I needed to get through this season. Especially when I wound up having to buy some stuff twice when the bikes got stolen. Maybe we could have afforded it, but we wouldn't have bought stuff thats as nice as what we have, or we wouldn't have been able to enjoy our honeymoon or first full summer in Boston as much.

To my family; mom, dad, sis, abby, emily, grandma, and all of the extended family members who have taken the time to read or just drop a note of encouragement. You've supported me my whole life, even during times when maybe I didn't deserve it. I'm not around as much as I used to be due to the miles, but don't think a day goes by that I don't think about you. I miss and love you, and most of all I thank you.

Finally, to my darling wife Rachelle. You're on the course too right now, but I know eventually you'll read this. I tell you I love you all the time, but I probably don't say thank you nearly enough. So thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for pushing me to do this when I was quite happy taking my time slowly progressing through all those little sprints. Thank you for pulling me out of beds when I didn't want to get up, or reminding me that I need to get in a workout. Thanks for the times when I wanted to order a little something more at dinner and you reminded me I'd regret it the next day during workout. I'm doing this for me, but in part I'm doing it for you. Because everything I do is.

Know that I appreciate all of you and that the race today isn't the end, it's the beginning.


  1. Bonnie & Bill BerryAugust 22, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Ben: The race has just started, but you are already a winner.
    Love, Mom and Dad.

  2. You're out on the bike course and I hope the weather is perfect and that you're not on a big hill right now at 10:27 so you'll be smiling. I hope you enjoy the day and can't wait to hear about it. Good Luck!

  3. Just checking in on you & Rachelle. Looks like the swim went well. Bet you are happy to be on the bike. Hope you are having great weather & enjoying the experience.

  4. Congrats to Rach and keep up the great work Ben, less than 3 miles to go!!!

  5. You guys both did it! Congrats!

  6. I'll second that! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

  7. woot benny you did it. can't wait to read about it!!! AWESOME, so proud of you

  8. It's Monday and I still feel like I was hit by a truck LOL...really great to meet you Ben! YOU DID IT! Biggest congratulations! You looked fresh on the run. Hope to do a couple tri's with you and Rach next year...right now, need to soak some more in the hot tub :)


  9. Congrats! You finished! I hope you're recovering today, treat yourself well and endulge a little, you've earned it.

  10. Mom and Dad - Thanks. You guys did a great job distilling a strong belief in ourselves, and even when we didnt believe in ourselves, to try anyways. I wish I'd gotten the message sooner (like when I was playing 3B and breaking my hand)

    Derek - Thanks so much, man.

    Barb - I WAS happy to be on the bike, except when my legs quit working or I came around the corner to yet ANOTHER hill.

    Anonymous 1 - I'm guessing this is my sister in law? If so, thanks! If not, who are you and why are you calling me Benny?

    Bob - You totally kicked ass Sunday. I saw your splits. I'm calling shenanigans on your "sore back". You were sandbagging! I'm kidding of course, but you did completely kick butt. Hopefully we'll get a chance to get together soon at another race.

    Anonymous 2 - Thanks so much! I did indulge a bit yesterday and I'll share about that in my next post.

  11. Great race report Ben! Loved reliving it - the cut back hill was killer indeed - thought I was going to fall over without getting my shoes out! I am still extremely sore, but I wore my Timberman shirt with pride yesterday at Santa's Village w/ the kiddies. I'll plan on doing some races w/ you next year! -Bob

  12. RAD70 -

    Thanks dude! It eas a killer hill, but it was so worth it. We didnt go to Santa's Village, but we went to the Christmas loft. Hope the vacation was great!