HI All!! Here is our last Team Voice Member of the Month for 2010. I am having trouble posting the photo. So when I can It will be added. Enjoy reading I sure did!! Richard Tramm take it away!!
In the last few days of being 40 back in late 2006, I felt I was at a “now or never” point where I was running out of time to try to regain my health and maybe even to be able to pursue a long dormant dream of running a marathon (specifically the Marine Corps Marathon). My weight was around 254/255 lb, and had been in the 230 – 270 lb range for most of the years since I left the Marine Corps (15 years earlier). The tolls of raising a family, finishing college and pursuing a career were rewarding in their own ways, but somehow not paying attention to myself allowed me to balloon upward in weight and stay there. I tried to stay active in many ways—and even lost 66 lbs at one point (making it ever so briefly to 199.5 lbs!!); though only to put it back on in the year or two following. I wasn’t suffering any specific symptoms of ill health due to my weight, but I could tell that my doctor thought that was only a matter of time.
I first latched onto John Bingham’s book, Marathoning for Mortals, and began to plan. I set out on a plan that would lead me to run my first half marathon in a few months. I started by utilizing a walk-run plan where I walked 4 minutes to each minute run (i.e. 4w:1r as I logged in my notes), in a few weeks that became 3w:1r, then in a few more weeks that became 3w:2r, then in a few weeks 2w:2r, until that day where I set out on a successful 1w:3r run. This was where I really thought that I could do this! As all this was going on, I was slowly building my distances, and even ran a few local races. In the span of a few months I completed my first 5K (38:45), 10K (1:16:45) and half marathon 2:57:59. Half marathon race day came with several unique challenges. First there was a major wreck that shut down the highway heading to the race site when a gas tanker truck rolled over. You could see runners in all the cars, some of whom got out and ran the 2 or so miles to the race site. Eventually the traffic cleared and I got to the race site about 25 minutes late. Although they had shut off the timing mats, I (and a few others) asked people which way they went, and we headed out. The first water station was actually almost cleaned up by the time I got there, and I kept going. Several runners would pass me by as they also started late, but every once in a rare while I actually caught somebody. As the day went on I felt good and had a good run, but nothing compared to that feeling of crossing that finish line, officially 3:24:01 while 2:57:59 on my watch (the discrepancy due to the late start)! I was elated at having completed my goal, and I set my sites on the future as the summer period came along where I maintained my new training program.
After that first running year, I was undoubtedly healthier although I had made the classic mistake of thinking I could eat whatever I wanted and gained about 10 lbs. Weighing in at 263lb now, I reevaluated my program and made changes. To this day I can only lose weight if I exercise and eat perfectly, so I have settled for slower weight loss as my diet intermittently poses setbacks. However, as I now weigh in around 205 lbs. now I see myself as a success and a work in progress, as I still want to “live a little” from time to time.
In 2008, I began to look at triathlons and started to train for one. Unfortunately, a few weeks before it I was rear-ended in an auto wreck and was sidelined for a few months of recovery and physical therapy, but I was able to run my fall goal races later that year. It was at a 30K race later in the year that I happened upon another runner that I was near all day who wore the shirt from a triathlon that was a long-term goal race for me. We talked and got to know each other a bit over the last 6-8 miles or so of the race and today Heather is one of my best friends and is also a valuable advisor (and as I write this she is on the back half on the run portion of her first Ironman race in Cozumel!). In fact, running and triathlons opened the door to many friendships as I got to know people through many groups Woodlands Fit and The Woodlands Running Clubs are local groups through which I know many, the WISH Racing Team and Team Voice have each been valuable online contact points, and my newest membership is through my coached triathlon group OutRival Racing.
In 2009 I decided it was time to go for the lofty goals of pursuing triathlons and eventually the marathon. I registered early for the Goofy Challenge—knowing that I could pair my longtime love of Disney with my love of running and I would train for this by continuing my half iron tri training through the week leading up to the Disney races. In October 2009, I took on the Longhorn Half Ironman, after completing several shorter triathlon races earlier in the year, it was a long day with a number of issues, but in the end I persevered and finished in 7:58:38, just making the 8 hour cutoff. A few weeks later I ran the San Antonio Rock n Roll half race and completed a rough day in which I discovered that A) my body really was not recovered and B) that I could finish 26.2 miles as I was now a marathoner in a time of 6:11:36, even if I did walk most of the last 6-7 miles.
Finally January 2010 rolls around and I make it out to Disney. I get to meet some of my online friends and find out that they are real people. Most of all I have a complete blast doing the half and full marathons in conditions that I can only laugh about now. Extreme cold, sleet, wind, ice….all came on these days, but I still made the most of them. My favorite memory comes from getting the opportunity to ride Expedition Everest in the midst of the marathon—when will I ever be able to top that! It might cost me a new marathon PR as I finished in 6:17:45, though I have no complaints from this day.
2010 really became my personal triathlon year as I worked more on those races, completing 6 during the year. I took on my second half iron race in April and was determined to do well. It was a tough day, and I was disappointed in several ways. I did set a new PR of 7:52:07, and Heather (who had also raced today) reminded me that it was not a PR type of day, but I was left feeling more disappointed than satisfied. My problem, as I would only much later figure out, was that I was training to finish race, not to accomplish specific goals within the race. So, in a way, I was only doing what I had trained for. I sought professional help (coaching not therapy!) and I learned new training techniques as I improved. I saw my race time improve, but mostly I could just tell that I was getting better. A knee injury pushed me back from repeating the Longhorn Half Ironman and I instead did a local race, Iron Star that was a few weeks later. Iron Star is a local half iron distance race that has a popular following and I learned why. It is well organized and very well supported.
Race day brought a 40 degree morning and I brought a new training plan, a new nutrition plan and determination that this was the day I would not just finish--today I planned to put out my best effort by following a plan. However, the day did not quite go according to plan. The race starts with a 1.2 mile swim, I had not yet gotten below the 50 minute range on a half iron swim and today I planned to do just that. I exited the water in 39:55; stunned that I had gotten out that fast and thinking I may have inadvertently hit the lap button earlier in the swim (it was the correct swim time). I took my time in transition and set out on the bike. The first 1/3 of the bike was a good solid effort through the national forest areas northwest of the lake and I held a good speed. The bike second third of the bike was a bit slower but still within my plan. It was in the last third that I had some real issues…the steeper and taller hills, as well as the headwind slowed me down a good bit and I was losing most of the time I had gained on my PR goal. Several times I looked at my watch and considered pushing harder, but would remember that I had committed to a heart rate-based plan and then each time I would stay on plan. I finished with a bike time PR of around 3 minutes, but was thinking that was much slower than I had hoped for. However, it was during the run that the wisdom of my race plan came to shine through. Each of the previous half iron races had seen the run degrade into the type of “death-march” like walk with short spurts of running as I tried to finish. Today each of the first 2 miles rolled off at 12:02, and I kept running… I had planned a few walk breaks, mostly at aids stations and at heart rate spikes (which only came around 3 times). As the miles went by, I maintained pace (continuing running in the 12 something range with an occasional 1 minute walk). By the end I finished the 13.1 mile run in 2:48:49, nearly a half hour improvement in the run from my previous half iron race. As it turned out, it was a tough bike day for many, so staying on plan was a wise choice as my race time for the day was 7:07:43, which was a 45 minute PR!!
I’m currently just getting back into training with a new long term goal in mind. This will be the first year that I settle down and do fewer races as I focus on a narrow, single-minded goal. That goal is to take on the 140.6 mile course of the inaugural Ironman Texas race, which is actually in my neighborhood with the start line being about 2.5 miles form my house. I predict a long winter and a tough spring for me training-wise, but at 7:00 a.m.on May 21, 2011, I will be there ready to go with the support of my many friends keeping me going.