Thursday, January 29, 2009


Preseason is grueling. This is my tenth time to experience this trying period, athletically speaking, and they don't get any easier. The simplest workout seems just a little more difficult, making you easily susceptible to frustration. Your entire body hurts just a little bit more. Twinges of soreness are felt on every flight of stairs, with every bag of groceries carried, with every morning stretch and are not-so-subtle reminders that you are pushing your body to its limits. The motivation to continually submit yourself to this pain becomes tested very early and doesn't subside quickly or easily. Fortunately, this test comes when motivation is at its highest given this is just the beginning of the season. This coupled with focus on the bigger picture; that it only gets easier and more rewarding from here, is all I need to push through this temporary, although most difficult, phase.

There is a direct correlation between the passing of a new year and how crowded most gyms are. With January comes New Year's resolutions to get in shape, to lose weight, to improve one's health, and as forth comes a rush to the gym. Here it is, only four weeks into the new year, and already the gym is starting to thin out. This humors me for some odd reason. I truly am happy for those that want to better themselves and actually look to follow through on this good intention. I wish all those capable could experience the benefits of being fit and healthy. I'm saddened that some don't follow through and give up. To be honest though, I don't mind that the gym isn't as crowded for my own selfish reasons. However, it still baffles me that some will take the hardest step of starting a self improvement, only to fall short of his or her aspiration by quitting. Unyielding determination has rarely been in short supply in my life and I modestly wish this characteristic for others in their respective pursuits.

This struggle is paralleled in other aspects of my life. Living under mom & pop's roof brought minimal responsibility; personally, professionally, and financially. College was a preface of "real life" with a little added responsibility, but the true test came when I embarked upon adulthood with a career, continued education, a home, multiple vehicles, my wonderful pup, and as many relationships of various levels that I can make time for. Starting out in this preseason of adulthood can be grueling as well. New financial sacrifices become necessary, time becomes a scarce and valuable commodity, and personal responsibilities are innumerable. However, I have and will continue to persevere. I refuse to quit and will push through until I can duplicate the same success and reward that my parents made available for me. Preseason is concluding. It's game time and I'm ready.

Nine short weeks until IM Cali...

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The end of December is rapidly approaching and the traditional signs of this time of year are evident everywhere. Christmas music is played over radios in offices and homes alike. Carolers sing these same traditional songs along walkways and in common areas of shopping centers. Christmas trees can be seen in transport on the occasional vehicle roof and through open living room windows. Lines of white lights outline homes and landscaping throughout cozy neighborhoods. Christmas movies are played and holiday advertisements flash across our television screens. The season is even present in my daily routine. I wish my clients Happy Holidays as I conclude phone calls, but the phrase that is really on my mind is, "Merry Christmas." I am especially cognizant of the reason we get to celebrate this holiday that has somehow become commercialized over the years.

As I sat in church this morning, listening to a sermon about trusting in the Lord, I was reminded of my favorite Bible verse. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." The tribulations I experience throughout my life are minor at most, however, I am still thankful to have a greater source of strength to turn to.

I've already begun mentally preparing for my Ironman this November, an entire 10 1/2 months away, and anxiety has developed within me. I think about the daunting task ahead of me and that infamous knot begins to tighten within my core. I know I have time. I know I have the discipline to see the training through. I know I have the willpower to push through the pain and exhaustion. But the questions still remain. What can my body handle? Can my knee keep up with my heart and mind? I understand that I can do the majority of the preparation, both physical and mental, myself and with the guidance and support of my family, friends, and KCM counterparts, but I also believe that the final preparations and ability to see this through will come from a source greater than you and I. I look forward to the confidence produced from faith replacing the feelings of anxiety that lurk in the pit of my stomach.

I'm also relying on my faith to give me strength and clarity as I reach a crossroads in my professional life. I refuse to settle for mediocracy and become an underachiever. I have rediscovered the vigor I need for the success I expect for myself, however I still need to determine or develop the most effective outlet for these efforts. I continue to prepare myself as best as I know how and have faith that I will discover the correct path. I have not soon forgotten that it will take a considerable risk to realize true reward.

The spoils of my faith recently became very apparent at a social event earlier this month. An encounter with my ex-wife reaffirmed the immaturity and lack of class that I chose to separate myself from. The differences in which this situation was handled by different parties speaks volumes to having the faith to make the right, and usually difficult, decisions. That leap of faith has proven very fruitful and I anticipate much more of the same in the coming months and years. Now, more than ever, I have faith that the path I'm leading will bring me everything I could possibly ask for in life. Fortunately, this isn't a path I'm leading by myself, as the footprints will show.

I'm not going to wish you all Happy Holidays. I'm going to wish you a Merry Christmas as I hope each of you will join me in remembering why we all are blessed with such an amazing holiday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

new beginnings

This past Saturday marked the holding of Ironman Florida 2008. It also marked the official beginning of my training for IMFL 2009. The countdown has officially begun... 367 days as of this morning. November 7, 2009 is going to be the day I officially become an IRONMAN. The next chapter begins here... on multiple levels of my life, actually, and I couldn't be more excited.

I awoke early Saturday morning to an unusually thick layer of fog on a cool November morning. The houses across the street were barely visible through the dark as the yellow light luminescing from the street light was choked out by the fog. The air was brisk, visibility was dreadful, and daylight was still several hours away, however, I was undeterred from beginning my training regimen. I quietly dressed in my bike gear and slipped into the foggy abyss.

The elements seemed almost cliche for a post-Halloween morning. The cold air cut sharply through my extra layer underneath my cycling jersey and I longed to build that exercise- induced internal warmth. I made my way down the dark, deserted streets leading away from my warm home and soon realized I needed to deviate from the course I had originally mapped out. My bike courses have never been contingent upon the prescence of street lights, but this morning would prove it necessary to travel underneath only the most well lit streets. As I passed by the final street light, the street disappeared in front of me and I slipped blindly through the dark. I left my well-known outskirt streets and made my way towards the heart of the suburbs. As the miles passed and the stubborn fog remained, I noticed beads of dew beginning to form on my handlebars and bike frame. I gazed past the bike underneath me and could see droplets of water glistening on each individual hair on my legs. The remnants of fog soon covered every exposed inch and beads of dew constantly fell from my helmet and crashed onto my legs below.

The hours passed and an incredible peace washed over my body. I navigated through the dark morning w/ only a vague understanding of exactly where I was. As I stopped at each stoplight, the fog blinded me from seeing even the name on each street sign. The absence of lights and objects to process left my mind in a surreal state of nothingness. I didn't think. I just rode. The calm I experienced afterwards was incredible and a feeling I must learn to reciprocate a year from now.

The next day I sat in my living room, laptop open, anxiously awaiting the noon hour. I was on Ironman's website and nervous about being able to register for IMFL. I had watched IMOO sell out in a day and was not going to miss my opportunity to participate in this incredible challenge. As the clock struck noon, and the registration link went live, I preemptively started my race against the other thousands of athletes throughout the US. The website wasn't able to handle the influx of traffic and I spent the next half an hour wrestling w/ my laptop in agony that I couldn't get in. I even borrowed a second laptop and had my newly discovered advocate help me try to break my way in. 45 minutes and a large credit card charge later, I was officially registered! My excitement resembled that of a child's on the first day of school. I was beyond thrilled, a little nervous, and possibly even a bit naive. I've taken the first official step towards becoming an IRONMAN and am now more committed than ever. Now comes the fun part... the follow through. The training. The struggle. The pain and frustration. The progress. The pride and satisfaction. The rollercoaster of a ride this next year is going to bring.

A very significant page has been turned and I've started a new chapter in my life. This chapter begins with new challenges, new goals, a new career, new relationships, and a renewed invigoration to excel at everything I hold myself to. As the pages in this story that is my life are written, I couldn't be more excited about where this plot is leading. The end has yet to be written, but this tale is shaping up to be quite memorable.

Friday, October 17, 2008

expanding the proverbial bubble

With risk comes reward. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I wouldn’t go so far to say that one requires the other, but true reward isn’t going to come w/out manageable risk. To reap reward, sacrificing time, effort, and even certain opportunities is a given and somewhat easily obtainable. For me, stepping out of that comfort zone and trying a new endeavor is the greater challenge. The result is often the same: a feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment after having tried something new, or from achieving a level previously unobtainable. But, the initial risk and feelings of uneasiness still have to be overcome in order to take that leap of faith. However uncomfortable, it’s a feeling that I’ve learned to revel in. It’s similar to the borderline-masochistic satisfaction from being sore after a grueling workout. How else is one going to grow w/out pushing the limits, w/out expanding that proverbial bubble?

As this season comes to a close and I’ve had a chance to reflect on the progress I’ve made, it’s become apparent again that it takes more than just sacrifice and tribulation to reach the goals I hold for myself. It takes a calculated risk. At the beginning of this season, I expected to compete in nothing more than an Olympic distance triathlon. After all, that was all my knee could possibly handle. And there was no way I could transform into any resemblance of a swimmer this quickly. Or is there? Earlier this week I swam a mile in 34 minutes. It’s by no means my longest swim, but certainly my quickest at this length. My stroke is smooth, my confidence is high, and for the first time in my life, I feel like a swimmer. I’m sure I’ll read over this post sometime next year and humor myself that I was proud of such a feat, but I’m making progress. Tomorrow I run in my first official half-marathon. It’s a little anti-climatic, as I’ve already run this distance in my last half-Ironman, but it will still be an accomplishment none-the-less.

The point that resounds in my mind is that I didn’t think it possible to finish a half-IM this year. Just four months ago, I thought there was no way I could compete at this level this year. Thanks to a little gentle persuasion by my KCM counterparts, I stepped outside my comfort zone and took a risk. That metaphoric leap of faith I took as I walked to the starting line in Oklahoma City just a few weeks ago is one of the most rewarding risks I’ve taken to date. And if I’m able to accomplish this after four short months, what will I be capable of w/ a full year to prepare? As I continue to push the limits, I can appreciate how the Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes, earned his name and reputation. It’s amazing to discover what the human body and mind is capable of. If you don’t limit yourself, similarly to how I did to myself earlier this year, the sky is the limit- or in Karnazes’ case, 226.2 miles so far.

I’ve also continued to expand that proverbial bubble on a smaller, but no less grand, scale. I had sushi last night for the first time w/ a good friend. As I sat at the dimly lit table, I found myself uncharacteristically fidgety. Maybe it was from the uncertainty of the food I was about to explore or because the BoSox just went down early in game five of the ALCS finals, but I was nervous. To my surprise, I may even contribute some of the nervousness to the party I was waiting for, but I’ll save that for another day. This palatal adventure is one that’s been on my list for months now, but a feeling of uncertainty still remained as the waiter walked off w/ our order. Soon my taste buds experienced the sensations of smoked salmon, spicy tuna, and crab, mixed with cucumber, cream cheese, and rice. The tastes and textures sent an incredible rush throughout my mouth and I couldn’t believe I had been w/out for so long. The reward was tremendous and I was instantaneously hooked. Among other things, I am a rediscovered triathlete and sushi lover this year alone. As I continue to push the limits in all facets of my life, I can’t help but wonder what else is next. There are a few specific areas that are receiving greater attention and I look forward to fulfilling only a portion of the opportunity possible in each. I am ready to embrace the risks necessary to realize my greatest rewards.

Monday, September 29, 2008


To most, last Saturday was just another weekend day. Many probably caught up on sleep and spent a much needed day resting and relaxing. Others may have even been productive on this day, running errands or completing chores around the house. A select few may have even tackled a task that's been looming over them for some time, painting the shed or cleaning out that overlooked closet. For an elite few, last Saturday wasn't just an ordinary weekend day. For these men and women, September 20th signifies a day of major accomplishment. This is the day they completed his or her first half-Ironman. This was such a day for me.

The day began much earlier than usual. My alarm went of at 4:30, but I was already wide awake. I had spent most of the night lying in bed, running through the day ahead of me, meticulously breaking down each part of the race and mentally preparing myself. I made my final race preparations, grabbed my transition bag and made my way to the hotel parking lot. My training partner and I, being the outgoing kids we are, greeted each other energetically and cranked up the music as we made the recently familiar route through the dark to the site of our showdown. There were six of us that had made the trek from Kansas City down to Oklahoma City to prove that we were worthy of the title "half-Ironman". Only two of the athletes in the group had officially completed a half, so this was to be a day of reckoning. The rest of the group gawked at my ambitious goal of completing the race in 5 hours, 30 minutes. I had practiced and prepared, I was ready. I was confident. I was determined to prove everyone wrong. However, the butterflies and nerves refused to subside. I was still nervous.

I slipped into the dark transition area, past the other athletes that were quietly preparing themselves. I stopped at my bike, which I had checked in the night before. I was surprised to see that little droplets of dew had formed on the bike seat and handle bars, blissfully unaware that the impending sunrise would burn these transformations away. I still polished the bike again anyways and laid out my gear. As the sun began to rise, I wrestled my wetsuit on and slowly walked the route to the swim chute, absorbing as much as I could through wide eyes. As the first heat, the full Ironman competitors, listened to the countdown, I was secretly thankful that my race was going to be "only" half as long as theirs. The starting gun, a SHOTGUN, sent an incredible boom and reverberation through the beach and the first heat began their looming 2.4 mile swim.

It was my turn now. I had purposely avoided looking at the swim course to this point because I didn't want to become overwhelmed at how long and impossible it seemed. I recalled looking at the swim course just three months prior at the Kansas half-Ironman and telling myself that there was no way I could accomplish such a feat. However this day was different. I looked down the course ahead of me for the first time and smiled. A devious grin is probably a more appropriate description of the look that had overtaken my face. I've done this swim several times before. I know I can finish it in 40 minutes. I slowly waded into the water from the beach and was again bewildered at how well a wetsuit protected my skin from the balmy water. I continued towards the starting "line" and could feel cold trickles of water making their way into the small rip on the inside of my left thigh. The shotgun blast snapped me from my trance and I began my way down the long shore ahead of me.

The water was incredibly choppy from the mass of athletes that kicked their way through the water ahead and all around me. I quickly learned to recognize the noise made by the kicking feet of a swimmer I was about to overtake and was able to avoid the normal bumps and collisions of an open water swim more than what I had predicted. As I glided through the water, I could feel a cool sensation on my back as water slowly seeped through the zipper in my wetsuit. I concentrated on the sensation as it slowly inched its way down the small of my back and down my legs. About half way down the shore I finally entered the absent-minded zone I always look for during any endurance event. I didn't think or react. I just swam. As I neared the first turn I looked up and found, much to my dismay, that I had swam off course by about 75 meters. Frustrated w/ myself, I quickly changed course and picked up the pace, determined to still make my 40 minute goal. I snuck a quick peak at my watch as I made the second turn and started the return course back and was ecstatic to see that I was right on pace. I put my head back down and quickly noticed that my wetsuit was restricting my breathing. The suit was so tight around my chest that I was struggling to take a full breath. I turned onto my back for a couple quick breaths and was soon back on pace. I navigated my way back down the shore towards the turn into the beach and found myself still struggling to swim straight. A seemingly simple task was proving to be difficult and a slight distraction. I eventually made the final turn and picked up the pace over the last few hundred meters to the beach.

I exited the water at 41 minutes, just a hair off my pace. I slipped out of the sleeves of my wetsuit and ran up the ramp towards the transition area, pausing only momentarily to have the race volunteers strip the rest of my wetsuit off. I quickly found my corral and grabbed my bike and gear. I was soon on the bike course and quickly got up to my 20 mph average. I was surprised at how many athletes I passed as I rounded the lake and made my way onto the long, bumpy ride ahead of me. As the tires on my bike rumbled over the chip 'n seal, my forearms absorbed the vibrations that pulsed through the handlebars. A hollow knocking echoed from the aero bottle situated in between the bars just in front of my face and the uneven terrain sent splashes of Gatorade onto my face and arms. Around mile 20, the red FUJI responded to a significant bump on the road and catapulted one of my water bottles into the air from the holster behind my seat. I heard a scuffing behind me and watched as the bottle skidded off the road. A slight panic swept through me as I realized my liquid rations had just been cut by a quarter. This panic soon subsided when I saw the turnaround just ahead. I was five minutes early and still felt strong. A calm wave of confidence swept through me as I could feel that 5:30 goal w/in reach. As I gripped the breaks to slow and complete the turn, a rider just in front of me carried too much momentum into the turn and toppled over just feet from me. I swerved to avoid him, grabbed a bottle of Gatorade from the SAC, and accelerated back up to 20 mph. As the minutes passed and miles dwindled, I could feel my legs begin to grow heavy. The sharp pain on the top of my left knee throbbed when I pushed too hard through the final miles leading back to the lake. I rounded the lake and came up to the transition quicker than I had anticipated. I only had one foot out my cleats, so I was forced to pause for a shaky moment as I unleashed my last extremity. My bike computer showed glorious news: exactly 2:45 had passed and I was on pace to the minute.

I had exactly 2:00 to run 13.1 miles. I knew I could do it, but this was going to be the true testament. I knew my knee could make it through this distance, but that was w/ fresh legs. I started onto the hot run route and settled into my pace. The minutes passed painfully slow as I slugged through the first couple miles. My legs refused to respond as I wished they would. I was only able to make it to mile two before that dreaded twinge began to rise in the side of my left knee. By mile three, the pain was intolerable and I was forced to slow. I desperately hung onto as quick a pace as my body would allow and ran through the calculations in my head. The pain and exhaustion overwhelmed my entire being and a fear of not being able to finish crept into my mind for the first time. This was the true test, but it was presented much sooner than I had anticipated. I longed for the runners high and was determined to push through this. By the fourth mile, I finally started to settle back into as comfortable of a pace as I could. The turn-around was an incredibly welcomed sight, even though my watch showed 1:07. I ran through the calculations again and was reinvigorated by the thought that I could still finish in the 5:30's. The countdown began and I pushed harder and harder as I could feel the finish just ahead.

After six more grueling miles, my destination was finally visible. The beautiful sight of a red arch marked the finish line and a sense of relief washed through my body and numbed the pain that had been pulsing through every muscle and tendon. As I made my way down the finishing chute, marked w/ a red carpet, I heard my name over the speakers. The announcer spoke an incredible truth, that Josh Mohr of Lenexa, KS was finishing his FIRST half-Ironman. A young boy ran up to the carpet and extended his hand to offer a celebratory clap. I reached out in a meager attempt to share in this boy's excitement, but I was so weak that I missed!

That last step, marked w/ complete exhaustion, is a moment that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I finished my first half-IM in 5:38.12. I was just off my goal, but I couldn't be more proud. I'm half way to a full Ironman, but still have an incredible amount of training left. I have 58 weeks to finish this preparation. This is the conclusion of the beginning. I will be ready. Next up, half-IM in south Cali in April. It's going to be a fun winter.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

borderline insanity

Last weekend I had a chance to experience one of my favorite things in life. Most that know me, know that I am an adrenaline junkie. Anything that gets the heart pumping and blood flowing, I would probably try it w/out much hesitation. Most of the injuries I've sustained in life have been the result of pushing the limits just a bit too hard, typically involving wheels of some sort. However, there are some injuries and accidents that you won't recover from. Plummeting to the ground from 3,500 feet is one of them. Regardless, when one of my buddies approached me and asked if I wanted to go skydiving for his birthday, I gave an exclamatory, "YES!" w/out thought or hesitation.

I've had the great pleasure of skydiving once before, for my birthday ironically, five years ago. I sat through the class and had the most incredible first jump. I was so invigorated, that I decided to jump again that day and thereafter experienced my first malfunction. It was line-twist, a very common and easily fixable problem, but still helped me become a more educated skydiver. This education proved invaluable for our experience that is still surprisingly vivid in my mind today.

After staying out late the night before celebrating, I woke up in a panic on Buscher and Yigas' couch, just 15 minutes before we were supposed to start class at 8:00 in the morning. Mind you, Butler, MO is over an hour away. So, we gather everyone up, make a few quick phone calls to plead our way into the class, and arrive an hour and a half late. We sit through the remainder of the class and make up our missed curriculum over the lunch break. After hours of training and contingency planning, we are finally given the green light to suit up for our jump. I stepped into the leg harnesses and slid the heavy pack up my legs to rest on my back. I strapped everything down as tight as I comfortably could and checked my altimeter. I slipped my helmet on, took a few last photos and reassured my buddies as we made our way down the runway to board the perfectly functional cessna we were about to jump out of.

As we had practiced, Yigas climbed in first and crawled to the back of the plane to buckle in. I followed behind and took my position just behind the pilot. Buscher was the last to board and buckled in next to the door that we were about to jump out of. The pilot taxied our plane down the runway, we took a sharp left and immediately accelerated to take off. The point where I can no longer tell how fast I'm going is such a rush for me! We slowly climbed to 3500 feet as we circled the tiny Butler airport. Our jump master finally signaled that he was opening the door and he slammed it open into the rushing air. The fuselage of the airplane filled with swirling wind and the roar of the engine became brutally apparent. My mind wouldn't let go of the comment one of the other jump masters made earlier in the day... that he knew what a dead skydiver looked like. I knew everything would be just fine, as it was the prior two times I had jumped, but he certainly caught my attention w/ that comment.

Buscher was the first to jump. He carefully situated himself just inside the open door and very purposely grabbed for the wing support he was to hang from before his decent back to earth. Instead of firmly gripping the support with both hands, he wrapped his left arm around the support in a kind of bear hug that made it impossible to inch any further towards the end of the wing. To our intructor's surprise, Buscher simply jumped off the platform and twisted around before his chute deployed. The instructor's humored and relaxed reaction helped settle my nervous. Now it was my turn...

I inched to the edge of the fueselage and firmly grabbed hold of the support. I pulled my body out into the rushing wind and the incredible roar of the propellor ripping through the air drowned out everything, including my own thoughts and the countless hours of training I had been through. I inched my way towards the end of the support, looked back at the instructor and got the go-ahead to jump. This was it!

I released my white-knuckled grip and immediately threw my arms up and arched my back. It was a near textbook release and my devilish grin showed I knew it. I sailed through the air and my chute eventually caught air, ripping my body upright again. The paper-thin nylon above my head was the only thing keeping me from plummeting to the ground and I was comforted to see everything was in working order. I immediately grabbed hold of my right toggle and yanked down as hard and far as I could and just held it. The chute responded, sending me spiraling down towards the ground. I was spinning at such a high speed, the centripetal force pushed my body so far to the side that I was looking straight into the ground and the line from the chute to my body was nearly parallel to the ground. The devilish grin remained.

I released the toggle and began a peaceful and serene coast through the calm summer air. Below my feet I could see miles and miles of farmed ground and ponds. In the distance, I could faintly make out the long runway connected to the tiny Butler airport and set my course in that direction. After a few, seemingly long, minutes I made my final turn and prepared to land in the grass field just beside the hanger. I flared the chute by pulling down on both toggles as hard as I could at the last second and skidded to a stop safely on earth again. I couldn't help but let out a loud WHOOP and looked up at Yigas, still above me. I had heard a scuffle over the radio as I was falling through the air and knew there was something out of the ordinary w/ Nic's jump. Everything now seemed in order, so I didn't think twice about it.

Once the entire group was safely back on the ground and everyone had shared their stories and excitement, we gathered in the classroom for one final lesson. Our instuctor individually praised or criticized everyone in the group. The two hooligans I jumped w/ received the brunt of the criticism of the entire group. It wasn't until I developed the pictures taken from the camera mounted on the edge of the wing that I realized just how warranted that criticism was for Yigas. Later that night, I'm standing in front of the photo desk at Walgreens, flipping through the pictures taken during our adventure. I saw Buscher twisting through the air, but still allowing a safe chute deployment. I also saw my near textbook jump... if only I would have looked up higher so that the camera would have caught the grin that possessed my face as I sailed through the air. And then I saw Yigas... flipping upsidedown, through his risers, BARELY missing getting his arm tangled in the lines as his chute deployed. I immediately called Nic and we naively laughed about his ordeal.

If Yigas could do everything so horribly wrong and have only a nervous laugh and funny story to show for it, we would all be able to do it again- safely, that is. This adrenaline rush is incredibly addicting. So much so that we are all planning a follow-up tour in a few months for Buscher's birthday. Just a few more jumps before I can cross the number one item off my bucket list... freefall!

Friday, August 22, 2008

an active community

Given the not-so-subtle increase in training and the corresponding hours logged and struggle to keep pushing hard, I've joined up w/ an organization that trains for triathlons. This group of like-minded athletes has been a welcomed breath of fresh air into a routine that can become very stale and sometimes seemingly stagnant. They understand the lifestyle and the commitment it takes to excel at this level. They know what it's like to start your ride before the sun has risen, or what it's like to finish a run at midnight. They know the feeling of exhaustion after a multiple hour workout and cherish the relief a good stretch brings. They have probably experimented with different diets and nourishment routines and may have even learned what doesn't work the hard way. They appreciate the permanent ring of swimmers ear, or that chlorine might as well be your cologne. They all probably also have a bag of gear in their car ready to go, because you never know when you'll get a chance to get another workout in. Each probably takes just as many showers at a gym as they do in their own home and has perfected the science of packing a gym bag or backpack for race day. They all have experienced an injury of some sort and know the frustration it brings. This is a group that can share in your triumphs and also be there to help push you through your disappointments. We train together, we eat together, we even get to play together. I have grown to appreciate this group of people and am reinvigorated by the mere fact that there are others out there that share in my belief that this is a life that's worth committing to and sacrificing for. Thanks KCM, particularly T, C and C.