Monday, May 16, 2011

My Florida Ironman 70.3 Race Report – A hope for something positive to come out of such a tragedy.

This year’s Florida Ironman was a bittersweet time for me and I would like to share it with my friends in hopes that something good will come out of this great loss. I started writing this entry on Saturday, the day before the race and wrote the trip report on Sunday.

Saturday night Orlando Florida - I am an emotional wreck, very lonely and thought that capturing my feeling by writing them down might help me in some way get it together for tomorrow. So thanks for being there and reading this. Last night (Friday night) Andrew called me with terrible news. Tyler Lorenzi had died earlier that day in a boating accident. (I have provided a link below to the story, but it is not very pretty.

Ty stayed behind to try and help the others and was one of the two out of 10 who perished.) Tyler and Andrew met at Northwestern in the pre-week before Freshman year and have been best friends ever since. They were roommates for four years (both were in a 5 year program in the engineering school), spent the winter in Vail, and climbed to the top of Cotopaxi in Ecuador 19,347 feet last summer. The Wien’s and the Lorenzi’s along with two other families (Matt’s and Mer’s) shared a house in Breckenridge for a great ski week-end this past February. This news was devastating to all of us.

I have been unable to concentrate on much of anything today and have spent a lot of time on my cell phone with family members trying to help coordinate plans. Nannette was on an airplane to Chicago for Brian’s annual fund raiser when we got the news. Since Ty’s parents live in California and Ty was living in Virginia, Andrew’s apartment (in Chicago)quickly became the gathering place for Chicago friends and family which provided great support. I should also mention that Matt, Andrew’s current roommate was also a part of the close friendship including roommate, Vail and skiing with the family. Nannette, Matt’s parents and my father were all at the apartment.

I have to admit that my tears have been dousing out a lot of my flame today. It has been so difficult as I sit here in Florida and try to have a phone conversation

with someone only to be interrupted by crying…from me or them.

Then Andrew called me at about 12:15 PM. He told me that he had planned on running a 10K this morning and with all the sadness, decided to run it anyway. Maybe as a way to refocus the pain. He prefaced his comments by asking me not to congratulate him. Then he told me he ran a 36:21 for a PR. He did not have to worry about me congratulating him. I was crying too hard to say anything.

Our children can be great teachers.

I am going to bed. It has been a long day. Tomorrow morning, I will get up and compete in the Florida Ironman 70.3. And my flame will be burning bright tomorrow ….for a wonderful young man, Ty Lorenzi who we will miss dearly. Now I just have to figure out how to keep the tears out of my swim goggles.

May the Lorenzi’s, their extended family and friends find peace in the fond memories.

Post Race Report – Sunday night - I woke up at 4:15 AM from a pretty good night sleep. Met the other Atlanta participants at 4:30 AM for a breakfast prepared by Jose, a very dedicated Holiday Inn Express employee. As we drove to the race site at 5:00 AM, we witnessed one of the most dramatic thunder storms I have ever seen. The kind where two lightning strikes occur at the same time and connect half way down to the ground. I won’t even attempt to interpret that greeting for you, but I will share with you the one word I was thinking at the time as the rest of the group was scared to death about the swim….IGNITION.

When we arrived at the check-in, the lightning had almost stopped but the rain continued. At 6:30 AM it appeared to me that the clouds parted and the sun came out. I now know what Moses must have felt like when the Red Sea parted. The race started at 6:45 AM, 15 minutes late and we never saw another bolt of lightning or a drop of rain.

I had a very strong swim, a strong bike and a motivated run. I have to admit, it was tough to stay focused. I wrestled with my emotions for the whole race. At times, I imagined Ty saying Go Mr. Wien or Go Mike with that big grin on his face as he had done at two Chicago Marathons and the Chicago Triathlon. Each time, that memory put a smile on my face and got me back in the game.

When I finally came across the finish, I had what can only be described as a total emotional meltdown. The tough competitive facade disappeared and I was standing in the finis

h area as an emotional disaster. It got the immediate attention of the medical personnel. It also got the attention of my friends, Kelly Ferrel who had come down to support my triathlon mentor, Fox and Jim Duguay, who was there to support Mary Duguay. They knew immediately the pain I was feeling could not be minimized with a visit to the medical tent for an IV or a trip to the massage table to work out the cramps. The pain I was feeling could best be softened with a couple hugs and the words…”you made Tyler proud” and that is exactly what they delivered.

As I think back on the week-end, I have two thoughts. First, the police have stated that it was a miracle that eight of the 10 people on the boat survived. The survivors told the family that Tyler and the man who is still missing took charge when the accident happened and did everything they could to made sure the group was safe. I hope Tyler knows that the people he was so concerned about are survivors because of his efforts. Second, while what happened should never have happened, we were all reminded that what we loved about Tyler was his love for living an exciting life. A memorial service was held today on a boat on Lake Michigan in Chicago and

attracted about 80 people from all over the country that were friends and contemporaries of Ty’s. It was a fitting tribute for Ty and gave some closure to his friends. In the invitation Andrew sent out on Facebook, he included a favorite quote from Tyler, “"A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a best friend will be right next to you saying...damn, that was fun."

As for the outcome of my race, I finished in 5:05:32. The guy who took second in our age group finished in 5:20:38. About 1.5 miles behind me and a very safe distance from the flame that burned very bright today for Ty.

I would like to follow the example set by my son. No congratulations please. Please just send me a note of something positive you did because you read this blog. Or a better perspective or appreciation you gained on life through this story. It might be something so simple as calling your kids to tell them you love them. (I have done that one a bunch this week-end.) Your stories would be appreciated. I plan to share your thoughts with friends and family at the appropriate time.,0,7945243.story

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Boston Marathon Pre Race Outlook

Friday, April 15 – Pre Race Report

The Boston Marathon is on Monday and it looks like it is going to be a perfect day to run 26.2 miles. My goal this year is exactly what it has been for the last 4 years…to run under 7:00 minutes per mile or to finish in 3 hours and 3 minutes. I have missed that goal by less than 2 minutes consistently for the past 4 years.

Some of you have asked me what I think about during a marathon. My standard answer is that I try to enjoy the journey and appreciate all the fans who are cheering for me and the 25,000+ other runners. However, this year, I will be thinking about something else.

I will be thinking about how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. And I will also be thinking of my long time Ironman Mentor who has been the guy who helped me get ready for my first Ironman in 2004 and was there as I jumped into Kona Bay for the first time in 2006 to name a few. I received an e-mail from him the other day informing me that he had just been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and how he was going to try and schedule his cancer treatments into his summer triathlon schedule.

On Monday, I will be thinking of my Mentor and wishing him well for a speedy recovery and a very successful triathlon year in his new age group – 70 to 74. I will also be thinking how lucky I am to have such a wonderful role model for dealing with life’s challenges.

Boston Marathon Race Report

Tuesday, April 19 – Post Race report

What a great day. Perfect conditions. Geoffrey Mutai ran a 2:03:02, breaking the old Boston Marathon record by 2 minutes and 50 seconds and running the fastest marathon ever! While I did not make my goal of breaking 7 minute per mile, I was still very happy with my 3:11:43 finish at a 7:19 per mile pace. I had a great start taking less than one minute to cross the starting line and settled into a comfortable sub 7 minute mile pace for the first half of the race. The next 10 K, I struggled to hold on to my pace but was in striking distance of my goal. At the 30 K mark (18.6 miles), my good friend Bob Dalton – the top 55 to 59 year old runner in Atlanta wrote, “then the gorilla jumped on your back, you hit the wall, and the mine caved in on you all at once!!!” Well Bob, it wasn’t that bad but I loved your description. To be fair to Bob and to let everyone know the quality guy he is, he continued to write, “Hey, just remember, it’s the effort that counts. Congratulations on another Boston and giving it your ALL / 110%. That’s all anybody could ask for. Be proud, you earned it!” (Thank you Bob!)













Yesterday’s Boston Marathon was all about the journey. I came off the start on Monday knowing it was a perfect day and thinking I could make my goal. Many have analyzed my performance and came up with the obvious conclusion – I went out too fast. However, I have a different perspective. For the first 18 miles, I was chasing my latest dream. In fact, after heartbreak hill, I still felt I might be able to pick up the pace and run sub-sevens. If I had used conventional wisdom and started out at a more reasonable 7:10 pace, I would have been defeated at the first mile. This way, I was still living my dream for at least 20 miles.

More importantly, the 26.2 mile one-way trip from Hopkinton to Boston has always been both a race and a celebration of life for me. Seeing the thousands of people cheering the runners as we came across the start line in Hopkinton still gives me goose bumps. Running past the 2,200 screaming co-eds at Wellesley College reminds me of one of my fondest running memories…running that same gauntlet in 2005 with my 18 year old son Andrew. Finding Nannette in the crowd at 16.8 miles and stopping long enough to give her a kiss of appreciation is something I look forward to. Finding Howie (my running buddy since 1985 and our host for the week-end) and his son-in-law Brian at mile 18 as we started up heart-break hill gave me a well needed boost. Running through the city centers of Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley and Newton that are always packed with cheering spectators creates an ongoing lift . And the highlight of the day was at mile 25. 5 as I approached the final kick to the finish. On my right side, I heard this loud booming voice screaming “Go Mike, Go Mike.” Seeing my 20 year old son Jason screaming at the top of his lungs and acting as if this was the greatest thing he had seen in a long time was all I needed to remind myself this truly was a great day. I had tears in my eyes the last half mile to the finish. It really was a celebration of life.

In the end, I came in 32 out 1,000 finishers in my age group and beat the qualifying time for next year’s race by 49 minutes.

And my final story. Last Thursday, I went on my final pre-Boston run with my Tuesday/Thursday running buddies - Calvin, Howard, Carey and Jack. As we were coming to an end of our 7 mile run, Howard spotted a five dollar bill on the street and yelled for me to pick it up. Jack saw in, picked it up and gave it to me as “The Lucky Five Dollar Bill.” So I took the $5 to Boston and actually put it in my right shoe at the start – not for luck, but as a reminder of all the encouragement and support I have gotten from Calvin, Howard, Carey and Jack in our morning run. And the five dollar bill also reminded me of all the people who were tracking my progress on their cell phones throughout the day. That is why I love this sport. On Wednesday, I plan on passing that now dried five dollar bill to my friend and mentor who is dealing with his own medical challenges. Not for luck, but as a constant reminder to him of all the friends he has gathered on his journey who are surrounding him with encouragement and support for his next challenge.

As for the Master’s team, the highlight of the Masters team was the performance of our senior member, Clarence Hartley. Clarence ran a 4:26:25 at age 81. Unbelievable! By the way, for my triathlon friends, the winner in that age group for women was our friend, Sister Madonna Buder, 80 years old at 5:01:05. Malcolm Campbell who just joined the ranks of the masters team ran a 2:42:22 and was the 247th male finisher. Special congratulations to Scott Boylan and George Shaak who both ran Boston PRs (3:15:50 and 3:15:52)