The text says it all.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll regret even asking this question.” – Josh Muskin – 10.17.2017 – the guy who started this website, texted me almost exactly THREE YEARS ago, from me writing this blog.
It all started with a couple of texts:
In October of 2017 I was about as far away from training for an Ironman as you could be.
I was working about 80 hours a week as Director of Restaurant Operations for a local, rapidly growing brew-pub chain. I was running two restaurants and overseeing the construction of two other ones. All at the same time.
Texts and phone calls would start from construction contractors at 7:00am, and my day would end with a variety of texts, phone calls and emails from the restaurants well after midnight.
This was seven days a week, all sleeping about 5ish hours a night, at best. Not really an ideal lifestyle for training for an Ironman. Let alone a 10k.
And personally? It gets better. I was in a toxic, and soon to be completely disastrous, long distance relationship. Any extra time I had was spent hanging with my dog, probably drinking too much attempting to ‘un-wind’.
Any real days off were spent flying out to Phoenix to see my ex. After a couple days ‘off’ (Usually on the phone attempting to defuse some other work disaster) I would then take the red-eye back to Philly, and dive right back into work. Really healthy work-life balance.
I was maybe running 3-4 days a week. If I was lucky. I had not done a bike ride longer than an hour in about 4-5 years at that point. So when Josh mentioned later in that text chain, to the effect of, “would you want to do an Ironman with me?”
My answer was a simple, “Fuck. No.”
But I told him I would two things:
- I would be there on the day he did his Ironman. No matter what.
- I would pass along all the tips, tricks, lessons learned, and advice I had gathered over the years of running and road cycling.
Starting in middle school, I found myself riding my bike everywhere. It was my first real form of freedom, long before I had a driver’s license. In the summer of 2001, I was 13, and I went with a group, on a six-day, 180-mile, camping and bike trip from Cumberland, Maryland, to Washington D.C. All on a $20 mountain bike that my parents picked up at garage sale a couple years prior.
I was hooked.
I came back from that trip and just kept riding. Going further and faster everyday with zero clue of any training. I would just go riding for a couple hours exploring the back roads outside Philadelphia.
I would either ride that beautiful mountain bike (that to this day, I have ZERO clue, what type of bike it was. It had no proper labels or markings) or my dad’s Benotto road bike that was WAY older than me, but it was the right size.
I was extremely lucky in the fact that my parents were very supportive of my new hobby, despite its obvious dangers… You know CARS.
It hurts getting hit by a car. Trust me.
And I happen to have an Uncle Pat.
What is an Uncle Pat? He is my mom’s brother and just so happened to also fall in love with cycling at young age. Long before Lance Armstrong or even Greg LeMond etched their names into American cycling lore he was riding in road bike races, large group rides, and was obsessed cycling
In the late 90’s he moved his family out to Denver for a new job and kept riding. He would do events like the “Triple Bypass” A gorgeous bike ride through the Rockies that is 118 miles long with more than 10,000 feet of climbing, over three large mountain passes.
Oh yea, it maxes out at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. That is higher than any mountain pass in the Tour de France.
Try doing your hardest spin class, while breathing through a straw, for 6 hours. That is what it is like riding at those altitudes. Have fun. The dude could ride.
It was a true stroke of luck to have such a close family member that could help guide me, support me and give me a ton of advice as I dove headfirst into road cycling and running.
My freshman year of high school in 2002, three huge things happened in my life:
- I started running track. Kicking off seven straight years of running races around ovals.
- My parents gave me my first road bike. A brand-new Fuji Ace, that my brother still has.
- That summer I did my first road bike race. And I finished! Dead last.
At my second bike race a week later, the Lemon Hill Criterium in Philadelphia, I finished third. This was fun! Again, I was hooked.
Throughout high school I just kept riding and running. Cycling was my first love. Over the summer, I would spend hours on my bike, riding hundreds of miles a week. On the weekends I would drag my mom and sometimes my uncle all over the middle of no-where PA to different road bike races.
I spent the school year running. A lot. Cross country, winter track and outdoor track, all with different coaches. (That is a story for another time) While I loved cycling more, by the beginning of my senior year though it was clear that I could run in college.
Cycling in college is at best is a club sport. While I did very well racing I did not have the time cycling really requires, or the freak level Lance Armstrong like talent. (Beyond his doping. That is a whole other rabbit hole I could talk about for hours)
I graduated high school and went off to run track and cross country at York College, where I met Josh Muskin.
College Running – The Meat Grinder
Distance running in college is an 11-month long grind. It is not friendly to your body. Maybe you get a couple weeks off in late May into early June. It chews you up, spits you out, and leaves you leaning over almost vomiting. Everyday.
I also had a different distance coach every season, for four years..
Not ideal. To say the least.
It is like getting a new boss every year. Each with their own genius four-year plan or lack thereof. Then it would be scrapped and restarted again, by someone else with a completely different plan and philosophy. It was extremely frustrating and painful.
I went through about every injury you could imagine short of breaking a leg or tearing a major ligament in college. To cap it off I went through a complete mental and physical burn out mid-season my junior year.
After the season my body eventually just gave up, and I legitimately could not run. My body would just shut down and not let me run for a couple weeks, no matter what I did. Ultimately I had to stop doing anything athletic for about two months, until my body could recover and I could start running again.
I do look back with fond memories.
I wouldn’t trade running in college for anything. But it completely burned me out from running for some time.
Josh as one by best friends and roommates saw all of it.
During college cycling took a back seat. Despite the fact that I had put together a new road bike that was worth about 10 times more than the 94 Dodge Caravan I was driving around. I rode here and there but it was by no means a priority.
After graduating May of 2010, my career, life and so many other things took precedence over running or riding. While I would run intermittently doing some 5k’s, and even a couple half marathons.
Cycling almost completely faded away. Starting in 2011 for a variety of reasons, I did not pedal a bicycle, indoor or outdoor for about five years.
“Just gotta get you some flippers or something.”
In September of 2018, I watched Josh complete his Ironman. It was unreal.
I have participated in about 1,000 running and cycling races all over the U.S., but just witnessing an Ironman in person was easily one of the most inspirational feats I have ever seen in person.
I cannot describe what it is like watching all the participants, from all walks of life, and all over the world complete 140.6 miles of activity. Taking them anywhere from 9 to 15+ hours! It is nothing short of awe inspiring.
After witnessing his triumph the thought crept into the back of my mind.. What if..
Ever since high school people have asked if I ever thought about doing a triathlon. I always shrugged it off. I barely had time to run enough, and ride enough, but now you want me to swim too! No thanks!
Other’s thought about me doing a triathlon, far more than I ever thought about it.
Like Josh had texted me three years ago. I just need some flippers.. Is that allowed?
Last year, I was in a much better place than in 2017, with different, less stressful and time-consuming job, and in a better space personally to attack some new goals. Last November I ran my first marathon and ran a 2:56 that should qualify me for Boston in 2021.
Who knows if that will happen. Thanks COVID.
While it was the first time, I completed a marathon, it was not my first attempt. I had signed up 3-4 times for marathons in the past. I would either bump down to the half closer to race day, or just not do it at all.
Over the last couple of months, the itch of some even bigger goals has come back. I mean what else do you think about stuck at home with your dog quarantining?
Josh’s website has inspired thousands to take on their Ironman aspirations and achieve them. Why not me?
Just Add Water
Because an Ironman is hard. I know this intimately.
Did you read all the shit above? That hurt.
I’ve been burned out, severely injured, hit by cars, all sorts of things in the pursuit of endurance athletics. I know what is required.
Early morning workouts followed by a workout later in the evening after working all day. Then falling asleep on the couch, because the body will be screaming, “I am exhausted.”
Do it again. And again. For a year.
And none of it is guaranteed.
Just by training, you do not magically receive a ticket to the finish line. No. Only by your own force of will, thousands of hours of work, an amazing support system and some dumb luck, do you get to the end goal. In any endeavor.
But, just as Peter Bromka said in his brilliant blog, Burn The Boat, “The pursuit of an audacious goal is was worthy as a lifestyle I can imagine.”
I can’t imagine not going after something audacious.
Let’s Light this Candle
I texted Josh a couple months ago:
I find the picture even more timely as we go into the colder, darker, and usually rainier fall and winter in the northeast. Fun..
An Ironman. It is time.
These types of goals require the best of us and draw out an inner fortitude from the deepest part of our souls, at the hardest moments. I think that is why we chose them
Or maybe because my dog wants me out of the apartment more?
I am aiming for the Phoenix Ironman in November of next year. No, the ex is long gone from that city, but Arizona in November is gorgeous.
It gives me more time to prepare, train, and train some more. I do not take this endeavor lightly. It will require thousands little steps along the way, to even dream of completing it.
For the biggest goal is just off in the distance, a bit further to the west of Phoenix. I almost dare not think of it, because I understand how absolutely, insanely difficult it is to get there.
Typing this alone give me goosebumps.
There is it is, just sitting there in the back of my mind. A goal that requires a damn near perfect yearlong build up and flawless execution come race day. All in the pursuit to do qualify to another Ironman that is harder and is almost mythical in the very real pain it doles out..
Follow along! I’ll be posting, and blogging about this, as I go through this process. Josh and I have some big plans with more podcasts and articles in the works!
Email me: Kevin@JoshMuskin.com My IG: @Klove_Training