las vegas

From San Diego to Chicago (and into the Polar Vortex....)

My time in San Diego was not only amazing, but exactly what I needed to do for myself. I have no regrets about leaving my job in Tampa and spending 6 months in San Diego working as a personal trainer, helping launch a business, and making some amazing friends. What I did realize, however, was that a part of me felt like I was treading water--not making progress down my life path. Granted, while every single thing that I  did was, in fact, making progress with my self, internally and externally, I knew that it couldn't last forever. After getting confirmation on Christmas eve, I have taken a new job and moved back across the country, this time to Chicago!

This called for another epic road trip, only this time my dad flew out, helped me pack, and made the trip with me. Literally, everything I own fit in (and on top) of my car. My first reaction to this was "wow, everything I own can fit in my car!" Followed closely by my second reaction "why do I have so much shit??"

Loaded up

After an awesome surprise going-away-get-together with some friends and saying goodbye to my awesome roommate, my dad got everything packed in one day and shoved off: First stop, Vegas!

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We spent the next 3 days basically just hanging out in Henderson, NV, right outside Las Vegas, with my dad's best friend and my Godfather, Scott, whom I've gone and hung out with man times over the past year. It was really nice to just relax, ride some bikes, and enjoy my last moments of warm weather. Scott and I got an epic ride in, riding 43 miles all the way to Boulder City, with 2,300 feet of climbing and getting to see some gorgeous desert scenery.

Rockin the W

It seems that, indeed, my Dad and Scott are actually old dudes. The highlight of the weekend for me was watching them just glued to the TV screen for 3 hours watching Downton Abbey. It was hysterical. I, instead, went down to the strip and tried my luck and some roulette.

After Vegas, we got back on the road and headed for our next stop, which was Grand Junction, Colorado. One of my goals on the trip was to stop at as many random places as possible to commemorate the journey.  The first of those: The giant soda cans in Utah!

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I don't know why they exist, but they're awesome

At the same stop as the cans, we figured it was a good place to get some lunch. Little did we know what some good Utahan cooking consisted of! We checked out a place called "Mom's Diner", a sure classic, right? We lasted about 5 minutes in there... My dad, a guy who just can't be rude, decided to order a scone so that we didn't have to order a meal. It turns out a "scone" means something else in Utah...

It was so. bad.

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He tried to eat it but couldn't stomach it. I hid it some napkins and we snuck out of the restaurant.

Besides it's scones, Utah is absolutely gorgeous!! You almost feel like you're on another planet.  Here are some gratuitous landscape shots:

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That night we arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado. We had left warm weather sometime long ago in Nevada... but we managed to find a great local brewery and get a great dinner. The Ale House had some really nice local brews and great collection of old cans.

Pictures of taking pictures... super meta

Great collection on vintage cans

After our quick sojourn in Grand Junction, we grabbed a great workout and headed on to Denver. This drive was, again, gorgeous. But also incredibly frightening. We hit some bad snow going over Vail Pass, at about 10,000 feet elevation, and were driving on, or in, snow for most of the time.

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My dad, being from upstate New York, did a lot of the snow driving (and also so I could read out loud to him from different training websites about dead-lifting, glute activation, and shoulder rehab...) My favorite moment though was when we hit some bad snow and ice coming down the mountain. Traffic stopped pretty quick and my dad started pumping the brakes but it looked like we might hit the car in front of us. He yells at me "Chuck, I can't stop!" I guess I just don't get that excited, but my, very calm, response was "what the hell do you want me to do about it? Here, turn left." Luckily we got out unscathed.

We finally got into Denver where we spent 2 nights so that I could see a ton of friends I have there. You might recall, but I spent most of summer there a year and half ago and that city and the people had an incredible, life-changing, impact on my life.

The first thing I got to in Denver was meet up with an awesome girl whom I met last year and who still lives in Denver where she is going to school. We met up for dinner... and not only was it amazing to see her  maintaining the personality and liveliness that she had when I saw her last, but at our meal there was no guilt, no shame, no anxiety, nor any destructive thinking. I loved it.

The next day was literally one of the best days I've had in a long time. The first thing I did was head over to the Eating Recovery Center, where I spent the better part of 4 months, and got to sit down with my entire treatment team that I worked with during my time there. They were all doing great and it was fantastic to be able to speak with them all like friends and to let them know that, yes, I of course still have some struggles, but that everything they did for me was amazing and that I am doing great.

After that meeting, I headed up a bit north of Denver and met another, more recent friend of mine, Jeremey, for lunch. Jeremey is a trainer as well, but has recently made the switch to a more digital-publishing based role, although he still writes for sites like Menshealth.com and Greatist.com. We caught up and talked about life, fitness, writing, life goals... all that good stuff.

After that, I headed back to the other site for the ERC and met with a another member of my treatment team. This guy is someone that I can always count on to be there for when I need an ear and also knows how to help. And, usually, that "help" is just being able to say to me, "hey, I don't know what you're going through, I've never been through it myself, but know that I am here for you and I know that you're struggling." I'm hoping to collaborate a bit with in the future on some resources for males dealing with eating disorders.

Finally, I spent some time just walking around Denver before meeting a last set of friends for dinner. This couple recently just had an amazing little boy, and, no joke, he's a cutie.

Baby!

The next morning, after grabbing a workout, we shoved of across the great plains to make our way to Lincoln, Nebraska, where we planned to stay the night. This was the most difficult driving I've ever done! I've never been in wind that strong, and was petrified that the rooftop carrier was going to be blown off the car and that my bikes were going to go flying off the back! Luckily, this didn't happen, but we literally saw 18-wheeler trucks that had been blown over onto their sides from the force of the wind.

Basically a hurricane

This day was full of goofy stops. While I wanted to stop at "Pawnee Park and Recreation Center" and pay homage to one of my favorite shows, it was too dark and out of the way when we got there. However, we did stop and see the biggest ball of stamps in the world!!

Stamps!

After a thrilling morning of stamps, we decided to stop at the one and only Volkswagen Beetle Spider! When we stopped to ask for directions, the guy we talked to asked if I'd seen Cadillac Ranch, to which I was able to say "why yes I have!" (Thank you road trip to San Diego!)

It's poisonous

Once we finally got to Lincoln, we met up with a family friend whom we hadn't seen since we moved from Texas about 14 years ago

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Finally, it was a straight shot into Chicago and another full day of driving. Nothing super exciting happened that day, that I remember, except finding random British and Irish candy in a gas station in Iowa and then driving under this bridge:

Some Bridge

That night we stayed with my... Great aunt(?), my dad's aunt, I believe, who lives a bit outside Chicago and sort of gave us a home-base as we prepared to move me in, plus gave my dad a place to stay. The next morning, of course, it started to snow, to make my move-in experience perfectly "wonderful". As you may not know, I hate being cold and get cold incredibly quickly, so I'm learning the art of "bundling up"! Thank God my mom found my old snow boots from high school and sent them with my dad so that I would have them.

My new place is in a cool neighborhood right outside downtown. The move-in wasn't too hard... just cold

Brr....

But you know cures coldness? Deep Dish pizza!

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We went to Lou Malnati's and it was awesome--although, according to my roommate, and which I whole heartedly agree and wish he'd told us before we ate, the best way to order it is with the sausage crumbled and fully cooked.  Point noted for next time.

And that was it! My walk to work is less than a mile which is great, but bundling up takes me a lot longer in the morning... but it's worth it to be here!

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Making this trip with dad was amazing and makes realize that I need to spend more time with him and my whole family. It will be great to just a quick, direct flight back to DC to hang out with them.

Thanks for reading!

Updates as a Preface

It's been 4 months since I last blogged, and that's not for a lack of things to blog about, as I've certainly been busy.  I actually just got back from a 10-day trip to Ireland where my parents and I went over for a huge Feerick family reunion in our families hometown of Ballinrobe, in county Mayo, on Ireland's western coast. I saw, learned, and did so much when I was over there that I really want to share the experience and am going to break it up into 3 posts--one for each leg of the trip. But before I get into those posts (and because I'm waiting for everyone from our party to send me their pictures...), I wanted to give a quick update on everything that's been going on since I arrived here in San Diego!

I've just passed four months here and am keeping busy with my new jobs. In addition to the job which I moved out here for, I've also gotten back into Personal Training and am working for 24-Hour Fitness at one of the companies biggest and busiest gyms in the country. I am loving being back in the training game and as well as helping others, I'm learning a ton about my own training and have made a lot of adjustments to my programming and goals. With most of my racing done for the year, I'm trying to really put on some muscle and size because... well, why not?

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In the last week of July, my dad, brother, and Godfather (Dad's best friend) took a trip to the Grand Canyon! It was a crazy trip--I thought it was going to be hot desert the whole time, but I was sorely mistaken.  We went to the North rim, which is the north side of the Canyon and sits at about 8,700 feet high. It was cold and we got a daily monsoon, along with a pop-up camper that didn't have any power or water working... but it was a blast hanging out with the guys. My brother wasn't going to come but was able to at the last minute, and that reallllly saved me!  Here are some pictures from the trip:

More of the Canyon

The canyon

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Keeping fit with my little bro

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Camp

Point sublime

Red Rock Canyon

Chillin at camp

Billy-goating (scrambling up rocks)

The camping squad

The last night, we came back early (not at all because I was frozen...) and Stewart (my brother) and I had an awesome time out in Las Vegas

A few weeks later, I did a local olympic distance triathlon with one of my Wattie Ink teammates, James Adams. The race was fun and was all through the grounds of the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center which actually made it a lot more entertaining.  I have a solid race--decent swim, solid bike, and fastest run in my age group, which I'll take being that I hadn't been running much.  After this race, I cut my cardio down just a little bit and have really amped up the strength training.

I also finally got the new tattoo I've been planning for over a year now. This will be my last! A quote my dad has always told me when I am having a hard time is "Anxiety is merely another form of atheism."  I had this translated into Latin and behind the lettering I drew a rose with 5 thorns.  The rose is a family name, Rosemary for my grandma who passed last year, and Rose after my younger sister's middle name. The 5 thorns represent the 5 members of my family.

Down my left ribcage and side

This was right after the tattoo was finished so the skin was still inflamed... but now I'm thinking about shading some red on the rose just like it looks here...

Later in August, I was back in Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships with over 40 of my Wattie Ink Teammates!  I wasn't racing, just hanging out and cheering for everyone. Our pro athletes in the race did really well! Heather Jackson took second overall and Joe Gambles took third.  It was an amazing weekend hanging out with everyone. The best part was going on a ride with my godfather (who I stayed with) the day before the race. We had been planning to ride together for a while, but this trip we finally got the chance to bike through the hills of Las Vegas together!

Me and teammate Jake Steen

Heather Jackson taking second place

 

Lastly, I went to a Lil Wayne concert, featuring 2 Chainz, and T.I! T.I. has been my favorite rapper since way back in the day before he was mainstream and this was my first time to get to see him. It was a really fun concert and Lil Wayne puts on a wild performance!

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And that brings us to now--or right before the Ireland trip.  I'll post about it as soon as I have all the pictures I want!

Anyone else been to Ireland? If so, what part?

--Chuck

 

ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships

Spinning the wheels, turning the legs, and rolling the dice!

Last Saturday I raced in the International Triathlon Union Long Course Triathlon World Championships, as a member of Team USA in Henderson, NV, just outside Las Vegas!  This was a race I qualified for last year and included the best athletes from all over the world.  It was a 4k swim (2.5 miles), 120k bike (75 miles), and a 30k run (18.6 miles).  This was the farthest distance I've ever raced, and to be honest, it's been looming over my head for the last year.  I knew I would have to step up my level of swimming and get in some more long runs toward the end of this year.

Well, swimming was still tough to get in although I did get a coach to help my form.  As for my training, I was largely relying on some long workouts, but also a lot of intensity  to make up for the distance.  I also did a lot of racing in order to prepare myself as well. I raced all but a couple of weekends in October, as you know.

Additionally, I didn't realize the magnitude of this course: the 120K bike ride had more than 9,700 feet climbing, and the 30K run boasted  an additional 2,000 ft elevation gain.  Y'all, I live in Florida... Not a lot of hills!  It also was not warm--highs of only about 60 degrees and then the wind chill on top of that.

The whole ITU experience was amazing though.  I'll give you guys a quick run down without too much detail.  I arrived Wednesday morning, picked up the rental car, then drove to the packet pickup and race finish/expo location to get my packet and pick up my bike. I then loaded up on some food and headed to the host hotel which was also basically where the race began. I was a nice resort, but pretty far from the LV Strip.. (Probably a good thing)

That evening I ran in the gym then headed out for a few hills on the bike. Holy crap, I was thinking, it took me like 35 minutes to go 8 miles?  The roads are full of false flats (where you think it's flat, but it's really uphill) and crazy winds that almost blew me off the bike.  I was experiencing an incredible amount of mental stress at this point.  Even though I was going into this race with an attitude of "I just want to finish", let's be honest, that mentally DOES NOT exist within me.  If I'm going, I'm going hard.  I then went over to my the house of my Godfather, and had dinner their with their family. I hadn't seen this guy in over 20 years, but it was like we were long time friends. He is my dad's best friend and has a daughter my age.

Thursday I began by heading back to the race expo and swimming at the rec center there.  The facility was amazing and I swam in their outdoor 50m pool. After that, I headed back to the hotel and waited until the evening for the Team USA team picture. This was really cool to see all the athletes!  There were a lot, considering these were the best age groupers in the country from every age group.  There were also a number of pros there, Michael and Amanda Lovato, and the overall winner, Jordan Rapp.

After this, was the pasta dinner and pre-race briefing, as well as the Parade of Nations. I didn't eat any pasta, as I don't eat pasta, but also, at this point, I was going to eat anything I didn't prepare myself. The course briefing didn't console me at all and left me more nervous than ever... It was really cool to watch an athlete from every country in the room walk down the main aisle and hold up their country's flag. It made me realize that this race was big time,

Friday, I did my pre-race workout, picked my dad up from the airport, dropped him at my Godfather's, then went back and just chilled (and fretted) for the rest of the day. I was so incredibly excited to have my dad there.  I didn't know he was coming until a few weeks before, but honestly, this meant the world to me.

The Race:

Saturday morning came early.  I had racked my bike the day before so I would take the shuttle to the swim and go from there.  But as I was in the lobby in the morning, I heard a lot of people talking and a lot of athletes huddled by country.  I asked another USA athlete what was going on and found out... the swim was OFF!! (Can you believe my luck?)  The water was about 60 degrees and the air temperature was under 40, then the wind chill on top of that. ITU rules say that the temperature discrepancy was too great and the health of the racers was at risk.

I'll be perfectly honest, I don't know that I would have finished the swim.  Not from a fitness standpoint, but that I would have frozen to death.  I'm not really kidding.

Thus, the race started in time trial fashion, with a racer leaving in order every 5 seconds. So I bundled up and we were off!

This bike was nuts! I've never seen so much gorgeous scenery, but never ridden such a brutal course. This was harder that Wildflower!  There were basically no flats, meaning I was crawling up hills at 10mph or flying down them at over 40mph. What made this hard as well, was how cold it could get in the shade when the wind was blowing. Also, I have trouble opening some of my nutrition due to the gloves I had on and had to rely on the gels on the course.  Ugh, Hammer gels are so gross.

After 5 hours on the bike, we came back into town to where the run started.  I guess this is how an Ironman works, but the amazing volunteers grabbed my bike from me and racked it while someone ahead grabbed my transition bag for me.  I spent like a year in transition, haha.  I don't remember when I was doing, but I had to take off a number of layers.  I wore my Zensah compression socks for this whole race too, bike and run. I've never exercised in these before, but was wearing them for the warmth.  They actually felt pretty good, am I may incorporate this in racing more often.

The run consisted of 4 laps... half downhill and half uphill. I actually loved the fact that it was 4 loops- you knew exactly how far you had left to run, knew where the nutrition stops were, and had the crowds cheering you on the whole way.  The course was hard especially for me, someone who mostly runs on treadmills and barely ever runs hills lol.

2 hours and 19 minutes of running later, I crossed the finish line with a total time of 7:28:35

I couldn't believe it when I crossed the line. I wasn't as dead as I was imagining but I was done. Done done done. This was a year of stress just taken and flung from my shoulders.  Literally, I ran to my dad and gave him a huge hug as I fought back tears.  This was a pretty emotional feeling for me.

I finished 37th of 45 in my age group and in the bottom 2/3 overall.  Like I said though, I'm ok with this, considering these were the best athletes in the world.  It also gave me a lot of confidence in my training and how much BETTER I could be with better sleep, nutrition, and training.  My bike time was at the bottom of the results as well, but my run was in the top 13% which I was pleased with and I was able to average a 7:29 min/mile pace for the entire run.

So after this, I went back to my hotel and crashed right? Ha, that's not how the Feerick men roll.  My dad and drove to The Strip and checked in at our new hotel at...

...Caesar's Palace!  We changed clothes and headed out!

We started by hitting the buffet at the Bellagio and it was awesome.  For once, I let myself relax a little bit and enjoy food.  The few drinks I had in me helped too ; ) considering I rarely ever drink so they did a quick number.  Among all the other lean meats and fruit, I let myself have a little piece of pizza, some mashed sweet potatoes which I didn't know the ingredients of, and sampled a couple of different desserts!  The little carrot cake bite thing I had was amazing!

Then we went to down to New York New York and went to the Coyote Ugly bar.  Won't lie, this was fun with my dad. After that, the casino beckoned.  We didn't make any money in the slot machines and I was too tired to think straight enough for any of the card tables.  We ended up breaking even on Roulette which was a lot of fun.

Back at the hotel, we crashed hard, and 4 hours later, I was back up and on a place back east to Florida.

What a trip!  The race was amazing and getting to ball out in Vegas with my dad? Pretty unforgettable.  My birthday was on Tuesday, so the whole thing was an early birthday present!

On Monday, my mom actually came to see me in Tampa and finally unpack my apartment and move me in... there's so much room now!  It was fun to spend my birthday with her- she made dinner and made me blow out candles on my "cake"

Luckily she didn't make me eat it- it was one of the dryest, flavorless cupcakes ever, and we both agreed on that.

That's all- I'm done, I'm out!  I'm going to try and start blogging shorter and more frequently, so look forward to that!

So my coach won't let me run a marathon before the end of this year... but I did find a 30k trail run this weekend that I am stoked for!

  1. What's the most meaningful, emotional, or longest race you've ever done?
  2. Have you been to Vegas? Or, do you remember ; )?
  3. Any races coming up?
Have a great week!