Until a few years ago, I would never have considered myself an "athlete." That is, I've never been paid to participate or competed professionally in sports. Sure, I played basketball and ran track briefly in K-12, played intramurals in college and have participated in variety of community leagues for softball and volleyball. But, that was all recreational and, frankly, I was never very good. To give you an idea, it was not uncommon to wake up Sunday morning for softball with a raging hangover only to be swept by the last place D-division teams. Clearly, it was all for fun.
Until a few years ago. Bored with my current routine, and on a whim, I registered for my first triathlon along and then a marathon two months later. At the time, I didn't really know how to swim. Perhaps I could have saved my own life, and possibly yours, in a drowning situation, but I certainly couldn't traverse the pool without swallowing water. I owned a bike, but not a great one. And, at 6'4" 220lbs, running was never my 'thing.' But, I put in the time training and, since that time, I've completed a bunch of marathons, several Olympic-distance triathlons and half-Ironman distance triathlons, and two full Ironman distance triathlons in Madison, WI, and Chattanooga, TN. I am an Ironman. Or I was...
I finished the Ironman in 2015 - and my body and fitness reflect how much time has elapsed. So, in order to relive the glory of my first Ironman, I registered for my second Ironman in Chattanooga, TN, in 2017. I'm kidding about the 'relive the glory' part because there truly is way more pain in training than there is glory. But, I do like the intensity of the training and I really do love the sport. The second Ironman was about 30 minutes faster than my first, however, I had some bike issues and think I can do better. So, with two Ironman races under my belt, I've committed to train a bit more seriously with the goal of improving my time by another 30 to 60 minutes (for me, 'winning' isn't even remotely within reach).
So that's where I am. It's January 2018, and I've started training in earnest. At the beginning of the Ironman training program I will invest about 10 hours per week, and at peak training I will invest 30-40 hours. Now, granted, when I say 'invest' I don't mean physical activity. There is a lot of time spent around training. For example, in order to 'properly' train, there is often travel involved to bike courses and clinics. And, sometimes we attend classes and workshops. In the end, I would say that my estimates are relatively conservative in terms of time investment. Training for an Ironman is no joke.
So, where is this going? As an endurance athlete, we lose time for other things in our life, so we have to prioritize. I have gotten good at finding ways to be more efficient in my daily routines. This is especially important because I have a full time job and I like to see my family and friends (and I don't want them to forget what I look like). One area that I have focused on is in personal care. As an athlete, I have a good excuse to let myself go. Even though I have a great 'excuse' for not focusing on my appearance, I'm not that kind of guy. I want to look good even as I'm on the 100th mile of a training ride or the 20th mile of training run.
That's why I am so passionate about Raw Materials products - they fit my lifestyle. Take the Sport Fix Body Spray for example. When I train, I train hard. I am ALWAYS a sweaty, smelly mess when I finish. Until I spray myself with Sport Fix Body Spray. The ingredients neutralize the bacteria that causes odor. They don't 'mask' the odor - they neutralize and, thereby, eliminate it. I always have a bottle with me (in fact, the photo is from Steelhead 70.3 Ironman last August). So, when I finish a long ride or a run, I can go and grab a meal with my teammates without offending them. Also, after a shower, we often continue to sweat. If you apply Sport Fix Body Spray it will continue to neutralize long after the workout and shower are over. This is especially helpful when I train during the weekdays and go right into the office.
Another great product for athletes is the Sport Fix Soap. It's a great, natural soap, but it also removes chlorine smell from the body. Any swimmer or endurance triathlete knows that after many hours in the pool routinely, your skin starts to smell like chlorine. And, it's almost impossible to get that smell off your skin. Sport Fix Soap eliminates that smell but is not harsh on your skin.
Finally, everyone should have a Face Stick in their training bag. I'm 38 now and I'm starting to show the signs of aging. I'd love to stop aging altogether (or even reverse it) but that's not an option. The best I can hope to do is slow the aging process. One way to do that is to take care of my skin and that means protecting it from the sun. Specifically, I need to protect my face. The Face Stick goes on easily and, most importantly, it stays on. Through sweat and even swimming, the Face Stick protects me from the sun. It truly is one of my essential training products.
I am an athlete now. I don't think anyone can argue with that. At this point, though, I am focusing on better optimizing my routines so I can continue to train and compete without disrupting other areas of my life, including family and work. I'll report back as my training progresses.