In an 15-16 month time period my father was diagnosed and ultimately lost his battle with leukemia, my daughter Isabella passed away and my wife was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with our son Jaden. These events shaped me. They led me to a life of endurance sports and charity. They led to the belief that blessings come out of the worst of times and now they have led me to the 2017 Ironman World Championships.
It is hard to believe this will be our 9th year. Time flies. A lot of progress has been made in the fight against cancer over those years but the road ahead is still a long one. Friends and family continue to receive life changing and perhaps life ending diagnoses. That is why we keep fighting and keep raising money. This year I will be interviewing soon to represent Team in Training at the 2017 Ironman World Championships. I wrote about it here. If I am successful, the funds raised here will go towards my $130,000 goal. That will leave a long long way to go but it will be a start. For now, we hope you join us and add a little spice to game day.
In case you have never participated in a Super Bowl Pool..........it is very easy. Each pool has 100 boxes that are assigned a number for each team in the Super Bowl. For each $20 box you buy, you will be randomly assigned two numbers........one for the AFC team and one for the NFC team. Using last year as an example, you may have been assigned a 4 for Carolina and a 0 for Denver. If this were the case you are rooting for any score that has Carolina ending in a 4 and the Broncos ending with a zero (Carolina 24 - Denver 10, Carolina 24 - Denver 0, Carolina 14 - Denver - 30, etc, etc, etc).
The pool is a great way to add some excitement to the Super Bowl. As always, half of the pool will be distributed to the winners and half will go towards finding a cure for cancer via a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Based off the $20 per box entry fee, $1,000 will be donated to charity and $1,000 will be split as follows:
1st Quarter = $125
Halftime = $250
3rd Quarter = $125
Final Score = $500
The Super Bowl will be held on February 5, 2017. Last year we sold out 3 pools and this year we are working on our 2nd one as I write this post. It would be amazing to match last year but we are grateful for everything whether we do or do not.
To recap the rules:
* 100 Boxes per pool
* $20 per box to play
* We randomly place you in a box on a 10x10 grid. Each box contains two numbers - one for the AFC champion and one for the NFC champion. If the numbers match the score at the end of each quarter you win! Just to be clear, we literally randomly place your name in the grid and then randomly pull numbers for the grid. It takes a while but assures every aspect of each grid is by chance.
How to pay:
1) Email Lori Jomsky or myelf (we can DM you our email addresses if need be) how many boxes you would like. The more you buy the more chances to win and fight cancer. You can also reach out via FB or Twitter @lj3000 (Lori) and @run2savelives (me)
2) Give Money directly to Chris or Lori if you happen to know us IRL
3) Mail a check payable to Lori Jomsky (so we can divide the money for charity/winners): 4211 Via Entrada, Newbury Park, CA 91320
Thank You!!!! We hope 2017 is off to a great start for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!
UPDATE: I WAS CHOSEN!! YOU CAN READ THAT POST HERE
been a lot going on in my head lately and I believe I might better collect
those thoughts if I attempt to put them down on paper. I have applied to represent Team in Training
at the 2017 Ironman World Championships next October. Last year there were 3 entries available
nationwide. This year there might be
less……….might be more. I will interview
with Team in Training next month but that is not why my mind is
pre-occupied. I trust the process and I
trust Team in Training. I am confident
they will choose the person or persons that will best help us get closer to a
cure. If I am not chosen, I will
certainly be disappointed but that will not take away from what I have
accomplished to date and it will not change my feelings of sincere gratitude
towards Team in Training for eternally changing my life. If I am chosen, however, I will be ecstatic
and petrified all at the same time.
“Always Do What You Are Afraid To Do”
conversation with my Mom goes something like this:
Me: I have
applied to participate in the Ironman World Championships for 2017.
Really???!!!!! I was so scared watching
you at Ironman Florida. I am not sure if
I can handle watching another one.
was no reason to worry in Florida. You
absolutely should be worried about Ironman Kona. It scares the sh*t out of me!
Mom: Why do
Me: That is
many subparts to the answer (which unfortunately for you I might detail) but at
the highest level I want to participate in Kona because it absolutely scares
me. It is such a grand event in the
world of endurance sports and it is a grand event in the world of Team in
Training. As such, failure has a greater
cost and fear of failure grows exponentially.
I have completed 4 Ironman distance events to date. Kona is different. I have raised a lot of money for Team in
Training. Kona is different. I have seen success but what does failure on
the final stage mean? Is it what you
will be remembered for? Will people look
past your one failure and remember all the good you did? Will I, myself, be able to look past failure
and remember all the things I accomplished?
What will your family think? What
will your friends think? I honestly do
not know the answers to these questions but I welcome the opportunity to find
them out and I will give it all I have to be successful for I will be all that much stronger of a person for having given it a shot:
"The miracle isn't that I
finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
As a coach
for Team in Training, I always talk about the journey to race day being so much
more important than the actual race.
When you are out on the course………no matter the distance…….it will be the
memories you made prior to race day that invade your thoughts. It will be the hard work, the tough workouts,
the fear, the doubt and the stories you heard along the way that occupy your
mind out on the course. My journey has
been a long one………….I will need every bit of the 140.6 miles to think about my
road to Kona.
part of this journey actually begins as a teenager sitting in front of a
television with my best friend……..my Dad.
It was 1982. Her name was Julie
Moss. If you witnessed this race 34
years ago, you will never forget it. She
was leading the race by 20 minutes starting the marathon. That is a mammoth lead as Ironman events go
but over the course of the next 26.2 miles, her body would deteriorate. She would ultimately lose the ability to stay
on her feet as the finish line was in view just ahead of her. She would keep getting up. She would keep falling down. She would ultimately be passed with literally
yards to go. She did not win on that day
but she continued to crawl until crossing the finish line. It was unbelievable and one of those moments
that can forever change you.
of this was transpiring, I was a high school cross country and track athlete. I was decent.
For not having been in the sport
of running for long, I could knock out a 10K in 36 minutes and I helped my team
out on the cross country course. That
being said, I watched the 1982 Ironman World Championship thinking you had to
be insane to even attempt such a feat and despite some personal running
success…………I remember clearly thinking this event was beyond me. While that might be a normal thought process
for a 16 year old (Chris McCormack excluded), my thought process would be the
same 22 years later when stumbling across the doorstep of Team in Training. Thankfully my time with this same organization
taught me about self imposed limits and how to push past them:
"What we can or cannot do, what
we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true
capability. It is more likely a function
of our beliefs about who we are."
“What we could not do yesterday has no
impact on what we can do today”
part of this story is the one many of you are familiar with. It is why I ever started writing at this
blog. You can read all of my earlier
posts but it started in 2002 when my father was diagnosed with leukemia.
My Dad several days before becoming an Angel
He would fight until January 2004 when cancer
would win their battle. During the 15
months my Dad fought to stay alive, my daughter Isabella passed away. Shortly
after my father lost his fight, my wife was diagnosed with cancer while
pregnant with my son Jaden. She would win
her battle this time and again when it returned 5 years later. This part of the journey is what defined
me. To be honest, I think this part of
the story created me. It woke me up to
my potential. It was a tough time.
My wife winning the 1st of 2 battles
Cancer took a lot from me. It has taken a lot from my friends. It has taken a lot from the world. What cancer did not expect, however, is for
me to fight back. For a brief moment
after cancer took my father, after God
took Isabella as an Angel and after it tried unsuccessfully to take my wife, I
curled up in ball. I was defeated but
only for a moment. After that, I stood
up in strength and started fighting back.
I started making a difference in the fight against cancer. I started changing my life and the lives of
others all the while trying to honor some promises I made to my Dad, daughter
second leg of the journey, I accomplished some amazing things. Once my father
was in the terminal stage of his fight, I moved back east to be with my parents
until the end. During this time, I felt
helpless. There was nothing I could do
to change things. I tried my best to
keep my Dad occupied and to make him laugh. We managed some good memories in
those final months but I always felt I needed to do more so I came up with the
idea to run a marathon in his honor.
Even when I was a solid high school runner, the thought of running a
marathon instilled a great deal of fear in me.
My father was the kind of soul that looked for opportunities to stare
fear in the face so I thought this was a meaningful tribute. This is when I found Team in Training by
accident………or perhaps God escorted me through the doors of that small running
shoe store on Hilton Head Island. The
owner of the store was a coach for Team in Training. Not only could I run a marathon but I could
raise money to fight back. Now that I
knew there was an avenue to honor my father, I was off and running. That introduction led to my first marathon
which led to my first Century Ride which led to my first Ironman which led to
coaching for Team in Training so that others might experience the joy of
accomplishing more than they thought possible………so that others could fight back
for their loved ones. I have fundraised
for 13 events. Twelve were for Team in
Training and one was the 2014 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year
campaign which launched We Will Find a Cure.
I am not sure the exact total of funds I have raised over these events
but it is somewhere around $250-260,000.
As a coach, my Westside team has raised millions of dollars to help us
find that cure and many of the people I coached have gone on to do amazing
things. It is my legacy, if you will, and fills me with great pride.
While I am proud of all these
accomplishments, I am truly the blessed one to have been granted the
opportunity and ability to participate in these events. Many of my favorite memories are wearing
purple as part of this amazing organization……either crossing a finish line or
coaching on the course somewhere in the country while others realized their
dreams and potential. People often say to me that Team in Training should be
grateful to me for my accomplishments. I
honestly never feel this way…….not for a split second. My story of loss made me
who I am…….I was born out of the trying times but without Team in Training
there would be no platform to realize my potential. There are not enough years in my lifetime to
repay Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for what they have
To spend a
little more time on Team in Training and perhaps provide a little more detail,
my strategy as a participant has been to build from event to event and show
progression so that I was putting myself on the line while asking for donations
one more time. To leap to the conclusion, it is this progression coupled with
the third and final part of my story (detailed below) that makes Kona the
important final piece to this puzzle. I
started with a marathon. Next I signed
up for the Century Ride without even owning a bike. I followed that by signing up for an Ironman
without ever having swam one lap in a pool in my life. Given this, it goes without saying that the
Ironman was the first triathlon I ever signed up for. It may not have been smart but it was strategic
because I could write about my insanity when asking for critical
donations. I did not always outdo myself
from event to event. Sometimes I simply changed the story and trained for a
friend’s loss versus my own………. sometimes I did both as with 216.8 Miles For
Ryan which was my last fundraising event for TNT. Ryan was the son of Katie Mattingly who is an
amazing lady that made her way to one of the marathon teams I coached. Ryan is a survivor with a complicated story
and I came up with this crazy idea to do three events on his behalf. I
completed a marathon, my first 50 mile ultra marathon and closed out with my 4th
Ironman at Coeur d’Alene in 2013………all adding up to 216.8 miles. Shortly after this 4th Ironman
(June 2013) and shortly before Sarah Weston Clark, friend and amazing LLS
member, recommended me for the 2014 LLS Man of the Year campaign (December
2013), my athletic journey took a turn for the worse which is the subject of
the third part to this story below.
Before getting there, however, it is important to talk about the Man of
the Year campaign. As I mentioned
earlier, Sarah Weston Clark recommended me to participate in this
competition. Truth be told, she not only
recommended me but stood by my side the entire way. She shared in my joy, my
fears and stood by me when the tears started to flow during the 10-week
Man & Woman of the Year top fundraisers
I am digressing but I will
forever be grateful for Sarah believing in me enough to throw my name in the
mix. It was a life changing experience
that was really difficult to sign my name to………tied to the same fear of failure
that would accompany a Kona nomination.
Ultimately, it was the enormity of my fear that prompted me to accept
the nomination. My Dad would have done
it. I had to. Besides that, I had coached hundreds, if not
thousands, of people to stare fear in the face and shove it out of the
way. It was time for me to do the
same. I agreed to participate, some
amazing people stood by my side and we won having raised $126,000 in 10
weeks. You might look at this resume and
think it is enough. For me, there are
still people suffering, I am still breathing, cancer is still breathing and
circumstances changed that make Kona quite the challenge for me. I am very afraid of it. I think about it in my sleep. I think about it all day with every step I
take. This leads to the final part of
mentioned, Ironman Coeur d’Alene was my 4th Ironman. It was only supposed to be a training race
before making a strong run at a great time for a to be determined 5th
race. Once my body recovered from this 4th
event, I began to train again for number five.
I was in great shape. I train by
heart rate and I was at the peak of my life.
I was confident but I guess I should have known from my earlier story
that life can change in an instant.
2013. Most of my Ironman workouts were
in the dark or a lit pool late at night.
Ironman requires hours of work but I always commit to take as little
time away from my family as possible.
This unfortunately meant training alone most of the time but the perk
was being able to get to all of my kids events.
On this particular Saturday, I got a later start than normal although I
was still one of the first people to hit the streets. I was only riding about 25 miles so I started
on a course I had traveled literally hundreds of times before. I rode through Marina del Rey, across Ballona
Creek into Playa del Rey and crested the hill on Vista del Mar that led to a
view of the ocean to my right. It would
now be only 2 miles until my left turn on Imperial Highway to head into
Westchester Parkway. Because it was
early enough, there was minimal traffic and minimal cars lining the street that
would later be packed with beachgoers.
One pickup truck. That is the
only car I saw and the only one needed to disrupt the day and my life
since. I always scan car windows to
determine if someone is inside that could cause some harm. All looked clear but I was wrong. In an instant, the door flung open too fast
for me to make an adjustment. I slammed
into the door of his large Sanford & Son steel tank, flew about 10 feet and
landed in the street facing the wrong direction. I remember three things: the driver dropping
an F bomb, some horrible pain in my left arm/shoulder and staring at a Volkswagon
quickly approaching me as I lie in the street.
From there, other riders stopped, cars stopped, police and fire trucks
showed up along with an ambulance and, of course, my family as they had been
There is no need to relive
the entire day. I was in pain. I hoped I would heal quickly. I managed to only miss one week of coaching
the 2014 Fall Westside Marathon team although I probably should have missed
more. At one point I thought all that
was lost was my bike………an amazing bike at that.
I had a Specialized Shiv that was relegated to a trash dumpster. Time would prove that the bike was not the only
one to suffer long term damage. I would
spend hours and hours in physical therapy for my injuries. In time, my right knee would give in tied to
the impact from the accident and I would have surgery.
Pre-surgery note to the surgeon
In more time, the tendon in my right foot
would give in and I would have to decide on whether to have another
surgery. This decision was important for
two reasons. The first is that it forced
me to withdraw my application with Team in Training for the 2016 Ironman World
Championships. That was a very tough day for me but there was no way I was
going to risk taking someone’s slot when I might not be healthy enough to
participate. The second reason this
decision was important was tied to timing.
I proceeded ASAP with the surgery with the sole intention of giving
myself a chance at this 2017 opportunity.
That is my tendon. You can see the tear.
2 weeks post surgery. 2 hours pre blood clot drama
As it turns out, withdrawing my application was a smart move. Complications resulted from the surgery. I developed blood clots which significantly
delayed my recovery. Even as I write
today more than 3 years later, I train with a great deal of caution. I have had setback after setback but am
finally making some progress (last week as of writing this I trained over 170 miles which is a great sign). This being
said, the road ahead will be full of land mines. I can hammer out training on the bike and in
the pool but will strategically run the least amount possible to finish the race. There have even been days when my right foot
creates challenges on the bike………..sometimes I cannot get out of the seat to
pedal or have to use my left leg for most of the effort. One of many things, none of which I can
really pinpoint with accuracy, can trigger a flare up in my foot. It will eventually pass but I proceed with
caution on a daily basis all in the spirit of protecting my chance at crossing
the 2017 Kona finish line. My current
life is having to practice everything I have ever taught. Daily I have to push past doubt. Daily I have to push past fear. Daily I must believe with my heart when my
mind tells me to give up.
“If you can find a path with no
obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.”
would be full of obstacles. My goal
would be to raise $130,000 as it would be a personal fundraising record for
me. That is quite a significant amount
of money and I will need an army of support to be successful. Will people help me yet again? I honestly do not know the answer but I must
remain hopeful. Will I be healthy enough
to finish 140.6 miles? I honestly do not
know the answer to this question either.
I am damn certain I will have setbacks.
I am certain I will have to overcome injuries and I am certain there
will be many times that $130,000 seems out of reach. If I get past these
obstacles, there is the heat. I am
old which means I know my body well and it does not
respond well to heat. My heart rate is
unbelievably higher in heat than the moderate temperatures of SoCal so I will
have to train differently and race accordingly which means slow down.
My first Ironman finish was in 100+ heat. I barely survived that day and barely crossed
the finish line in time. For now, I can
only hope I get the opportunity to face these fears. If I do, I will give it
everything I have to be successful and I can only pray that you guys will stand
by my side yet again. Either way, thank
you to everyone that has been a part of my journey. I would have accomplished literally nothing
without people stepping up time and time again to join me in battle.