Thursday, October 30, 2008



World Series in the bag...Congrats to the Phils. Joe Maddon, the Rays manager made an interesting comment when asked what his young players learned from the World Series experience. "Experience...just the fact that a mind once stretched has a difficult time going back to its original form. I've always like that. Our minds have been stretched. Everything about us has been stretched. I don't think our guys are ever going to be satisfied going home in October again"

I thought that was a great comment. Think back to your journey to a stronger, leaner, faster racing machine. When you started, what did the prospect of a short little sprint triathlon seem like to you??? You did it. Then, you set your sights on a bigger goal. Its unlikely you would ever be satisfied with simply swimming a short distance, biking a bit and maybe running a 5k to finish up. But you have stretched your mind... you have lengthen the possibilities.
I remember my first long race, 1976, living in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There was an 8 mile race on fire trails in the Black Hills. Might as well have been 100 miles, it seemed so long. But that race gave way to Half full marathons... to 1985 when I began the point of doing multiple Ironman Distance races. Doesn't seem impossible. The mind stretched.

Gotta tip my hat to Joe Maddon for that statement. Gotta love that guy, looking like Buddy Holly with those horn rimmed glasses and calling guys "dude". I like his style.

This week, one of our blogging buds, Wes is doing Ironman Florida. I know when he got into the sport, he experienced the trepidations that come with tackling a sport. Can I do this??? How much will I have to train??? Will I drown swimming in open water??? Those kinda fears... ...and now we fast forward to Wes tackling an Ironman. And when he crosses the finish line he will rejoice and take it all in... But he built up the belief in his mind that he could do it by stretching the seeing the possibilities where others might see a brick wall. Good Luck Wes!!

A few months back I wrote of Cleveland Area legendary triathlete Darryl Kollai's sudden death due to a heart attack. You might recall his son, Dr. Eric Kollai also raced tris. Here is an article from the Honolulu Advertiser about Eric prepping to get back into racing to honor his dad. It wasn't just any race too... It was XTERRA!!!! Thanks to Michael Tsai of the Advertiser.

Dr. Eric Kollai, an emergency physician at Kaiser Hospital in Moanalua, is one of 550 competitors expected to descend on Maui for the prestigious (and punishing) off-road event.
Considered the toughest of the 17 XTERRA Championship races, the event is composed of a 1-mile open-ocean swim, a 20-mile mountain bike leg that climbs 3,000 feet up and down Haleakala volcano, and a 7.5-mile trail run over rock, forest trails and beach.
It will be Kollai's first race since his father, Darryl, died of a heart attack on Aug. 30 at the age of 53.
Darryl Kollai was a esteemed figure in Cleveland's triathlon community, known as much for his patient, generous mentorship of young athletes as for the high level of athletic accomplishment he maintained until his death.
"He was just a go-get-'em kind of guy," Eric Kollai said. "From 6 a.m. until he went to bed at night, he was on the go nonstop. He loved triathlons and he loved bringing people in to the sport."
Darryl Kollai, a construction inspector for the Cleveland Water Department, completed his first triathlon in the 1970s after watching coverage of the Kona Ironman on TV. He helped pioneer the sport in his home state and neighboring areas, watching it as it moved from the fringe to the recreational mainstream.
He competed internationally as a member of Team USA, and remained a staunch competitor, routinely placing in the top third of races into his 50s.
Just three weeks before he died, he posted the fastest bike time in the Cleveland Triathlon, besting competitive riders more than half his age.
Darryl Kollai was finishing a 50-mile ride, a training session for yet another young triathlete, when he suffered his heart attack.
News of his death rocked not just his family, but the extended network of Midwest triathletes he had befriended in his 27 years in the sport. Within days, triathlon chat boards were filled with messages of condolence and fond memories of the fallen racer.
At his funeral, Kollai was dressed in the Team USA outfit he proudly wore for years and one of the country's pre-eminent multi-sport athletes.
Eric Kollai, who had devoted months of rigorous training in preparation for XTERRA, initially planned to withdraw from the competition. His body was ready, even after a 3 1/2-week layoff to return to Ohio, but his spirit was deeply wounded.
"It was definitely a question whether I would go through with it or not, but I think it's the best way to pay tribute to him since he had devoted so much of his life to the sport," Kollai said.
In fact, it was his father's passion for the sport that tilled the soil for Kollai's own athletic development.
"Every weekend was a vacation," Kollai said, recalling the family road trips that attended each of his father's out-of-state races.
Kollai was himself an athlete born and bred. He ran cross country and track in high school and later at Mt. Union College in Ohio. He also swam competitively for local master's clubs. Kollai's triathlon career began shortly after high school and he briefly flirted with the idea of turning pro before deciding — on his father's advice — to attend medical school instead.
Father and son competed together on several teams, and the two often talked of their respective adventures in the sport. Kollai's last conversation with his father came two days before he died. Kollai was on his bicycle, lost somewhere on the North Shore, when he reached his father back in Ohio. They talked briefly about the upcoming XTERRA race, just the second off-roader event of his career.
Kollai schedules his training session around his overnight work schedule. He'll often train before going to sleep in the morning, then again before he heads back to work.
"My dad used to run to and from work, so I knew from an early age that you have to just make time for it," Kollai said.
In memory and celebration of his father, Kollai will do his best tomorrow to abide by a legacy of lessons bequeathed to him.
"The thing I've learned from all of this is that you've got to enjoy every moment that you have," Kollai said. "I think about my dad every day and it makes me cry. But I also think about the way he lived his life, and it's like that old saying: 'It's not the years in your life, it's the life in your years.' That was my dad."
Reach Michael Tsai at

Eric finished 8th in the 30--34 age group. 3 hours and 18 minutes. It had to be emotional for him..but what a way to honor your dad!!! Remember Erics quote "Its not the years in your life, its the life in your years"

My training has been going well...hope yours has also.

Life's a Blast


Marcy said...

Isn't crazy? Starting off thinking that something like a 5k would be too hard, and now laughing about how easy it is.

UntPawGal02 said...

"Its not the years in your life, its the life in your years"... what a great quote :)


Ironically, the athletes who can stretch their minds can hardly stretch their bodies!!!

Shannon said...

I love your perspective on life. Isn't that why we do Triathlons, embracing life?

Great Quote.

Brian said...

I saw that race on tv. Looks grueling. Flat tires everywhere from the lava rocks. Some of the downhills people had to walk. Reading your blog is very motivating. Keep up the good work.

jahowie said...

You are always so positive. This was a great post. Have a great weekend!!

Rainmaker said...

It's funny - we've all gotta start somewhere. I remembe when running a mile down the street was tough.

Erin said...

I was totally rooting for Maddon's glasses to take the series.

Nice to know there's a thoughtful man behind them.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I do remember thinking that 3 miles was a long way to run. I still respect anyone who can run a 5K, but it's become part of my base fitness and no longer a stretch goal.

Trishie said...

Another great perspective from a smart guy. I remember the thrill of being able to run 3 miles without walking...

Momintraining said...

1What a great story! I love a simple 5k now and look forward to it's relaxing benefits. I have come farther than I imagined this time last year and hope to embrace more "mind stretching" goals this winter. Thanks for the motivation as always!

Formulaic said...

Great quote!

Its crazy how much life changes and your world perspective can shift.

Wes said...

Thanks for the shout out, John! and also for all the support and good vibes you shared with me on this journey. You are one rock-in dude!! I can't wait until you return to the Iron distance!

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