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    Life is rough, becoming a full time athlete!

    I could be sitting at my desk in Chicago working on a huge technology implementation. I could be taking the brown line ďELĒ to the office everyday and coming home 12 hours later. I could be living for the weekends and willing them to come when it is only Monday afternoon (a horrible case of ďthe MondaysĒ). However, none of those 3 things is true, thank God and thank Degree.

    Thank God and thank Degree? I am probably one of only 3 people in this world that has ever even considered uttering those words. Iím sure Steve Katai said it last year, and now Michelle Eleby and myself are saying it this year. When Degree showed up at my door back in May to surprise me and tell me I had won the Degree Everyman Ironman contest, I was completely elated. I didnít stop smiling for about 3 days (Iím not kidding)! I knew what the official prize included, but had no idea what to really expect on a day to day basis once I moved out to California.

    I knew the distances associated with each leg of the Ironman race, and I knew it was an all day affair. Back in high school, I was a runner, so I was not completely overwhelmed by the last leg of this challenge (of course, Iíve never run after doing these other sports). Until I got out here, I hadnít swam more than a few laps in a pool, so the 2.4 mile swim in the OCEAN really seemed intimidating. I mean, even when Iím in a lake and I canít see what is beneath me I get a little freaked out. The 112 mile bike ride was kind of an incomprehensible distance. That is more than the 106 miles the Blues Brothers have to go at the end of the movie to get to Chicago!

    However, meeting with the guys at and having them break it down into manageable pieces has made it all seem realistic. Seeing a program drawn up that has us building miles and working on technique before moving onto more intense workouts makes perfect sense. About two weeks ago, when Huddle and Roch first went over some drills with us in the pool, my body just wouldnít do what they wanted it to. I understood the words that were coming out of their mouth, but it felt awkward and wrong. I had never before been told that I should spend most of my time on my side when doing the freestyle stroke.

    Then, yesterday, I attended my first Masters class at the Boys and Girls Club and I made it the full hour! It was awesome! Donít get me wrong, I was exhausted afterward, but I can feel the technique is coming along just fine. This morning we did a 2 hour bike and capped it off with a 20 min T-run, and it felt great! Body surfing at Fletcherís Cove on a regular basis with Bob Babbitt and Katai is helping me get used to the ocean too!

    Weíre only two weeks into this adventure, and Iím already having the time of my life. Everyday as I lay in the sand at Moonlight Beach I think of what I would be doing had it not been for this contest, and I smile to myself. Thank God and thank Degree. I already knew the final goal, but now I know (1) where I am; and more importantly (2) what Iím going to do to get where I need to be.

    -Colin Barr, July 14