KPF Atlanta to Utah to Muncie: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

Guest blogger and Walking with Walking with KPeasey of Utah athlete, Joe Guttenplan, recently competed in the Ironman 70.3 with KPF athlete Curtis Ward. The two not only competed but completed this challenging event. Below they share their thoughts about their experience. 

I was more than excited when Brent let me know that I’d be able to race with Curtis at Muncie 70.3.  Having been inspired by the Pease Brothers from the moment I was introduced to them, I was really looking forward to finally having a chance to race with another athlete. I longed to experience conquering a long distance triathlon, not as an individual, but as a team. Helen Keller wrote, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

As cliché as it sounds, the entire weekend far exceeded all expectations. It was incredible to spend time getting to know Curtis, his mom and the support crew (Brent, Mike, Jesse and Thomas). We all worked as a cohesive team to build a race plan that would work for all of us.  Since I had never raced a distance greater than a 5k while assisting another athlete, I received a significant amount of helpful coaching from everyone in the camp leading up to the start of the race.  

The weather was perfect on race day and the support team and fellow Dynamo/KPeasey fans were out in full force.  Without them, I anticipate a mighty long day. During the swim, Curtis and I made a few friends and were joined by an outgoing navigator on a kayak to help direct us through traffic. A little comic relief took place to quell the nerves, when Curtis experienced a few fellow racers, who grabbed onto his boat for a breather believing that he was a lifeguard there to help them.

The first 3/4 of the bike portion was incredible. Curtis and I received encouragement and kind words of inspiration from athletes, who were passing us on both sides of the road. At the end, it was only Curtis and myself working as a finely tuned team to get the miles in on the bike.  Curtis was a great teammate and provided both encouragement and friendly conversation to help push us through the last tiring laps. Without him I would have been toast.

Once on the run, we received emotional pats on the backs from a vast majority of the racers, as they passed us on their way back to the finish line.  I had to fix my right arm in a manner so that I was not only pushing the chair, but that I was able to give a sufficient thumbs up to acknowledge the constant positive affirmations from fellow racers. As much as I could have used that extra energy to propel us towards the end, I didn’t feel it was enough to simply nod a thank you. Thumbs up all around.

The support crew showed up on bikes at a perfect time to give us a second wind as we reached the turnaround.  Most racers had already passed us going the other way by this point, so it was great to have Thomas (and the Facebook live feed), Jesse, Mike and Brent there to cheer us on as we made our way towards the ultimate goal: the Finish Line.  I had mentioned to them that my legs were starting to give out and my pace was slowing mightily for the last four or five miles of the run.  Those last miles were a great example of what the Kyle Pease Foundation is all about.  While nobody broke out into an inspirational “Where there’s a wheel, There’s a way” tribal chant, Curtis and the boys coached and encouraged the entire way home. They willed us to the finish. While having the team there to help was incredible for the Friday setup and in both transitions, my favorite part of the race was the last handful of miles as everyone pulled together to get us to the finish line.  

There was no greater thrill than hearing the loud ovation as my teammate at the wheel, Curtis, and I rolled across the finish line. Crossing the line by myself is pretty darn amazing; crossing with my teammate is beyond description.

Curtis, a man of very few words except when he’s on the course, summed up our experience this way, “I had an unforgettable, life-changing time. The swim was fun because the other swimmers kept on bumping into me and Joe on the course and were trying to hang on to us like we were a rescue boat. The bike course was exciting to see all the other bike riders cheering us on, but the run was my favorite part because it had a food station at every mile. I may be exaggerating but I feel like we stopped to feed me 26.2 times along the way. That's where you see me with a big bag of chips, literally making it "all this and a bag of chips." 

I want to thank everyone associated with the Kyle Pease Foundation for allowing Michelle (my wife) and me to not only take part in this weekend, but for allowing us to start Walking With KPeasey in Utah.  I’ve enjoyed working with Kyle and Brent while participating in a few races in Atlanta so having the opportunity to build a new chapter in Utah to extend the mission and purpose of the Foundation in our new home is absolutely surreal. Wherever we are, Together We Wheel.  

KPF Makes History in "The Grand Daddy of Them All"

KPF Makes History in "The Grand Daddy of Them All"

The 241st birthday of the United States was historic in more ways than one as nine Push Assist teams, representing the colors of the Kyle Pease Foundation, participated in  the "Grand Daddy of them All", the iconic Peachtree 10K Road Race. 

To take you back through the history of KPF's involvement in the Peachtree, we must take you back in time to the year 2013 when Brent and I made history as the first Push Assist team to participate in this historic race. One year later, race organizers, The Atlanta Track Club (ATC) and the Shepherd Center, granted us a second bib as Brent and I were joined by Justin Knight and Brian Resutek as participants. Now in 2017, through the continued support of both ATC and the Shepherd Center our numbers have blossomed yet again. 

"As we waited to start, Matt of Infinity Yoga, turned to me and said, 'Dude, we have the whole row.' It's amazing to think that in 2013 it was just us. Now it's beyond that. It's bigger than us. It's a collective We and one we are so proud of.  Together WE Wheel!"                                     ~Brent Pease

As I've shared on several occasions, the reason this race is so special to me is because it takes place right in my own backyard on the very streets that I call my home. From the moment the starter's pistol sounds to mark the beginning of the race at Lenox Square Mall to the point where  runners make their way down Peachtree Road, through the streets of Buckhead and Midtown before finishing in beautiful Piedmont Park, the Peachtree can be summed up in four letters...H-O-M-E!

The highlight takes place as we race by the Shepherd Center, where many of the patients line the streets and cheer us on as we make our way past this incredible facility. The Shepherd Center specializes in spinal cord & brain injury rehabilitation along with medical research as the top rehabilitation hospital in the nation, so it is apparent why they cheer on the KPF athletes so feverishly. Another highlight for me is when we whisk by Piedmont Hospital, where I've been employed for many years. Patients, staff and many dear friends come out of the hospital to cheer for Brent and I, as well as our other push assist athletes. My heart swells with pride as we pass both of these top-rated facilities. 

Brent and I finished third in the men's division with a credible time of 39:18. The men's division was won by Ricardo Aranda and Matt Shechtman, while second place was awarded to Justin Knight and George Darren. The push assist women's division was won by Naomi Hicks and Carrie Smith, while the coed division was won by Aiden Jackson and Carmen Brahmin. Winning participants in each of the push assist divisions were awarded  cash prizes by the Kyle Pease Foundation to acknowledge their accomplishment. 

We look forward to next year and the opportunity for KPF athletes to participate in America's Largest 10K. As always, our goal remains spreading the message of inclusion from sea to shining sea. 

Before we blow out the final candle on our country's birthday cake, let me take a moment to remind you to apply for the Jake Vinson Family Grant and to register for Camp Wheel Away. These are two of the highlights of our organization and we hope to make both opportunities available to as many families as possible. 

Until next time-Together We Wheel....

IRONMAN Boulder Race Report

IRONMAN Boulder Race Report

The adventure known as our third IRONMAN finish began with quite a whirlwind. Brent, Erica and Caroline headed down the Sunday before the race to get acclimated to the altitude and, from what I hear, traveling with a toddler can be an adventure in itself.  

My buddy Ian and I flew out together on Wednesday, just a couple days before the race. Ian has been a good friend for a few years, but has never taken care of me, so this could have been an adventure for him as well. I knew he would do a great job though, so I wasn’t worried about it. I was, however, worried about my wheelchair making the trip all the way to Colorado. My everyday wheelchair is not made to fly. There’s a lot of things you have to do to get it from point A to point B and it weighs about 500 lbs. Ian and I took all the extra precautions to make sure it made it out safely and so it would arrive in one piece undamaged.

Prior to the flight, everyone told me to drink a lot of water. So I did. I won’t go into too much detail, but something really funny happened on the plane. Because I drank all that water, I eventually had to use the bathroom. If you’ve ever been in an airplane bathroom you know what two guys crammed in one could be like. I’ll just leave it at that...

After we landed and got settled into the hotel room, we went out to dinner with Erica, Brent and Caroline in the hotel restaurant. On Thursday morning, Brent, Ian and I went to the IRONMAN village to get our bibs and everything else that we needed to get ready for the race.

In between all of this, we did some interviews for a video that IRONMAN Boulder was putting together. It’s always fun to do interviews, but once that was complete the focus turned solely to the race, and the preparation for what would turn out to be a crazy day.

 

(I think all that hard work with the interview turned out great.) 

On Friday, we got to hang out and meet Miranda Carfrae. We chatted for about five minutes. It was so amazing to be able to talk to and connect with one of our sport’s greatest athletes. She is basically the Michael Jordan of women’s triathlon. Although, I was a little starstruck, it was an honor to meet her.

As race day came closer, we tested the equipment out to make sure that everything was good to go. By that time I felt pretty acclimated to the altitude and water intake. All of our transition bags were packed and ready to go. Mentally Brent and I were laser focused and ready to compete in our third IRONMAN distance race together.

The morning of the race, Ian woke me up at 3:30 AM. I quickly drank some water and ate a little something to keep my pills down. Then, just like that, off we went to the starting line. We had about an hour and a half once we got there to do our final preparations. I like to listen to music with headphones in my ears, trying to get some quiet time and ease my racing mind. I was getting some nervous and excited energy. 

As the minutes got closer to the start, I went to the transition docker, which lead me to the boat. We met up with my dad, Ian and Jason (Jason was the third member of our crew helping with transition). My dad whispered some encouraging words, Brent kissed me on the head and we were off!  


THE SWIM

The swim started calm on the way out, but on the way back, we had a bit of a tailwind. It was a little choppy, but it really helped us out. I ended up getting a lot wetter than usual because of all the people surrounding us (IRONMAN Boulder is a big race). We were out of the water in 1 hour and 7 minutes - our fastest swim yet! 

 

THE BIKE

When I got to transition, Ian picked me up and we were off to the bike. The bike is our equalizer, it’s our biggest obstacle. During transition, we were going a little too fast and I almost fell out of the jogger. It was scary and things were kind of hectic, but once I saw Brent things calmed down. We were off on our 112 mile bike. Wait, IRONMAN Boulder is actually 114 miles!

 

 Once we were on the course, the bike has three racks. We had 17 people supporting us on the course throughout the race. They were all amazing. We did the first loop in 2 hours and 31 minutes. The second loop got a little bit harder. There’s a stretch in the course called Nelson Road, a heartbreaking six mile climb. We were cruising at about 28 miles per hour downhill, then stalled to 5 miles per hour going up. Nelson Road was seriously crazy. I never want to experience it again.

We got this, come on buddy, we can do this.

On the end of the second loop, Brent started to get fatigued. I had to reel him back in and try my best to give him encouragement. “We got this, come on buddy, we can do this.” Our support team followed us throughout the bike course and Brent said we need everyone out there with us on the third loop to give us the inspiration we would need to complete the course. I could tell that we needed all the help we could get. And boy, did my family, and our loved ones show up in a big way.

About 30 minutes into the bike portion all I wanted to do was get off, but I knew I had to be there for my brother. On that third loop I started to get hot. I had on a jacket and long sleeves, so when we saw our mom, she helped me get my jacket off. When we stopped, Brent noticed one of our wheels was a little wobbly. While I was getting changed, Brent gave our tire a solid and thorough inspection, but everything looked good. After this slight interruption, it was go time.

 

I knew that it was on me to keep Brent going emotionally and on his incredible ability physically, but no matter what we were going to get through this bike course. To me, one of the coolest things about IRONMAN, is that they have cut-offs. If you don’t make it through a certain point of the race in time you’re disqualified for the race. There was a 5:15 PM local time cut-off. We were out just over eight hours when the race official came over by us and said we had about 42 minutes left. We both mumbled about that and we just said, we gotta go, let’s go! One more time.  

The rest of the way, I was whispering so Brent could hear me, “I think we can, I think we can.” And we did. When we hit mile 112, with 2 more miles and one more big hill to go,  I was there whispering to Brent, encouraging him. Like we said in Wisconsin, I made follow Brent’s legs, but he follows my spirit. I think that’s what helped us conquer the bike portion in 8 hours and 51 minutes, 24 seconds.

Like we said in Wisconsin, I may borrow Brent’s legs, but he borrows my spirit. 

I’ve never been more happy to get off the bike. When I got off I yelled…some not so nice words, because I was so sore. By this time, Brent was getting ready for the run. When Ian started pushing me, I told him we gotta go slow, (to avoid almost falling out again). When we got to transition, they laid me down on the towel to change and get ready for the run.

I laid there for a minute and collected my thoughts. You see, it was our own will, and our tenacity to get us through the bike. We didn’t execute the bike plan the way we wanted to in regards to nutrition, but that was behind us. We had to get some nutrition to end on a high note. It was our moment to shine. It was our moment to feel what we were about to accomplish.


THE RUN

Once we got onto the run course (after about a 12 minute transition) we started slowing down. Then we walked for the first couple miles until we got some food in us. When we finally got to eat, at an aid station, Brent dropped me with the volunteers so he could get as much food as possible. Once we were fueled up, we started to pick up the pace. And pick up the pace we did.

 

We started to get a little pep to our step and saw all of our family and friends as they were out there in numbers for the run. Every time we saw them they’d be dancing or yelling with vuvuzela in hand. They were with us every step and wheel throughout the 26.2 miles. We stopped at every aid station to make sure that we were well hydrated and well fed before we came to the famous red carpet and the finishers shoot.  

We were at mile 25 and we started to celebrate! I told Brent how proud I was of him. As we inched closer to the end, the emotions started to pour out. They were emotions of pure elation. Pure joy. As we rounded the final corner the crowd was deafening. They were raucous. The music was blaring. I told Brent to slow down so that we could shake every hand that came to see us finish and complete our third IRONMAN together.

We started with our bike mechanic Curtis, his wife Jen and then Wayne (who drove all of our equipment from Atlanta to Boulder). We moved to the next set of friends. By this time we were on the red carpet.

Then a roaring noise came across the PA, “Kyle Pease you are an Ironman. Brent Pease you are an Ironman. Brent and Kyle, this is one of the best stories of Ironman this year. Kyle, you pushed Brent across the line,” the PA announcer said.

 

Brent kissed his wife, and hugged our good friend Betty. I got a big hug from my dad, then Ian, Jason, Danny, Helen, and everyone that was out there from the KPeasey crew. It was amazing. Words cannot express my gratitude and my love for each and everyone for the sacrifices that you made to get to Boulder. Thank you. To our sponsors, to our friends back in Atlanta, thank you. To Mom and Dad, thank you for giving us the gift of our family. To Ian and Jason, thank you. Ian was so great that he decided to stick around and be a part of my team and my caretaker. I’m so appreciative of you and Jason. To Erica, thank you for your continued support and I can’t wait until Caroline gets a little older so we can explain to her what her dad and I accomplished. Thank you for your continued sacrifice for your passion and love. Last, but not least, Brent. Thank you for giving me the ability to be an athlete. To be an athlete with you is so, so awesome. Thank you and I’m so proud of you. What you did on that course, what you did on Mountain Road and what you have done for the Kyle Pease Foundation... I love you and I’m so proud of you.

Together We Wheel, 

Kyle

 

KPF Takes the Show on the Road

KPF Takes the Show on the Road

Though we make our home in and around Atlanta, we have made several trips over the past few weeks to spread the message of inclusion. It should never be lost upon our friends and fans that our mission is more about furthering the acceptance and inclusiveness of those with disabilities, than it is about lacing up the Newtons and winning a race. To have the opportunity to visit areas outside of our local zip codes aids KPF in accomplishing this goal. 

Our first stop on our road trip of inclusion, took us to Delaware, where we spoke at my cousin's health and fitness club to a crowd of about 40. It was great to talk about how anything is possible and it was a wonderful evening with all of our friends and family. We consider Paul and Abbey Mcnulty to be not only our family members by blood but also an important extension of the KPF Family and we appreciate their constant support.  We then journeyed to Newark where participated in the Fusion Inclusion 5K, where Brent and I had a PR and were the first overall wheelchair & AG winners with a time of 18:35.  So though winning isn't important, it certainly doesn't stink either. 

Brent and I then were able to share our message with all the race participants. A special thank you  to Nic Declaire, Steve Sinko, and Deb and Preston Buenaga for their hospitality. 

Now as the summer gets hotter so does KPF. We kick off our summer race schedule in three weeks with VA highlands  Summerfest 5K. It is a great race through the neighborhood and it is one of our favorites. They like us and we love them. We will be out in full force covering the area in a sea of KPF blue. 

After two short days off Brent and Kyle will attempt our third Ironman at Boulder CO. This race is known for their scenic views, altitude & perhaps a few hills. We are looking forward to the opportunity of competing with all the other athletes and to push another envelope. We will everyone posted and hope you will follow us on our social media outlets.

When we return we will go straight into the Peachtree Road Race, where a record  nine KPF athletes will be competing in our own category. This is a momentous event as this represents the largest contingent of assisted athletes in the race's long and glorious history and indicates that we are indeed getting our message of inclusion out loud and clear. 

Please remember to apply for the Jake Vinson Family Grant and to register for Camp Wheel Away.  Look to support your favorite participating KPF athletes leading up to the Peachtree as well as a gala event at the home of our dear friend and board member, Christy & Greg Smith.  

If it gets any better than this, I may not make it so remember, Where There's a Wheel, There's a Way! kp 

Many Emotional Miles at IRONMAN 70.3 Florida

Many Emotional Miles at IRONMAN 70.3 Florida

It's 3:23 AM. Sun isn't nearly close to rising and yet I've been up for 20 minutes already.  "Didn't we just do this a few weeks ago?," I think to myself.   My alarm isn't even supposed to go off for another twelve minutes and yet I just can't go back to sleep. Even for the twenty minutes or so that I may have slept, I tossed and turned, flipped my pillow, kicked off my blankets. While my wife and daughter are sleeping  peacefully, I couldn't be more the opposite.  My first inkling is to skip the race and just hang out at the pool until the Masters coverage starts.  But the urge to punt subsides when I think of my brother sleeping next door.  It's been a LONG month for us both.  Between racing, training, racing some more and handling events, we both could use a little extra sleep.

Instead, we pull ourselves together and by 4:00 AM, we've started the van engine to make sure we can get to transition when it opens.  We don't start for another four hours, but parking and traffic are a problem and we want to make sure we minimize the stress as best we can.

Jim of Special Compass meets us at the race site at 4:30 and we just sit in the car and laugh to keep the mood light.  We could just stay here I think and treat this as a vacation day rather than braving the bulk of the day conquering 70.3.  We could relax, eat a couple bacon, egg and cheese sammies, drink too much coffee and then just head back to the hotel.  I know better and decide to get my race face on. Kyle decides to  sleep for just a few more moments.  My dad and I go and pump tires, check (and re-check the gear) and then head back to stage the boat.  Lee Strawbridge is waiting for us.  Lee was one of the first guys we met on this journey and we were glad he jumped in to lend us a hand today.  It's now 6:00 and I ask Jim, Lee & my dad to get the boat and pads set up for us by the water.  Kyle and I then just sit quietly in the car reflecting, not uttering a word.  

It's 6:45 and we are working our way to the water.  

"Our helmets", I panic...My dad runs to transition.  "Everything is there" he assures me.  The nerves are kicking in. I get a little more excited as the sounding of the horn grows nearer. I'm now glad to be up this early...ready to take on the day.

It's 7:05 and Kyle wants to get in the boat.  Enough waiting around. We'd rather go off first, but we are in the last wave, which means we will have to navigate through a little traffic.  When Kyle is settled in the boat, I lean in and whisper, "Today is for us.  It's a chance to do something we love doing together.  Smile today, Kyle, and smile often.  When it gets tough, you get my back and I'll get yours."

When it gets tough, you get my back and I'll get yours."

When it gets tough, you get my back and I'll get yours."

The gun goes off.  Our favorite Kayak Escort, Lisa, is right alongside us.  It's always great to have a familiar face to help you through the day.  We are swimming into the prior waves before I know it, turning into the oddly shaped course trying my best to keep the boat from drifting.  Kyle is shouting, screaming, coaching , motivating, urging me on.  My shoulder aches a bit and I pull harder.  My legs didn't feel great when I woke up so I try to keep my legs relaxed.  We are nearing the shore.  I touch sand and stand up.  Jim & Dad grab the boat.  Jim rips Kyle out of the boat and carries him up the beach.  We are getting sunscreen on Kyle, helmet, pads, nutrition in pockets and we are off.  My quads are already screaming.  "Be patient, Brent" I tell myself.  Kyle smiles back at me and puts his head down.

The bike starts to get hard as the winds pick up around mile 27/28.  By 33, I can tell it's going to be a long ride home.  I had told Kyle when the bike gets tough just count to 5.  The run we can count to 10.  He keeps asking for water, water and bananas.  I want to scream to relax, but his lips are already cracked a bit, his left ear a bit sunburned and he has been fighting the winds and roads too.  I give him more water and I give myself more calories as I see our speed start to drop.  I try to relax as we manage the course mostly to ourselves.  We haven't been over 4 hours in a half since New Orleans 2012.  The winds were brutal that day and we could barely pedal the bike.  "Focus", Kyle is yelling again and pushing me up a hill. 

One...TWO...THREE..come on Brent...FOUR..AND FIVE.  I wince. My legs are barking louder now and we've still got six miles to go.  "That's going to take 30 minutes," I think. Luckily it's a fun downhill to the finish and I tuck behind Kyle's head and yell over the wind that we need to get ready to run.  He just nods.  He worked hard to help get us here.  There is work to be done.

My legs are barking louder now and we've still got six miles to go.

My legs are barking louder now and we've still got six miles to go.

We take off on the three loop run trying to hold off the competition as best we can.  Competition is not something we are used to only because it's usually just one team per race. But it's fired us both up on the run.  We were smart on the bike.  Managed it as best we could, stayed patient in the wind and tried to stay diligent about eating and drinking.  We hit the run course and there are some hills to battle in the first two miles of each lap.  Kyle starts counting again...this time to 10.

At the top of each hill, we get ready to cruise down the hill to make up some time.  We want that finish.  Pretty soon all I can muster is a few grunts in response to Kyle.  I am worried I may not make it to the finish.  Betty's words are ringing in my head to push harder with each lap.  Kyle's voice is coming louder and louder now.   I hear the finish.  Just keep pushing and don't stop.

Kyle starts counting again...this time to 10. 1...2..3......7..8...9......10. 

Kyle starts counting again...this time to 10. 1...2..3......7..8...9......10. 

We are here.  I collapse. My wife helps me to my feet, placing my medal around my neck.  I hold her and the tears start coming.  I can't control it now.  Everyone goes out of their way to help Kyle and I compete.  Especially my wife and family.  I find Kyle and I can only sob and mutter "Proud."  The emotion of competing for 1 or 70 miles is always an ask of us both and I could not do it without you Kyle.  

Today was for us and for our enjoyment.  There was never a dull moment and only the opportunity to learn and pick each other up when we were down.

See you for the next one!