Rev3 / Challenge Triathlon Discount Code

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Use code JBTRI15 get 10% off Challenge Family Americas Knoxville, Quassy, Williamsburg, Maine, Cedar Point & Rev3 Rush. Pocono be opening reg. soon!

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  • Code does not apply to early bird pricing, but if you sign up and use the discount code during early bird, they will get a free Challenge Mason Jar (aka pint glass) with their entry – to be claimed on race weekend.
  • Code is only valid for former Rev3 events, including Maine, Quassy and Poconos. Not valid for Challenge Atlantic City, Rancho Cordova, New Albany, Penticton, or St. Andrews.
  • Code is case and space sensitive.

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Setting Triathlon Goals – Racing Happy

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

At the beginning of each triathlon season, most triathletes sit down and plan their races based on their goals. Some goals are event based – “I want to qualify for X championship race.” Some goals are time/distance based – “I want to do a sub 5 hour 70.3.” Others are competition based – “I want to finish on the podium, or at least beat my brother who won’t quit bragging about the last race where he bested me.”

While I’ve built previous seasons around each of those different types of goals, this year is different for me. This year my goals are “happiness based.” I want to get out there as often as I can, and have as much fun as I can. In my head, whoever smiles and laughs the most during the race, wins. And I’ve got a chance to break the tape in that competition. After all, this is a hobby. If I’m not having a good time and I’m making myself miserable mile after mile, what am I doing wasting my time? I should take up painting instead. That sounds much more relaxing.

Why is this year so different?

In February 2013, I severely overestimated my skiing skills. I had a major crash coming off of a big jump. I fell +20 feet out of the sky and straight on my back onto hard packed snow. I managed to fracture 7 vertebrae, was strapped into a rigid back brace for weeks and was on a heavy dose of pain killers for months. Every sneeze and hiccup felt like I was being stabbed in the back. I’d wake up in tears every few hours when my pain killers wore off, desperately grabbing in the dark for my next dose. The littlest slip or trip up caused panic, fearing a major fall and spinal cord injury.

Broken back x ray

There were periods where I didn’t know if I would walk again, or tie my shoes, or even have the flexibility to reach and put the seat down on the toilet, but I eventually healed enough to do all of those things. (My wife was happier about the last achievement than I was.) The most basic things that I used to take for granted were now huge achievements.

back brace - cane - reach extender

Fast forward to 15 months after my crash, and plenty of physical therapy and recovery time, and I completed my first post-injury Olympic-distance triathlon at Rev3 Quassy. It wasn’t my fastest race or my longest race, but it is by far the one that I’m the most proud of because of what I’d overcome to get there.

Jamie Bull - Rev3 Quassy Run

After seven years in the sport of triathlon, finishing countless races from sprints to full 140.6 distance events and now returning from a traumatic back injury, I now have a whole new and different appreciation for what my body was capable of. I’ve also achieved a whole new level of gratitude that I probably couldn’t have reached in many other ways.

I recognize that there will be some day when my body won’t cooperate and let me race triathlons. That day may come sooner than I’d like, but it isn’t today. And today I am going to have a blast doing it.

Whatever your triathlon goals are this season, make sure they make you happy. Because I don’t care what the clock says. In my mind, whoever has the most fun during a race, wins.

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Introducing #TrainerBingo

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Now is the time of year that triathletes come out of their off season hibernation, focus on building their foundation for race season and try to shed a few lbs from all the Christmas cookies that they ate.

In the northern part of the country, that also means lots of runs on snowy trails, masters swimming sessions and most importantly, long boring sessions on the trainer. Which leads me to the point of this post: What is the point of being  a nerdy, triathlon-obsessed social media geek if you can’t make fun of yourself?

What do many triathletes do on the trainer? Tweet with other triathletes who are on the trainer, post endless selfies proving how committed they are and talk about their training. This is especially true if you scan Twitter at 5:30 in the morning. Whether it is a product of narcissism, boredom or just a shameless call for love and attention, I’m surprised that no one has made a game out of this absurd behavior.

After all, how dedicated can you really be if you pause a workout to take a perfectly framed selfie that shows off your bulging quads, glistening beads of sweat on your brow and a tasteful level of cleavage as you hunch over your aerobars?
So, next time you are on the trainer, spinning the hours away and refreshing your Twitter feed, also pull out your #TrainerBingo board.

Twitter Trainer Bingo

What do you get if you win? Nothing. This is triathlon. You just earn the chance to come back and embarrass yourself all over again.

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My One Regret About My 2013 Triathlon Season

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

My “comeback” to triathlon this year was emotional and I am grateful for being able to toe the line, but there was one thing that I wish I could have changed.

My one race wasn’t with my my Rev3 family.

Go ahead and ignore everything I’m about to say if you want because Rev3 sponsors me and I’ve never had to pay to do any of their races, but know this. My triathlon team was the third group of people that I made sure knew about my accident right after my own family and close group of friends. They are legit “family” in my books. I don’t know of any other triathlon teams have that level of loyalty.

Logistically, doing a Rev3 race just wasn’t possible  for me this year. My body was only capable of pulling off a sprint triathlon. Rev3 only does one sprint at Cedar Point, and I still wasn’t sure how my body would hold up to racing, so I avoided making travel plans and made the choice to do a small, non-USAT certified, charity race instead.

Granted, the race that I did was a super family-friendly event,  with great post-race food, community support and I got big hugs from my wife, dog and teammate Laura as I crossed the finish line, but there is something about not finishing under the big blue Rev3 arch and having Sean English call my name. I got to watch others cross the line in Williamsburg and Maine this year, but it has been over a year since I’ve been able to do it myself.

What makes Rev3 Special To Me? 

  • Support Positive Change In Triathlon: Triathletes love to complain about things they wish WTC would change, but if you don’t vote with your wallet and support race organizations who put people over profits, you can only blame yourself. Rev3 was started by a father who wanted to make the sport friendlier for athletes and their families and he has not lost that focus. They’ve also had a great influence on everything from pro prize purses, to how the media covers female pros to charity programs.
  • Personal Touches: Everything from personalized name plates on your bike rack, to seeing your face brought up on the jumbotron when you finish line to having race staff go out of their way to address any question you have, there is a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure athletes don’t ever feel like “just a number.”
  • They are a company built on helping people, they just happen to put on triathlons. From running across America to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund, to the support that I received from my teammates when I broke my back, there are are constant reminders that Rev3 puts people first. They bring the same passion to getting people happily to the finish line that they do to helping people beat cancer.

If my body holds up, I’m hoping to end that streak at the Rev3 Quassy Olympic-distance race – the last weekend in May. I’m not yet planning races too far ahead of that, but I’m hoping to at least make appearances at Rev3 Williamsburg, Maine and Poconos.

If you are planning your 2014 season and have some Rev3 races on the list, take a look at the “2014 All Access Pass.” One pass, every single Rev3 race and you can share or sell any Rev3 passes that you aren’t going to take advantage of. Basically, if you can’t save money doing this, you probably aren’t trying very hard.

http://www.active.com/various-cities-va/triathlon/races/rev3-all-access-2014

Hope to see you out there in 2014.

 

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Readjusting Priorities

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

My relationship with the triathlon world has been all over the place this year. When I was at my worst, I completely disconnected myself. I stopped reading triathlon blogs, avoided Twitter all together and stopped thinking about anything fitness related. The last thing I wanted to see was someone complaining about missing their marathon goal when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to run a single step without crippling back pain.

As my back healed, I eventually came out of hiding and quit being so grumpy, irritable and was actually open to hearing about and celebrating my friend’s athletic accomplishments. But for me, I was still 100% about recovery. PT, massage, stretching, chiropractic work, strength work and repeat. That was my training schedule. My strength, flexibility and remaining pain were my main concerns, not whether I’d be able to be a competitive athlete ever again.

I celebrating the little things like wiggling my toes or being able to rake leaves in the yard, not lacing up my shoes for a run.

Now, nine months later, my progress has been great but plateaued. I’m able to step away from the strict physical recovery regimen. And along with (mostly) getting over the psychological issues that come with breaking your back, I’m able to toy with the idea of getting back to sports and competition.

But my motivation is now in a completely different place than it ever has been. In previous years, I’ve spent November contemplating qualifying for AG Nationals, new PRs and longer distances, This year, I’m more focused than ever on family, friends, fun and health – which actually makes it really hard to plan a race season. I’d much rather chill on the couch with my wife and dog than spend 4 hours on the trainer.

For now, I still don’t know for sure what 2014 will bring, but I’m taking it one day at a time. Today, I felt like taking my puppy for a 3 mile run, despite being 20 degrees outside. So I did that. Tomorrow, I’ll think about some local snowshow races this winter. After that? We’ll see.

And because I don’t like posts without pictures, here is me and my running buddy. Today was the first run we ever did together. 3.5 miles in the books before work today. Despite some pulling, she did great.
image

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What I Wish People Knew About My Broken Back

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Over the last eight months, a lot of people have asked me questions about my back, how I’m healing and when I’ll return to racing. Most of the time, the questions don’t really get at the heart of what I went through. For example, people would ask about my run training, when I really wanted to tell them about how proud I was for being strong enough to rake up a few leaves on my front yard – even if it completely wiped me out and I had to take a 2 hour nap after.

I’m not normally comfortable talking about myself at length without someone giving me a good reason, so I feel like most people don’t get the full story – especially related to the mental side of my recovery. With that in mind, here are random facts about my injury and recovery that I wish people knew.

  1. Fracturing my vertebrae feels like I was stabbed in the back with seven knives. But they were left in there for months. Imagine sneezing with a knife stuck in your back. Or even just twisting enough to clean yourself in the bathroom. That was my life for the first three months of my recovery.

  1. For the first month or two, I didn’t have the flexibility to lift up the toilet seat on my own, but I was just barely able to twist enough to clean up after myself. GOD was I thankful for that. I needed help doing a million other things, but the fact that I could at least complete that by myself was huge. I did not take it for granted and was glad I was able to avoid that humiliating experience.

  1. Sam and I hope to have children someday. The fear of not recovering to the point where I could hold and play with my own child still haunts me. Just writing this makes my hands tremble.

  1. Being married to an occupational therapist was a godsend. Not that I wasn’t lucky to have Sam before the accident, but she was a huge part of my recovery. From helping to put on and take off my brace each morning and night, to teaching me new ways just to roll over in bed or put on my socks or bathe myself, those little victories were huge for my recovery and helped me to stay positive. The confidence I got from just being able to control little things like what kind of socks I was wearing was huge.

  1. The fact that my bones are able to heal without any medical intervention beyond pain management is both a testament to the amazing abilities of the human body to heal itself and how far we still have to go when it comes to discovering new medical treatments. I had follow up x-rays two weeks after the accident. I was told to ditch the brace, make sure I got enough calcium and not do anything stupid to hurt it. That was it! I haven’t seen the orthopedist since. He also didn’t think that I needed physical therapy, but I opted to do it anyway. It was the right choice and was a huge part of my recovery since my muscles got super jacked up from being immobile for so long.

  1. My vertebrae are now shaped more like trapezoids than squares. That means that they don’t stack up and float on top of one another as nicely as they are supposed to. I have to stretch and crack back at least twice a day, every day, to keep things aligned. Especially when I’m sitting at my work desk for +8 hours per day. I’ve become really skilled at cracking my own back. This helps to keep my muscles from being pulled in different directions and getting fatigued. It also has helped to reduce tingling and numbness in my left shoulder from a pinched nerve.

  1. One of the hardest parts of my recovery has been the psychological side. Months after my bones healed and physical therapy was able to break up the scar tissue and strengthen my back, I still felt fragile and broken. I would hike mountains, swim, bike and run, but still felt broken. Even small things that would spark memories of the accident would set me off on an emotional whirlwind. I don’t think my symptoms were ever bad enough to qualify me for a PTSD diagnosis, but recovering from being dangerously close to being a quadriplegic rattles you to your core.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

I only told a handful of people, but for the last few months I’ve been debating and evaluating plans for doing one sprint triathlon this year before the season officially ends here in New England. I didn’t put a lot of pressure on it, because my back has a mind of its own and the last thing I wanted to do was push my limits, cause more damage and take a major step back in my recovery.

Eventually I found a race. It was on the 7 month anniversary of my crash. I signed up and hoped for the best. Despite signing up, I never actually “trained.” Most of my focus was still on building back strength and flexibility. Sometimes that meant biking, swimming, lifting weights or just lots of stretching. But my physical activity leading up to the race pretty much didn’t involve running at all. Physically, I knew I was at the point where I could pull  off a 400m swim, 15 mile bike and 3 mile run – even if that meant coasting the whole bike and walking the run if I had to. It was the mental side that I knew would be a struggle.

Even just 6 days before the race, I woke up with an angry back. So angry that I couldn’t even bend over and touch my knees, let alone put on pants or socks. I had to call out of work and spent most of the day on the couch or in the shower letting scalding hot water rush over my back. At that point, I was okay with giving up on the race if my back didn’t get any better. I had accepted it, maybe my recovery journey didn’t involve a comeback to racing just yet.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten to know my back well enough to have an arsenal of different tricks to help it return to “normal.” There was always a chance that I’d wake up with an angry back again and have to drop out, but by the end of the week the race was back on schedule and my angry back stayed away.

The Race

Race morning was an emotional roller coaster. From excited and nervous to terrified and tears from one second to the next. Sam brought Riley and my friend and Rev3 teammate Laura came with her dog, Kaipo. Having two fur kids there helped me to keep my cool.

Swim Start

I lined up WAY in the back of the swim, waited at least 10-15 seconds before even taking a step forward, then joined the ruckus in the water. I didn’t feel fast, but felt smooth and made it back to shore without any issues.

photo

The bike was the same. Beautiful cool fall morning through nice neighborhoods, farms and rolling hills. I held my own with a few guys, but would barely call it “racing.”

photo_1

I rolled into T2 with cheers from Sam and Laura, and was off on the run feeling good. I shuffled along at a good clip. I focused on keeping good form and not pushing so hard that I’d have to dial it back and walk. I came up to the finish line at the end of a lap around the high school track and lost it. Thankfully Sam was right there for a big hug.

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Exactly seven months earlier, my spine looked like a shattered window pane. I was on as many pain meds as they could possibly fill me with, just so I’d be able to lie flat on my hospital bed and help dull the unimaginable pain.  After I was discharged from the hospital, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever even be strong enough to lift a gallon of milk to make a cup of coffee or bowl of cereal, let alone do a triathlon. As I crossed the finish line, was overcome by joy, excitement, pride and most importantly – gratitude.

photo_3

And of course I took advantage of the post-race breakfast feast.

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What is Next?

I have no idea.

Physically and athletically, I feel like I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Or myself. I still love swimming, biking and running, but I don’t know how big of a priority triathlon will be from here on out.

photo_4

Mentally, I don’t have it in me to train for anything and be even remotely competitive this year. My priority is still building and maintaining my back strength and flexibility. What does that look like? This fall/winter I’ll probably become more of a gym rat, and random hikes and snowshoeing with Riley this winter.

Thanks

There will be lots of stories of thanks and gratitude to come, but thanks to everyone for their helping to get me to this point. I couldn’t have done it without my wife, Sam, and all my friends, family and teammates that have kept me sane and built me back up. And a special thanks for Sam, Riley, Laura and Kaipo for coming with me to celebrate this major milestone.

More Stories To Come

I realize that I’ve been quiet here lately and have only shared a tiny fraction of my journey over the last 7 months. For a lot of reasons, there are other parts of my story that still need to be told. This is especially true for the mental side of my recovery. More to come…

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Summiting Mount Liberty

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

This weekend I took on the biggest physical feat since my accident. I climbed to the summit of Mount Liberty at 4,459 ft. My college buddy Pete brought me up to New Hampshire to climb it, but neither of had done it before. We had no clue that the trail started at the bottom and went pretty much straight up for four miles.

At points I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it. I had to seriously consider if I’d have to turn around if a break on the side of the mountain, some water and Powerbar gels didn’t perk up my legs. I don’t have the same fitness I once did and can’t remember the last time I’ve been healthy and doubted myself that much.

 

As you can clearly tell, I made it. There were 360 views of pretty much all of northern New Hampshire. Well worth all the sweat.

My legs are still killing me, but I couldn’t be happier to be back to doing more “normal” weekend activities. After all, tomorrow marks just 5 months since the accident and I couldn’t even pick up a jar of peanut butter or a gallon of milk. It has been a long road, but I can’t be more grateful.

Click to see the full panorama.

 

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Working Williamsburg

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Last week I joined my Rev3 teammates in Williamsburg for their inaugural race. I’m still a ways away from training, let alone racing, so I took the opportunity to help manage the run course and cheer on everyone racing.

While my bones are fully healed and I’m taking good care of my lingering muscle issues, I’ve still got my share of emotional baggage from my broken back. I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to handle the weekend. Would my back be able to handle the physical activity and long hours required to help organize a triathlon? Would I get aggravated watching athletes push the limits of their bodies while I settle with celebrating the flexibility to put hundreds of tape arrows all over Williamsburg to mark the run course? Would I be able to relax and enjoy spending time with my friends and teammates?

I ended up having a little emotional breakdown on my Friday morning flight down to the race. I buried my head in my hoodie as best as I could to try and not give up too much to the guy sitting next to me, but I was a mess for most of the flight. Thankfully, once I rolled into Williamsburg it was a completely different story. I was happy, relaxed and my back held up really well.

Having fun at the Rev3 green screen.

Crowd gathering for the Friday Glow Run.

Team Rev3 cheering squad at the glow run

Saturday morning practice swim with Malaika Homo.

Team photo time.

No one ever said this team doessn’t have any fun.

Laura and Brittney getting their Normatec pump time before the race.

My chariot for the weekend.

Doing my best to make sure all the athletes are smiling.

I caught this guy trying to cut the run course. I had to take his chip.

I made about a million of these tape arrows to make sure no one got lost on the run course.

After the race, I tried photobombing a random person. It ended up being my Twitter friend Annie. Love surprise encounters like this.

After all the medals have been handed out, the party has to get cleaned up.

There were a few logistical hiccups with the delayed shuttles and bag drop offs, which is really hard coming from my position of a Rev3 Staffer because in situations like that when you really want to fix it for the athletes and let them concentrate on having a great race, your best solutions at the time just don’t cut it. Rev3 isn’t about mediocrity, but hopefully the rest of everyone’s race and experience with Rev3 helped make up for it a little. Otherwise, the race went off really well and it seemed like a lot of the locals loved having us there and we made some new Rev3 fans.

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Triathlon Team Loyalty

Monday, June 17th, 2013

This picture means a lot to me. It is a reminder that I have been with Rev3 for the past five years. Like with any team, individual product sponsors have come and go based on changes in their marketing and business plans, but Rev3 has always stuck by me. I like to think that they’ve found their investment in me worthwhile.

But more than being a sponsor, they are a family.

As I was strapped to a backboard and neck brace in the hospital, the team was the first that I let know about my accident after my family and small group of close friends from college. In the weeks after that, my mailbox was filled with packages from my teammates all across the country. Cookies, candy, home made cards that their children made for me, anything I needed. The most heartwarming stuff you could ever think of.

There is the family your are born into, and the family that chooses you. The family that chose me just happens to manage a series of awesome triathlons.Team Rev3 Triathlon

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