So I’ve kept you all updated on two training fronts at this point in my life. One is the journey towards my goal of completing Ironman Arizona. The other is my training goal of becoming a captain at my airline. Here’s an update on both fronts, starting with flying.
The other night, I took the final, and perhaps the most important step in this journey so far. I passed my simulator checkride. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what I’m referring to, a simulator checkride is the final evaluation of my flight training. I’m tested in a simulator on various procedures, checklists, and emergencies. Some of these include low-visibility taxi and takeoff, identifying problems and running checklists to clean those problems up, and single-engine approaches and landings. The ride can have three outcomes, and two of those outcomes are not favorable. However, most checkrides go smoothly, and the designated examiner can go a long way in determining what kind of checkride it will be. My examiner, Bryan, was the same one who gave me my oral exam 10 days earlier. He’s a very fair, smart, and knowledgeable examiner, and put me at ease before my ride.
I won’t bore you with the details from my ride, but let’s just say the outcome was very positive. I felt it was one of the best checkrides I have ever done, and I walked away with a smile on my face and a temporary certificate that certifies me as a captain on this airplane! I’ve accomplished a lot in my brief career with the airlines, but this tops the list.
The final step is to do what they call IOE, or Initial Operating Experience. Here I will fly the airplane with a designated check airman who will teach me about normal day-to-day line operations on the airplane. I’ll learn things about the flight release, aircraft logbook, and just get comfortable with the airplane. After that, the journey to being an airline captain is complete!
So there you go, there’s the upgrade front.
On the IMAZ front, I’ve been looking back on my training over these past two months, and I’m quite frankly proud of myself. Very few workouts have been missed due to upgrade. I made due with the situation that presented itself, and learned to be resourceful. I rented a car quite a bit in St. Louis and found a 24 Hour Fitness that I frequented for long swim sessions. I found a park nearby where I was able to run freely. Sometimes a guy from class joined me; other times I went alone but I never missed a long run. I fell in love with the stationary bike (okay, no I didn’t) but I still spun my legs a lot, and when I flew home on days off, I efficiently got my long rides in. Sure, there was the incident in early September where I skidded out on the Platte River Trail (my wrist is still sore from that btw) but overall my training has gone very well, all things considered.
I’ve been thinking about it and have discussed it with T, our friends at Run Colorado, and various other people. How I’ve been able to maintain my focus on two extremely difficult disciplines, one being Ironman Training and the other being upgrade. One of the fears I had with this upgrade was that something would have to give, and it would be Ironman. However, I had to put my career first, right? But I’ve been able to manage both, and have managed both quite well. T thinks it’s because what was the alternative? There’s 24 hours in a day, and if I could devote one day a week to a long ride and one day a week to a long run, there was still plenty of time to get everything else in. Furthermore, during airline training, it’s easy to neglect working out, eat unhealthy, and balloon. Guys in class were telling me how they’ve gained 10-15 lbs during training, and I’ve watched them eat. Let’s just say it’s not pretty.
I found that the long rides/runs gave me a nice reprieve from stressing about callouts and emergency procedures, and it forced me to actively manage my time better. I spent very little time watching TV in training, spent very little time on the computer, and didn’t have the biggest social life. But those small sacrifices came with monstrous rewards.
So long story short, we’re in Week 16 of Ironman training, and I’m starting to feel like the whole thing is coming together nicely. I have two huge weeks coming up, and how I will squeeze in what I need to squeeze in will be interesting to say the least, but I think it’s going to be a fun challenge.
I think the most amazing thing though, throughout the entire journey, has been the unwavering support of my friends and family. From T supporting my decision to abandon her for two months, my friends at Run Colorado who have become family, my support crew in Minnesota of Kris and Mark, Mike, and Lindsey, my parents, my aunt and uncle who will grace the IMAZ course with their presence, and my MX12 teammates, the outpouring of positivity has been nothing short of amazing, and makes me truly grateful for what I have, and for what I will achieve.