Everybody Has a Journey: Coach Eric’s Journey to CFLF: Part III

Nell and I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin a year in advance (which is what you have to do in order to get into the race as it fills up within hours). Signing up was the easy part. Now we had a year to plan and to train. During the winter months we were looking for a place to do some indoor cycling, preferably on computrainers. On the computrainers you can simulate actual courses and do threshold training. Nell found a place less than a mile from us that had the computrainers. It was called Elite Athletic Development. Hmm. Never heard of it.

We stopped by one night to talk to Jim (the owner) about setting up times to come in and put our bikes on the computrainers for some training rides. We told him what we were training for and we found out that he had completed several Ironman races and had coached a lot of people for them as well.We rode a couple times a week for about a month, and then started talking about Jim actually being our coach for the race. He developed a training plan for us. He was the one who really introduced us to the concept of “less is more.” That quality beats quantity every time. It’s not about the time or the miles you put in. It’s about implementing effective workouts to build your stamina and endurance.

As part of our training he introduced us to CrossFit. Elite Athletic Development had begun their affiliation a short time before we got there. Jim had us doing CrossFit WOD’s 1-2 times a week in addition to our swim bike and run training. I remember my first workout. Max weight front squats followed by the CrossFit baseline workout. I had never experienced a workout like that before; such an intense burst of energy. I thought I was going to puke afterward, and in the CrossFit world…that workout isn’t even that bad!

We stuck with it and after a while I started noticing my bike and run times were improving. My

physique was changing. I was really getting stronger. Training for triathlon is really a pretty isolated experience. At least the way I did it. I never trained with groups. It was a personal thing for me and something I enjoyed doing alone. CrossFit introduced me to the power of group training. The energy that is cultivated from a community atmosphere. We are all in the same boat. We’re all going through the same “hell” of a workout, and we’ll all congratulate each other at the end. I pushed myself ten times harder because I knew the person next to me was suffering just as much as I was and we would all get through it…..together. Everybody feeds off everyone else’s energy. I was never on a college sports team or anything, but I can see how that “team” bond runs deep. When you go into “battle” with others you form a bond. You form respect. As an aside, this is also when I met Coach Heather, who started Crossfitting at EAD around the same time.

We completed our Ironman training and had an amazing weekend. It was a magical experience. And an experience I will share in another blog post as it deserves its own. 2.4 mile swim…..112 mile bike….and a full marathon. There is nothing like finishing a beast like that. Words don’t seem to suffice. I went through emotional ups and downs that I never knew existed, and so many of them. It must have been an ok experience because Nell and I did two more after this one.

After Ironman Wisconsin I decided to throw myself into CrossFit full force. Triathlon would take a back seat for a bit while I focused on becoming a better all around athlete. Nell and I trained at CrossFit Arlington Heights for about 6 more months, meaning we’d been doing CrossFit workouts for about a year before we opened our own affiliate. Nell for years had wanted to open her own indoor rowing studio, and we had discussed this for a while. A natural thing to add to a studio like that would be CrossFit as rowing is used in a lot of the CrossFit workouts, so it’s a great bridge. We went to San Diego in January and spent an intense weekend getting our CrossFit Level 1 Certifications. It was an incredible weekend where we got to work with the likes of Chris Spealler and Jason Khalipa. Completely inspiring.


We opened RowFit Chicago/Chi-Town CrossFit a month later and you all know the rest. We created a place where community is the key aspect. We attain a healthy lifestyle by developing a community of like-minded individuals who feed off each other’s energy. Friendships have been made and goals have been achieved and new goals are being set every day. Nell’s heart and my heart are filled when we see this and experience it. We have since both moved on.

So now, here at CrossFit Lake Forest, I want to help you discover that next goal. I want to help you achieve things you never thought were possible in the past. You’ll have those amazing moments. Those days that you’ll never forget for the rest of your life. I’ve done it and am still doing it. Join me. Let’s continue the journey together. YOU are now my community.

Eric after finishing Ironman Wisconsin in 2009. What a journey. What a ride. What a great way to celebrate you. Are you ready for your next goal?

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