Why, isn’t that the question that a triathlete gets the most? I hear it at least once per week it seems, and when I say I’m not only a triathlete but an Ironman the whys get much louder. When the people you are talking to get the details out of you about the disciplines, distances and training regimen their jaws are usually on the ground. It is one of my favorite moments in the sport. The next favorite question is when they ask how and proclaim they could never do it because they are too busy, too fat, not a swimmer/cyclist/runner (pick one, everyone fears at least one of the disciplines).
In 2007 I was the cant guy pushing 275 pounds and eating/wasting my way to an early demise. I knew I had to do something so I bought myself and my wife a set of bikes. I started with a mountain bike because it was the last type of cycling I had done at age 18. I always loved road biking though and purchased my second bike shortly after (I have a bike addiction and can’t have enough). Once we had our bikes we started joining some group rides and dropping some weight. It was fun and I truly enjoyed riding both road and mountain bikes 2-3 times a week.
There was something missing though because I wanted to more and I wanted the thrill of racing again. I had a long running bet between a buddy I made in 2003 about doing an Ironman. I shot my mouth off at a drunken card table and in 2012 my buddy did his first 70.3. Suddenly I realized the guy that was never athletic had gotten off his rump and was on his way to kick my butt because I hadn’t followed through with the dream that was originally mine. How could I have done that? I had talked with my fellow riders about doing a tri for years, but never pulled the trigger. I was terrified of it and had no idea where to even start.
Well, one afternoon last October I signed up for the 2012 Denton Monster Tri the following Sunday. Let’s get something clear, I had not been in a lap pool since I was 17 and could not run a mile. I could ride like crazy, but at 250 and ill prepared it was nuts. That fits. Y personality though. So Sunday showed up and it took me 1:54:13 to do a sprint. I stayed in the back of the swim line and thought I was going to drown in 2590 yards, I couldn’t believe how one of my favorite things in life had become so difficult. I survived the swim, rode a tired bike and struggled to run half of the 5k but I did cross the finish line. All of my TBP and KMF buddies were laughing and supportive of me as I crossed that line. The pain was all over my face and I had never felt so proud of a physical accomplishment in my adult life. I had earned a medal. It was truly the start of something, I think all of my teammates thought it would be my only tri. Oh boy were they wrong!
He Monster Tri was 10/21/12 and I was so hooked and so naive on the reality of Ironman that I signed up for Ironman Arizona on 11/16/12. Yea I couldn’t swim 250 yards, but I signed up for one of the ultimate races in the world and was lucky enough to get through the online registration. So now my friends not only thought I was crazy they thought I truly had lost my mind. I was told by quite a few people that there was NO WAY I would get ready of IMAZ I that short of a time. Well, I did so you can learn not to tell me that I can’t do anything is useless. It would have been smarter to tell me I SHOULD NOT instead. I probably still wouldn’t have listened.
So here I was with less than 12 months to get ready for 140.6 miles of IMAZ and not the slightest clue on how to get there. So I did the next dumb thing I could, I started signing up for every tri I could afford. Seemed logical to me! Luckily James and Ben decided I was going to hurt myself without some guidance and they jumped in to help me achieve my goals. We started with Rock n Roll half marathon and Ironman Texas 70.3 to get through the first quarter of the year. Those two events were the proper kicks in the butt I needed to realize I had a LOT more work to do just to finish IMAZ.
I will do some write ups on all of my 2012 events as I don’t want to short change the stories they tell about my journey. So we go back to why. My answer was always why not honestly. My doctor cleared me for my stupidity so I didn’t have a legitimate excuse not to do it. So for those without time, I’m married with a 9 year old and a 15 month old. Those that have to much work to do, we are a single income family and I’m a small business owner. For those that are too out of shape, I was 250 and 26% body fat at my first tri. I am currently 219 and 17% body fat. I eat ice cream and chocolate, and indulge in Whataburger. Are you running out of cant’s and starting to ask yourself why not yet?
Triathlon has saved me in more than one way. IMAZ was as much of a spiritual journey as it was a physical one. I am alreadying looking forward to my 2014 races, but 2013 IMAZ will be the race I dedicate my survival too. I couldn’t have dropped the weight and freed myself of stress and low self esteem like I have in 2013. I’m far from perfect and very far from done, but I am on the next part of my journey. That why comes back up all the time and when I look around in my family they all have their answers too. My 9 year old is begging to do triathlons, 5ks and swim lessons. My beautiful wife is marathon training and she ran like me when she started. My little sisters are running events every month, one of them ran their first 5k this past weekend after seeing me on my ironman journey. The other one is contemplating jumping off into my insanity now.
Why has changed everyone around me. Why has extended my life and made me happier. Why has made me a better father and role model to my sons. Why has made me a hero to my wife. You now know my why, so what’s yours?