At the end of the 2011 season, my first full year as a "triathlete", I had mixed emotions of what next season was going to be like. Originally, when I first entered this world at the end of the summer of 2010, my goal was to complete a Half Iron distance, 70.3, in 2011, and complete a full 140.6 in 2012. In October of 2011 I completed my half, as was the plan... The race was on my birthday in Myrtle Beach, and was an amazing experience. I beat my goal time, and had my family at the finish line to share in my personal victory. That is what this sport is supposed to be. Little victories along the way. Maintaining for progress, have fun, keep up my fitness, and just enjoy the multisport lifestyle. I knew I was getting a bit faster, but thought that was just an obvious byproduct of training. Then a funny thing happened. I placed at a race. I came in 2nd in my age group at the Carl Hart fall duathlon. It was an interesting moment for me. I never excelled at anything in my life. I was never the star athlete, or the best student. I was a decent singer in my high school... but take me out of Elwood with a graduating class of 160+, I was terrible. This was significant in my progression as an athlete, and in my journey to become better at something. My goals changed that day. They went from being merely good at something to wanting more. That is when I decided to start to make the multisport lifestyle part of my life. As with many of us, Triathlon became more than a hobby. It began to consume me. Soon, publications like "Triathlete", and "Lava", started to take the place of my staples of "Road & Track", and "Car & Driver" in my magazine rack. I started absorbing every bit of knowledge I could on the sports I would be working on for the next few months. Normal holiday dinners, turned into a challenge for me to eat healthy, and whatever winter I remember now turned into an off season that wasn't to be, having trained through the entire winter. Throw in "tri camp" in Florida, and I wanted more. I planned my schedule not just wanting to finish a 70.3 race, but to qualify for Vegas, The world championships for Ironman brand 70.3 races.
The race season started off well with a top 10 overall finish at the first 2 races I entered. Again, this kind of success at something was entirely new to me. I don’t place in the top 10. I am a middle of the pack guy... always have been. Then came Ironman Florida. My first 70.3 of the season, and first attempt at qualifying for Vegas. As I said in my previous post, it was a humbling experience, as the heat seriously destroyed all hopes of having a strong finish. It ruined my run, and all the work I had done to that point was for nothing I felt. All the hours spent away from my family, all the hard work, and sweat, and tears that go into training for such an event was done in vain. And I had nothing to show for it. The next race was an Olympic in at Rev3 Quassy. As instructed by my coach, I was not meant to "race" this event, merely train through it. He wanted me to work on nutrition for the event, and get used to running long off the bike. I did just that. Although to say the experience was not the most pleasant would be an understatement. Driving rain, cold temps, and wicked wind were the elements we had to battle that day. I wasn't happy, and my run split again suffered. Questions come out again. Am I cut out for this? Am I meant to be racing, should I just give it up? Then I raced this past weekend. Father’s Day, 2012. The day had a mellow undertone because as a family we were still mourning the loss of my father-in-law who lost his battle with heart disease on this past Christmas Eve. Losing a family member is difficult enough, but losing a father on Christmas is devastating, and I knew today was going to be difficult for my wife and her family. Knowing this, I gave her the option to spend the morning with her mom and the kids, so they could all be together. My wife did just that... At the race! Having them there meant more to me than they will ever know. Seeing my wife and kids at every stage in transition, along with hugs at the finish line, is what I believe kept me strong. Her strength helped me. Thank you for doing that baby!
After a very confusing and unorganized swim start, I was 3rd in my wave (wave 1) to exit the water. This has never happened before, as I am used to being a slower swimmer. This week at swim practice however, something just clicked, and I was moving fast. That being said, I got on the bike, and my wife, her mom and my kids were right there cheering me on. After getting a little choked up (not uncommon for me), I was off. Bike felt good, and before I knew it I was rolling into transition. When I asked my family how many in front of me, "2" was their answer... What? 2? I was running third heading into T2? This has never happened to me before. Time to turn it up for the run. 5K. 3 miles, that is all that stands between me and the finish line. 19:21 was my run split. A sub 20 min 5k is my PR, and I felt AMAZING! I was the third person to cross the finish line! That was the proudest I have ever been as a triathlete... and it felt surreal. It was only a local sprint, and there were only 737 people that entered. I ended up coming in 17 overall, due to the fact that in the waves that started after me, people were obviously faster. It was still good enough for 2nd in my age group, and that, for me was amazing.
I have Ironman 70.3 Providence RI in 4 weeks. I finally am starting to feel a little more confident. Am I going to qualify for the World Championships? I don't know. But I do know that I will be giving it hell to get there... and that even if I don't I gave it my all, and am finally succeeding at something in my life!