When I signed up to compete at the Ironman World Championship in 2020, I had no idea of the journey I was embarking upon.
Getting to the start line of a 140.6-mile Ironman is no walk in the park at the best of times, throw in canceled races two years in a row thanks to COVID, a broken clavicle, and then an eleventh-hour hurricane hitting us mere days before Kerry and I were due to fly to Kona, and I can honestly say it has been as much an ordeal of mental resilience as it has been of physical endurance…and I haven’t even completed the race yet!
As I sit here at thirty thousand feet en route to Hawaii (after rescheduling canceled flights), I can start to put the three years of training, broken bones, and a frantic post-hurricane cleanup behind me.
At one point on Wednesday, as surge water surrounded our house and flooded our garage, it looked like my Kona dream had been thwarted again. With no power, internet, or cell reception, figuring out if our flights from Fort Myers had been canceled (they were) was the last thing on our minds.
Training for an Ironman is partly about developing the physical stamina to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a 26.2-mile marathon. It’s not something most of us can roll out of bed and do. Yet, as I look back over the last three years, I realize it’s more about developing the mental stamina needed.
I have lost count of the days I didn’t want to get out of bed at 5:30 am to swim, bike, or run, that little voice whispering to stay snuggled up instead. Yet, except on the rare occasion, up I got.
With each passing year and no race, the voice grew louder and louder. Reminding me of what was coming at the peak of my training. The five or six-hour bike on a Saturday, followed by a short transition run. The four-thousand-yard swim, followed by a sixteen or eighteen-mile run on a Sunday.
It kept whispering to coast on my ride instead of pushing to hit my power target. Why not walk for a bit longer, give yourself a rest, it would say, a seductive siren call to tired legs.
At times it was a cacophony, shouting, I’m done! It’s too hot (one hundred degrees Fahrenheit really is), this hill is too steep (they are around Lake Tahoe), and you can’t possibly run another step or swim another stroke. And yet I put one foot in front of the other, pulled another stroke, and turned the crank one more time.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, one, two…and on and on. Repeating my counting incantation to focus or perhaps distract my mind.
All in preparation for Thursday 6th October 2022 in Kona, Hawaii.
Sometimes it was holding my dream tight that kept me going. Other times, it was the perceived expectation of friends and family, to who I had publicly declared my intentions, and many of whom have donated on my behalf in support and encouragement. And, at times, it came down to sheer grit and determination to get the job done.
I’ll need all of the above on race day. I’ve done everything possible, and now I surrender to what will come on the day. The waves, the wind, the heat, and the humidity, bring it on, I say. Bring. It. On.
Despite the twists and turns, I remain eternally grateful. I am grateful I get to train for and compete at the Ironman World Championship, it is a privilege. Grateful for the patience of my ever-supportive wife, Kerry. Grateful to Eric and Gigi for stepping in last minute to look after Jake after Hurricane Ian wrecked our dog sitter plans (we’ll be dropping Jake off in San Francisco before we connect to Kona). Grateful to all of you that have supported me and cheered me on from the sidelines.
I set out to raise $1000 for each of the 140.6 miles that I’ll be racing to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). As a challenged athlete, I know firsthand the difference participating in a sport and being physically active can make in one’s life. CAF provides grants annually to athletes of all ages, all disabilities, and across all sports, for the adaptive equipment or support they need to get out there and participate. It changes people’s lives; Kerry and I have been blessed to witness that up close and personal.
So far, I’ve raised an astounding $114,056!
Kerry and I have been matching your donations dollar for dollar and will continue to do so. Every dollar you give will have double the impact. If your company offers matching funds for your donation, it’ll quadruple the impact.
Whether I reach $140,600 or not, I’m overwhelmed by your generosity and patience as I keep pestering you for yet another donation. Your unquestioning support has been part of what has motivated me to keep pushing year after year in this seemingly neverending quest. Thank you with all my heart! Any final donations can be made online here.
I’ll be sure to post an after-race update, but for those who want to track me on the day, you can download an app: https://www.ironman.com/app-tracking-information.
P.S. I want to make a special callout to some long-time supporters and friends that have been most generous year after year in donating to CAF on my behalf. Ed, Graeme, Alex, and Lyndon, thank you.
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