It all began with watching my friend Dan Delph race in Louisville, Kentucky. Dan was an extremely strong cyclist and runner. He started the race in the men’s group near the front of the pack. The women’s and older age groups started after. I watched the swimmer’s in the Ohio River, swim upstream then downstream. I watched all the men exit the water, including the women, then the old women…Dan was nowhere to be seen.
In any race, there are stragglers. I watched them exit the water, concerned I had missed Dan. Dan was the second to last person out of the water (swimming wasn’t his strength and for the record we laugh about it to this day). Dan continued to smash out the bike and finish in a solid time by hammering out the run. It was at that point that I realized that the swim isn’t the most important part of the triathlon.
A short time later, I volunteered as a finish line catcher at Ironman Louisville during their inaugural year. I was catching the finishers as they came through that iconic finish line. In my head I said, ‘no way, an Ironman is crazy.’
I spent quite a few years thinking about attempting a triathlon. I had moved to Boulder, Colorado and I started really thinking about it again. I was scared to do it…until I found a Groupon for the Rocky Mountain Tri in Silverthorne, Colorado. I pulled the trigger and signed up, no backing out now!
My dad flew out to watch me race. I had no idea what I was doing. I sat on the side with my dad in my brand-new wetsuit, that I had swam in once in Boulder Reservoir. We watched each group of athletes enter the water with music blasting over the speakers, Carly Rae Jepson’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ will always stay in my head before a race.
This was a great first race, there were a majority of participants that were also racing their first triathlon. In that aspect, it was the best scenario for my first race. As I watched each group start, they made it about 25-30 meters before popping their heads up and doggy paddling. I thought, oh surely it cannot be that hard? <Insert maniacal laughter here>
As the gun went off, my age group began the race. I was kicked, punched and the water was cooooold! Of course it was, we were in the Rockies at 9,000ft and were swimming in a lake with runoff. I lost my breath, I was thrashed around, worse than any mosh-pit I’ve ever been in. I made it through the swim, I exited the water and there was only one word exiting my mouth, repeatedly. I’ll give you a hint, it begins with ‘F’ and rhymes with ‘muck.’
I got onto the bike and pedaled. No tri bars, no fancy TT bike, just my everyday road bike.
Going from the bike onto the run was an entirely new feeling in my body. A mix of lead legs and not being able to feel them at all. The run was hard, I walked, I re-considered my life’s choices. I survived and made it to the finish line. My dad was there the whole way to support me ❤ ❤ ❤
A day or two later I signed up for another Olympic distance triathlon, that was taking place about a month later. I still thought doing an Ironman was ‘crazy.’ For my next race, my mom was there cheering me on, it was great to have my parents at both of my races. This time the water was warmer, the bike was the same (except with a puncture) and the run I survived…again…LOL.
Shortly after my 2 races, I had moved to the UK. I had at that point signed up for my first middle distance race, i.e. a ‘Half-Ironman’. I trained in a new country, had a lot of life changes, but survived that race. I started to like the middle-distance races. They were a challenge, yet achievable.
I was out drinking with my friends Stu and Rob Novell. I started talking about doing an Ironman, both of whom have completed one. Add in lots of alcohol, friendly banter, and a credit card.
I woke up the next day knew my journey to become an Ironman had begun. My ‘crazy’ idea became a drunken decision which has served me well. I have traveled to new locations, met new people and pushed myself to ways I never thought possible. I have learned so much about myself and developed character traits that I can use in all aspects of my life.
I can call myself an Ironman. The brand Ironman has a slogan, ‘Anything is Possible.’ Pick that ‘impossible’ or ‘crazy’ task in your life. Make it a goal, go on the journey, you never know where you are going to end up.