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The life of a Dad who strives to be the best dad possible

My Triathlon Start

Never did I imagine an email from my wife would so profoundly change my life… particularly an email of the most innocuous nature. It contained nothing more than a short, couple-minute video of some of her friends’ kids doing their first “kid triathlon.” She said:

I think you will like this. It’s so cute!

Somehow, intuition should have waved a red flag, right? A raven had to have landed at that precise moment outside my window, didn’t it? That clear sky? Just a mirage, as dark and ominous clouds strived to block the sun, if only for a second… None of those things happened. Instead, I just hit download. Little did I know the impact that video would have on the rest of my life…

Those five minutes turned into about thirty as I watched, and re-watched, and re-watched, that video, absorbing each moment. The kids were all so happy. They were running, laughing, and smiling; all while exercising. I was enthralled and captured more than I possibly could have known.

At that time in my life, I had recently quit practicing law (no loss there) to stay home with my first child, my son Trey. I could not get the idea of Trey (and my soon-to-be-born daughter, Amelia) doing a race like those kids out of my head; it consumed me. Ultimately, I knew I would have to try my hand at something I had never even pondered: a triathlon. I mean, I had heard about them, had heard of the “Ironman” (whatever that was), but really was almost completely ignorant. But, I knew with even greater certainty that I could never make my kids do anything; I had to lead them. If Daddy did it, they might too.

Trey and Daddy

So, like any clueless person, I registered for an event called “The PBR Off-Road Sprint” without asking anyone whether that was a good idea. No clue what any of that meant, other than in my mind, PBR equaled beer, perhaps even at the event. Deceptively, the event description read something close to “perfect for the seasoned veteran but simple enough for the first time triathlete”. This was the first time I learned that event promoters aren’t always entirely accurate. Maybe riding my wife’s mountain bike from college wasn’t a wise move, but contemplating death three times per bike loop didn’t qualify as “simple enough.” The bike was brutal, challenging, tough, and dangerous, yet exhilarating, fun, and breath-taking. I was hooked, long before I consciously knew it.

 

Fast forwarding a month and Ironman Arizona is occurring in Tempe, Arizona. I knew that eventually I wanted to do an Ironman, but after one single sprint (and an off-road at that), I was grossly unprepared and unqualified to even consider such an undertaking. Well, you guessed it, that didn’t stop me. The day after every Ironman race, any unclaimed spots in the following year’s race go on sale online at noon. I sat at my computer for nearly forty five minutes hitting the refresh button, all the while thinking “this is nuts; God help me if I somehow win the proverbial lottery and get a slot”. After a while, I suddenly realize I am on a screen that says: Enter Your Credit Card Information. Uh-oh, usually when people want your money, it’s go time. I entered the applicable data, clicked the “Register” button, and mentally crossed myself, in spite of the fact that I am not overly religious…

The next twelve months were spent working harder than I had ever done in my life. I hired a coach, researched bikes, bought a bike (and a whole slew of other supplies), re-learned that I am part fish, learned to actually enjoy running, and learned that I was a very average biker. I dealt with minor, nagging injuries, IT band issues, saddle sores, cuts, scrapes and bruises from falling while on my bike, got chased by a dog while running (that will get your heart rate up!), spent more than I ever dreamed I would, and loved every moment of it. Well, maybe not being chased by a large dog; that was unnecessary. I exercised between eight and twelve times a week, not including lifting weights, doing core work, and stretching. I watched my minor musculature I had spent decades cultivating melt away, like they were nothing but a dream, which to me, they were. I got up before the sun for days, weeks, and even months; all to train away from the desert heat. I logged thousands of miles on my bike, swam thousands upon thousands of yards each week, and ran miles after miles after miles. I did track workouts, interval runs, mile sprints, one thousand meter sprints, hill repeats, and tempo runs, all on my feet. I did cruise intervals, maximum strength intervals, hill sprints, and tempo rides, all on my bike. I did fartleks, short sprint intervals, long sprint intervals, and swam straight miles (or three), all in the pool. I did all of this for one, single day. One day to get up at 3:00am to eat breakfast and have it digest. One day to experience all temperatures from freezing to overheating. One day to do it all together. One day for forever. Just one… single… solitary little day.

On November 22, 2009, after 11 hours and 32 minutes of non-stop exercising, 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running, I heard something that all triathletes dream of hearing:

You are an IRONMAN.

IMAZ 2009

My life has never been, and never will be, the same. Those four words now encompass what I am, as a person, as a father, as a leader, as a motivator; they define me. I am unwilling to stop until I succeed. I will never relinquish my dreams and my goals. What I want, I will continually strive to get. I have stood at the edge of nothing, wondered whether I should just fall in and stop. I knew that if I stopped, I would not restart. Inertia is a powerful ally, but an even more powerful enemy. Give it a moment, and it will take everything…

And so, I progress. I dream of more than I did. I ponder what limitations, if any, truly exist. What is “too much”, “too difficult”, or even “impossible”? Because now I have a different standard to meet. Before that day, I might have accepted “skating by” or doing just enough; no longer. Now, I to push myself to be the best that I can, at everything I do.

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