It has been said, “It’s not the destination but the journey that counts”. My Ironman journey didn’t happen as planned, and there have been a veritable motley crew of characters that have played a part. To each of them, I say thank you.
This story begins on an evening, ironically, at the very birthplace of triathlon, at Mission Bay in San Diego. There I met Tyson Stephenson, who is a fellow cyclist. I had started to get serious about cycling again and was training for a half marathon. Tyson asked a very innocent question, on whether or not I had done a triathlon before. The thought had never crossed my mind. I quickly explained that I hadn’t been swimming in years, and don’t remember ever having a lesson. Tyson then suggested something called a “duathlon”. Never heard of it. Essentially, a duathlon substitutes the swim with a short run. I went home and found a race in Encinitas and signed up. Race morning arrived and we headed out to the beach. We stood at Moonlight Beach and watched group after group of triathletes brave the swell and complete their swims. My group was the last to start the 2k beach run, and I was able to survive the bike leg and final 5k run.
Watching the triathletes was truly inspirational. Even Suzannah was inspired for a few seconds to take up the sport. We returned home and I started to look for triathlons. Suzannah urged me not to sign up until I at least had some swim training. I found a pool near work and began to swim laps. After a few weeks of drowning myself in the pool, I signed up for a pool swim triathlon in San Luis Obispo. Suzannah says it was painful to watch, but I did it. I completed my first race.
From that point on, I have really been focusing on my swim. We are fortunate to have a 50m-lap pool near our house in Australia. I also have been training with the Casey-Cardina Triathlon Squad. With their help my swimming has vastly improved and continues to get better. Thanks Lauren, Craig, and Jess. You guys are fantastic. The swim leg is dedicated to you guys.
Next up is cycling. Several years ago at the urging of my good friend Maynard Rabarra, I purchased a Bianchi hybrid (cyclocross) bike and we began commuting 11 miles from Walnut Creek to our offices in San Ramon. It was great to get up on those cool mornings and ride the tree-lined trails to work. I put a ton of miles on that Bianchi and I will forever be grateful to Maynard for his support and inspiration.
Maynard has taken his love of cycling and become an ambassador for AIDS research by participating in the AIDS LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles the past few years. He has been a diligent fundraiser and exceeded his goal each year. It is for this reason that I will donate $1 for every minute I finish under the 17 hour curfew. Please join me in supporting this awesome cause and donate at: http://www.tofighthiv.org/site/TR/AIDSLIFECYCLE11/AIDSLifeCycleCenter?px=1279861&pg=personal&fr_id=1440
The cycle portion is dedicated to Maynard. You truly are an inspiration, and I will forever be in your gratitude for bringing cycling back into my life.
After running track in high school, I didn’t really pick it up again until a 5km race in San Francisco. I did a few more 5k’s and worked up to a 10k. I then started doing some sprint triathlons and worked my way up to Olympic distance. We were hanging out with some friends and somehow Trevor Keeney and Brad Lents ended up signing up for a half marathon with me. It was a fun race, but I could have done without seeing a runner having his heart shocked by the medics at mile 12 or the bloody nipples on a guy at the finish line. Trevor and I also did another half marathon on Sept 11 on a military base in Southern California.
Before we moved I had the privilege of being in a relay team with Trevor and Tyson in Coronado. I swam, Tyson did the bike leg, and Trevor did the run. We had a ton of fun and it was a race I will never forget. Since that time, Trevor has picked up a bike and started to swim. He is preparing for his first triathlon and I wish him the best of luck. The run portion is dedicated to Trevor. Thanks for pushing me to run faster, and I hope that you find triathlon as enjoyable and inspiring as I do. Plus you need to be ready for Ironman South Africa next year??? We’ll talk… J
I should also thank the run2sday group and my running coaches Bronwen Cardy and Lauren Grant. With their assistance I was able to finish 3rd overall in the King Island 20 race in early March and knocked 30 minutes off of my best half marathon time.
I lost track of all of the hours training, racing, eating, sleeping, anticipating, and preparing for this race. Through all of this has been Suzannah. All of the early race mornings, the visits to the bike store, the spandex, she has been my biggest supporter. I can’t begin to thank her enough for everything. This race is dedicated to you. To Suzannah: I love you! You are an amazing person and seeing you at the finish line is what is going to pull me through hell and back. Thank you for putting up with all of the training, my massive mood swings due to hunger, and all of the early race mornings. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you. Most of all, thank you for supporting me the past 3 months when Ironman training became my full time job. You are amazing!
(and I can finally announce that I have a new job here in Melbourne at an automotive data company. I start on April 2 and am really looking forward to the new challenge)
Ironman Melbourne will bring my sister Jamie halfway across the world and to Australia for the first time. Special thanks to Chad and the Shelley family back home in Missouri who made it possible for her to be here. Thanks to my parents for their support and for raising me to be the person I am today.
Thank you to everyone else for your motivation and putting up with my FB training posts. So many people served as inspiration, and I appreciate all of your encouragement.
You can watch the race live on Ironman.com and Suzannah will be posting updates throughout the day. My bib is # 554.
All that is left to do is swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon. See you at the finish line!