I have been training and racing triathlon since 2006. In 2009 I did my first ½ Ironman and first full Ironman triathlons. Ironman Arizona 2018 was my 12thfull distance Ironman race. I never could have done all of these without the support of Linda. She sees my passion and the positive effects it, in so many ways, has on me. She supports my training and racing, rarely complaining as we juggle things to find the right balance. I also get tremendous support from family (including Mom). They put up with my too frequent inattention to them and allow me to be obsessed.
Ironman for me has rarely been about “just” finishing. For many people that is THE goal and I’m certainly not denigrating that in any way. In fact, my respect for all of those who even make the attempt runs very deep. I understand what goes into dreaming big and making that attempt. My goals, in part, have always included getting faster, improving, racing others, testing how much I can push myself, and qualifying for Kona with my performance.
I have had 15 opportunities to qualify for the Ironman World Championship over the past 10 years of racing if you include Oceanside 70.3 (it used to offer Kona slots). People have been so positive that I’m going to qualify and I appreciate their belief in me and the faith they have and their positive sentiments. Unfortunately it doesn’t come easily. I’m not some uber-cyclist or super-runner and being a good swimmer doesn’t win a race. Ignoring the “Legacy Slot” option for a minute, just like any goal that is challenging and difficult to achieve, what it takes for me to reach the goal realistically seems to be out of my reach, at least for now.
I’ve fallen short every time. I have come close 3 times. I placed 3rdin my age group at Ironman Texas in 2011. There were 2 Kona slots. Ironman Arizona 2017 I placed 4th. There was 1 slot. This year at Ironman Chattanooga I placed 4thagain and again there was just 1 slot. The journey has been long and every time I’ve fallen short of qualifying of course I’ve still achieved other goals. And I’ve still received rewards of a different sort; learning, personal growth, and hopefully evolving into a wiser coach and better human being. But it has been a long journey. Each Ironman race has involved around 400-450 hours of specific training, sometimes with friends but many times on my own. I am goal driven and race driven and the pursuit of Kona has been my passion. Qualifying for Kona has probably been the goal I’ve held and pursued for the longest time in my life.
And yet I’ve fallen short each time. I’ve “failed” by not racing fast enough to earn a spot at the biggest dance. I’m proud of my pursuit but . To get philosophical, in the end it’s not about achieving the goal, it’s about the journey I took day in and day out; the discipline; the consistency; the challenging of self; the health gains (and losses); the fun; the adventures; the friends made. I’ve gained so much from this pursuit.
But I also recognize that the sacrifice my family and friends have made has been significant. I’ve missed out on things with family and friends when I’ve chosen to train instead of being with them. Linda throws herself into my goal and journey in so many ways. I could never do this with out her love, support, and enabling. She makes it possible. Jayne, the ever-supportive and energetic mom, is also there for me. She is always up for the events, always encouraging, always ready to help in any way she can, always sharing her pride in her first born’s pursuits and achievements. My kids have their own lives of course but they are impacted by my triathlon focus/obsession. Schedules, travel, training, and family get-togethers always take into account the triathlon calendar. Like non-triathlete friends, they all get shortchanged sometimes.
In spite of being inspired by my trip to Kona to coach, spectate, and take in the whole amazing scene, I feel very drained from racing Chattanooga and Arizona. I also feel guilty about this time consuming pursuit that, while inspiring to many (I’m repeatedly told), also takes time from other things (as noted in the previous paragraph). While I don’t intend to stop – I will get that legacy slot – I think letting go of the ABSOLUTE focus of getting every training in, needs to move down a notch or three on the priorities list for a while. From the outside looking in, this may not look very different. For me, though, it will be deciding to compromise a training session more often than once every few weeks. It may include training harder but shorter. It will include racing and volunteering at other, shorter races that will also refuel the tri fire. There may be other changes too, who knows?
I don’t know how to finish this stream of consciousness. I hope it wasn’t too rambling and I’m sorry if you read this far and wished you'd moved on to something else! I just felt a need to write more about some things that are important parts of my triathlon pursuits that went beyond the initial race report.