Last year after Ironman Wisconsin I was totally burnt out. I had my best Ironman finish that race even with some injuries including getting ran into on the bike. I had already accepted the fact that I had to fundraise $50K for Smile Train for the Ironman World Championships. I had 1 more 70.3 and Ironman Arizona still left on my plate and I really didn’t want to do either of them, but I didn’t want to defer them a year either, so I pushed through them. After IMAZ I walked away from structured workouts and signing up for any races, I wanted a break, I needed a break. Someone once said that “When you stop having fun, you need to walk away.” Well, I had arrived at that destination. The fun was gone from the training and the long racing. Mentally I was drained, and physically I just needed a break.
So here I am 6 months till the Ironman World Championships and I’m ready to get back to it. I still have about $44K to raise to even toe the line and anything that I don’t raise, I have to pay for out of my pocket. I’m not totally out of shape but I have a LONG road ahead of me. The road to the Ironman World Championship isn’t just about completing a race, it’s about so much more. When you’re trying to raise money for a cause it’s about making a difference in the world. Did you know that globally, 1 in every 700 children is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Clefts are the leading birth defect in many developing countries. Yes this includes the United States. Yet in the news you can bet that we heard about which couple in the entertainment industry are breaking up, getting together, or who wore what better walking down the red carpet. So even before starting the training for the IWC my supporters been able to make a difference in raising 28 smiles for children with cleft. That’s 28 children which might just be a drop in the bucket, but that’s 28 children who are going to go on to have a better life than before. I have about 176 more smiles to go before I can go to the IWC and it’s by far the toughest thing that I’ve chosen to do. Yes, I’m very well aware that I could fail at it and I will tackle that if it happens. What I can keep doing though is giving my best effort and keep accepting help from people that I wouldn’t have thought of being those to help out.
If you’d like to help support me in my quest for the Ironman World Championships, but more importantly give a child the gift of a smile and a better life you can donate using the link below or by clicking on the Smile Train picture on the website. Your support is 100% tax deductible.
Saturday was the official start of the Ironman race season as Ironman 70.3 Oceanside kicked off. Athletes train for months at a time for these kinds of races and give it their all while they are out on the course. This year was my second time volunteering for this race, but my first year as the captain. We (Volunteer Captains & Staff) put in months of preparation for this race as well. We don’t do it for a spot to go to worlds to volunteer, we don’t volunteer because we expect to be awarded, we do it because we enjoy it. I volunteer at this spot because hearing an athlete say “Thank You!” is worth more than anything. You don’t know what they are thinking, but I know that they just swam 1.2 miles, they really just did it.
This is the 2017 Ironman 70.3 Oceanside Swim Exit/Entrance crew (minus the ones with a wetsuit) who without them I wouldn’t be as successful as I was at captain. Everyone braved the 48 degree weather at 5AM to be there early so that the athletes could get the attention from the staff. We were there for the athletes and not us. Our spot fills up fast since we are at the water and get to see friends who might come in, as well as be up with the Pro’s. So with that we might not always get some of the recognition that goes with some of the other area’s, but our area is by far the BEST. As a captain, I’m responsible for the area which includes the swim areas and making sure the athletes know where the start is and the warm up. It was a new start this year so we wanted to make things as easy as possible. All my volunteers absolutely nailed it. I was complimented by the staff at how well organized we were and how clean the area was once the swim was over. On a larger scale there was not one single complaint from the City of Oceanside about any area. Everyone on my team had their spots and owned it as their own. As a captain I have to be able to be fluid and go where the need is, as well as make sure my volunteers are ok and if they need anything. Everyone was fine through the entire portion and we were out of their by 10:30AM.
The best part about being at this spot is that you are right there for the athletes as they are coming out of the water. The energy is high and you’re swept up in the excitement of seeing everyone coming out of the water and you’re smiling which is really contagious. Even the athletes who might not have had their “best” swim smile instantly when they see you smiling and you’re helping them. This year because of the rolling start it was a steady stream of swimmers coming through. This was a good thing since there weren’t any big clumps and we didn’t get overloaded. However, when you’re in this spot you know there is the inevitable last few swimmers that are swimming against the clock. We are all there cheering for them to swim and make it, but the clock is relentless in it’s countdown. There are no timeouts or stops, you just have to swim for your life. Even though we already knew those who wouldn’t beat the clock every volunteer in the area (even from other teams) were on the docks cheering them in. I however had one of the toughest spots to be at. I had to be up with the race director letting the athletes know they didn’t make the cut off. Some people cried, and some people just shrugged and said “I gave it my all”. It’s still hard to hear that being told to someone knowing that I won’t ever know what that feeling is like.
I’ll be back again next year as a captain and I can only hope that I get the same amazing team year after year. Being the captain this year cemented what I thought when I first volunteered at this spot back in 2015. Volunteering at this race in this spot is without a doubt better than actually racing it, and I know a few people who feel the same after Saturday.
It was around this time 3 years ago that I made the biggest choice of my life. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I didn’t know where I was going to end up. I just knew that I needed to change. I made the choice to walk away from the drinking and drug scene that was gobbling up my weekends and my wallet. When I look back at the time, I was in total denial of where I was and what was going on. I was self-medicating for my own choices that I had made and in denial that it was up to me to change it. I blamed others and I rarely blamed myself for the bad choices. Why, because I had essentially given up on my life. I was trying to convince myself that this was the best my life was going to get. I was fat, unhappy with my career, and inside felt powerless and trapped to change it. Like many people out there, I was afraid to quit my job. It was my income source, and when the economy was in the dump it was difficult to imagine myself being 37 and jobless. So I stayed stuck and it was eating me alive. I had the victim’s mentality.
Some people will say that it was because I had an addictive personality, but let’s be honest for a minute. There was no addiction about it, I just didn’t want to accept the responsibility that I had to be the one making the steps to change it. I wasn’t addicted to the drinking, the drugs, I wasn’t addicted to going out every weekend. I was making the choice to do it, because I wasn’t in the right mindset to break the cycle. There was no drug out there or treatment program that could have righted that ship. It’s my belief that you can get all the help in the world to take control of a ship, but if you don’t take the wheel and start steering. You will never correct the course.
You could say that change happened overnight, but many people will not understand it was that easy and I’ll explain why. Change is the action of doing something different, and when I looked at myself and decided that I was going to do something different I “changed”. I ditched the victim mentality and went to a victor mentality. Now that doesn’t mean it was easy, but I started the moment in the other direction. I had my doubts and I had my distractions. That image of me in the mirror though is still fresh in my mind as to who I didn’t want to become. As I started accepting that I was at because of my actions and no one else, life started to change and I started to find ways to succeed. Steve Jobs once said “You have to believe that the dots are going to connect down the road in life.” and I heard that earlier this year and he was absolutely right. When I look back at the choices I made there is a deliberate path to success with where I am at now. Triathlon, tri club, beginner open water swim, volunteer swim coach, adult learn to swim coach, to volunteer captain for the swim area at the local races, and triathlon coach.
So the moral of this blog post is that it is your life and up to you to LIVE it. Be the victor in your life and not the victim.
One of my goals in 2017 is to move to a more video blog. Here is a video on making a choice.