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Racing For A Reason(s)

January 4th, 2014


Matthew and Madeline with Layla, a Tu Nidito child.
Matthew and Madeline with Layla, a Tu Nidito child.
Matthew, Madeline, and me.
Matthew, Madeline, and me.
The kids watched Ironman Kona this year. Next stop Tahoe!
The kids watched Ironman Kona this year. Next stop Tahoe!

During my 20-year career as a professional triathlete, I had just about zero desire to do the Ironman distance.  I was mildly intrigued at the start of my career, but by mile six of the run in the 1987 Ironman World Championships, I was over it.

I was so over it that I never attempted another Ironman nor thought about attempting one until the twilight of my career in 1999.  I’ve always been a quick learner and on that day in 1987, I learned two very important things about myself:

  1. I have a short attention span, and
  2. I suck at the Ironman distance.

To be blatantly honest, the only reason I considered an Ironman in 1999 was because I knew that I would be venturing into the coaching world and that I should probably finish one so that I would have a better idea of what those wacky enough to want to do an Ironman – over and over again, were going through.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the Ironman distance.  It’s just that at the time (in 1987 - after I got my butt handed to me by the race and by my peers) I decided that the life lessons learned from participating in an Ironman can be gleaned almost as well from the sidelines as from the field of play.  For me, the “doing” was limited to (much) shorter events.

But, since 1985, I have rarely missed spectating (in person) at the Kona Ironman World Championships.  During an Ironman, the race unfolds much slower than it does in the 1-2 hour events that were my bread and butter.  Because of this, we spectators are able to see many stories unfold – hundreds, if you paid attention.  You don’t get much of a story watching a 1-2 hour race.  Watching Kona each year reminded me why I started doing triathlons in the first place – for the test and for the journey.

Now, as a parent and coach, I want to teach my children, other children, AND adults, that the test and the journey are important.  In our world of technology (smartphones, ipads, ipods, video/computer games . . . ) and stimuli (facebook, twitter, instagram . . .) that make it harder to get up and move and easier to sit on your butt (pick your poison) – I want my children’s experiences to be felt and not be of the virtual variety.

Plus, this year - Tu Nidito, a charitable organization that is near and dear to my heart, has chosen the Ironman vehicle as a way to raise money and awareness for its mission - supporting children impacted by serious medical conditions and death.

Cutting to the chase – I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for Ironman Lake Tahoe.  I’m racing Ironman Lake Tahoe as part of Tu Nidito’s Tri for a Child team.

Many who knew me “way back when,” will find this amusing and perplexing.  Many of my “new” friends and family (our kids, mainly) will find this exciting and curious.

Me – I’m all of those.

Mainly, I want to lead by example again.  I’ve been sitting on the sidelines for too long.  I also want to raise funds and awareness for Tu Nidito because I believe so passionately in their mission and purpose.

And finally, for those of you who are wondering – mostly my friends from way back when – I’m not lumping myself into the “just want to finish” category … not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I am slapping my intentions firmly on the table for all to see.  If you’re 50 years old and racing in Tahoe – you better get your Shitzu together (as my 10-year-old daughter likes to say).  If you’re a “youngster,” you better watch your back.

And if you’re of any age and you’re looking to finish a real Ironman – Tahoe is your race.  It’s a true triathlete’s course – man/woman against the venue.  I watched last year, and the stories that I saw unfold in that race are rivaled only by those played out on the lava fields of Kona.

I want some of that.

If you want to join me, please consider being part of Tu Nidito’s Tri For A Child team.  Tu Nidito has entry spots for Ironman Tahoe (and sold-out Ironman Boulder).  As part of the Tri For A Child team, you’ll get a training plan designed by me, support at the race, the satisfaction of helping a child in need, and most important of all, you’ll learn, teach, and inspire – yourself and others.

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