My journey to triathlon and the significance of my race number for the 2012 Avia Wildflower Long Course race began when I was a kid.
From around second grade, I struggled with my weight. I was always self-conscious and worried that people were judging me not by who I was but by what I was, which simply put was a fat kid. In high school I was still self-conscious but being a football player it was accepted by not only me but my family. My senior year my playing weight was in the area of 315 pounds and I’m 5’11”.
After high school I had a full ACL reconstruction while also going away to college. The pizza and beer being compounded by the inactivity except for physical therapy took its toll. I ballooned and the last weight I saw was 336 pounds after which I stopped getting on the scale. At the Age of 19 I was hypertensive and pre-diabetic. When I learned that I was risking diabetes I decided to change my life for the better. I joined up with Kennedy Club Fitness (KCF) in San Luis Obispo and started working out. I managed to get myself down to 286 pounds and that was enough to get me away from diabetes and off the medications. However, I was still self-conscious and felt like I was literally a prisoner in my own body.
I would be lying if I said that dark thoughts never crossed my mind, the feelings of isolation and helplessness are two things I will never forget.
In 2010 at KCF’s Arroyo Grande location I came across a program called T.E.A.M, which stood for Team Empowerment Accountability Motivation. This program was essentially an eight week and four pronged approach to weight loss which had proven effective for other members in the past.
In the first meeting for TEAM the lead trainer Joy had us write down three reasons why we wanted to lose weight and what our goals were. One of my final goals was to finish a triathlon, I had heard of Wildflower in the past because so many friends volunteered but it sounded impossible to the 336 pound me and highly unlikely to the 286 pound me. Getting ready for the program I got down to 279 pounds. Through the program and over the following eight weeks I lost 40.5 pounds and got down to 238.5. My capstone for this transformation was the sprint distance at Tri-California's Pacific Grove Triathlon. I finished the race and was hooked on triathlon.
The energy was there and the scary thoughts and self-doubt had vanished and I no longer felt like a prisoner in my own body. That same year I did the sprint at Scott Tinley’s and was sure I was hooked but also knew that I wanted to try the next distance. In 2011 did the Olympic distances at Wildflower, Pacific Grove, Scott Tinley’s, Bass Lake, and my A-race Alcatraz. In late May during a pool session for Alcatraz a thought popped into my head. The thought went along the lines of “you know… an Ironman doesn’t sound impossible” that thought had implanted itself into my mind and in late June I signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. After signing up I knew I wanted to do a half IM before IMCDA and thought that Wildflower was the perfect race to test myself. The heat, the sun, and the hills were screaming, “we dare you”.
I signed up for the long course 2012 and eventually started my training in early January. Race weekend came and I went to packet pickup the day it opened. Upon opening my packet I took out my race number and saw it. I stood and stared at it as the crowd of fellow athletes around me went about their business. My race number was 336, the same weight I was when I gave up and stopped weighing myself. It was like the universe spoke to me and said, “you’re going to do this”. Race day came and I would eventually cross the finish line and hear my name announced. The volunteers and fellow athletes on the course would make me see why Wildflower is so special, even without countless professionals who have had their lives changed by this race. I would go on to keep training knowing that if I could handle Wildflower, I could handle IMCDA.
I would go on to finish IMCDA with all of 34 minutes to spare before the cutoff but still I can call myself an Ironman. I raced both Wildflower and IMCDA at 223 pounds. I will be back for more in 2013 and am planning on racing Wildflower at 205 or less. There so much I could say but I will leave it with a short story.
My dad asked me why I do Triathlon, why do I commit to the training sessions and lifestyle when I’m not trying to win these races. The first time I answered “I don’t know, because it fun?” but Wildflower and IMCDA helped me define why I race. I had my answer the next time he asked, I responded “because you don’t know how deep you can dig or how far and hard you can push yourself until you try.”