Wednesday, November 14, 2012

XTERRA Worlds 2012 – Race Report

My two year XTERRA experiment culminated with my participation in the World Championship in Maui at the end of last October.  For those unfamiliar with my foray into the world of off-road triathlon it was spurred by a spate of personal events in my life.  My marriage of 12 years was ending and the company that I helped grow into a firm with offices in London, Hong Kong and Toronto had imploded with the global economic meltdown.  My financial future and even my home ownership all seemed moribund.  I was surrounded by a number of impending circumstances that had evolved to the point where many of these events were beyond my control.  While I found solace in the mantra that “emotions are not facts,” keeping the anxiety away and not borrowing worry were still a challenge.  I realized that if I allowed myself to I could become paralyzed with fear and if this were the case, it had better be over something that I could actually control.  Acknowledging that for me exercise, particularly cycling, has not only been my passion but my refuge and therapy from the harsh realities that surrounded me, I decided I was going to possess fear I had better challenge myself with something physical that really scared me.  My choice was triathlon and more specifically, swimming in open water.  Essentially, I was channeling the unnecessary fear and anxiety that I was experiencing into something real like drowning (readers of my previous blog posts will remember my post Learning to Swim).  Illogical?  Maybe, but the psychological and physical benefits seemed a far healthier approach to anything considered conventional.

Fast forwarding to today, much has changed in my life over the couple of years since I began swimming and took up XTERRA at the most challenging point in my life thus far.  My personal growth and hard work has proven fruitful though I never could have gotten through it without my faith, the support of my parents and the inspiration of my children which have all been blessings for which I will never be able to show sufficient gratitude.  On the work front I started a new business with two of the best partners that I ever could have hoped and we have established a solid track record forging solid prospects for continued growth.  As far as XTERRA, I completed two races in my first season and qualified for Nationals.  In my second season this past year, I did five races which included a first place (age group result) at XTERRA Moab, second place at Indian Peaks and a fifth place at the US Championship.  It is with all of this as a backdrop that I will attempt to recount the events of an leading up to the XTERRA World Championship (Maui).

Truth be told, Maui was something that I thought of every day in the eleven months prior to the event.  I was awarded an at-large entry meaning I did not have to earn qualification in any of the races leading up to the event (I would have later merited this with a roll down due to my performance at US Champs however).  With this, I felt if I was going to show up, I owed the race my best.  Maui would also be different than any race I had ever done because it would not only be my first ocean swim, it would also be my first open water swim without a wetsuit.  Wetsuits add tremendous buoyancy in the water and an added sense of confidence but given the warmer temperature of the water and subsequent health risks, the race would not be wetsuit legal.  Further, I only had a year of swimming under my Speedo and it continued to challenge me like nothing I have ever attempted.  There was probably not 100 meters that I had swum every workout leading up to the event that I did not think about Maui.  With this I made Worlds the centerpiece of my season and decided to invite my parents and take my kids to be on hand for the event.

The race was scheduled for Sunday morning on October 28 and my family and I arrived in Maui the Tuesday prior.  The early arrival would not only allow for some family vacation time, it would also allow me to preview the bike and run courses as well as get several swims at the site of the swim; D.T. Fleming Beach.  Arriving at the airport we gathered our luggage and my bike which was also flown over.  We also picked up an acquaintance that I had only met a couple of weeks earlier; Michael Stone.  After a long day of travel and some amazing fish tacos, the family and I called it a night.  

The next morning I assembled my bike and met Michael at the Ritz Carlton to pick up our registration materials.  I had come to meet Michael only briefly on a couple of occasions but formally met him after a Masters swim class at our health club.  I knew Michael was a regular on the XTERRA circuit and I asked him if he would be racing Worlds.  He replied he was so I then asked him when he was getting in and his response matched our arrival time.  With this I offered him a ride from the airport knowing he couldn’t drive as Michael is legally blindHe suffers from a condition called Cone-Rod Dystrophy which progressively diminishes his vision over time.  This condition also makes him hypersensitive to bright lights.  Initially Michael competed in Ironman and off-road XTERRA events for the love of the sport.  While he still loves the sport he now also participates to raise awareness for the fight against blindness. 

The plan for the morning was for an easy pedal to preview the bike course.  While waiting in line at registration I recognized an XTERRA legend in the distance and said like a kid in awe to Michael, “There’s Jamie Whitmore!”  Jamie is the not only the most decorated female athlete in the sport, but what she has done in her personal life makes her achievements in XTERRA pale in comparison.  At the height of her career in 2008 Jamie was diagnosed with cancer.  This diagnosis was one that unfortunately led to the loss of her the glut, hamstring and psoas muscle on one side of her body.  In spite of being told that she would never ride a bike again Jamie not only beat cancer but was able to return to the sport and finish recent races.  She also completed the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race and will be competing in the paralympics in 2016 in Rio all with just one working leg.  More importantly and in spite of her radiation treatments, Jamie miraculously gave birth to twin boys.  After alerting her presence to Michael, and not to my surprise since he knows everyone in the sport, he said he not only knew her well but she was his inspiration for participating in the sport as a physically-challenged athlete.  After Michael said his hellos to Jamie and Courtney and getting our registration materials we agreed to meet out on the bike course. Michael would start out with Jamie and her husband Courtney and I would ultimately catch up.
Mile three and the climbing is just beginning
Simply put, the bike course in Maui is a beast. Not because it is technical but moreso the combination of the average grade, the dustiness and the heat and humidity.  It covers over 18 miles with an elevation gain of over 3,600 feet. Preriding the course I was sanguine that a slow swimmer like myself would be able to make up ground on the hilly course but my optimism was tempered by realizing that on race day it would be packed with hundreds of riders and the already dusty course would only deteriorate more with the dry weather forecast.  This meant for difficult, sandy terrain without favorable lines for passing which would turn into hike-a-bike sections further impeding progress and passing opportunities.  I caught up to Jamie near the top of a long grinder of a hill and we spoke briefly.  And then headed down on one of the longer and wider course descents marked by loose sand and as Conrad Stoltz so aptly put it: “man eating ruts.”  It was tough to get good rhythm and going around one of the blind turns I had to stop myself to avoid going off the mountain.  Jamie was behind me and almost made the same mistake.  She looked at me and said, “I can’t make that turn because I can’t put pressure on my leg.”  I smiled and said, “I have two good legs and I guess I have no excuse.”  

When I finally caught up to Michael and Courtney, Courtney was helping Michael navigate an “ass-way-back-behind-the-saddle-steep” dusty drop (this section was later dropped from the race).  Courtney was off his bike holding Michael as he descended into a windy tree-lined section with tight rocky lines.  I was completely in awe as other riders on the course were walking their bikes.  I then rode the remainder of the course chatting it up with Michael.  My numerous curiosity-driven questions were met with calm responses.  “What can you see exactly?”  “How much do you rely on your guide?”  “I guess if I told you I lost a contact in the race in Ogden you wouldn’t have a lot of sympathy?”  He mentioned he uses his bike almost like tapping a cane, feeling the front wheel and using a developed sense of echolocation to maneuver his bike.  “Close your eyes for a few seconds and try it” he suggested.  “With all due respect” I replied, “No effin’ way.  Let me at least get through the race and then maybe I’ll think about giving it a go.”  I should mention that Michael is an amazing climber on the bike and he requires his guide be the same as this is an area where he can excel.  In the past he has enlisted pros such as Wes Hobson and Ryan Ignatz so his only constraint is his own ability.  It is on the downhills where he has to be cautious often giving way to riders he has passed on the climbs with many of the riders that pass him not aware of his condition.  Ultimately subsequent climbs lead to a tiring game of leap frog on the next climb which provides a sense of frustration not only as a challenged athlete but as anyone with a competitive bone in their body.

Shortly after we finished the ride, we washed up the bikes and I headed home to spend some time with the kids.  Elyana wanted to see some turtles and we walked down to a nearby beach and spotted a few playing in the rough time among some rocks.  It helped me to remind myself of a great quote by the great mystical Rabbi the Baal Shem Tov, that "a person is where their mind is."  Even though I was in paradise I was preoccupied with the race.  Fortunately the reminder of this quote helped to bring some good awareness and presence to my daughter and surroundings.  Later that night we went out to celebrate Olivia’s 12th birthday.  Hard to believe my oldest baby just turned 12 and I was delighted we could celebrate it in such an amazing place with some of the best fish I have ever eaten.

The next day would be my first swim in the Pacific followed by an easy jog-hike of the run course.  Again I met Michael at the Ritz and we headed to the beach.  I was really excited to get a feel for the waves, currents and rip tides that I had heard about.  The plan was to swim at the same time that the race started to try to simulate the conditions we might face.  When we got to the beach the ocean could not have been any more peaceful.  I cautioned myself not to glean a false sense of confidence as swells were expected by the weekend and conditions would likely be much different.  The plan was to jump in and swim about 300 meters out from the start area.  Michael is a much better swimmer so he went out first and I tried to stay on his feet.  Michael’s experience helped him to swim fairly straight.  In the race, he would have a guide as his sensitivity to light forces him to swim with his eyes closed.  Even at Masters’ classes he swims with his eyes closed while counting his strokes before engaging in a flip turn at the wall.  He told me he has yet to drift from his lane or even hit other swimmers!  Well, I stayed on Michael’s feet for about 25 meters but lost contact as I instead focused on the feeling of the ocean.  The feeling was one of amazing comfort.  For all my fears and anxiety I felt an astonishing sense of calm that I had never experienced in my brief history of swimming.  As I linked together stroke after stroke my breathing was incredibly relaxed and the feeling of buoyancy and warmth of the water was one of bliss.  I sighted infrequently as I was consumed with a startling feeling of peacefulness like no other while watching the pristine view of the layered sand of the ocean floor drift beneath me.  I finally emerged from my zen-induced state and looked up for Michael who was 50 meters to my right.  I called out to him and he said, “I guess you didn’t notice the current pulling you to the South.”  Man do I have a lot to learn!  We swam about for about ten minutes more and then decided to go race pace back into the shore.  This time, he told me to focus on a certain part of the beach and keep my line.  “Stay on my feet” he said.  “OK,” I chuckled.  “I’ll see you at the beach about two minutes after you arrive.”
After getting out of the water we practiced a few race starts about 50 meters out and headed back in.  Walking back along the beach I spotted Josiah Middaugh and his wife Ingrid.  Josiah was fresh off his win at the US XTERRA champs in Ogden and a race favorite.  In the month prior to the race I retained Josiah as my first ever coach to come up with a training plan for my race.  We chatted briefly and resumed our return when 25 feet later we ran into Conrad Stoltz and his wife Liesel.  Conrad, or “The Caveman” as he is known is the most accomplished pro in the history of XTERRA.  We had met in Ogden and we struck up some conversation.  Conrad pointed to my left should and asked, “What happened to you?”  I told him I had an a bike crash a number of years earlier (please see Cycling Crashes and Chief Niwot’s Curse) resulting in a shoulder separation.  We agreed it was unsightly and I shared with him my remorse of not being able to wear strapless dresses in the summertime.  The accessibility and friendly nature of the top pros in this sport never ceases to amaze me.

After that we laced up and headed out to preview the run course.  As with everything in this race nothing would be easy and the run course proved no exception.  The course is six miles long and basically a 700 foot climb on the first three miles followed by three miles down; a course that suits me well particularly given the fast downhill.  The climb was mostly steady with some steep pitches that would favor hiking come race day.  The descent had some really fun sections to let it rip but to avoid pounding the legs too much we took it easy. After that I headed back to the condo for an afternoon of beach time with the kids.  They all love the water and are amazing little swimmers.  We came back and showered up and headed out with the whole family to an entertaining Luau,
Josiah's Athletes

The following morning (Friday if you are keeping score at home) I met with Josiah and a bunch of his athletes from Vail at the swim beach.  The water remained fairly placid and we essentially repeated the same exercises in the water that I performed the day before.  The two days prior to the race is generally reserved as a rest day so after the swim I headed back for some more family time.

Saturday morning involved a swim followed by a brief ride to open up the system for the race the following day.  As promised, the swells had kicked up significantly and there was a dramatic shift in the amount of shore break.  Getting out past the shore break was not so much a problem as the first 50 meters involved duck diving under oncoming waves until I was passed them.  The once visible ocean bottom was now gone and the chop and currents had picked up.  The hardest part was getting used to the reentry to the beach.  The 1,500 meter swim course was a reverse “M” shape which meant swim out 375 meters to the first buoy and then swim back for a short beach run and then back out to the second buoy.  This was a change to the course to the prior year due which also involved starting all 700 athletes at the same time.  This prior start resulted in a serious log jam at the first buoy which caused a fair amount of bodies trying to swim over one another.  This year the pros would start two minutes before the male age groupers and then followed by the female athletes starting two minutes further back.  I wanted to practice coming back into the beach a number of times while looking back over my shoulder seeking to body surf my way in.  This practice did not have a good initial result as a huge wave sucked me under introducing me to the ocean floor and taking my goggles as well as a contact lens.  As I gathered myself on the beach a few minutes later another swimmer came in holding a pair of goggles.  Fortunately they were mine and note to self: place my goggles under my swim cap!  I practiced reentry and exit a few more times with measured improvement and then headed out on the bike to ride the first and last few miles of the bike course.  That day the bike course had already shown significant deterioration from the dryness and riding by the other athletes; time to dial down the tire pressure.  It also meant that I would have a hard time passing on the first few miles of the course which I tried to see as beneficial for holding back to some of the more passable climbs to come on the course.  After the ride I headed back to the condo for lunch and an excursion to Lahaina for an outing on a submarine to view some of the underwater critters in the water.

The Night Before:  Tsunami?!?
The night before the race is always the toughest time for me as prerace jitters kick in.  Knowing this I attended the dinner at the Ritz for athletes while my parents took the kids to dinner.  I ate quickly and headed home for bed hoping to get a good night’s sleep.  I was drifting off to sleep at 8:30pm when I heard my phone vibrate and saw my mom was calling.  I answered to see what was up and she informed me that they were heading home as the restaurant where they were dining was being evacuated due to a tsunami warning.  An earthquake off the shore of British Columbia (Thanks Canada!) had sparked the alarms as sirens blared across all of the Hawaiian Islands.  She told me the kids were scared and we might need to evacuate.  Watching the news it was said that a huge wave was making a b-line for us and was expected to hit around 10:20pm.  When the family arrived home the kids were visibly frightened and we tried to figure out if we needed to drive to higher ground.  I called Michael who was staying nearby at the Ritz and he said he had received no word on evacuation but lights were flashing outside the hotel.  I later learned we were high enough not to be in an evacuation zone so we made precautions for the potential loss of power and water.  I checked social media and my email and had received the following from XTERRA:
Tsunami warning is in effect for the state of Hawaii, with the first waves estimated to reach here at 10:20 p.m. on Saturday evening, October 27.If you are in an evacuation zone, please take the warning seriously and evacuate to higher ground. Here is a LINK to an evacuation map for this area of Maui.
If you are in a hotel and have not been notified yet, please contact your front desk and find out if you are in an evacutation zone.The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is in a safe zone.If you have access to a television, tune in to the local news stations for the latest updates (all local stations are currently airing live coverage).
I tried to sleep with the news on in the background as we waited for the impending result of the wave that was supposed to hit.  Realizing that reporting news involved selling fear and expecting the worse I tried to calm the kids.  Trying to get the kids in bed and to sleep was an exercise in futility.  As the deadline came and went without incident the kids ultimately fell asleep from their own fatigue.  I wish I could have done the same.  My mind was racing and thoughts of what would happen in the morning filled my head.  “Would there be a race at all?”  “Would they cancel the swim?”  “Would they do only a bike/run with a time trial start?”  “Would it be a duathalon (run/bike/run)?  This would actually serve me better but I came out here to do swim/bike/run and this is what I wanted to do!”

I’m not sure I slept more than a couple of hours when my alarm to wake up sounded.  I quickly checked my email and had this message in my inbox:
XTERRA Worlds is On!  Good morning XTERRA World Championship competitors:Maui County Civil Defense Notifications bring us two bits of good news:1. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has CANCELLED the TSUNAMI ADVISORY for the Hawaiian Islands.2. The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CANCELLED the high surf advisory for Maui."The northwest swell has diminished and resulting surf has decreased below advisory level. The high surf advisory is therefore cancelled."They do advise that "Smaller sea level changes and strong or unusual currents may persist for several additional hours and appropriate caution should be exercised by boaters and swimmers."The swim is on unless we hear otherwise from Ocean Safety.
I breathed a sigh of relief but I was clearly mentally tired.  

I always try to eat three hours prior to racing so I got up and forced down my traditional prerace breakfast of a smoothie and oatmeal.  This is actually usually the hardest part of the day.  Once I get to the race site and see the other athletes I feel markedly better.  

I rode my bike and gear to the Ritz and set up in transition.  Everyone had a tsunami story and for some it involved being evacuated and sleeping in cars at higher ground or not getting back to their lodgings until 1:00am.  Further, many of the Japanese athletes were particularly rattled by the experience given the tragedy they had felt all too recently.

I have a fairly rigid warm-up process that serves me well.  I ride for 20 minutes with four one minute efforts followed by a 10 minute jog to ensure emptying what is remaining in my system that my laxative-producing nerves have not.  This entails a last stop at the porto-potties.  Then, I like to get to the swim 10 minute before the race and swim 400 meters and hit the line just before the start.  I went down to body marking and could not believe the queue.  I probably waited a half an hour which meant I would have to shorten my warm up significantly.  In addition to opening up my system to race the warm up greatly calms me down by releasing any excess tension I am feeling.  Surprisingly I was not nervous but mentally I felt somewhat aloof perhaps due to my sleep deprivation.  I was not feeling the same determination I did at the U.S. Championship.  I knew I was toeing the line with the best fitness I ever had but needed my focus.  It reminded me of what Yogi Berra said about hitting in baseball:  “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”  My 90% was just not there.  After finally getting body marked (still don’t know why they do this in our sport) I did an abbreviated warm-up and got in a short practice swim.  On the swim I could tell the conditions were the roughest they had been.  I got to the starting line just before the pros went off.  “Just start this thing and get me out in the water” I kept thinking.  I want to get this thing going!

The Race
Start of the Men's Race
Shark!  Everyone out of the water!
I lined up on the beach far to the right and in the middle of the pack.  This was to account for the southward drift and my hope of grabbing some feet.  The pros were already two minutes out when we got the start.  A significant wave was coming and some attempted to duck dive it while others simply waited for a lull. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get in the water and start swimming so I dove in!  After the first 50 meters most of the waves had dissipated but there was some decent-sized chop.  “Breathe and swim” I kept repeating and in spite of the chop and currents finally being in the ocean felt great.  I was having fun!  I started to get into a good rhythm with the chop but had to sight more frequently given the lack of visibility of other swimmers.  I wanted to avoid any logjam at the first buoy so I was aiming to the right of it.  When I got there I turned out to be 5 yards inside of it.  “Oh shit” I thought as I made my way around a gaggle of swimmers also attempting to get around it (Mental Mistake #1).  The rest of the swim proved uneventful including and fortunately my exits from the water.  My timing was lucky enough to not have to face any large waves on the swim exits though I did continue to fight some southward drift which took me off course a bit (Mental Mistake #2).
Coming out of the swim I saw I was right behind Michael and his guide.  I was hopeful that this meant that I had a better than anticipated swim but his guide kept him wide of the pack to avoid any problems so for him his slower than his potential.
Nothing about the course was easy and this even included the run from the swim to transition which measured a few hundred yards and, of course, a nice little incline.  I found my bike and began to prepare for my ride.  I know my transitions are low hanging fruit with respect to improvements on my time and this one also proved to be slow.  I checked Facebook, sent off some Tweets, did some journaling on my feelings and then ran up the hill to the bike mount.
The ride climbs right away on a golf cart path which is a granny-gear grinder before entering the single track area which winds through an abandoned golf course littered with hundreds of golf balls.  There is some up and down and then a consistent climb through the fifth mile.  The slow swim had me bottled-necked behind way too many riders and I burned plenty of matches making passes whenever the opportunity afforded.  The drill became catch a group of riders, wait for a window, pass, active recovery, repeat.  At mile three I was really feeling the heat.  I grabbed a gel taped to the top tube of my bike and went to put the empty wrapper in the pocket of my tri kit and an unfortunate realization:  The speedsuit that I wore in the swim was still on around my shorts (Mental Mistakes 3-6).  “Are you ‘effin’ kidding me?” I said aloud.  At that point I had to make a decision and be content to live with my choice: either leave it on or take it off.  I quickly weighed the pros and cons.  If I leave it on I won’t have to repass numerous riders I had just passed and just think of the compression benefits!  Or, take it off to save me from the added heat that was being generated in my nether regions and the ridicule any photos taken of me would bring about from my friends.  Vanity, ego and a muffled plea from “the boyz” prevailed and I decided to remove it.  I found a flattish area and quickly leapt from my bike.  I struggled to take it off over my shoes almost falling over a couple of times and then deposited it in my Camelback.   I hopped back on and began to again pass everyone that went by me.
Speedsuit:  Before and After.  Doh!!!
The rest of the ride was simply hard.  My legs weren’t feeling the good "pop" that I hoped they would have had as the heat and humidity were definitely affecting me.  Even with the limited period of cloud cover and an all too brief misting of rain it was still hard on this Colorado boy but I pushed at my limit when I wasn’t being held up.  There was one major slog of uphill left where I could do some passing and I continued to push.  After a longer section of downhill there would be a deceiving amount of climbing left and I felt my legs coming around.  Heading back down to the last few miles there was a definite hike-a-bike section which was about a 10 foot climb up a steep dusty patch.  I hit it very fast and approached it like a cyclocross barrier.  Lugging my bike of the hill a cramp shoot up down my leg and I fell back a bit and tried to muscle through it but I had to stop at the top to stretch it out until it went away.  I drank and ate well on the course even draining the 100 ounces of Cytomax in my Camelback along with six gels and some sea salt electrolytes.

Reaching the transition area I chugged down another bottle I had left there, ingested a gel and headed off on the run.  For some reason I always run better off the bike and the run has been the best part of my racing.  My legs felt good the first mile out but I felt the cramp return again on another steep sandy pitch and I stopped to stretch it out.  There were aid stations every mile on the course where I grabbed a Gatorade to drink and poured water on the inside of my hat.  After the majority of the climbing to mile three there was a relatively flat trail around a lake and then a fun grassy downhill followed by a final steep climb up a paved road.  I made a final charge up a paved roadl that most people were walking.  The road led to the final downhill to the beach and was a narrow single track with some exposure.  An athlete I met the night before saw me and he said, “I’d better get ahead of this guy” and sprinted up to the holeshot leading to the downhill.  “Unbelievable!”  I was on his heels the entire way down making contact with him twice.  I was a bit put off by this but the occasional initial feelings of cramps thought it alright to temper my effort in spite of my frustration (mental mistake #7).  At the bottom of the downhill there was a beach section which ran about 300 yards to the uphill grass finish.  I hit the gas and put 30 seconds on “my new friend” to arrive at the finish spent and for a variety of reasons, disappointed with my effort.  My finish card had me placing 26th out of 83.  My goal was top 20.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

There is certain amount of reflection that occurs following reaching a goal, particularly when the goal is one that requires so much on a physical and emotional basis.  This is exacerbated when the preparation for the effort becomes so ingrained in one’s daily life and the reflection involves not only “what could have been?” but importantly, “what’s next?”  I know a lot of athletes combat a somewhat dour mood at season’s end as these questions become pervasive and I've experienced it firsthand.  With ever evolving personal surroundings and particularly, advancing age, these questions are undoubtedly weightier for me than they were in my youth.  The choices we make now matter more and the endeavors we pursue require more thoughtful consideration.

The next couple of months will involve rest and figuring out what to do next.  Faith, continually being a better single-parent, work, being a contributing member in my community and racing will all figure into my consideration driven by a weighted degree of importance as I attempt to derive balance.   There is no perfect metric to utilize as “the answer” to this is driven by qualitative, not quantitative factors.  I try to impart to my children to make forward-looking choices with the question: “Am I shaping this world with my life or am I letting this world shape me?”  I also think about this when considering the way forward.  In addition, and hopefully with a sense of spiritual maturity, I tend to look at important life questions with the inherent undertone of “is what I am doing and do the consequential results of my actions spiritually elevate the material and physical world in which I live?”

For me faith, family, work and community can all fulfill the aforementioned and are natural areas to devote more time and focus but sport has never simply been a residual component of this equation of balance.  While training and racing all have measureable demands of time, the reality is that the pain and suffering to which we subject ourselves is all self-inflicted.  So why do it?  My rationale is if used to elevate one’s self emotionally and spiritually (and believe me I have come face to face with my soul on many occasions while training and racing), there are ineffable positive gains that provide complements to being a better parent, co-worker and community member.  Further, the human body is capable of achieving incredible feats.  To be engaged in sport with a sense of gratitude for the amazing gifts we have received and in addition to the feeling of freedom associated with it ultimately enhances these endeavors and provides a sense of identity.  This feeling is more meainingfully pronounced when I think of some of the amazing people I have met in this sport.  While everyone who toes the mark of any race from a 5k Turkey Trot to an Ironman has a story, I cannot help think of the inspiration provided by the likes of Michael Stone, Jamie Whitmore and John Klish to name only a brief few.  These athletes do this with the additional goal of raising awareness through their amazing accomplishments.   I gain a great deal of inspiration from these athletes and hope in a different way that my children, family and friends can also gain inspiration from my efforts even though less extraordinary.

As for Maui, I feel like I want to come back as I know I can produce a better result but it may not be next year or even the year after that.  All the above will drive consideration.

Thanks for reading!

No comments: