Boy, time flies. It seems like just a few days ago I was preparing to compete in the Pacific Crest 1/2 Ironman triathlon in Sunriver, Oregon when actually it's been over for two weeks. If you missed my first article, let me bring you up to speed: While I was training for marathons, doctors discovered a blockage in my coronary artery and I then had a triple bypass on 4/25/05. On 11/27/05, I entered and completed the Seattle Marathon, setting a new personal record by 21 minutes. Since that time, I've become a volunteer in my local hospital, talking to patients fresh from heart surgery and sharing my story to bolster their spirits. They are amazed at my progress and hopeful for themselves after hearing all I have to say about their prospects for recovery. Because lets face it-most open heart patients just want to be able to walk to the mailbox and back unassisted, or to have close to their old life returned to them post surgery. So when some guy walks into their room and says he did a marathon seven months after surgery...well, needless to say, it goes a long way with them. Today, as I write this, I can proudly add “1/2 Ironman Finisher” to my list of accomplishments. What a step up from sprint distance triathlons! Before I get into the actual race, I should say my triathlon experience consists of two sprints and the Pacific Crest half. I've probably made more mistakes in those three events then most people make in ten, but I guess I should look at the bright side and say I got them all out of the way early. I came to triathlons from running, but interestingly enough the cycling stage seems to be my strongest leg, at least so far. One possible reason may be because I'm about 145 pounds soaking wet and have a decent strength-to-weight ratio that allows for easier climbing and higher average speed, but it doesn't really help me in coasting downhill. Anyway, that's what I tell myself and I'm always looking for the positive angle to keep myself motivated. My long range goal is to qualify for the 2007 Ironman championship in Kona, Hawaii and I plan on entering the Couer d'Alene qualifier next June in hopes of getting there. That means I won't be able to repeat the Pacific Crest to try and better my time, but we are talking Full Ironman here! I don't know if, or how many, open heart surgery survivors have done a Full Ironman, and if you know someone who has, please tell me so I can contact them. Since I have a year to get ready, I'm in no hurry to describe the 1/2 event to you. So I hope you'll be patient as I take a few articles to share my triathlon experiences with you. And remember, if a heart patient can do these things, then so can those of you who haven't been split open like a fish and sewn back together. So never give in or give up on yourself, and on those days when you don't feel like running in the rain, just tell yourself, "Jeff's out there somewhere, and if he can do it, so can I."
I love my family, football, tri training and racing, seeing heart patients smile when I share my story with them . . .