I found this site while trying to find tri-clubs in the San Fran area, because I'm moving there next month. But, I was so drawn in by the many stories from "winners" that I stopped here to write something myself. I say pseudo-triathlete because my first one was in 1989 at Hampton Beach, NH. This was before wetsuits were found everywhere and I hadn't gained 100 pounds during college. No lie, I have pictures. Anyway, during the Fall of 2002, I moved to Miami working as a traveling nurse. I was away from my friends and family and found comfort in Irish Whiskey and take out food. After 40 pounds gained, I visited a bike shop and finally opened the pamphlet for TEAM IN TRAINING. I thought, doing this for an excellent cause and having other people around to motivate me sounded interesting.
In January 2003, I practiced with the Ft. Lauderdale chapter of TNT for the four months before the Gulf Coast Triathlon. This was my first triathlon as well as any other organized sporting event in 6 years. It was also a half ironman distance race that I had never done before.
But first we must back up. In November 2002, I was a medical tent volunteer at the Florida IRONMAN. I witnessed people who were not what most would consider athletic, but they heard those immortal words, "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN." I signed up and hoped for the best. TNT was the jumping in point for my year of training. Race day arrived, I felt awesome, but scared. My new bike shoes were found to be too small after 20 miles of pedaling and swelling feet. The 110 degree heat index didn't help. My bike was slower than I had expected. The half marathon was reduced to a slow jog to a fast walk. I succeeded and was happy to finish my first half ironman ever and could not wait for the full in November. After traveling to Boston, MA and Tallahassee, FL for travel assignments, I rolled into Panama City Beach, FL. with my parents and new girlfriend hoping for the best. I participated in the IRONMAN training camp in September to help understand the race course. I was the largest athlete by far, but I just wanted to survive this race.
I cried the morning of the race when the "Star Spangled Banner" played, but I wasn't alone. IRONMAN is electric!! The first lap of the swim went well, but some guy tried to pull me under. It's not like I was in first. He tried again, so he received two quick kidney punches and a kick to the calf. All those years as a lifeguard came back quick. I never got "harassed" again during the swim. My goggles were too tight, filled with water and I had swallowed some gulf water. This combination gave me the "spins" and severe dizziness. The last half mile, I swam with my eyes closed. The picture of me coming out of the water was scary. My parents were afraid for my life and my girlfriend was crying. The bike went well until mile 70. I was using the same shoes as the half, and had thought loosening them would help. I had to stop for over 10 minutes and elevate my feet. I was told to place them in ice so I put ice in my shoes and trudged on. My feet had blisters the size of Godzilla!! They actually went up in between my toes. The last 42 miles were rough, but every pedal stroke or step forward was that much closer to the finish. I tried running, but the blisters were too painful. I met so many people during the race who do the "IRONMAN shuffle" A bonus was the total lunar eclipse that night. At 10:15 pm, I met my girlfriend at the winner's shoot and ran in with her by my side. I heard those four little words that I had waited for 21 years. You know after the Julie Moss crawling finish? I know now that dreams can come true with a little work and you don't have to be a tight, muscular athlete to finish You can be an overweight athlete with a big heart and the drive to complete your objective.