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Why ironman?? This is why…

By on January 28, 2012

In 1989 I was sitting on the floor playing with my Lego’s and my dad was on the couch when he flipped the TV over to ABC. I remember seeing billions of arms flipping/flopping in and out of the water and I had no idea what the hell was going on. My dad left it there and soon after walked away to do something, somewhere, but I was glued… Soon they were out of the water and on bikes and they were zooming past the cameras and racing away. I was an ironman zombie staring at the TV with complete amazement. I remembered the Olympics, watching swim meets, football, baseball, watching horse races, car races, etc,  but THIS was different!!! These people were hardcore, they had these dead stares of dedication, finish line eating hearts, they were sweating buckets, and they all looked like they were purposely staying precisely on that fine line between life and death.

They jumped off the bikes, ran into a tent, then popped back out in full running form. “This is freaking nuts”, I thought, but I liked it, in fact, I was locked in and I couldn’t stop watching it… It looked so hot, I mean it’s Hawaii, right? How could these humans be doing all of this in extreme heat? It was HARDCORE, and for a 9/10 year old it was pure BAD ASS!!! They were gods, they were unstoppable, they were superhuman. ABC kept following these two guys the whole time, they made a big deal about these two, and they stayed next to each other the whole time. They pounded that pavement for hours until finally right before the end one made a move and ran off to win the race and the other one came right in behind him. These “two” guys would end up being Dave Scott and Mark Allen and this race would end up being legendary. If you say the words Dave Scott and Mark Allen around people who know ironman their heads will turn… If you know Football then maybe this will help, they are the Johnny Unitas, Walter Peyton, and Joe Montana’s of ironman, LEGENDS…

It wasn’t over… There was something else… Something that they kept cutting to throughout the race. This old man was swimming with his quadriplegic son, biking with his quadriplegic son, running with his quadriplegic son, and then right before the end of the whole show they started to tell the story of Dick & Rick Hoyt, now known as Team Hoyt. Rick’s brain was deprived of oxygen at birth, and as a result, he was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick never gave up on his son, he pushed him, loved him, and one day Rick asked his dad if they could run in a local charity race for a paralyzed kid, Dad said yes… One thing led to another and they eventually made it to the ironman Hawaii. The Dad swam, pulling his son, for 2.4 miles, then biked, with his son mounted on the bike, for 112 miles, then pushed a stroller with his son for 26.2 miles… I vividly remember the dad running SO FAST in that last few minutes that the camera could not keep up… It seemed like he was running faster than even the winner ran… I remember being so inspired and sad at the same time..

This was my first ironman experience and it didn’t make a lot of sense to me until this past year. I was 220lbs, I was mentally burned out, I was at rock bottom, I felt like my life was just falling apart… I moved across the country to be a dad and husband, I left behind my family and friends to do the right thing, I left my house, my good job, and everything I had ever known, I was definitely in complete red alert status. My marriage fell apart quickly, and soon I was on my own, Just me, my son, and a small 1 bedroom apartment. I worked, fathered, worked, shoveled tons of bad food into my gullet, worked, worked some more, fathered, shoveled more bad food, never slept, got fat, then more fat, then a little more fat. This went on for a while and then something happened… Joe died… Cancer took him pretty quick…  Joe was from back home in Indiana, my brother married his daughter, but even before that we all knew about Joe. He was larger than life…  He was a veteran, football coach, one of those super dads, ran a soup kitchen, a volunteer, a listening ear, a helper to anyone, and the list could go on for 20 more pages… He was just a guy who always seemed to do the right thing…I went back home for the funeral and then when I returned to New Orleans a week later things just changed for me…

I started running with a stroller for Boston, eating good, meditating, meeting new people in the running community, became vegetarian, mentally decided that I needed to do ironman Louisville, started swimming, started biking, became vegan, got even healthier, knocked out a 13.1 half marathon in under 2 hours, knocked out my first 26.2 full marathon on a foot with torn muscles, and lost 50+ lbs in the process… I just decided that it’s time to start living.. It’s time to start doing something worth something… It’s time to put a stamp on this life and leave something behind for my son. I want to cross that finish line in Louisville with my son Boston… I want to post that picture on facebook… I want him to say, “my daddy is an ironman”…

Why? I can’t explain it… It’s calling me.. it’s just something that I have to do.. Why does anyone do anything? Maybe one day when I am gone Boston might just decide to take on the ironman too… Maybe he will be just like his old man…