Journey To Ironman
Ironman changed my life. The journey to becoming an Ironman triathlete is a profound experience that extends beyond completing a race. Many expressed how Ironman will change you forever and over a decade-long journey I came to understand its transformative power.
It began with the decision to live a healthier lifestyle and tackle a lifelong goal of completing a sprint triathlon at age 35. During those years, age 30-35, it was the small steps. Gradually building up endurance and strength by pulling our kids in a trailer while cycling through the steep neighborhood hills. I dedicated Sunday afternoons to training and bonding with our 3 kids while balancing a demanding career with family responsibilities.
I ventured into more challenging events including adventure racing, biathlons and all-night bike rides in downtown St. Louis called Midnight Madness. We would involve our kids wherever possible including an annual biathlon where they rode in a carriage the entire race, adding a unique challenge and adventure. Those bonding moments with our kids can’t be replaced.
My first triathlon experience was humbling, highlighting areas for improvement and motivating me to prepare more thoroughly. Despite facing challenges during the swim and run, completing the race was satisfying, providing valuable insights on fitness and nutrition.
Each year the training regimen ramped up, participating in up to 18 events per year and advancing the distance of the weekly workouts. A six-hour training session became normal every Saturday, slowly the fitness improved and milestones like completing a 112-mile bike ride became routine.
A rediscovered passion for endurance sports emerged and the ultimate challenge appeared within reach: completing Ironman Cozumel as a 40th birthday celebration. Inspired by 80-year-old Lew Hollander at the Ironman World Championships, this became a personal mission.
The focus was not on racing, but on finishing the event within the 17-hour time frame. Most people are anxious about the swim, but once the race started it was an overwhelming feeling of calm. It’s possible the peace came from incredible views under the water at Cozumel. The views were breathtaking. Even during the bike ride against strong winds, I remember taking time to soak in Cozumel’s scenery.
One of the more impactful parts of the whole experience was the opportunity for camaraderie and support among participants. I remember one participant who was ready to give up, but we motivated each other to the end. We followed the running man on my Garmin to ensure we could keep the pace and finish before midnight. Despite physical pain from IT-band issues, we crossed that finish line. It was an experience unlike any other. We felt like rockstars with high fives all the way down the final 500 feet to the cheers of a vibrant crowd. The sense of triumph left a life-changing impact.
The second Ironman race completed was a part of being a global licensee of the brand. In parallel to the fitness journey, we were running an entrepreneurial race with a consumer electronics company, Yurbuds Sport Headphones. We developed interlocking headphones that were inspired by the hours spent training resulting in our ears being the sorest part of our bodies. The company took over 40% market share, through the commercialization of our technology and in part by licensing the Ironman Brand globally.
The decade long journey to Ironman ended on a high note in Pensacola, Florida. It was an opportunity to compete alongside my business partner who was a 25-time marathoner that had never attempted an Ironman. We loaded our families into an RV and made an adventure out of it. From our kids cheering us on to competing side by side with a friend and business partner, it was an experience unlike any other.
The journey to an Ironman tests your emotional and mental toughness. You experience significant highs and devastating lows due to injury and mechanical failures. The culmination of years of training and preparation, the journey to becoming an Ironman symbolizes more than athletic achievement. It represents personal growth and resilience. By setting ambitious goals and overcoming obstacles, Ironman transformed my life and inspired a relentless pursuit of excellence.
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