American Red Cross Spokesperson of the Year Award

ARC 001For the past two years I have worked very closely with the various chapters of the American Red Cross, both local and national, and to receive this prestigious award this week is just beyond words.  It has been a true honor for me to volunteer, take part in their testimonial speaking engagements, and to proudly wear their logo on my race suits during my triathlon and running events because the American Red Cross was a huge factor in my recovery (60% bloodloss) and journey back into life.

Blood is needed for emergencies and for people who have cancer, blood disorders, sickle cell, anemia and other illnesses. Some people need regular blood transfusions to live. For nearly 5 million people who receive blood transfusions every year, your donation can make the difference between life and death and I am living proof of this. In my time of great need, they were there with 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments that saved my life in a situation where time was of the essence.


2009 Nation’s Triathlon In Washington D.C.

nationtriathlonphotoThis past sunday I competed in the Nation’s triathlon in Washington D.C. along with 4,500 other competitors from 855 cities, 46 states and 7 countries. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete in this race, even with Louisville being only two weeks ago, so I looked at this race as more for recovery and enjoyment and this race certainly consisted very much of both.

The swim started off a little sluggish, as I expected it would, but on the way back from the Memorial Bridge I was able to pick up the pace a little bit.  The bike split was about the same as it was when I competed in the Dextro race back in June, which I was happy about. But the run was a different story. It was after the first mile of the run where I started to understand why I always hear triathletes say that it’s a good idea to spend a few weeks recovering from an Ironman triathlon.  With Ironman Louisville just taking place, the minimal recovery really showed up in full force and with a vengeance too.  The mind was willing but the body just wasn’t able to fire, but surprisingly I was somehow able to gather up the strength needed to place 10th in my age group of 108 guys, which completely caught me by surprise and made my day.

Overall it was a blast to compete so close to home in the nation’s capital and the people I met before, during and after the race were extraordinary. I love the triathlon community!

Congratulations to everyone who competed on Sunday!

2009 Ford Ironman Louisville

Louisville 144bbThis past sunday, Aug. 30, I competed in the 2009 Ford Ironman Louisville, which was my first full distance Ironman since Kona in 2007.  Looking back two years ago, I’ll always remember listening to Ironman World Champion, Chris McCormack, talk about putting the time in and paying your dues in this sport during his victory speech in Kona. And, since 2007, that is what I have been doing – putting my time in training and in racing. All the hard work, sacrifice and mental preparation that I have put into this sport for the past two years really paid off this weekend because I was able to drop four hours off of my Ironman time by going 10:55.

I felt a little nervous going into this race because I was determined to go hard and really do the best I could.  In my first Ironman, the goal was to finish, but the goal for this race was to test my abilities and I was very pleased with the results.

There was a lot of energy in the air on race day morning, especially with the way the swim course was set up with the time trial start.  The adrenaline rush that I felt as I was getting ready to jump in the water was out of this world.  For the first quarter of the race I found that my heart rate was a little to high so I started to take it down a notch and finally reached my regular race rhythm.  After 2.4 miles in the Ohio river, I hurried to get my land legs back, hopped on the bike and began focusing on the race day strategy that I had planned for the past year.

I guess I became a little too aggressive towards the first third of the bike portion because I ended up getting my first red card penalty ever in a race for unintentionally taking a little to long to pass due to the congestion of traffic and cyclists on the road – I was devastated.  I knew that this was going to hurt my bike time quite a bit and as I continued pedaling and wondering how I could make up time, I was given a yellow card penalty less than five minutes later for riding to close to the middle of the road instead of staying to the right – one more penalty and I would be disqualified from the entire race so I made sure I did everything as cautiously as possible after I was released from the penalty tent that lasted six minutes.  The next 80 miles I was extremely alert with the road traffic, the terrain and the other cyclists on the course. Luckily, it was a smooth ride without any further trouble.

After 5 hours and 28 minutes, I came into the transition area feeling much fresher than how I felt in Kona two years ago (when I stepped off the bike back then, I had to hobble to the transition area and struggle to sit down for a few minutes before I could even think about attempting a marathon).  I focused on putting one foot in front of the other and for the first mile it was tough, as it usually is in any triathlon after the bike segment.  I held on, consumed a few powergels and salt pills, and started to find my pace and stride.  Before I knew it, I was hitting mile 6…and then 12…and then 16… and the excitement and cheering from the crowd was just filling me with this much-needed motivation so I kept moving and most importantly, kept smiling and thanking the crowd and volunteers for all their incredible support.  In the marathon I competed in back in march, I hit the wall at mile 20 so I was really worried about what it was going to be like to get to mile 20 in the marathon segment of this race after swimming for 2.4 miles and biking 112.  But surprisingly, at mile 20, instead of feeling fatigued and in pain, I felt an overwhelming sense of rejuvenation and emotion as my eyes filled with tears of joy that lasted all the way to the finish line.

In my opinion, the Ironman triathlon is the greatest sport in the world.  I’ve come to learn that once you cross that finish line you are welcomed into a wonderful group of world-class athletes of all ages and backgrounds.  And, ultimately, when you cross that finish line, no matter what time or place, you are a winner.

I crossed the finish line in 10:55 and felt very strong, grateful and motivated, but this certainly was not an individual effort. I have received so much wonderful support from my parents/family/friends and people all over the world.  I met so many amazing and inspiring Ironman athletes this weekend and it was a privilege to compete alongside them for 140 miles.

Thank You to everyone who has supported me along my Ironman journey since 2007 and Congratulations to everyone who competed in this race this past weekend, especially those who were competing for the first time.