It was the first 70.3 triathlon I’ve competed in since the 2008 Foster Grant Ironman70.3 World Championship. I’ve been working very hard this year preparing to set a personal best at Eagleman and I’m very pleased to say that this goal was reached when I crossed the finish line with a seven minute PB. However, what makes this event even more personally rewarding for me is that I competed in the race with a pretty severe head cold that almost kept me from finishing the swim. I knew it was going to be difficult competing while being sick, but I had worked so hard this season – there was no way I could miss out on this race.
After swimming for almost 40 minutes through some pretty rough currents, I only had 200 yards more to go and I completely stopped, treaded water for a minute and quickly searched for the nearest rescue kayak. I was in panic mode because I couldn’t breathe, heart rate was very high, legs were fully cramped, and I was incredibly dizzy and nauseous to the point where my arms and hands were becoming numb. I had never experienced this before in a race, but have often heard horror stories from triathletes who have.
After seeking out the attention from the kayakers, they were rapidly making their way towards me when I realized that there was no way I was going to drop out of this race – visions of being in the coma, hospital, and recovery flashed through my mind as well as the thought of all the support I have been given from family, friends and the remarkable people who played a helping hand in my journey back to life. I was going to make it to land whether I had to doggy paddle to the shore.
As soon as my foot struck the sand, I quickly tried to get my bearings straight, while shaking loose the severe cramps in my legs. Being one of the last guys in my age group out of the water, I shuffled through the transition area, found my bike and sprinted out of there as fast as I could. I hopped on the bike and took off, averaging a total of 24.3 MPH throughout the bike segment in some pretty severe headwinds along with a 101 heat index. I knew I had to make up a lot of time to catch up to the leaders of my age group, and after two hours and 18 minutes on the bike, I was amazed to find out that I was the first guy back into the transition area with the fastest bike split of the day in my age group, which was an all time first for my triathlon career.
I soon discovered some trouble in the run because I couldn’t hold my hydration and nutrition down, but I was very happy to still earn a podium finish under these brutal conditions. The fact that I was able to finish at all was the most important thing to me…but I have to admit that it was pretty incredible to come in first off the bike.
Looking back at 2007 when I began competing in triathlons, I honestly didn’t know to much about riding road or triathlon bikes. Aero bars and bike pedals were a very new thing for me. It took some bumps and bruises to find out how to ride properly, but the hard work has been well worth it.
To everyone who has helped me in my journey back to life, Thank You for giving me the strength and motivation to keep pushing forward yesterday through all the obstacles.