Waking up hungover the day after college graduation at 3pm in the afternoon was not how I expected to start my post collegiate career. One thing I vividly remember that afternoon was how bad my head hurt and that all I could stomach was M&Ms, one at a time. I also remember turning on the TV in my room and being intrigued by what what was on TV. It was the NBC coverage of the Hawaii ironman Triathlon. Laying there in bed, watching some of the greatest athletes in the World compete in the Ironman Triathlon got me thinking that it might be time to make a few important changes in my life and set my life’s trajectory on a separate course. It was at this point I decided that I needed to make a few changes in my life and one of these changes was that I wanted to live a healthier life. Another decision that I made was that I wanted to compete in that event that I just saw on TV. I wanted to do the Hawaii Ironman.
I had been doing a little running and cycling with my fraternity brother, Sean Boyd, but hadn’t really embraced the athletic lifestyle as I was still smoking and spending way too much time and money in bars. I was competing in biathlons in the area (that’s what they called the bike / run format around 1995) and can remember winning an award for third place in my age group. It just so happens that I received the award because there were only 5 of us in my age group category and they were giving the awards to only those that were still around. I just happen to be in the parking lot smoking a cigarette and stretching out when I heard them call my name. Oh well, even though I finished last in my age group at least I was able to take home an award. Getting that award that day was pretty much a participation award but it got the idea in my head that I could place in my age group and do pretty well at these types of sporting events. Especially if I quit smoking and drinking so much. Getting an award wasn’t wasn’t what drove me.. it was the fact someone else beat me and that I knew in the back of my head that I could have trained harder and went faster. This competitive drive to do better and to place higher has stuck with me and each time I finish a race, even when winning by several minutes as I had in local triathlons, it drove me to want to do better.
Now, almost 15 years after finishing my most recent Ironman (I won’t call it my last ironman because I never said it was my last one) I have found the desire and passion to train again as well as learned that this drive I have is not just for competition on the bike or on the run. No, this competitive drive and nature is part of me and whatever I do. This can sometimes be a challenge to those around me as I sometimes take competition to the extreme but I have come to accept that I am a fierce competitor and when I get an idea in my head and commit to it.. watch out.