I am fast approaching the one-year mark from the start of this journey. May 22nd is only a few weeks away, it’s a day that changed my life forever. This journey has had its share of ups and downs, almost a sort of peaks and valleys type of thing. This weekend I took part in one of the most amazing weekends of my life. I had only heard all of the amazing stories about the Wildflower experience and I must say that the stories were great but the experience itself is truly epic. The Wildflower course is most certainly challenging, simply calling it uphill might be the biggest understatement of all time. Completing Wildflower was the most difficult physical challenge to date and this is just the beginning!
There is a reason that Wildflower is known as the one and only. The atmosphere and environment would be near impossible to match, the course would test even the most seasoned Triathlete. I raced in the Olympic Distance (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run) race which took place on Sunday, May 5thbut I headed down to Lake San Antonio the Friday before to set up camp and enjoy the weekend. The Long Course(70.3 or Half IronMan Distance) and Sprint distance took place on Saturday. The race itself takes place all through the campgrounds where thousands of people are packed on the course to cheer on the participants and even get an up-close view of the professionals that make this sport look way too easy! It’s amazing to think that we sat on the run course cheering on complete and random strangers for the majority of Saturday and truly enjoyed it. I had a blast cheering on the racers, encouraging those who looked defeated to only see them reach deep down and dig up the last big of energy to run the last 4 miles of the 70.3 mile course. It fired me up for what I expected to be a great race the following morning. Saturday was so inspiring, seeing all of these amazing athletes put themselves through what some would consider punishment got all my mental issues pushed to the back of my head. I no longer had a fear of not finishing, that fear was transposed into overwhelming emotion. Before my race had even taken place I realized that I had done it, I was prepared. I earned this moment and nothing was going to stop me from crossing the finish line (except, maybe a rattle snake bite from our campsite.. another fun story.. p.s. no one was bit)! I was exhausted from the day of basking in the sun on Saturday but still found it difficult to fall asleep on Saturday night. I crawled into my sleeping bag, popped my ear buds in and turned on my music trying to fall asleep. I kept playing the start of the race over and over in my head until I eventually fell asleep.
The morning quickly came and instead of being greeted with a scorching hot day, it was cold and even muggy, a light rain hit the tent as I woke up to take a shower and get this day I had been training for started. We packed up our stuff and headed to the transition area to get things all squared away prior to the start of the race. It was a cool 50ish degrees but the water was a warm 69 degrees so I made a game time decision to ditch the wetsuit and just swim unrestricted without it, it was only cold waiting to get in the water! Time flew by and before I knew it, it was my age group’s time to hit the water. My initial strategy was to sit back and let the advanced athletes run and jump into the water after all I am just trying to finish, right ;)! That strategy didn’t last, as soon as the horn sounded I ran out into the water and started the swim in the front of my pack. The water was choppy and many were struggling, I had to slow down a little to go with the flow of the water so I just kept moving completing the swim in 36 minutes which was 6 minutes slower than I had hoped but the conditions made this a more difficult swim than expected. I exited the water and ran up the long boat ramp, slightly disoriented but able to focus I quickly put on my bike gear and headed straight for the infamous climb up Lynch Hill to start the “rolling hills’ bike course. I felt strong and confident and the bike course was not easy. There were several times that I wanted to get off the bike to walk it up some of the steep and continuous climbs. The wind was howling and that only made it more difficult, this bike course felt like it was uphill & into the wind both ways! The last mile of the course is down that original climb so it a relaxing “hang on” 40 MPH glide into transition. At this point I am thinking I am home free, the run is supposed to be the easy part of any Triathlon, right? It’s just 10K to the finish line, I have ran that distance several times! The run portion of the course is also the one part of the course I had not taken the time to check out prior to the event. Friends of mine said it was “uphill” but that tidbit of information was quickly glossed over by fear of the bike course. The 10K run course seemed to be ALL uphill with the exception of that last mile. The support along the entire course was amazing. There were so many people with cowbells, beers if you chose to partake, and even a simple high five to keep you going. I approached the last mile of the course atop Lynch hill where a large crowd gathered to cheer on the racers before the final decent into the finishing area. Emotion was flooding and again I started crying( I am starting to think that I am baby), I quickly gathered my emotions and took that last mile in stride enjoying every last step to the finish line. There was some self-doubt that existed and it vanished when I realized I had done what I sought out to complete. My goal was to complete this course somewhere between 4:15 minutes and 4:30 minutes. I crossed the finish line in 3:40.51 smashing my expectations and all self-doubt that existed. I am officially addicted to this sport and plan to attend Wildflower next year attacking the Long Course!
The event was so special to me, the folks at Tri California Events allowed me to share my story in the athlete guide and on stage the Friday prior to the race. Being on stage and talking in front of large crowds is not something I am used to, but it was a great experience and I hope to have the opportunity again in the future. The entire race I couldn’t help but think of the course and its symbolism for my journey to where I am today. The course was loaded with ups and downs, more ups than down. It’s as if the course was uphill both ways, it was tough physically and mentally but all along the way there was support. Crowds of random strangers pushing you to go on when you didn’t feel like you had enough energy to continue and friends and family there to assist with that push. I have battled obesity head on for my entire life and until a short time ago it has always won. The steep climb of Lynch hill resembles to me my bursting from the ashes so to speak of losing all this weight in a short amount of time. The rest of the course resembles the rest of my life, it will always be an uphill battle, however I am prepared to take on the challenge because of the time I take to train and the support I receive from so many. This was truly an amazing experience that everyone should attempt or just attend. The memories I take from this weekend, I will cherish for years to come.
What is next for me? I wish I could tell you that I was at my goal of 225 pounds and I was officially in maintenance mode, that I am not. I have bounced around in the 230’s for seems like a very long time, to be fair I have not maintained a super strict diet, I have slipped on snacking and found myself eating more quantities. The amount of work I am putting in training has kept me from adding weight but it’s time to get back to the basics to reach my original goal. While I have had 225 pounds plastered in my head from day one I think it’s time to reassess that goal and throw out another event to train for.
- My new weight goal will be to reach 215 pound by August 1st of this year.
- My new event I will be training for will be the 70.3 Half IronMan distance Big Kahuna Triathlon that takes place in Santa Cruz, CA on September 8thof this year.
I will start my weigh ins again on Tuesday of next week and go back to a weekly weigh in and keep the blog updated on those dates. As always I wanted to say thank you to so many people. The readers of my blog, my FNS family and training partners, my friends outside of FNS and last but not least my family. You all have been so supportive, my wife continues to look at me like I am crazy when I tell her the next challenge and my close friend Jacob has finally agreed that he is ready to relax and go back to being my golfing buddy! Life is not the same it was a year ago, I will never again live that way, I love the active life style I have created and am so excited for my boys to grow up being a big part of it.