Friday, August 31, 2012

An Experience I Won't Soon Forget...

Recently while training for the Ironman World Championship I had a great experience. I started the day leaving my house at 5am for a 112 mile ride with my good friend Derek Morris. It was pitch black when we left and I was reminded of what it was like training earlier this spring when the temps were still cold in the morning. That cold air was back in full force.

We rode for about an hour and a half before we started to see the familiar sunrise sneaking over the horizon. What a welcome sight! The ride was going well, but I found myself more hungry than normal. Luckily I had packed extra nutrition this go around because I knew the small town we were going to fill up our water bottles at may not have what I like to use. The chocolate peanut butter Powerbar I had early was a welcome sight followed by a green apple Powergel hit the spot.

We followed the Snake River for much of our ride. The wind was a non factor and the morning sun was very nice. It's nice getting to ride with someone who is a good rider. It helps keep the pace where it should be as well as makes the miles fly by.

Around 65 miles in I was feeling good, but I could feel this weeks workouts catching up to me. My long rides typically take place on a Saturday which means I had an entire weeks worth of miles under me. Derek got a second wind and pulled ahead around mile 90. Not wanting to lag behind I picked up the pace as well. We finished strong. Final stats were 112 miles biked, 132 average heart rate, 196 avg watts, 91 avg cadence, 19.9 mph avg.

Upon making it back home I went and put my running shoes on to finish up my workout. I knew I needed 5.5 miles to reach my weekly goal of 40 miles ran. I took off from my house and there was nothing left in my legs. It was a little frustrating because I had completed 2 century rides the previous 2 weeks and had great runs afterwards. I ran maybe a quarter mile and decided I needed to head back. I took a turn down a street that would have circled back to my house. At the moment when I needed to turn right to my front door step, I felt like I needed to go left and keep going. One mile I told myself, just one mile. I grinded through that mile and instead of turning back I told myself, just go to the end of the street, then we'll head for home. The end of the street came and went and I kept going. I had two more Powergels, one tangerine and one green apple and started to feel my legs coming back to me. My pace picked up and I continued on. Right about this moment the song "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me came on my IPOD. Not my normal running music, but I liked the change. I remembered back to last November when Andrea and I first found Reece's Rainbow. We actually made a video about our desire to help these children with "I can only imagine" as the theme song. You can watch that video HERE.

I felt a huge sense of gratitude come over me that I get to be out on the road at that time battling through this wall because ultimately I was getting to do it for the kids.

I looked down at my watch and saw mile 4 just turned into mile 5. What originally was "I can't even run a mile" has now turned into 5. This was not something I did on my own, it was because of the cause that I get to race for. I've learned this through experience. If I was training for Kona for my own purposes, I would have turned back long ago. Because I get to race for these kids, it allows me to take the selfish side out of it and focus on them. In the end, it makes me a better triathlete.

My pace was the fastest it had been on the entire run. My legs felt great and my confidence to toe the line in Kona was never higher. It was the kids that made this possible. It was these orphans with Down syndrome that gave me the opportunity to get to do this. I'm normally a pretty low key individual with emotions rarely on the surface. This moment was different. Tears streamed down my face thinking about just how lucky I am to get to swim, bike and run these kids to their forever families.

The week ended strong. 7,750 yards swam, 194 miles biked, 41.3 miles ran for Orphans with Down Syndrome.

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