Saturday, April 17, 2010

A big First Day 04/16/2010

I met some of the most inspirational people, to me, in Ironman. The first person I met very early on in the day. I went to the athlete meeting at 10:00 am. It was the first meeting of the day. Of course the rookie was going to be at the first meeting. It worked out because it freed up the day and led to some chance encounters. (Instead of chance, I like to call it a God Thing.)

After the meeting, I went to the USAT check-in counter. I met an individual by the name of Marcus who is a member of the IamTri website. He recognized me from my profile pic. That was pretty cool running into him; small world. I was handed a check list that would send me through the merchandise floor (of course) to find my bib number. I would hand that list to the volunteer. The volunteer handed me my packet. The front of the packet had a sticker that contained my name, age division, swim cap color, and, most important, my wave time. In this case it was 8:00am. This puts me in the first wave of my age group.

We walked through the floor and I saw some things I would have loved to purchase. I have this jinx, tradition, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t buy myself distance souvenirs unless I have already completed the distance. Now other people can buy it for me but I always feel weird buying it. I bought the children Ironman cowbells that I am sure they will love. They loved the first cowbells I bought them some time ago. I saw some half Ironman water bottles I REALLY wanted to get but it violates my tradition.

Out the corner of my eve I saw a gentleman whom I felt like I knew; or at least had seen before. He had an amputated right hand and a prosthetic leg. I walked up to him and asked “Sir, what’s your name?” “Jason Gunther” I had a huge smile. “Sir, it is an honor and a pleasure to meet you.” He asked where I recognized him from and I’m sure he knew I was going to say Kona 2009. He was featured on the 2009 NBC Kona Ironamn. He, unfortunately, didn’t complete it but it wasn’t because his heart wasn’t in it! This guy is a fighter. We laughed and joked and I was, again, inspired by this gentleman.

We cleared the expo around noon, went to the hotel to grab my swim gear, and then I was off to swim. I went to transition area of the event. Guess who I saw cycling the route in her SkinFit outfit! None other than "The flying blonde Dutch girl," Yvonne van Vlerken. Unfortunately, some time ago she decided to keep her ponytails tucked in because it made her more aero dynamic. The pink SkinFit gear and bright blonde hair gave her away immediately; and the accent as she yelled at her fiancé may have been an indicator too! She was very pleasant and smiled while I attempted to take her photo. She won the inaugural Ironman Cozumel which is the Ironman I am scheduled to do this year. That was really cool to see her.

Now I am not the guy to get start struck. In my career as a soldier and police officer, I have met two presidents, and countless, countless musicians. But, you show me a professional triathlete, I become a 12 year old boy at a Michael Jackson concert! I’m not kidding! I yelled, Yvonne we love you babe!” Ooooooh uhhh yeah. Babe is my gf’s pet name and she wasn’t so happy about that lol. Well, at least I got a warning about calling Yvonne babe instead of a right hook hehe.

I made it done for a practice swim and was just in awe of this setup! It really is big business. The bike area was huge! I found my bike since I already had my packet and bib number. It’s great I don’t have that far to run out of transition in my bike shoes and my lane leads right to the front entrance so I have a straight shot once I get out of transition. It really is a great spot!

I get into the water and I noticed the visibility in the water here isn’t as good as it is in Lake Norman back home. There was a little bit of a claustrophobia going on. Once I got settled I was able to get some swimming in. The water was a little choppy and is expected to be in the same state come Sunday. I had an issue with my goggles leaking; probably because I didn’t pull it tight enough. Sunday those things are going to be glued to my face! Talk about panic. That was the first time that happened to me. However, I had to man up and tell myself I’m not the first person this has happened to. Cowboy up and get to sure. I did and was glad that was over. Thankfully if this happens in the event, I was told I can just have a kayaker come over while I fix my goggles.

Admittedly, I am nervous about the swim. However, I know it’s something I can get through. Because of those claustrophobic feelings, I was breathing every two strokes. I typically breathe every four strokes in the pool. I think I will try to push past the breathing and breathe bilaterally every 3rd stroke.

After exiting my swim, who else to I see, “The Iron Nun,” Sister Madonna Buder! If you don’t know her wow! She is the oldest lady to complete Ironman Kona! One year they had to create her age group because it didn’t exist! She has completed in over 40 Ironmans and she’s doing New Orleans. Really, if she can get through the chop! So can I :)

I felt like God was putting all of these inspirational figures in front of me so I don’t forget. These were just by chance! It was by design!

After the swim, I went home and changed and went to see Chris McCormack speak. Now, I’m not a big fan of McCormack because he comes off as an arrogant cocky son of a mother! In, fact, I enjoyed watching him get beat. I’m sitting in the room and of course waiting for this prima donna just knowing he will be late! And he was 5 minutes! I guess in the scheme of things that isn’t bad but it is when you have someone already figured out.

He walks in and starts talking. It wasn’t what I expected at all! He was little nervous you could tell. I was waiting for some guy to come in prepared to talk about himself and we didn’t get that. He asked, “So what do you guys want to do?” The next thing a hand went up and the gentleman asked McCormack a question. He answers then silence. I raised my hand because I know I wasn’t the only person in the room wondering this. I asked him how does he deal with his pain, where does he go! I looked around to make sure it wasn’t a stupid question and I see head nods! Yes, it wasn’t a stupid question.

He said something that I will not forget. He said embrace it! That is what brings us back is the pain. Wow! He didn’t say find a happy place, block it out. No! Embrace it! WOW! That’s it! He admitted he comes off as cocky in the media but he said he does that to show his opponents he’s not afraid. He said, truly there are times he is “petrified.” It was nice to see these people are human too. Although their athletic ability far exceeds ours, they have race day nerves and feel the pain too! I also learned he LOVES his family! Guess we have that in common. While I don’t consider myself a McCormack fan, he is definitely a man I respect in this field! I hope he wins on Sunday!


  1. Deuteronomy 31:6
    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

    I am happy you are enjoying yourself. May God's Peace and Blessings be upon you. I love you always!! Smoochez...Your Lil' Sister.

  2. Wow...this is amazing...You have totally inspired me to really do something for myself this year...I have been battling and feeling sorry for myself about my weight and wanting to run...but I just have to do it! Failure is the mother of all successes!! GOOD LUCK!!

    JULIE *ArtsHS*