And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - Paulo Coelho
The Ironman was just an idea; it was something I had watched on TV and said I wanted to attempt one day. Going blind isn't easy, but what's harder is figuring out how to redefine your purpose. For me, my new purpose was getting comfortable being uncomfortable. A great way to be uncomfortable is to plan on finishing a race that lasts 140.6 miles. At the beginning of January 2013 that's what I wanted. You are guilty of being a co-conspirator. As you may already know, my Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico was a 2.4 mile ocean swim followed by a 112 mile bike course, finished by a marathon (26.2 miles).
I must admit that the whole idea of it is a little crazy. Why would someone want to swim, bike, and run for that many miles? I can't intelligently explain why I was drawn to it as a young teenager; it's just one of those things that you hear about or see and you connect to it.
As we (me, Kacey, & Jordan) started our way down this triathlon journey I was expecting the usual things to come along. However, I was not expecting all the support I received from family, friends, and strangers who became friends. I also had huge support from The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and The Independence Fund.
This race was a 23 month journey. Almost everyday I would remind myself of what my purpose was. I watched as many archived races on Youtube as possible. I picked the brains of as many people as I could find who had finished an Ironman, and I trained. I went swimming in an outdoor pool when it was cold and raining, I rode my tandem up and down the hills of Palos Verdes, and I ran until my iPod was dead. The actual race was difficult. I had my best swim ever that day, finishing the swim in 1 hour and 22 minutes. My bike was 'just okay'. It was enough to not have to rush during the marathon, but due to a strong head-wind on one side of the island, my strongest leg of the race was neutralized. The marathon was a blur, my body as a whole was strong, but my stomach had trouble holding the calories I needed to stay energized. My guide Carl Feld and I finished the race roughly thirty minutes before midnight.
They say that the triathlon is an individual sport. That notion is the furtherest from the truth from my experience. Some people donated money to purchase crucial gear, others put me in contact with the right people and organizations, I had volunteers help me with my training and racing, yelling fans wake up way to early to see me race, and I had CAF in my corner as my biggest supporter. I feel I'll be inadequate in saying that each of you were so crucial during my journey. I couldn't be more grateful in saying that you and I share in the accomplishment of becoming an Ironman on November 30, 2014.