I often get asked “What got you started doing triathlons?” and “What would make you want to do something as insane as an Ironman?”. My answer is probably similar to so many other triathletes; someone challenged me.
Thirteen years in corporate America@ 3 lb per year equals about 40lb of excess baggage. So in 2003 having just moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I walked into a chiropractor’s office, not feeling so great. A young Chiropractor, named Chris, (we are now good friends) had a license plate that read ‘jockdoc’ and a bicycle in his office. When I asked him about the bike, he told me he was training for a local triathlon and said something like “Hey, looks like you should do it with me”. I have never been known to turn down a challenge (particularly when someone may be calling you fat).
My wife, then pregnant with our 3rd child, thought I was crazy but thought this would be another interest added to the list of phases in my life and would eventually end like the Harley, hunting, and tennis phase; with memories and stuff in boxes in the attic. Since she was happy I was starting to exercise, she encouraged me.
I dusted off my 15 year old Schwinn bike and rode out of my driveway for a 25 mile down hill ride to work. I made it about 7 or 8 miles before the rear tire blew and someone had to pick me up. (note to self – change your tires at least every 20 years). I remember my first attempt at riding the 25 miles up hill to get home. I had my friend Leon follow me in his truck in case I didn’t make it. I made it 7 miles, threw the bike in the back of the truck and grabbed a cold beer Leon had waiting! Leon is a heck of a nice guy!
With a brand new bike (and some great new gear my wife still hasn’t seen all the receipts for), I started to train. That first triathlon was a bit like heroin for me! All it took was that chiropractor to ask “what about doing an Ironman?” The look on my wife’s face, then pregnant with #4, was pretty special!
So Chiropractor Chris and I trained hard together throughout the South Dakota winter and spring debating religion on our long indoor rides, and discussing our upcoming race. In July 2005 we raced Ironman Lake Placid and crossed the finish line together in under 11 hours.
The fascinating thing has been the chain reaction of events as a result of a simple challenge.
I challenged both my brothers to doing an Ironman with me. My youngest brother took me up on the challenge first. He and his wife (then girlfriend) both flew over from England for Ironman Cour de Alene in 2006. My other brother, Greg, became an Ironman the following year and now challenges me to insane mountain bike races. Greg’s wife has since run in a marathon and is a avid cyclist.
It didn’t stop there! A young guy I recently worked with went through a painful divorce. What better, healthy distraction than training for an Ironman! He became an Ironman last month, I am very proud him.
My father-in-law is also active in triathlons and has encouraged his girlfriend. They have competed together in 2 “Hotter n Hell 100″ races and rode Rag Brai together this last summer. This year she is training for her first triathlon.
And my wife, the mother of our 5 children, has become an avid runner in the last few years and enjoys cycling. For now, she says running is her ‘therapy”. Next year she is planning on doing her first triathlon.
Through our training and competing, we saw a need for a line of high quality skin care and anti-chafing products that didn’t cost an arm and leg. With the help of a doctor friend,we developed some formulas and began testing. So, what started as a challenge, turned into a passion, and became a business. (you can check out these products on Skin Strong.)
If triathlon is a contagious disease, I’m infected!