Today,I made it official. I am going to do my first Half Ironman triathlon – the Route 66 Half-Iron Triathlon. Surprisingly, I am not nervous, rather very excited. This milestone is what I have been working towards for the past two years. It’s surreal to believe that not even two years ago, I was struggling with my weight at 240lbs. Now, I am on well on my way to completing something I never thought would be possible. The only word I can think of to sum it up is “Wow!”
When I started this journey, I would have to tug on my shirts and stretch them out with my knees just to get them to fit. I could not run a mile, let alone run for hours. Now my old clothes hang off me and I enjoy running and biking and none of this would have been possible if I did not have an amazing support system.
I read that one of the ways to be successful in your fitness goals is to find a good support group. I could not agree with this more. If it was just on me I would never have been able to do this. My support group starts with my family – especially my wife and son. They not only see the good at the end of the race, but they put up with all the training – running for hours, biking in the afternoons and early morning swims. They are the ones that have to put up with my complaining about all the training and trying fit it all in, and the bragging when I feel on top of the world after hitting another milestone. They don’t complain – too much – about getting way too early in the mornings to go the races. Through it all, it means the world too me to see them at the race. The manage to find me and cheer me on at every transition and make it to the finish line to celebrate in my victory. If they were not behind me on all of this, it would be impossible to complete. My son has taken on the roll as my coach, encouraging me to keep going and keeps me grounded with words of wisdom that only a ten year-old can give, like “If you had shoes like mine, you would have run faster.”
The mission to get healthy has truly become a family affair. I am so lucky to have my sister race with me at almost every race. She was with me at my first run, and I am confident that she will be with me for many more. My brother and his family also encourage me in a way only a brother can, with an “IronMan” poster that hangs in our rec room as motivation for the hours I spend on my bike in the winter.
The Feith Family YMCA has also been an amazing support group, even if they didn’t know at the time they were. There were many nights, I would close down the YMCA trying to get my workout in. I never felt like I was overstaying my welcome, and without fail even though they were closing, always asked how my workout was. Having a safe place to work out was empowering. I also met other people in the same boat working to meet their personal goals, which was motivation to keep working and work even harder. I appreciated this so much, that I decided that I should get a job there, so I too could encourage others to make this journey worthwhile. I owe a lot to the YMCA.
It was through the YMCA that I learned about the Ozaukee County Tri-Club. The person I talked to about it, acknowledged that I was probably nervous, but encouraged me to join because the people in the club are awesome people. The rest, as they say, is history. This group has provided me with so much in the way of encouragement and training. I have found a network of friends who are working on the same things I am. They had the same fears and issues I had. Their constant encouragement has allowed me to expand things that were waaaay out of my comfort zone. They provided the training I needed to to learn how to do triathlons, and continue to help me become a better swimmer. They run with me, bike with me, swim with me, laugh with me and compete with me. I know in this journey, I am never truly alone.
My family, friends like my fraternity brother Roz, who also races triathlons, the YMCA and the Ozaukee County Tri-Club have been such a big part of my journey. Individually they give me strength, but together, they make me feel like I can do anything if I just try. None of them will truly ever understand how much they have helped me on this journey, and will continue to help me, as my journey is not over.
Sometimes, I don’t get to say thank you as often as I would like, but let this serve as my thanks for everyone who has encouraged me. I also thank in-advance, anyone who will join me on my journey in the future.
In closing, remember, people don’t do these things alone. Find a positive support group and that will make all the difference in your life too! I thank you for taking the time to read this and encourage you to Like me on FaceBook to see my daily progress!