“Don’t you know there are sharks out there?”
is the top question people ask upon learning I have swam from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park, San Francisco.
Other common queries are about the water temperature, distance, and the simple question of why anyone would do this. I asked these same questions the first time Earle Conklin approached me about taking on this challenge as a pang of fear coursed through my body.
Earle, a Vietnam Vet, wanted to organize a swim for all Veterans and their families. When he explained that he had led boy scouts across the 1.3 miles cold water channel in San Francisco Bay I felt my manhood being called into question. If those kids could do it then of course I would try it out. Continue reading
Ironman 70.3 Vineman First Light
I awoke 30 minutes before my alarm went off. Race day! I dressed and triple-checked my gear to make sure nothing was missing. My friend Chris and I loaded gear into his truck and hitched my bike to the carrier. The family would not be awake for another couple hours. As opposed to many other races and events, a sense of calm pervaded over the race-day jitters. The waiting for Ironman 70.3 Vineman had ended.
This race was different for a few reasons. First off, I managed to stick to my sixteen-week training plan without missing too many training sessions. I missed a few of my long bike rides because of some weekend trips, but I was able to prioritize my training and plan sessions around work and family time. I knew I had put the hours and miles in. But it was not just the training that put me at ease. Today I had the quiet resolve to finish no matter what because I was representing my friends and fellow Marines who had died fighting with me in Iraq or lost their lives since returning. This race was bigger than me. I knew a lot of people were pulling for me.
In 2012 I began a new chapter in life. I decided to deal with my PTSD in healthier ways and move forward. I became a father in November of 2013 and celebrating the birth of my daughter Adeline has turned November from a month of loss and grief into celebration and life.
Another big turning point in life came in the fall of 2014 while on vacation in Hawaii. My family and I happened to be there the same week as the Ironman World Championship in Kona. The day of the race we watched the athletes speed past our hotel on their bikes. Something about seeing this live and watching people who had spent money to swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, then RUN A MARATHON immediately after that both inspired and terrified me. A tiny voice in my head dared to suggest that Continue reading