Sandy Ziya immediately helped me get to know people in town who were pursuing fitness as a way of life. She is a triathlete, and long ago told me she would eventually suck me into it. I claimed this would never happen, but as I watched her and some other friends develop in the sport, I began to get a desire for something other than just running. I was also feeling pretty beat up after years of marathons.
In January of 2011, I was sitting at my Mac writing down my fitness goals for the year, and as usual, I had put in a couple of marathons. I was completely uninspired by the idea, and training for a marathon sounded like the worst thing in the world. It felt so wrong, so I just sat there staring at the words, and finally deleted them and put in ‘triathlon.’ I immediately felt excited about the possibilities and did not look back.
I bought a bike and started to learn how to swim. I had not tried to do laps in a very long time, and it was a painful experience at first, but slowly, with Sandy’s help, I became more confident in the water. I actually started by dog-paddling around in the family pool. I didn’t really swim in a normal sense for about the first month. I remember little kids walking by the pool with a look in their eyes that said “look at that poor grown man who can barely keep his head above water.” I didn’t care. Pride falls by the wayside when you want something bad enough. I was on an adventure, and I did not care what it looked like to others. You have to be a little crazy to do this.
I signed up for the Omaha Triathlon and completed it in July. I was so happy when I turned the final corner on the run and saw my wife and son cheering me to the finish. My son now wants to do the Life Time Fitness Kids Tri, and it is wonderful to see him want to get involved in a healthy activity that draws you into positive relationships with other athletes. I signed up for the HyVee Triathlon a few days later and completed that in September, beating my Omaha time by nine minutes. To be honest, I never imagined how much joy this type of thing could bring. The people I have met and have the privilege to train with are the best, and being around them makes me stronger and happier in ways that transcend the physical dimensions of the sport.