IRONMAN TAKES A VILLAGE
It takes a village. I know that’s pretty much a cliché statement, but it’s true. It takes a village to train for an Ironman, at least when you have a family. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. There are a lot of sacrifices that goes into training for an Ironman, and I don’t mean by me. My wife, Jenn, makes sacrifices. My kids, Hannah and Ben, make sacrifices. My law partners, make sacrifices. Without all of their support, I couldn’t do what I’m endeavoring to do this year.
It was my first Ironman in 2004 (Ironman Florida) when I realized that doing an Ironman wasn’t just about ME. That year, at mile 20 of the run, I dropped out. I could have finished. But, it was my first Ironman and, to be honest, I didn’t completely understand or respect the distance. Anyway, things just weren’t going my way during the race (something I learned happens more often than not), and I decided to drop out (something I still regret to this day). This was before texting, etc., and Ironman tracking was terrible. Jenn finally caught up with me at our condo….and she was in tears. SHE wanted to hear Mike Reilly call out my name at the finish line and say “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”! SHE waited and waited….but I, of course, never finished. What I didn’t take into account was that SHE made sacrifices for me to get to the starting line. I have never felt so guilty in my life. I was too selfish to walk it in (something I won’t ever do again). It bothers me to this day.
Jenn and I have been married for over 15 years now. I like to joke that she knew what she was getting with me. But, it’s true. I was already competing in endurance events when we met, so she knew that it was part of my makeup. She went through the trials and tribulations of me trying to qualify for Kona, unsuccessfully, from 2004 to 2007 And, she was as excited (and somewhat relieved) when I finally cracked the code in 2008 at Eagleman 70.3. That first trip to Kona was something special, for both of us! In 2012, at Ironman Florida, when I when I fell apart on the second half of the run and finished a disappointing 7th in my AG (failing to qualify), it was Jenn that made me sign up for Ironman Mt. Tremblant in 2013. Mind you she was 6 months pregnant at the time…knowing I’d be training for an Ironman with an infant at home. I told her that I wouldn’t do it unless she signed me up…and so she did. That’s just who she is….she GETS it (and I did reward her with another trip to Kona that year!). So, in 2017, when I was making my comeback from my surgery and I suggested to her that I was thinking about doing another Ironman, she was nothing but supportive. But, I wanted her to be on board with it because of the sacrifices and because life is different now…as we have Hannah and Ben. Now, making sacrifices means schlepping around to birthday parties and soccer practices, without much help from me. So, we talked about it and put together a 2 year plan: Year one (2018) I would train for Age Group Nationals and build my base back up; Year two (this year) would be the Ironman year. We call this an “all in” year….meaning our lives are scheduled around training and the race.
But, Jenn isn’t the only one to make sacrifices. My kids make sacrifices too….but, of course, at 6 and 4.5 years old, they don’t know any better. They just know that I’m out training….A LOT! That said, we do talk about the Ironman and the training involved. We talk about why dad is going out on his bike or out for a run. We talk about hard work and doing your best. And, I’m not going to lie, we do talk about winning! That said, I do feel guilty missing soccer games and parties….and just not being able to spend as much time as I’d like with them. But, this is more of a one-year thing and I am doing this FOR them, for the life lessons mentioned above. I’m a firm believer that kids want to be like their parents. I’m always proud to say that both of my kids have run 5k races at age 4 (because they wanted to, not because I made them). I want them to see me put in the hard work….and hopefully the fruits of it, so that they know what it takes. In deciding to race this year, it was strategic. On one hand, we wanted both kids to be old enough to remember this. On the other hand, we couldn’t wait too long as they’ll be immersed in activities that I just don’t want to miss out on. The other factor is that I’m not getting any younger. I figured that at 48, I still have the ability to finish at the pointy end of the race. I’m not sure how much longer that will be true, lol!
Lastly, I feel that I need to mention my law partners, John and Adam, as well as the people that work at my firm. When I told them of this idea to race Ironman for charity, they were immediately on board. Our firm, Dwyer, Spino & Goncalves, LLC, is basically “sponsoring” me, along with a handful of other supporters (Kalahari Biltong, Sun Multisport, Idle Hands Brewery, Treatment Training Wellness, Mike Hollywood Marketing, Fast Splits). Everyone is understanding when I need to leave early or take a Friday off to get some training in. It would be very difficult to do this if I didn’t have their support.
As I said, IT TAKES A VILLAGE. As cliché as it sounds, it’s TRUE!