Contributed by O2fitness sponsored, ProjectHero athlete Shay... So I've been a NG several times in my life, if you don't know what a NG is...welcome, because you're a NG to the NG world!!
Thursday, March 26th at 0400 the alarm clock wails, time to load up and head down to San Diego for my very first Triathlon! Well almost my very first! I had back surgery 5 weeks ago, so when I told my doctor that I was going to participate in an Ironman 70.3 she was less than thrilled. I asked if it would be okay if I was on a relay team and only did the swim portion, she agreed!
Race day was fantastic with fog covering the water at Oceanside Harbor in Southern California, and a cool 60 degrees outside with the water temp not being much higher! This was an open water swim, that started off very mellow! But when the horn blew it was anarchy, arms flailing, kicks flying...it was great!! When we headed out to open water, that's when the swells started and it got very choppy! I could hear seals yelling at us to either get out of their backyard or play with them, either way, I just wanted to get it over with, so I put my head down...got in the zone...and ran right into a buoy! I looked over and the guy swimming next to me was laying on his back laughing his butt off! A lady at T1 said she was laughing so hard that she forgot how to swim and almost drowned!
During my portion of the race, my back locked up with spasms 3 times, I never for a moment thought I was in any trouble or distress as the water is my second home, with the sky being my first, the others follow!! What did freak me out was losing time because my legs wouldn't work! I know, in the swim portion it's mostly arms, but when you cannot rotate your body left and right while trying to freestyle, it gets frustrating...well for me anyways! So instead of fighting it, I just rolled over and did the backstroke until my legs got feeling again! For the 1.2 mile swim, my time was somewhere around 50 minutes...I think, as I forgot to look or listen for the time, as well as I forgot to hit stop on my watch! My pool time is around 35 minutes, so 50 minutes or so in rough seas...with Sharks, Sea Serpents and Mermaids...I'll take it!!
But you know what, I wasn't there to beat a time, or anyone else for that matter! I was there for rehabilitation, to rehab my body, mind, and spirit! I met some fantastic people that were truly there to help, and all it took was for me to open up just a bit, and let someone in! I cannot thank the fine folks of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and the many supporters, sponsors, and volunteers for their generous donations that allow this program to thrive! And let me never to forget Mrs. April Wolfe who steered me to this new avenue in my life, for setting me up with a Champion athlete, Mrs. Sian Turner! But most of all, believing in me!! Thank you!
I was asked by one of the administrators, what my future plans and goals were! I told him that I wanted to share my experiences with others who are in the same boat, that I wanted to be an Ironman Triathlete and go to Kona, Hawaii! That I wanted to go to the Paralympics! I guess they liked what they saw and heard in me as they have invited me to attend several Challenged Athletes training camps over the next few months that are geared towards Kona and the US Paralympic Team!
So now I'm back in town, it's Monday morning and I'm at the surgery center...with my son, he's getting his tonsils taken out...thank God! I'm also reflecting back on a weekend that allowed my wife and I to become closer, for me to compete and train, for me to come out of my shell! I learned so much this past weekend, it was simply AWESOME!!