Saturday, October 31, 2009

The tale of 3 coaches

As I approach Ironman Florida 2009, it is a time I look back and see how I got to this moment in my life. I didn't get to the point of being able to do 140.6 miles on my own. It took guidance, experience, knowledge, passion, caring and, sometime A LOT of patience to put up with an athlete who didn't come from a talented athletic background. These three guys I credit with where I came from...and where I am headed.

In 2000, I told my friend, Rick Stafford, that I was considering a Danskin triathlon. At that time, I really didn't think it was possible. A 400 yard swim, a 10 mile bike and a 3 mile run seemed simply impossible for someone at 250lbs. Rick saw the triathlon as a great possibility in my life and agreed to train me. After 5 months, I crossed the line of my first triathlon and gained a friend, a training partner and a wonderful caring coach.

Fast forward to 2003 when I had 10 sprint distance triathlons under my belt and I had decided to move up in the world. I found the organization known as Team in Training who helped people train for their first marathon, triathlon or century ride. I decided to go from sprint distance to olympic but knew I couldn't do it by myself. Meanwhile, my godson had been diagnosed with Leukemia and Team in Training was the perfect avenue. My first Olympic Distance Coach was Clint Carbonneau who was incredibly patient and knowledgeable. He believed in the team concept and that no participant was left behind. I was often last in all our training but he was persistent and consistent and helped me complete my first St. Anthony's and Memphis in May Olympic Distance Triathlons.

There were many that believed that anything beyond an Olympic Distance triathlon was simply not an option for a plus size athlete to acheive. I actually had a trainer at one point agree to train me to do a Half Ironman and then turn around a week later and told me it was impossible. I thanked her for her time and moved on but still had the burning desire to complete a Half Ironman. I trained with an online coach for awhile but it just wasn't the same as having someone face to face.

I entered a difficult race in Clermont called Tri America and met my 3rd coach. I was on the course in a HAIL STORM (yes you read that right) and was struggling with some hills. I had already crashed my bike once at this point when I heard this person encouraging me to my left . "Keep your front wheel straight...keep your feet can do this...its just a little farther." And so was my first meeting with Hector Torres. He believed that I could do anything I put my mind to ...and helped me complete not one but 4 half Ironmans.

Hector was there when I DNF'ed my Ironman last year with compassion and an Iron fist. He was NOT going to give me an out. He let me lick my wounds for awhile and then helped me realize my potential. As we sat down this week to discuss the race, he reminded me of how far I have come and that I am stronger now than I have ever been. He told me that this is my race, my day, my dream to realize.

That is all true...but one point remains. If it were not for the belief of these three men and their expertise in the sport, I would have never made it to this point. I thank each of them for what they have done for me and for their experience in this sport. Without them, I would not be where I am. I am blessed beyond measure.

Rick and Hector will be racing Ironman Florida this week. It gives me great comfort knowing that they will be there to cheer me on. Coach Clint will be home watching on the computer as I attempt to make this Ironman dream come true. Thank you are very very special people and you all mean the world to me!!

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