I distinctly remember the summer afternoon nearly 20 years ago, looking over the Dana Point coast with my friend Mike. We had ridden down from Mission Viejo , about 20 miles away, a typical ride for us at the time. Somewhere in the conversation the topic of triathlons came up. I concluded that with my swim team experience and all the biking I did, all I needed was to work on my running and I could complete a small triathlon.

In January of 2003, I decided that it was time to start bike riding again. I bought a mountain bike and started riding it every weekend. At first, it was a way to get over the guilt for spending as much money as I did. But after a few months, the guilt vanished, transforming itself to absolute joy. It never occurred to me that I was getting back into shape. I was just happy that I reached the top of dirt Mulholland.

   

Months later, I saw an ad for an Ironman in Northern California . I was fascinated by the distance and the allotted time to finish: 17 hours. I wondered what it would feel like to moving for 17 hours. I wondered what covering 140 miles on human power do to you. What would you think about? How would you handle the pain?

I decided that anything that intense would change your life.

And so in July 2003, I began training for my first sprint triathlon. It was only an 800-yard swim, 12-mile bike, and 3-mile run. But it was a start. A wonderful start.

   

In 2004, I completed half-Ironman California. The event left me so excited that I immediately set my sights on an Ironman.

My first attempt at Ironman Arizona was in 2005. Unfortunately, I suffered a cold the week before the race. The cold left me a little weak and winded and after 36 miles on the bike my asthma left me with little choice but to pull out before I became a medical emergency. I finsihed the 2.4-mile swim in 01:50:00. I felt empowered and decided I would go back in 2006 to try again.

 

   

2006 proved to be a better year, but not the best. I finished the swim in 01:30:00, knocking out 20 minutes out of my swim from the previous year. The bike was difficult and with leg cramps it was not getting easier. I made the cutoff for the bike but decided to forgo the run and wait for another year.

2008 was another difficult year. I almost left triathlon.

However, I will participate in a half-Ironman in October.

And we will see about Arizona and 2010...