Archive for May 4, 2011

It was bound to happen.

It was just a matter of when not if.

Since the beginning of Run for Dom last year I have competed in 20 footraces from the timed mile to the marathon.

I even competed in a 200 mile 12-person relay ultra-marathon across the Arizona Desert.

Even though each race was markedly different and carried a different set of goals and expectations with it, there was one feeling that coursed through my veins standing in the starting corral waiting for that gun to fire.


I wasn’t always sure that I was going to achieve my race day goals.  Weather, fatigue from training, proximity to a previous race or just the unpredictability of “race-day” was always there.  But when that gun fired I was certain about two things.

  1. I was absolutely going to finish what I started.
  2. I was going to give 100% effort during that 5 minutes and 24 seconds or more than 3 hours.

We’ve had quite a journey over the past 18 months or so, completing marathons from Austin to Boston and setting new PR’s at every single distance raced 1 Mile, 5K, 10K, 10-Mile, Half-Marathon and Marathon.

But when I think back to my very first race in 2005 at the Run for your life 5K in Pennsylvania, or my first ever marathon in Philadelphia 2006 I had a very different “feeling” going through those veins of mine in the starting area.


At that time I was unsure about racing.  I was unsure about my training and preparation.  I was unsure of just about everything from the shoes on my feet to all the stuff “between my ears”.

Was I going to be able to complete the task at hand?  What would happen when I found myself in that dark place where all runners eventually find themselves during a tough race. 

For those of you who have truly “raced” before and not merely “run races”, you know about the dark place I’m speaking about.

Well as I continue to make progress in the water, swimming 5 or 6 times a week right now, I have started to wonder about racing my first triathlon.

When will I be ready?

How will I know?

So last week after my first ever 700 meter swim in the pool, I reached out to Coach Claudia and asked her if she thought I “could” theoretically, be ready for a Sprint Triathlon by the end of July.

There just so happens to be a Sprint Tri (500M Open water Swim, 13.8 Mile Bike, 3 Mile run) in New Braunfels, TX on July 31st.  My 44th Birthday.

Coach C gave me a resounding “ABSOLUTELY!” reply to my message and I decided to go for it.

With a few clicks of a button I am now one of the registered hopefuls who will compete on July 31, 2011 at Jack’s Generic Triathlon.  You can click here to read and see more about this race.

Swimming in the pool is one thing.  Swimming non-stop, 500 Meters or roughly the length of 5 football fields with a couple hundred other swimmers, kicking, bumping and squashing me is quite another.

There will be no “standing up” to catch my breath and rest.  Only more and more open water before I return to shore.

I have a mixture of emotions right now that range from giddy excitement to abject terror.

For the first time in half a decade I have absolutely no idea if I have what it takes to compete in such an event.

There is the swim.  The transition from swim to bike.  The bike race, which I have never been a part of.  Another transition from bike to run and then finally when I am nearing exhaustion, it will be my time.  My area of expertise.  The run.

How will my legs feel?  On a good day I could run 3 miles on a flat course in about 18 minutes.  A little faster or a little slower depending on the heat of the day.

After the swim and bike?  Who really knows. 


Finish?  Don’t quit?  Don’t drown?  Don’t Crash?  That is probably a good start to the list right there.

Hopefully “have fun” will make it in there as well.

But for the first time in a long time I have a feeling of apprehension about a race and a goal.  Normally I just set out with my training plan and attack each square or day on that plan. 

I unwaveringly do my workouts, put in the effort and the results are there for me more or less without fail come race day.

This time things are different.  Hard work might not be enough. 

But the one thing I always said about racing for Dom was that no matter what, I always knew that at the very least I would try my best. 

His memory and his legacy as it pertains to my competing with his initials on my race shoes demanded that.

Always try.

So Dom, I honestly don’t know how this one’s going to turn out.

I’d love to promise you that I was going to enter that water on the morning of my birthday and do you proud.  Take this thing we started together to another level and kick some serious ass Air, Land and Sea.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m just not sure.  But like before, I promise to work hard, train hard and “Tri” my best.

We’re going to enter the water at the TX Ski Ranch a runner and hopefully cross the finish line a triathlete.

It is tough to say where these 16+miles will ultimately take us.

In 2005 those 5 kilometers led to us standing at the starting line of the Boston Marathon 5 years later.

Pretty darn hard for even me to believe, and I was there every step of the way!

In 2016 will we be standing at the starting line of an Iron Man?  Will we be competing at the highest level in Kona at the World Championships?  Or is this something that we frankly won’t be good enough at to reach a high level or any level?

When we enter into that dark place now in open water or on our bike grinding up punishing hills, will we still find a way to dig deep and keep going?  I’d like to think so.  But frankly even though we still have some marathon aspirations that have not been met and the NYC Marathon in November and hopefully our 2nd Boston Marathon in April of 2012 are next up as we chase those dreams, it feels like the right time for a new challenge.

In 87 days we’ll find out.  My first race as a 44 year old.  4 years that you never got a chance to see Dom.

If you get a chance that morning, look in on me if you could.  I don’t think that too many people are going to witness anything “special” that day when they see me competing.  But Dawn, Landry, you and I will know that this may very well be one of those moments.

The kind that you look back on half a decade later and say, “I was there that day, and you know, I had a feeling that this was the start of something.”

87 Days – Joe “Tris” for Dom.