I grew up in Dublin, Ohio and graduated from Dublin Coffman High School. In the seventh grade I began playing lacrosse. Prior to that, I was like most Dublin kids and played a myriad of sports, but I never got too serious about any of them. Lacrosse was different. It was a newer sport in this area, so no one was super good at it and I wouldn't stand out as the kid that just bought my first stick last night. Our team needed a goalie and I quickly volunteered because I figured it wouldn't require too much running - funny now, huh? It turned out that I was a pretty good goalie! To be honest, I think the reason I enjoyed playing lacrosse so much, besides being decent and getting a lot of playing time, was my middle school coach, Mike Kinney. He was the perfect balance of tough and caring, intimidator and cheer leader
Once I reached high school, I continued playing and dressed for several varsity games as a freshman, but it just wasn't as much fun without Coach Kinney. During my Sophomore year, I was hit by a drunk driver. The result was a broken right ankle and a destroyed left foot. This was the end of my lacrosse playing and the beginning of many unhealthy lifestyle habits. From that time until I was nearly 23 years old, I payed little attention to dietary choices and exercise was never a priority. I do not know how much I weighed at my heaviest, but I do remember being weighed at one point (not by choice) and the scale reading 280 lbs. At 6-4, I probably wore it better than most, but I was overweight and very unhealthy.
A little bike porn for your viewing enjoyment during this boring stuff.
After spending time in Great Lakes, Illinois, Whidbey Island, Washington, and deploying to the Western Pacific aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln during my enlistment, I wound up near Memphis, Tennessee in Horn Lake, Mississippi. I wanted to use my GI Bill to go to college, but needed to figure out how to maximize my benefits. After going to community college for 2 years, I made the transfer to the University of Mississippi in Oxford. This is where I found my love for multisport. Ole Miss hosts an annual sprint triathlon called the Rebel Man. It was my second year there that I finally committed to doing the event despite having never swam a single stroke of freestyle (or any other competitive stroke for that matter) or never riding a skinny tire bicycle. Being me, I went out and bought a tri bike and figured out how to survive a 400 meter pool swim. The week in advance of the Rebel Man, I went up to the Natchez Trace State Park and competed in a triathlon that was turned into a duathlon due to weather. I won the Clydesdale division and I was hooked! That first season I competed in nearly 50 running, cycling, and multisport events. Definitely a race junkie! Egged on by my best friend, Sean, we went to Wilmington, NC that fall to complete our first iron distance race at the 2010 Beach2Battleship Triathlon. It was my first marathon, my first century ride, and my first swim over 2000 meters. Hell of a day!
The following season, I focused heavily on ultra distances. It began with the 2011 Sunset to Sunrise running relay across Florida where I found three other morons to run it as a four man team, the Fantastic Four Lokos. After that I went on to complete three iron distance tri's (Ironman Texas, Rev3 Cedar Point, and Ironman Florida) and the Newton 24 Hours of Triathlon where I was the Solo Male 24 Hour Champion. Despite having some good results and logging some major race miles, it took its toll on my body and wound up with a femoral neck stress fracture at the end of the season.
After letting my injury heal over the winter, I knew it was time to find some guidance for my training and racing. With the advice of my friend and competitor, Ivan O'Gorman, I hooked up with Rich Laidlow as my triathlon coach in January 2012. This is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I told him that I wanted to go shorter and get much faster! He never once told me that my goals were out of reach and we went to work almost immediately. With his help, I qualified to race as an elite amateur at the 5150 National Chamionship and earned a slot on the starting line of the 2012 Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Las Vegas, NV. This was huge for me.... and then tragedy struck.
On August 5, 2012 at the end of a rainy 80 mile training ride, I lost control of my bike and went down on a left hand turn. My left hip took nearly all the impact and I knew nearly immediately that something wasn't right. I think denial took over for a little while and I rode the three miles home from the crash site, but on my way up the two flights of stairs with my bike on my shoulder I conceded that I needed help. I was diagnosed with an intertrochanteric fracture in my left femur and was told I would have surgery the next day to stabilize the break. I was devastated. I had worked so hard and had so many things go right and now it was all taken away from me.
I came out of surgery with this interoperative image laying on the table next to my hospital bed
Following Vegas, I began some sport specific training with Rich and he was very gentle and patient with me. Very, very proportionately heavy on swim and bike and virtually no running except in the pool for a long time. We set a goal of racing the Bone Island Iron Distance Tri in Key West on January 12, 2013 since I had registered for that event nearly a year earlier. I had many days of doubt and discouragement, but Rich never gave up. Between his workouts, ongoing physical therapy, a return to work, and trying to not rely so heavily on prescriptions to get me through the day, I thought it might be hopeless. With the company of my friend, Colleen, and her family, I headed down to Florida and stayed optimistic. During race week, I performed my longest solid training run (no walk breaks) of 45 minutes - what a joke, right!? In a Skype call the day before the race, Rich laid out the race plan and gave me the confidence to give it hell.
Along with the daunting task of racing an Ironman five months post dynamic hip screw surgery, Mother Nature decided we needed sustained winds of 20+ mph and gusts well over 30 mph. This made for nasty surf and frustrating bike conditions. I stuck to my race plan, trusted my training, and listened to my body. This resulted in an iron distance PR and a 4th place overall finish. I was overjoyed!
That basically brings you up to date! As of right now, I have my sights set on Ironman San Juan 70.3 on March 17, 2013 and hope to come home with a qualifying certificate for Vegas 2013. Updates will certainly follow!
For all of you still reading, thank you! Blue skies and tailwinds!