Dreams are no more than wishful events, waiting to unfold, should you be lucky enough to achieve them. Never, never give up on your dreams. The day you do is the day you except your limitations and will never fulfill your greatest desires. For some, dreams are rarely fulfilled. Sometimes you get close, sometimes you dream of things that are unrealistic, too far fetched, or plain impossible. Then again, sometimes, just sometimes, you get what you want, but be careful what you wish for, you may just get it. Sometimes you are lucky and live your dreams early in life, sometimes you may have to wait. Be patient.
My dream, for a very long, long time had been to be in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. I knew that I did not posses the athletic talent to qualify for a slot. I realized this in 1984 when I ran the Twin City marathon in Minnesota. I was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At that time one needed a 2:50 to get in. Very unrealistic. I averaged 50+ miles a week, dropped down to 142 pounds, even ran a 40:07 10K. I thought I was on track. The conditions were perfect but I could only manage a 3:17, far from 2:50. I knew that was my best, everything I could manage.
Getting into Hawaii would be difficult but not impossible. Year after year I put in the lottery but in April, prior to the 2000 Boston Marathon I got my dream, I got a lottery slot. The work began.
I have been extremly fortunate to have met some of the greatest triathletes in the world, mostly through the camp in Boulder. I was able to meet Lori Bowden and Peter Reid, Heather Fuhr, Paul Huddle and Roch Frey. I also have communicated with them frequently and have e-mailed Scott Tinley. Perhaps it is because of my dynamic personality, or being a pain in the ass, that I was able to gain information, from them, of what I was in for. I trained so hard. Rode nearly 3,000 miles on the bike, averaged 40 miles a week on the road and swam 3-4 times a week. Bill Bell, the elder statesman, at age 77, told me it took him 10 years to learn how to do the Ironman right. Peter Reid told me it took him 5 times in Hawaii to win and do it right. Tim DeBoom has yet to win Hawaii, but will in 2001. The greatest coaches in the world can help but only you can know what works for you. It is by experience.
I'm getting closer. Although my times have been worse, Great Floridian 16:10, Lake Placid 16:40 and Kona in 16:58:38, I know I am better prepared. Weather conditions determine how you will do. I knew I could do a sub-15 hour IM, perhaps even close to 13+ but the Gods in Kona had other ideas. Having a coach, a mentor is so important to me. I have a good friend, and coach, Lisa Rainsberger, in Colorado Springs, who followed my progress, adjusted my workouts and made them fun. I think a lot of athletes are missing that element, fun. They forget this is not a job. This is supposed to be fun.
Life is far too short. One look at Fabio's accident or Scott Carlson' fatal disease should remind you that anything can happen at anytime. For most of you, doing over 16 hours is something you will never face. I wonder what possessed me to continue when I felt so bad. I remembered a lot of things; MaryBeth, a good friend, reminding me of how many people would give anything to be where I was now, the thought of telling Fabio and Scott Carlson I couldn't finish and my sister. My sister died, a very long time ago, at age 26, in a car accident. She was too young. She had a nearly perfect life, a good job, a good education. She was beautiful, so talented in anything she did. She was almost perfect. She was more than a sister, she was my best friend.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about her, and I really believe, that it was because of her, that Mary Beth, Shelley and Pete appeared in the race, when I desperately needed them the most. The rest, most of you know. I finished last with 1 minute and 22 seconds to go.
It is so important to have a goal, a dream, and never give up on that dream. If I never accomplish anything the rest of my life, I know this was my ultimate dream, I could have hoped for a faster time, but then I never would have been on national television! So, when you are out there, training, or in the race, and it seems that it is so difficult, cannot continue, ask yourself: why are you here? If you lose the element of fun, perhaps you have the wrong motivation. Have a dream. Believe in your dream. Know that you can achieve anything and have fun getting there.
"You are never given a wish, without also being given the power to make it true." Richard Bach 'Illusions'