Bright Beginnings, Rising Stars and Mountain Tops reached are all the feel good stories that get fed to the media. There just isn’t general interest in the Grinder; the one who is climbing the ladder but still only toiling in the middle rungs. Progress is progress and climbing that first rung is just as important as the last one.
The paradox created is that the middle rungs are the weakest as the most pressure and stress are placed upon them. The lack of support in the middle creates the deterrent to press on and instead seek the safety of remaining static or worse regressing.
These middle rungs are tough. There are a lot of them, they are largely unseen and quite often you will push so hard that they break and you are forced to repair them in order to continue your progress. It has been in these middle rungs where my 2015 season has been. The safety and stability of being new to the sport without expectations, the excitement of becoming the best in your circle and the fresh and exhilirating start of lining up with the best of the best disappears below you. No longer does the excuse “I’m cutting my teeth” work. All that matters is what you produce when it counts. I would wager to bet that I am among the majority, and that it is the exception when someone goes from the bottom to the top without getting hung up in the middle. It’s just that you don’t hear about it and the people who are in those middle stages frankly don’t talk about it because it is unexciting, doesn’t draw to much interest and still comes back to the hard line that it really only matters what you can produce.
2015 has been a Grind. A most necessary step, yet one that is largely unrewarding if you solely look at it from the outside. As illustrated by my lack of activity on this blog I have both been very busy in all facets of life as well as I just plain and simple did not have much that I felt was worthy of sharing with the public. There were no wins, no trophies, no personal bests. It was a year of unsensational mediocrity. Yet I probably made the most progress I have ever made in a 12 month period. Too much focus on the singular can lead to not seeing the whole picture.
2015 Wrapped Up With a Bow On Top:
As I sit in the Muffin House (a fantastic coffee shop that obviously makes a delicious baked good) I can reflect on 2015 and how it all went. All in all it was another great chapter in my life. Dodging the cold I spent most of February and March in both Florida and California. May was largely spent in Texas training for and racing both the Texas 70.3 and Ironman. The summer included lots of training, the annual pilgrimage to Lake Placid to spectate and ended with a great experience at Ironman Chattanooga.
That left Ironman Cozumel to tackle as the season ender. It is this race that got my juices flowing to actually shake of the rust and share my stories with the public. This since I actually feel like I have something somewhat interesting to share. Unlike the rest of the season which largely went without many bumps in the road, my second trip to Mexico certainly added to the Mexico es no bueno por Matteo files. For those who either missed or want to catch up on the last time I went to Mexico you can read HERE how it went down. (For more graphic pictures, leave a comment and I’ll pass it along to you).
Cozumel 2015 setup to be a great season ending race for me. With a quicker than normal swim, a tough bike due to wind and heat and a run that was sure to be a sufferfest in the conditions I was really looking forward to the battle. It was a race that suited me and a race that I was physically and mentally prepared for. Race morning although filled with a couple shuttles went really smoothly and led to having plenty of time to warmup and get prepared to start Ironman #12. With no real in-water warmup, we were cut loose. With 30+ starting, there was a good deal of chaos at the beginning. This also means plenty of bodies to get drafts off of. After several hundred meters we formed into a group of about 10 or so strong which stuck for the rest of the swim. Getting onto the bike after being in the water for :49 minutes, things were in a good place. I was moving into the back of some strong cyclists and it was setting up to be a good day.
Unfortunately for me I had a flat at about 14 miles into the bike (if you have raced Cozumel, it happened right after you bear left and go into the exposed section of the course to the ocean that is the windiest). That change essentially knocked me out of contention to ride with the strongest cyclists. Continuing on I had the misfortune of flatting again about 15 minutes later and then again at about the 40 mile mark. Alas, after one loop of a three loop course I had been on the side of the road for about 40 minutes. With each flat my resources to fix them were diminished and I was forced to rely on Mexican Bike Mechanics on mopeds to come along and assist. I’ve got to say they were all great and helped me out immensely…it just takes more and more time for them to get there the further back from the main groups you are, that’s just the cold hard facts.
Luckily for my attitude my third flat happened to fall exactly where a fellow english speaking, and Quintana Roo tweeting friend was watching from. Sonja (goSonja.com) who was down to watch the race came over and hung out with me as I waited for help. With the 1st flat being devastating to the race and the 2nd and 3rd just being insulting, I certainly enjoyed a friendly face and encouraging words.
So the race went on, devoting myself to finishing what I started I made the most of the day on the island. The bike course really is pretty beautiful, it’s almost like a kick in the pants that the most scenic views happen when the wind is the worst and all you want to do is get beyond it. But with the pressure lessened I can say I was able to soak it up a little more than I would have. It really was pretty.
Getting to the run course with Matt Russell (Ultimate 2nd place) already beginning his second of three ~8.5 mile loops was pretty discouraging. I resigned to give it a steady loop and see where things were at. With one loop down it was really apparent where things stood. After the second loop I stopped to give my trooper of a Mom a hug and tell her I’d be a little longer on the final loop but I’d be back soon. Finishing off a tough day with another medal around my neck was to be my glory.
Unfortunately, the above recap of my time in Mexico really was only a piece of what I was referencing when I said this trip to Mexico added to the list of WTF Mexico Moments I’ve had. Getting back to the Hotel about 45 minutes after finishing I went to take a #1 and out came what appeared to be Beet Performer, however I had not been able to bring the cans down with me on the plane…so with that ruled out and the fact that no red gatorade was on course I took a walk back to the Med Tent to see if I could get an IV.
Now I know some athletes might stretch their condition at times to get a line in their arm…however I have never played that card feeling that when I really needed it I didn’t want to be the boy who cried wolf. Well, who would have though Mexico would have sticklers for medical personnel. (If anything I would have thought in Mexico they would have been the first to be like, an IV? Sure! Let’s plug it right in.) Well about 5 hours later I walked out of the Hospital (2 for 2 in that department when being in Mexico now), 3 hours worth of IV drip in me. It was another crazy experience and I was super glad that my Mom was there to be a reasoning voice as at one point the Mexican doctor was talking about putting in a catheter and keeping me for up to two days!
Things have “cleared” up and I think everything is A ok now, so that is that.
Mexico certainly did not disappoint….and you know the twisted part to all of this is that even though I have raced two times in Mexico with both trips yielding visits to the hospital, I am still thinking about how I am going to win that race next year.
Thrown in all of this was the fact that I am now engaged and a home owner…so yeah, I guess 2015 was actually pretty damn successful!