Australia -- Continent #3

Australia – Country #4

April 3, 2004

Ironman Australia

Forster, Tuncurry New South Wales

 

The run up to Ironman Australia (OZ) was all about time management, choices, balance, and coping. Two months after giving up a Kona slot earned at Ironman Coeur d’Alene (CDA), I regressed and planned how to qualify again to compete there in 2004. My pool side panic attack in downtown Bangkok, gave way to more balanced attention to family, work, and workouts for the next four years. Chris and I chose Fridays as date nights. Saturdays were oriented to Hayes and Caroline. Sundays were almost exclusive for family oriented activities. While not perfect, choices were made using this model. Work included ten or more hour days but mostly focused on Mondays through Fridays. Workouts were early in the day. This training time slot worked out best to cope with family and work priorities, and the Thai weather.

 

Triathlon training was managed as a balance of family, work, and personal time. Triathloning is an enjoyable and fulfilling lifestyle that comes with a burden to bear for a successful balance. You need to determine where equilibrium is located within your life’s existence. And recognize balance is not a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 or even 25%, 25%, 25%, 25%. Just as kids and work associate and customers require different needs to be filled differently so does the balance of the above items. Equal time is not the best metric for balance. It’s a definitely more of an art than science and needs ebb and flow for the fulfillment.

 

Triathlon racing while living in Thailand required destination races. We adopted a traveling with justification philosophy for vacation spots. Traveling for races and to experience what the world had to offer. We accomplished both in a single trip when appropriate. The Laguna Phuket Triathlon led us from one island to another. Phuket Island to the island continent of Australia for Ironman OZ.

 

The entire family coped with multiple changes the move to Thailand bought to us. All four of us approached life differently and hence we all utilized different coping mechanisms. Hayes lives for tomorrow. She is outgoing and looks forward to everything with excitement. Once the event arrives she exclaims this is the best ever _____ (fill in the blank). The best ever party. The best ever flight. The best ever food. The best ever trip to the beach. The best ever vacation. The best ever race. The best people ever to talk with. Everything is the best ever but she quickly follows her judgmental comments with, “What are we doing tomorrow?” The best ever tomorrow is always the best ever anything.

 

Chris lives in the now. As in, “Hayes, this is what we are doing now. Let’s plan for tomorrow after enjoying ourselves now.”

 

Caroline lives to be independent. She is quiet by nature, often sidetracked by her AHC health issues, and needs more sleep than others. Stepping back a few months to the spring of 2002 while still living in Arizona, Caroline, then age eight, agreed to participate in an annual dance school review. She was one of three in her group that “danced” to Chubby Checker’s mega hit version of “The Twist”. Caroline is stubborn in her decisions, and while not a wallflower, she does tend to shy away from being the center of attention. We weren’t sure she would step out on stage in front of 1,000 Ahwatukee parents, relatives, and dance enthusiast. When the curtain opened, she appeared with a big Cheshire cat smile in her leopard spotted skirt and black leather top dance costume. As the music started her two partners started the dance routine. Caroline chose to cope by bending down to tie her left shoe. Once done, she looked up and saw her partners still dancing and heard the music still playing so she continued her “routine” by tying her right shoe. With the song still playing she untied then re-tied her left shoe. She looked up only to see if her dance partners were dancing or not. They were, she proceeded to un-tie then re-tie her right shoe. Once the music stopped she stood up and bowed with her partners. We felt if she coped through the stress being on a stage, then a move to Bangkok would be a breeze for her.

 

I live in the past. I relive previous work experiences, personal events in my life, conversations with people, and trips. I relive my past to learn how to improve for the future. I relive races in my mind. I still dream but these are not the same now as when much younger.

 

I’m held hostage by one of my dreams, to compete in two more Ironman Ironmans, this one, and in Kona, Hawaii at the Ironman World Championships. The reality required another round of race qualifications. To qualify required a time commitment to train, an emotional commitment to stay married and engaged with family, and discipline to work to keep the career on track and money coming into the bank account.

 

The dreams provided internal guidance to separate out the wants, the hopes, the wishes, and the choices. Choices determine what dreams got pursued and captured. The wants, the hopes and the wishes were great for motivation while actions delivered on the choices.

 

My childhood dream was to compete in the Olympics. Growing up I wanted to be an Olympic athlete more than anything. More than a coach, teacher, lawyer, businessman, or an astronaut. Dad started the interest when introducing the Olympics on TV to me at age nine. We donated to the US Olympic Committee (USOC) in 1968 during the Winter Games in Grenoble, France. In return they sent us an eye appealing colorful patch for proof of support and me to wear for a connection to the event. We made another donation for the Summer Olympic Games. Winter or summer, didn’t matter, the Olympics were the goal. Competing in track would have been nice but it didn’t matter what sport. Instead of a patch for the girls or watching the Olympics, we took them to triathlons to get their interests in sports to take hold.

 

Prime age for Olympic competition came and went without me qualifying. Though I cheered in the stands for three former teammates from Indiana University at the Olympic Summer Games held in Los Angles in 1984, Sunder Nix and Jim Spivey finished 5th in their respective individual events of the 400 meter run and 1500 meter run. Nix earned gold in the 4x400 relay. And Rotimi Peters earned a bronze medal on the Nigerian 4x400 relay team. No doubt, I would not be inspired to be on a 50 state journey of racing in triathlons if I raced in the Olympics. Over a time period of 20 years, I went from being an 800 meter running track specialist to a 225,900 meter Ironman triathlete competitor.

 

During the Games in ’84 I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Huntington Harbor, the same paired I stayed with in Las Vegas seven years later for the Bud Light Championship Tri, and asked him why he became such a successful businessman. He shared when his stint was up from the Army Air Corps following World War II he applied for medical school like many of his buddies. Unlike them, he didn’t get accepted. He knew he was every bit as smart as his buddies. He leveraged his Midwest work ethic and his motivation to prove his smarts by building a business and selling out to a large corporation.

 

A Bangkok neighbor asked at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, “Why do you still race?” In college and club races afterwards, my motivation came from the desire to achieve personal best times and determine the number of seasons I could race competitively against college runners. Not smart enough to be an astronaut nor born with enough physical ability of speed and strength to earn a spot on the US Olympic Team but the desire to continually press my physical abilities contributed to my continued race motivation. Never qualified for NCAA Nationals or the US Outdoor Nationals. Shared my Olympic aspirations with my mother when a teenager in junior high school. She realized athletics and racing gave me pleasure. She told me with all her heart she would scrub floors to pay my way to the Olympics if that’s would it take to get me there. My continued racing is emotional payback for her support of my potential and actual accomplishments. As for my dad, he recommended a donation to the USOC in 1984. Told him I already donated in building confidence in other track standouts who beat me in the 800M in the early 80’s. Raced against 25% of the 1984 US qualifiers. Placed behind most but beat a few. Kept competing in track then triathlons to prove I was world class in some sport, at some age, though never qualified for the Olympics.

 

Years later, while swirling around in an irrational mid-life crisis, Chris asked, “What do you want to be when you grow grew up?”

 

“All ever wanted to be was an Olympian.”

 

“Never knew that,” she responded.

 

“You never asked,” and added there’s more about each other we don’t know and don’t want to know. Being in Australia though, we knew enough about the desire to compete to get qualified for Kona. Hawaii Ironman was going to be the closest to competing in the Olympics as I’d get. Not to prove I was as good as anyone on the IU track team, I’m not and have no issue with it. No, my Olympic dream was replaced by Kona for personal fulfillment.

 

Training for Ironman OZ started in earnest once we returned from a trip home stateside at Christmas. Learned a couple of years later my boss gave us 10% chance of returning to Bangkok over the Christmas vacation since we chose to go back to the US almost right after arriving in Thailand. He selected me a week after the 4th of July for the expat assignment. Once decided, he wanted us over in Bangkok within a week. Couldn’t without a passport. Then he found out about the girls being special needs kids. These were red flags to him. He questioned his decision.

 

A week later, flew to Houston for passports, medical inspections, training resources, and paperwork at the corporate headquarters. All went smoothly including the medical evaluations to gage our physical and mental wellbeing. Two doctors looked at my EKG and stated they never saw such peaks and valleys before in an employee. The docs and the med techs thought my cholesterol was high. The HDL was elevated due to all the endurance workouts. The doctors learned we were kids of divorced parents, our fathers were alcoholics, and depression ran in both families. They learned both kids were intellectually challenged and would be attending a British based special needs school staffed with an Indian~British schoolmaster and mainly English speaking Thai teachers. Feedback from the doctors was minimal throughout the interrogation. Near the end, and with an expressionless straight face, asked the doctors if they saw any red flags in our family enjoying a successful expat assignment. After a long period of silence, both responded with a single word, “No”. Thought something was lost in translation from their simple, straightforward answers to some technical medical jargon analysis compiled while listening to us. 

 

Our motivation to return to Bangkok after the Christmas break was simple, to work. If we requested a transfer back stateside, it’s not back to work, only back to the US. I would be out of a job and career at my employer with no home ownership to move into.   

 

Many things came together in Thailand though the rest of 2003 we worked towards acceptance. The law of belief we had the skillsets to be expats for an employer and our kids would learn more about the world though mentally challenged. We were persistent in the desire to stay for the duration of the assignment. We worked hard for success in all activities. We created opportunities once thought never to be granted to see the world outside of the US. We were motivated to see and experience some of the world in different countries. And racing in new triathlons would be part of the journey.

 

We acknowledged problems encountered, often ones we created, could be not solved in the same manner as they were in the US. We needed to look for new ways to arrive at solutions. Some were easy like foods that looked like normal American fare but tasted much differently. For example, freshly squeezed orange juice with more salt than sweet on the palette. Beautifully baked chocolate chip cookies that tasted more like rice cakes than homemade. And hard candy with some pretty coloring but non-matching spices to the ribbon candy from home. Solution: learn to like them or avoid them. Some problems were harder such as reading English to Thai translation books thinking we could speak the tonal language. Or bike training on city roads thinking multi-ton buses with no catalytic converters would swing wide to provide a space when driving by or in front only to slam on their brakes to pick up passengers at a non-marked bus stop.

 

The work assignment in Bangkok was similarly in step with my race journey, committed to both. Everyone set realistic expectations. We gained strength through motivation. We created support networks around work, neighbors, and travel goals. We used any and all resources available to us to fulfill our goals. The move halfway around the world opened up so many possibilities, much more than we ever imaged.

 

After making it through 2003, training for Ironman OZ in early 2004 seemed mentally stress free. Motivation increased during training for the race. With no small triathlon races in Thailand to be enticed with to break up the training regime, focus was on physical and mental preparations. Motivation came easily as Thailand was, and Australia would be, constantly changing newness to our family. While many humans like a groove of consistency, our groove was consistently changing. Mostly for the better. Our family grew closer together while we expanded our life experiences. Work continued to be a challenge but everyday yielded measureable achievements. Something not experienced while working in the US when everyday seemed the same and the needled moved over weeks. In Thailand everyday was different. A good different.

 

After swimming alone doing workouts for five months I jumped in the pool at 5:30am and found myself swimming with a knot of toads. They liked to fornicate in the water and didn’t like me swimming laps during their water time. Many toads swam with egg sacks still attached kicking around the pool. Males charged me when swimming in their personal space. At races in other bodies of water I accepted being kicked in the face, slapped on the feet, and getting swam over by other triathletes as a risk of racing. But never did I get used to being head butted by pissed off toads in the neighborhood pool when swimming laps during their pre-dawn orgies.     

 

Life outside the water wasn’t much safer. On the last Saturday in January while biking by myself, turned east on to the far extension of a one-way road service road ten miles northeast of city center. Looked for traffic to the left. Nothing. Entered the road and turned right to go in the proper direction. Suddenly my eyes and mind registered a motorbike heading quickly and directly at my right leg. Pumped my legs to speed out of the way but my mind quickly calculated a crash was inevitable. The front wheel of the motorbike hit the diamond shaped bike frame that keeps the back wheel hub in place. The bike slide out from underneath me and slammed me to the pavement on my right hip, right shoulder, and helmet. Okay but shaking in fear and shock. The motorbike guy with his girlfriend slid across the roadway. Bike parts from both our rides were scattered. They spoke Thai, no English. I spoke English, no Thai. Called Chris to get a ride pick-up for a home. Three other cyclists rode by 10 minutes later. One a Frenchman, knew Thai and spoke enough English to confirm everyone was okay.

 

Him: “Okay?”  

Me: “Oui. Yes. Okay.”

Him: “Okay.”

Him: “He…. shoot…. you?” Pointing to the motorbike guy and then to my bike, then gesturing with his arms his motorbike hit my bike.

Him: Repeating his gesturing, “He bike shoot you bike no?”

Me: “Yes. Oui.”

Him: Pointing at me again, “Okay yes?”

Me: “Yes.”

 

One of the other cyclists called the police. The motorbike driver started his motorbike and waved his girlfriend aboard. The Frenchman positioned his bicycle in front of the motorbike and yelled at the Thai to not leave. He didn’t. The Frenchman and the other two riders left. Police showed up with a pick-up truck. They loaded the bikes, me, and the two Thai motorbike riders in back and drove off. No one talked to me.

 

Ten minutes later we arrived at the police station and the court hearing started almost immediately. The motor biker gave his story. The police looked at me. Started talking in English. Showed my bike. Explained right of way policy and rested my case. More talking in Thai by police. My ride home showed up. He asked me how much to replace my bike. In my limited Thai vocabulary, told him 40,000 Thai Baht. His eyes went wide and so did the motorbike guy as he heard me talk in Thai. This was three to four months of salary for the guy.

 

The police found the motorbike driver guilty for unlawfully driving the wrong way on a one-way road. My bike was 15 years old. The blue Cannondale bought when living in Missouri. The same bike they also cost me a sewing machine for Chris since feeling guilty about spending so much for a bike. It didn’t feel right for the motorcycle guy to buy me a new bike. I told the driver, police, and the motorbike guy in a combo of English and Thai no monies due, only to drive safely at all times. Went home, ran ten miles, and started searching for a replacement bike.      

 

Wanted a replacement Cannondale but the bike store owner never did quote a price for the bike. Strange. She wanted me to commit to buying a bike, then she would give a price. Another rider said the same thing happened to him. Instead found a new bike, another aluminum frame, a Trek 1500 at ProBike by Lumpini Park. At ProBike, he automatically gave a 15% discount and charged no VAT tax since he sold it to me, a foreigner. That’s an unexpected 20% discount.

 

Weekend rides were with a group on a stretch of the service road. Most riders were pure cyclists with a mix of 50/50 Thais and expats. Riders’ ages ranged from early 20s to mid-50s. The speed and skills crossed a wide range with me in the middle of age, speed, and skill characteristics. Tried to befriend Thai triathletes with little luck. Language was our biggest barrier. Later saw three of them at Ironman Australia. They didn’t recognize me there, or at least they didn’t acknowledge it.

 

Changed my training approach due to three major condition changes compared to my two previous attempts at Ironman racing. Condition #1, the southeastern Asian climate was hot and humid compared to the dry heat of the desert in southwest United States. Condition #2, the city traffic was overwhelming in the number of buses, trucks, cars, and motorbikes compared to riding the seemingly less vacant Maricopa County roads outside of Phoenix. Condition #3, needed more speed to qualify in Australia at their national long distance championship compared to multiple qualifying races established across the spread-out geographic regions of the US. Determined the same training tactics in Bangkok as followed in Phoenix would not yield the desired results of re-qualifying for Kona. What I mean is Thailand was not the US and the road to Kona was not paved through downtown Bangkok. Doing the same training in Bangkok as Phoenix would not produce the desired race results.

 

During the work week, stayed in the neighborhood compound and trained on the Kreitler Bike Rollers in the carport. Drenched in sweat after 50 minutes of riding with the excess moisture dripping steadily on the rollers, the real balancing act came into play trying to stay upright while continuing the ride. Sweat on the back two rollers made balancing slippery at best. No matter how smooth the bike wheels spun, the bike tires started hydroplaning and the back wheel would slide off rollers and damn near crash me into the driveway when no motorcycles were around. To reduce accident risk, weekday workouts focused on speed with 45 minute or less workouts on the rollers. Weekend rides focused on endurance building during bike rides on the streets of Bangkok and roads just outside of the huge city.

 

On longer run days ran north on a bridge above one of the many “kalongs”, or canals, that cut up the city. On Saturdays mornings a run after biking. But on Tuesdays and Thursday, the guardians of a house directly on the canal wanted me to know they didn’t like me running by their residence at 5:30am. “Soi” dogs, guarded the house, their numbers varied from ten to twenty on any given day. Thought the house was a B&B for dogs. “Soi” is slang for mutts, mongrels, and mangy dogs that don’t live inside a home but on the streets. The street dogs showed up at this house for a meal and overnight stay when they wanted. When running by these dogs they barked, a few came out of the driveway, and the sickest of them snapped at my legs. I tried to run silently, quickly and safely. In early February one the dogs entangled his teeth into my left sock. Too close to expose myself to a life of illness. I showed up at a doctor’s office the same day and started receiving a series of rabies prevention shots in case one of the dogs breeched my skin at some point in the future.

 

A couple of weeks after the dog scare and a mile beyond the dog house was a dead guy from motorbike crash in the road. Never did learn the cause. Perhaps he slide on a slick spot, swerved to miss a soi dog, knocked down by a car, struck by a truck mirror, or fell asleep while riding. All plausible. The scene left me uneasy for days.

 

March arrived introducing the Thai hot and humid season. Temperatures and humidity increased into the 90’s. And so did tempers as sleep became harder for many Thais without air con. My training miles tapered and my speed picked up for Ironman OZ. During one of Thursday morning 90 minute runs, in a poorer neighborhood, two guys jumped out in front of me. One after the other at 6am. Both without shirts. An unusual sight in Thailand, not considered either proper or acceptable. Once, while running without a shirt -- being a farong must people ignored me on runs – a well-dressed man told me next time to wear a shirt. Never ran there without one again. The two “runners’” behavior were not acceptable either. The guy in the rear was chasing the other with a three foot long stick trying to whip the other. Not sure if they were brothers who had enough of each other or if a husband arrived home early from overnight work to find another guy with his wife. They ran faster than me. This was a sign more speed workouts were required to run faster in Australia. So much was unknown when living there. Think of this way, learned by observation Bangkok held dangers throughout the city for those not aware of their surroundings. Learned expecting the unexpected and moving away from dangers when identified was a solid strategy for staying safe.

 

Ironman training plans that were successful in Phoenix to get qualified for Kona didn’t work in Bangkok. Work prevented any long bike rides during the week. Instead, adopted the concept of a three-day Ironman over Friday-Saturday-Sunday training. With a good base going into January, ramped up to the “3 Day IM’s” by early February. Woke up early on Fridays and ran 30 minutes on Sukhumvit and Rama IV Roads in downtown Bangkok. Swam 2.4 miles by doing various swim sets and drills in the 16 meter pool behind our house in the neighborhood compound. On Saturdays did “bricks”, back-to-back bike and run workouts at distances of 30-35 miles on the bike and peaked at 17 miles for running. On Sundays, bike only workouts covered up to 100 miles. Using a Thai related solution, solved my training problem by eating an elephant one bite at a time over a three-day period. And consuming reasonable quantities of naproxen (Alieve) and Coca Cola and seemingly unreasonable amounts of 5,000+ calories a day helped get me through months of workouts in preparation of Ironman Australia and so many other races that followed. As March rolled around, workouts were tapered up to race day. If I did the appropriate workouts, then the races would take care of themselves.

 

Living in a new country, working a new job for all practicality a new company, living in a new house, attending new schools, training on new routes, meeting everyone new for the first time in social environments gave us the opportunity -- required us -- to continually learn, adjust, and challenge ourselves and others. This included cultures, languages, foods, laws, locations, and more.

 

Major influences of what directed me to Australia were what drove me to Thailand and before that, what directed me to marriage and multiple moves. Traveling to new places, experiencing new cultures, and creating new challenges. My life evolved to be driven by three ‘P’s”: purpose, passion, and play.

 

Purpose: Always imaged developing a career, getting a married, having kids, and coaching people along the way. And always wanted to learn more and share my knowledge with others or motivate them to learn more to perform at their maximum potential. By the 21st century, I was well along with this purpose in life. 

 

Passion: Experienced time poverty when heading off to grad school in the mid-1980s. Chose to spend more time with people and on activities in life brought enjoyment. While changes occurred constantly, passions continue to be fulfilled. These include enjoying marriage with Chris, creating opportunities for Hayes and Caroline to expand their lives, continuously learning, coaching others, competing in triathlons, and traveling to new places like Bangkok, Australia, and other place in the US and around the world.

 

Play: In college took my time there seriously to earn a degree for a professional work career. Approached my involvement on the track team seriously to run the quickest possible in competition. After graduation worked seriously in my chosen profession. Took grad school seriously to qualify for positions at work with more responsibility and learn new skills while gaining more proficiencies in others. A manager said in a non-complimentary tone no one he worked with was as serious as me. Months later a Vice President kept telling me how much fun personnel in his Business Unit (BU) experienced. This didn’t agree with me. How can you have fun? This was work, serious business. Though as time passed and our kids arrived I started to understand his wisdom in life as witnessing the importance of play in the development of our kids. Once I re-adopted play and fun in my life with the girls, with Chris, at work, and in triathlons; then everything seemed more enjoyable again. Swam with the girls in pools in Chicago, then Seattle, and in our own pool in Phoenix and later in the compound in the Bangkok neighborhood.

 

Our family required mental toughness transitioning to living in a foreign country. We needed to be responsive in our new environment. We needed to respond with a sense of urgency. Our family needed to remain engaged in a positive relationship internally: husband-wife, father-daughter, mother-daughter, and sisters while connecting constantly with new people at work, the neighborhood, and the city whose cultures we entered. We challenged ourselves to ensure we were mentally tough enough to belong, compete, and be successful. Each of us with different definitions but similarities of acceptance and fulfillment.

 

Another strong motivation for me with Ironman OZ was it being a significant race. Top notch races generally brought out the best in me and others. Every triathlon cannot be a big race but every Kona qualifier can be. Unexpectedly, AHC brought out the best of us in being parents presenting the most significant challenge we ever faced.

 

We left Bangkok on Tuesday, the day before the three-day Thai New Year celebration of the Songkran festival. Many people left Bangkok to venture to their hometowns located ‘up country’ to visit their elders. During the drive to the Don Mueang International Airport that served as Bangkok’s main airport until 2006, Hayes asked, “How long is the flight to Sydney?”

 

“About a 7 to 8 hour flight,” I said.

 

“That’s not long”, she responded. She turned in to a seasoned traveler in less than a year living overseas where our semi-annual 20-22 hour flights between Bangkok and Chicago with a single layover became the new norm. Yikes!

 

Time is all relevant though. Committing to racing 10-11 hours in a single day mentally became the same way. Competing in an Ironman distance triathlon, basically convinced myself, “that’s not long.”

 

We boarded a late afternoon flight and flew overnight directly into Sydney. We picked up our luggage and bike at the baggage carousel and proceeded to customs. There we were greeted by a beagle dog that happily sniffed everything he could. An inspector with a no-nonsense serious face asked me a rapid set of questions: “Why did you bring the bike to Australia? Is there dirt on the tires? Do you have sports bars with any seeds?” He opened up the bike case and closely inspected the tires.

 

Showed him the nutrition cache so he could read the ingredients. He let us through without any further questions or hassles.

 

An hour later were drove out of Sydney Airport and into the new world of city driving never experienced before. We drove on the left hand side of the road on the way up to Forster and consistently thinking, “Doug in the middle.” Never drove so close to parked cars on the left side of a street. Could have rolled down a window and touched their side mirrors. We rented a white Ford Falcon wagon. Learned to drive in a white 1963 Falcon wagon, 3-speed manual shift on the column. Dad drove it with our family vacation gear stuffed in it. Plus mom, two brothers, a sister, a dog, me, and enough luggage to last us for two weeks. That was in August 1968, my last memory of a Falcon until now.

 

Every race created a different sense of anticipation for me. At Ironman OZ, all of Forster’s residences and businesses seemed engaged in the Ironman triathlon. The town buzzed with excitement. Race banners hung on shop fronts with more Ironman Australia posters promoting the race in store windows. Store workers adopted competitors for the race and displayed personalized well wishes for their pending race. I wanted to race well and not let down our hosts. Out on a run saw a handful of other competitors running too as they already had their race wrist band from check-in. Each of them in a chirpy, upbeat accent said, “Good day.” And “How you doing mate?” Wow! For a hayseed from small town Indiana, who didn’t hold a passport nine months earlier, this was cool stuff to be a world traveler in the Southern Hemisphere. The anticipation was how would my race performance be in an international setting at the Australian National Long Distance Triathlon Championship?

 

Unknowingly, started a Day -1 Ironman race breakfast tradition of eating at a McDonalds in Utah two years earlier. Confirmed the tradition at Coeur d’Alene in 2003. And continued the tradition in Forster, South Wales. The girls joined me. Ordered the same meal, mostly carbs: two servings of hot cakes and a lemonade. They served up an Ozzie lemonade, Sprite! We opted out and drank watered down orange juice instead.

 

At the 10am mandatory athlete meeting at the Forster Lawn Bowling Club, race officials announced a non-wetsuit legal swim if the temperature held steady into Saturday. For the first time in the 19 year history of Ironman OZ, the water temperature was too high at 75°F (25 °C.).  The audience groaned. Loudly. Disappointedly. A handful decided on the spot not to race. I never did an Ironman swim without a wetsuit until here. Definitely would benefit wearing one but after a pre-race workout in the Wallis Lake channel that paralleled Little Street in front of our rented condo, knew the brackish water would give me additional buoyancy without a wetsuit to swim 3.8 kilometers. The RD said there was a chance the water temperature would drop overnight. Ever hopeful for the extra float, packed my wetsuit in the race bag Friday night. It stayed there too.

 

More bad news followed. The aid stations would not be stocked with bananas. The tropical area of northern Australia was hit with back-to-back cyclones, Grace & Oscar. Their winds wiped out the current crop resulting in a temporary shortage. Oranges, pretzels, and jelly beans would be available as in past years’ races.

 

Next came the roll call of recognizing competitors who finished Ironman OZ in previously years. The meeting host requested all finishers to stand. A significant portion of the triathletes in the room stood up. Next he asked everyone who completed at least two Ironman OZ races to remain standing. Then rose the bar to three or more race finishes. As the race completions number increased, the number of standing racers went down. A handful of them stood as the RD ran out of races at 18. Two days later at the awards dinner, none who finished Ironman OZ race #19 stood. All too tired or too sore from their most recent amazing achievement.    

 

As the RD covered key rules, the emphasis was more about safety to competitors instead of rules that were on the books to suggest fairness. Cheating wasn’t tolerated but no one stood up there waving a finger of thought. Fairness was a given in the ethics of racers. In Australia, the take away message was be safe and make for a safe race to your fellow competitors. In the US, the pre-race message was more along the lines of do not cheat to create an advantage on your fellow competitors.

 

Returned to the condo to collect the family and my bike. Still needed to visit a nearby designated bike shop for mandatory safety inspection. The Kestrel passed. We drove to the transition area and racked the bike, checked in transition bags, and prepared a mental map of the bike location, transition exist/entry points, and the changing tent. Walked out of transition with a Canadian pro who just racked his bike.

 

After a brief exchange of salutations asked him about his chances to qualify for Kona. He responded in a humble manner with, “Good, if I have a great race.” Being polite, he asked me about my chances.

 

Not mocking him but fully relating to his comment, “Good, if I have a great race.”

 

We both smiled acknowledging a common bond at two significantly different levels of capabilities. Instead of parting our separate ways, turned out he needed a ride to the downtown area where we were headed for lunch. He accepted our offer to drive him to town, unfortunately Caroline did not.

 

To this day we generally have assigned seating in vehicles: Hayes sits behind the driver, Caroline sits behind the passenger side, with Chris and me up front but only driving our own car, not each other’s. Deviations to the norm need to be communicated prior to actual changes. Didn’t communicate to Caroline the change in sitting plans prior to inviting the pro triathlete to join us.

 

Caroline, in addition to being diagnosed with AHC, experienced some traits of OCD – Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder and she is probably somewhere on the Autism spectrum but exactly where is not important. As Chris stepped into the backseat of the white Ford Falcon station wagon and the Canadian Pro took over the shotgun seat Caroline threw a meltdown. She screamed. She kicked the back of the front passenger seat. She scared the crap out of the pro. He politely ignored the event and Caroline calmed down and recovered quickly.

 

Many triathletes, me included, can fully relate to our own OCD tendencies to maintain a steady structure of doing workouts, pre-race rituals, and other stuff we don’t want to share with anyone else. Some OCD in my DNA provided some continuity to my training motivation and the mental need to do a workout every day of my life much to chagrin of my family. Unfortunately part of my OCD in the DNA passed on to Caroline (CGM). She taught me through observations of the downsides of my own minimal OCD tendencies. One was my stubbornness, though I think of it as discipline to do daily workouts, not to budge from a position. Working to find common ground with Caroline taught to me to find common ground quicker with others for a group consensus. Objectively working through OCD is really about consistency of working within acceptable boundaries.  Patience helped too. Whether waiting for her to fall in line or me to change.

 

On race morning woke up, more like saw enough night time passed to get out of bed. Rested plenty through the night but slept minimally. Dressed. Stretched. Ate a Clif Bar and drank a half liter of Ensure. Still needed to burn more time before catching the school bus out to the start on Wallis Lake. Picked up a piece of the girls’ drawing paper and one of their canyons and wrote Hayes and Caroline a thank you note.

 

Thanked them for being my kids. For joining me and their mother at this race. And for traveling half-way around the world to live and later fly down-under to be a part of my triathlon addiction. Thanked them for their companionship and being a part of my life. Thanked them for support they provided before and would during and after that day’s race. Thanked them for being a part of our achievements in life and signed it, “Love, Dad.”

 

Added a P.S. to Chris, “Everything I wrote to the kids and more, applied for you too”.

 

Walked down to the makeshift bus stop in the dark just before 5:00am on the street that paralleled the Wallis Lake shoreline to join an increasing number of Australian triathletes waiting for the bus. We boarded. We sat. We waited. I thought, “This is what I’m doing today. All day. I chose to be a competitor instead of a spectator.”

 

The bus dropped us off at the transition area after a 10 minute bus ride. Checked my transition bags, checked on my bike, stretched, and did a warm-up run. Brought my wetsuit to race start, ever hopeful but knew it was only a hope, not a likely outcome. At Lake Wallis, the wetsuit went in my after race needs bag. The Australia National Anthem, "Advance Australia Fair", was played over the loudspeakers. The last time I heard the OZ National Anthem was when watching a medal ceremony for swim relays in the 2000 Summer Olympics on TV. Thought how cool to compete in the Olympics, to win a gold medal, and be in Australia. Earlier in my life, wished that was me except maybe in the US. Now a couple of decades later, chose to achieve alternative dreams, Kona qualification and eventual participation.

 

As the anthem ended, applause and adrenalin from the competitors peaked. In not full day light took off my sweats and headed to the race start in a Speedo or referred to in Ozzie slang: “budgie smuggler” which if lucky, covered 5% of my exposed skin. One benefit though was no pre-race frustration squeezing into a snug wetsuit. Only a tinge of uncertainty about being able to swim 2.4 miles without a wetsuit in open water remained.

 

We swam at Forster Keys in Wallis Lake. The course went a 1,000 meters south. We returned back north and repeated the same path. Emotionally juiced up, waded into the brackish water of Wallis Lake with over 1,500 competitors showing more determination than skin in completing an Ironman triathlon with its 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride and a full 42.2 km marathon. Walking beyond wading depth we swam 100 meters to a rope that marked the starting line. Seeded myself five people back from the rope as to not be swam over by hyper excited and faster swimmers. All of us trended water impatiently in the deep water mass swim start waiting for the cannon to fire.

 

Every leg was a two loop course. Two swim loops at 1.2 miles each. Two loops on the bike at 56 miles or 90 km long. Two loops on the run, each 13.1 miles or 21 km.

 

Boom! The Aussies swam fast from the get go and never notably eased up. With 80% of Aussies living within 80 miles of a saltwater beach, they learned to swim early in life. They swam strong and swam fast. They also swam with some of the roughest feeling skin I experienced in a triathlon swim. Some swimmers’ skin felt like sand paper. Others felt like fish scales. It took me a few strokes to realize they all shaved down for the race. My hands and forearms rubbed against their leg stubble. In most races swam in clear water after the start though on occasion my hand would slide smoothly over neoprene at a crowded turn buoy. In Forster, my hand was scuffed up from multiple encounters with competitors’ legs through the entire swim. Swam with what seemed like the same group the entire way. Never did the front open up for a clear patch of water. Never did the competitors at my feet drop off. Swimmers with the same colored suits swam on either side of me with little space to move left or right. 

 

Two of my disclosures for this book. Never shaved my legs nor inked my body with an Ironman tattoo. No razors. No needles. No fears. Set a secret goal of breaking one hour in the 40K bike leg as motivation to earn the right to shave my legs (Chris always told me shaving was more of a curse than crowning achievement). As for the tattoo, was indifferent about putting one on my body. But every time I see Ironman logos tattooed on shaved legs, I’m genuinely envious and impressed.

 

The lake temperatures turned out to be a non-issue. No one freaked out once they started swimming. No one suffered from hypothermia. Water quality was good. Visibility was limited primarily due to the density of top triathletes racing. Unlike any other full Ironman with the exception of Kona, all Ironman OZ competitors needed to qualify to participate. A series of 1/2 Ironman races throughout the country and elsewhere (that’s how I qualified at Laguna Phuket) provided the qualifying spots. With only one Ironman for all of Australia, the quality of the age groupers was typically deep in Forster.

 

I swam four minutes slower than target. Impaired by lack of a wetsuit, poor decision on self-seeding at the swim start, and the shear mass of higher quality swimmers just did not spread out the field. Lost a few seconds by not allowing my body to adjust to the time change too. Swimming at 3am Bangkok time tended to shock the body just a bit.

 

Even with the density of the swimmers we behaved well, at least in my swim pod area. No one smacked hands to heads. No one purposely swam over another swimmer. No one mistook the swim leg as a rugged game of water polo. No one kept ramming their hands into my heels. We swam freely and peacefully within our constraints of minimal space.

 

After the two laps of 1.9 kilometers of swimming we exited the lake with males headed to one change tent and females to another. We collected our T1 bags filled with biking shorts, tops, socks, shoes, helmets, sunglasses, gel packs, gloves, and any other racer unique items to bike 180 kilometers. You got to love this Ironman race. Once a competitor grabbed their transition bag, a volunteer hovered over each athlete to ensure the competitor emptied everything out of the bag so not to forget anything for the bike leg. The volunteer helped place swim wear and equipment into the now empty bag. With qualifying standards in place and the concentration of faster swimmers among the Ironman OZ competitors, the volunteers were slammed with more triathletes coming into the transition tent in a shorter period of time than just about any other Ironman race. Ironically, their only relief came from the warm water temperatures eliminated the use of wetsuits, one big, bulky, floppy hard to handle piece of race equipment they did not need to cram into a flimsy transition stuff bag. As planned, a brand new pair of cycling socks with the Arizona state flag remained at my side. Picked them up and with a big smile and a thank you handed them over to the volunteer who assisted me through T1 as quick as possible. Changed and headed out to the bike rack.

 

In the short run from the change tent to the bike rack my bike shoes were water logged from the heavy dew on the grass. The starkness of the grass in transition area surprised me. Everything we needed for the bike, we wore coming out of the change tent except of the course the bike. I lifted my bike off the rack and pushed it out quickly to the mount line. The race announcer gave a shout out on the PA system a couple of decimals above the buzz of spectators. In a cool Ozzie accent I heard names of the competitors in front of me and where they lived as each of us rolled towards the main course. Then heard, “and an American, Doug Morris of Houston, Texas.” Never before did I know I came from Houston. During our four years in Bangkok we used my employer’s PO address to receive mail in the United States. That was our address. In Thailand we learned to expect the unexpected. When eating out at least one item was different than what we ordered. At the first Thai triathlon, everything seemed to be unexpected. My Houston address announcement was yet another example of being prepared to expect the unexpected while racing triathlons. We dealt with other unexpected items in Australia.

 

My first unexpected item came my preparing for my ritual of a pre-night race drinking a couple of cans of Ensure and two more cans the following morning before the race. This helped stoke me up with a 1,000 calories of energy to ward off the 10,000 calorie burn expected for race day. We found only powdered Ensure at the stores, not liquid. Not a big challenge, just not expecting it. Also challenged with introducing the body to something new on race day, High 5 sports drinks. Trained on Gatorade, both bottled and powder mix. And the drink came in “bidons”, not bike bottles. However, quickly learned bidon was just the local word for bike bottle at the race. Different but no issue, just like High 5. Settled into known expectations on my bike. Read the race tactics on the handlebars, the same as in Ironman Utah and Ironman Coeur d’ Alene: “Eat”, “Drink”, “Breathe”, Relax”, “Laugh”, and “Palm Trees Ahead”.

 

The course headed out of the Forster Keys on to main road going south. In twist of protocol, we rode on the right hand side of the road. Familiar for me from the US.  Mentally, I prepared for left side riding but quickly adjusted to the right. With the equality in swim times the roads were initially packed with cyclists. The officials on motorcycles quickly told the athletes to space out to prevent any packs of drafting. With some early patience and strong communication, drafting never became an issue. The bike course continued to the Pacific Palms at Tarbuck Bay, our turnaround. All the signage marked in kilometers. Ironman Australia offered a smooth ride on the roads. Beautiful views at the southern end of the course which took us through Australia’s Great Lakes Region. Forster down town offered small town coziness while the spectators offered up big time crowds and loud cheers of encouragement. And from T2, if looking, we could see the Pacific Ocean and a beautiful sandy beach.  

Not wanting to offend any Aussies but the countryside looked like portions of the US with rolling hills, beautiful forests, and lakes hidden in the woods. The whole continent is ringed with sandy beaches and the wonderful smell of saltwater air along the coastlines. Cycling on the right side of the road during the race lulled me into a sense of just another race in the States. Few competitors talked during the race so there was nothing to give a hint to the accents. On the rolling roads in the woody hills towards the Pacific Palms, saw my first kangaroo crossing road sign. The same yellow color diamond shaped warning road sign as seen in the US, except with a kangaroo on it instead of cow or deer. I was far from home and proof of being in Australia came a few kilometers down the road from the sign, a nasty smell wafted up from the roadside coming from a dead Joey with rigor morgues. Much like the roadkill of dead deer carcasses that litter the road sides of Wisconsin.

 

We biked back towards Forster with 35 kilometer spin out and back into Cooma Park before turning right back to the main road into Forster. In town we crossed the 90 kilometer sign post near the roundabout at Head Street. All the triathletes’ received encouragement from the hundreds of spectators encircled the roundabout and beyond. No doubt we were racing in Australia after hearing the accents of a few hundred encouraging spectators. We cycled through a 360 degree loop and headed back south for a repeat of the same course.

 

Chose not to stand out from the other competitors as an American with the exception of one item. Just after the start of lap 2 a competitor passed and asked if I was an American. He smiled and pointed at my US Flag handlebar tape. Smiled back at him, nodded affirmatively, then spoke and gave him another proof of my nationality.

 

The Ozzies were some of the most competitive and camaraderie triathletes in the world. They knew how to put on a race, compete in it and celebrate their successes afterwards. All in the spirit of competition and enjoying life.

 

The bike course turned out to be one of the most pleasant Ironman rides. Mostly flat with some rolling hills allowed for a predictable and quick bike. Competitors always in sight. No visible draft packs.  Weather turned out to be ideal for an Ironman race. Air temperature was in the 70’s with minimal wind and sunny skies. If there was ever an Ironman I rode in a Zen state, this was the race. Thought of my dad during the race. Drifted through the accomplishments of his life. All the challenges he faced. How he supported my athletic endeavors. Transitioned into my mother’s life. Thought of her successes, her challenges, and her support of everything her kids did in life.

 

The bike ride didn’t end without some pain but the motivation to start running kept me going. I was excited to get off the bike and start running 26.2 marathon run leg. There was something sick in my thinking. Like working all day and looking forward to continue to work late into the night. Then getting home and going to bed way after your spouse did. Then start the cycle anew by getting out the door the next day before anyone else in the house wakes up to get back to training and on to work. Triathletes live a disciplined life set by crazy mix-up priorities, dedication, and understanding of family, work, and training responsibilities.

 

After crossing the 170 kilometer marker my butt and lower back felt like they covered 170 miles. While the total of 180 kilometers on the bike is the same 112 mile distance in a US Ironman triathlon, the metric distance markers messed with me mentally. When training on the outskirts of Bangkok, an Ozzie expat rode up beside and asked me “How many clicks are you going today?” The question stumped me. He translated a click was a kilometer. Now on his home soil, my butt needed to go a mere 10 more clicks when going metric.

 

Spiritually, my parents guided me to my quickest Ironman bike split. Through the roundabout for the last time, we turned left and racked our bike in T2 in front of Town Beach. The big crowds of spectators remained. They grew and continued to grow over the next couple of hours as the pros worked their way to the finish line with the age groupers strung out behind them.  

 

Amazingly I was on the run leg well before 1pm and welcomed the first three to four kilometers of the run. My butt and back pain disappeared. Straight out of Transition 2 we passed Town Beach. The first part of the run included a two kilometer long parade loop on Head Street, past Town Beach, and over the bridge that connected the city of Tuncurry with Forster. Crossing the bridge was special on the run. The flat loop allowed my legs to stretch out into relatively smooth and steady strides after 5 ½ hours of a rotating motion. Spectators lined either side of the bridge and along the short loops in both towns of the run course. They cheered and whistled wildly which provided a big mental rush of motivation to the competitors. In Tuncurry we ran down Main Street, then paralleled the coastline along Beach Street near the rock pool. The run continued by Wallis Lake on Manning Street and back over the bridge. We continued back onto Head street. We circled back by the finish area we yearned for over the next 40 kilometers.

 

The next 10-11 miles we ran a bigger loop on the Forster side of Wallis Lake. We ran away from the Pacific Ocean/Tasman Sea along a mix of city streets, golf courses, school yards, playgrounds, industrial parks, and quiet neighborhoods houses. A few rolling hills tested the legs and reminded us nothing would feel better than to keep on going to the finish line. We did a repeat visit to Tuncurry and another big loop run to Town Beach and ultimately to one of the best finishing lines Down Under.    

 

Along the way we experienced an exceptional event. The race director chose to serve a red-dyed sports drink, High 5 for the run leg. Realize competitors, especially the front and middle of the pack age-groupers (FOP & MOP) think during the race, any time spent standing instead of moving forward will cost them race prize money, precious finishing time, or worse, a lower placing. The combination of liquids and bouncing runners chugging down sports drinks at the aid stations resulted in lots of red colored sports drink spillage on race shirts. To an uninformed spectator, a large portion of the competitors looked like they had been stabbed and were bleeding out from their torso to waistlines.

 

I passed people on the first lap run. Other competitors passed me. A couple miles out from the end of the first lap a quiet but building buzz started amongst the spectators. The buzz was more behind me than in front. Realized the lead, male professionals were quickly striding to the finish line with me between them and the end of their race. They were almost 13 miles and a projected 100 minutes ahead of me. Picked up my pace to save my pride of not getting lapped. My path took me slightly away from the finishing area though could look ahead and see a huge crown awaiting the first of pro finishers who were quickly walking down age groupers on the first lap while the lead pros of Chris McCormack (Macca), Luke Bell, and Mitch Anderson were on their second lap and racing quickly to capturing a podium spot as they crossed the finish line.

 

Another unique experience about Ironman OZ included the food options at the running aid stations. Fruit included cantaloupe melons and oranges instead of bananas. Pretzels were offered for salt replacements. Soup was available before the sunset to offer both salt and fluid replacement. And jellybeans, brightly colored and ready to spike your insulin, sat for the taking at every table. The RD highlighted jellybean availability at the pre-race banquet. Learned these were a tradition at the race.   

 

Passed more runners on the second lap which included many competitors still on their first lap. With a few runners of similar speed and remaining strength we did some leap frogging. Some runners grabbed nutrition without stopping in the aid stations. Others tended to run faster but stop or walk through the aid the stations. Hence the passing, being repassed, then passing another again. At times I wondered if the last person to stop would be finishing a few seconds slower at the end of the race. Like basketball or football when in a close game, the teams with high scoring offensives but weak defenses, the last team with the ball will score and win. I tended to stop more at aid stations in long races on the run but ran faster. I made it habit to skip the last aid-station to gain that final edge before the race ends. Not sure the end results really changed but I always like the feeling the skip created.

 

Race protocol at Ironman OZ required body marked athletes’ with the age groups on our calf muscles. However, instead of actual numbers for ages, they adopted letters for age group identifications. Translating letters to age groups proved to be difficult in keeping track of being passed or passing someone in my age-group. 

 

The more miles run, the more I forgot my age group letter category. Was 45-49 a “D”, “E”, or “F”? On the second lap, looked at my calf every time someone passed me or when passing someone in the D-E-F range. Could not remember the letter. Finally changed my focus on finishing so the only letters to avoid were DNF.

 

Chris took the girls to the beach, a beautiful setting where all of us played on the light brown sandy beach two days earlier. She monitored the kids and the race from her viewpoint because of the close proximity of the beach to the finish line. At 3:45pm they headed over to the bigger crowd. On the run course spectators shouted out encouragement to everyone. Their support at the last significant climb coming back into city center motivated all of us to keep moving towards the finish banner. Their density and noise increased as we were funneled down the finishing chute. This finish line was different than Coeur d’Alene. After 20 years of hosting the race, the Ozzies knew how to throw a party. In contrast, Idaho was just learning. A wall of cheering people lined the finish chute. Outreached hands for high five hand exchanges were offered by everyone including Chris, Hayes and Caroline. Never before did I feel anywhere close to being welcomed like this at a racing event. The whole race was a unique and amazing experience. These were the events everyone should experience sometime in life. Experiencing the race with my family made the celebration personal. For me finishing in front of people cheering for some stranger’s accomplishments in public, made it memorable for a lifetime. Oi! Oi! Oi!   

 

Looked at my watch walking away from the finish line and saw 10:00:29. Ten years earlier my goal in racing triathlons was to break, or go under, 2:00:00 in the Olympic distance race. Never did. With time, came to accept that disappointment. Would I now be haunted with missing a sub 10-hour Ironman?

 

To sum up my race experience, an Ironman Triathlon is a full day investment in competition that pays dividends for a lifetime. Triathletes in these races earn more than the sums of their performances in swimming, biking, and running. The Ironman is as unique for competitors as it is for sponsors.

 

Away for the finish line, the support from the volunteers was awesome. The lifeguards ensured a safe swim. People at the bike course aid stations handed off fluids and water to moving targets approaching almost 30 mph. And the people who showed up mid-day for the runners and stayed until midnight to feed and fuel near crazed athletes on a mission to be recognized as an Ironman by end of day. Their empathy of competitors’ pain and joy polar changes gave all us encouragement to continue forward to achieve our day’s objective. And other volunteers who handed out race packets and finisher medals. Still more who collected clothing bags at the lake and returned the bags to us a full day of sunshine later over five kilometers from where we turned it in. And plenty more volunteers behind the scene who provided services for days and weeks before the race we never saw but provided us with a flawless race experience. Kudos to you all!

 

Once the triathletes passed under the finishing banner there seemed to be a drop in the competitive attitude. All the Ozzies asked, “How’d you go mate?” with genuine interest. Volunteers in the food and message tents asked the same. In comparison at races where people worked off a mental checklist: handout finishers’ medals, collect the timing chips, handout water bottlers and serve up food. Questions of, “How did you do?” were an exception. As a foreigner, learned race culture was different Down Under.   

 

On the recovery days after the race we visited a number of different world class ocean beaches and dined on freshly caught fish at night. Two days later we left Forster/Tuncurry and drove to the Hunter Valley wine area for three days. One thing we missed living in Thailand was the lack of opportunity to go camping. Not having the equipment we did the second best option we could find, renting a rustic cabin in the woods around Hunter Valley. We visited half dozen wineries. One day Hayes and Caroline went horseback riding with a real Ozzie cowboy named Dean in the countryside. We watched wild kangaroos play in the meadows in early evenings. We grilled lamb chops on the outside wood fired barbie for dinner. We complimented the chops with locally fermented and bottled Shiraz wine. The girls also enjoyed an overnight visit from the Easter Bunny at the cabin.

 

We continued on with the vacation for four days in Sydney. We swam at three different world renowned beaches of Bondi, Coogee, and Manley. We rode the ferries, drove over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, experienced Circular Quay, and much more.

 

What would life experiences be without intellectually disable people in the world? Different for sure. For Chris and me life offered and we chose to experience more variety through Caroline and Hayes (and many others). We chose to do activities as opportunities arose. We chose to live in Bangkok. We chose to holiday in Australia. They never would had a chance to travel there otherwise. The success of this trip became the model for other future trips.

 

To sum up Sydney and Australia, anyone who ever lived should visit Sydney. Think of it this way: friendly people, modern cities with lots of wide open natural places beyond, and lots to be entertained with by others while entertaining yourself with a variety of things. The trip remains to this day one of my favorite memories in life. For Hayes, well she cried at the airport when waiting to board the plane. At age 12, she looked at me crying and pointed to the ground and said, “I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here.” OZ was that great of a place.

 

I earned a qualifying spot for Kona scheduled six months away. Hayes joined me the morning after the race to sign commitment papers for Kona.  Went to compete in Ironman Australia with the goal to finish in the top five of my age group and earn a Kona qualifying spot. For a third time I remembered my buddy, Wade Grow’s comment about not turning down a slot. I also competed at Ironman OZ with motivation from Wade to extract some revenge on his comment after Ironman Coeur d’Alene, that he still had the quicker Ironman time between the two of us. Though he said CDA conditions were more difficult with the hills, wind, and high temperatures. Still, that comment led me to Ironman OZ with a goal of a quicker time. Mentally, I committed to Kona race for 2004 right after giving it up in August 2003 for Ironman Hawaii’s 25th Anniversary Race. This time I chose not to pass on Kona. “Oi! Oi! Oi!”

 

Results: Overall 175th. 5th in Age Group

Doug Morris

Coach of Exceptional Outcomes

Palm Trees Ahead, LLC

Tel: 1.630.457.7889

dougmorris@palmtreesahead.com

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