Monthly Archive for September, 2013

Ironman Lake Tahoe

An Ironman Finisher

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In my world,
The water is cold,
The wind is hard,
And the road never ends.

In my world,
There are no losers.
Only competitors
still on their way,
And spectators
waiting to be inspired.

In my world,
Victory is not weighed in gold,
But in determination and courage.

In my world,
There are no boundaries,

Triathlon by Olivier Blanchard

Five years ago on a cold morning blanketed in fog and rain along the Pacific Coast I ran the trails of the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur. Along with 300 other participants I traveled by foot 26.2 miles climbing 4 peaks, sea level to over 1,000 feet high, the tallest standing 1,200 feet, jagged 400 foot climbs in between.  It was my first marathon, the first time I would run such a distance. All on trails through beautiful redwood forests of Northern California up to the mountain ridges where I took in breathtaking scenic views of the grand Pacific Ocean from above.  I ran my heart out. As I ran towards the finish line in 2nd place overall I was greeted by my now wife Shiloh. I had tears in my eyes as I had completed a challenge that then was beyond my comprehension. The emotions of pushing my body and mind to its breaking points, where I just wanted to quit, but kept going. The emotions and life inspirations deep down pushing me further than my body believed I could run. I did not know it then but that morning in Big Sur was the start of something bigger for me. It was the beginning, molding me as an endurance athlete. Since that race and the training that led up to it I have become a better person; stronger, healthier, more patient and loving, a dream chaser, today a Ironman finisher. As Charles Dickens said “The men who learn endurance, are they who call the whole world, brother.

Prior to completing my first Ironman in Lake Tahoe on September 22, 2013 I have enjoyed memorable races such as the Napa Valley Marathon in 2009 where both my wife Shiloh and I would qualify and then compete in the Boston Marathon 2010. At Napa that early spring day we were greeted by morning rain showers and were cheered on through out mile markers by my parents John and Kathy. I have completed two California International Marathons in Sacramento during the freezing winter, both bringing me to a mild hypothermia state. I then set my eyes on the Triathlon.  After adult swim lessons and taking up road biking I completed my first sprint triathlon in Solana Beach during summer of 2010. I was hooked and signed up for the San Diego Triathlon Classic during fall a Olympic distance event. I discovered like I did in running I enjoy pushing myself further. I competed in a handful of Olympic and International distance triathlons as well as cycling and running events in 2011. In 2012 I competed in my first half Ironman in Oceanside Ca. With a brutal rough water swim and cold bike ride I was greeted at the finish line again by my wife and my daughter Sierra. It was during training for this race I started thinking about competing in an Ironman, possibly it was earlier, I could not just be a ½ Ironman.

When they announced the inaugural Lake Tahoe Ironman during 2012 I was at work. I was excited as I read the email notifying me about the race. I have fond memories of childhood winters and summers spent in Tahoe with my family and friends. Tahoe is a place abundant with outdoor activities and adventure, a place children and adults can explore, play and enjoy.  Part of the Sierra mountain range, so grand and special to me my daughter was named after its beauty. Tahoe is a good place for an Ironman. I called my wife to let her know I was thinking about registering for the event and her words were “Yes, go for it, you have my support”.

Athletically I had 2 goals for 2013. First was to win the Southern California Xterra Trail running series. I love trail running and spend most of all my runs on trails around my house in San Diego. I was named Southern California 2013 Trail Series champion age group 35-39 in Malibu Creek on May 18th. The second was to complete Ironman Lake Tahoe.

Ironman Lake Tahoe a 2.4 mile rolling swim start followed by 112 miles of cycling a bike course with altitude and 7500 feet of climbing around Lake Tahoe and Truckee, California, finishing with a 26.2 mile marathon along the Truckee river with only short bathroom stop breaks.

In training I have swam over a hundred cumulative miles, cycled over a thousand cumulative miles and have ran a few hundred cumulative miles. Questions I am often asked are: Are you ready? What do you think about while running all those miles? What do you think about while cycling during those long hours? What do you think about while in the water swimming for over an hour? What are you running from? Why do you do this?

Am I ready?

Yes, I am as ready as I am going to be.

What do I think about?

Simply put I think about life. I think about my wife, my children and the loved ones who support me in times of trial and times of success. I think about friends and family who are here with me and others who have passed away from us who I was blessed to have had part of my life  and who are still here with me in my thoughts and memories. Sometimes I don’t think at all I just let my mind go to its own quite place, and no noise will I hear around me except the tunes of my body. I look and take in the world around me, I notice small details we often miss when not physically in contact with earth such as in a car and I smile, I would not have seen that if I was not traveling by foot or on my bike. I think about strangers who offer their help to me along my way and then are never to be seen again.

Thank you to all my family and friends for your support. Thank you to my mom not pictured since she is the woman behind the camera.

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What are you running from?

I run from my fears and I run from the pain. I run from the stresses we all have in life. I run to the power to live, to the ability to face those same fears. I run with love and pride. I run to where noone knows where I am,  I run to a place to be by myself in my own thoughts. My muscles will pump and the blood will flow through, my joints will ache and my body will drain. But through all this I will keep running. Some days I run towards strength, some days away from weakness. Really in the end I am not running from anything I’m running to better myself in health and mind and I am running towards the finish and I am running through the world I enjoy.

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Why do you do this?

Because I enjoy it. I enjoy that I have to believe in myself both physically and mentally of what I can achieve and letting no doubt creep into me. I enjoy the competitive nature of sport. I take self satisfaction in setting my eye on a goal and achieving it. I feel alive, at times tiered, hurting and scared but knowing my bodies strength will endure. I do it because I can and tomorrow I may not be able to. Wake up with a smile and go after life: Live it, enjoy it, taste it, smell it, feel it. Seek the experience of being alive.

 

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The San Francisco Examiner wrote: Statically, the inaugural 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe was the second most abandoned race in Ironman history, even beating out the Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Triathlete.com posted an article on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, about the drop out statistics of starters for Ironman races since 2011 and Lake Tahoe only trails the 2012 St. George Ironman.

The average finish time was 14 hours and 6 minutes, with 20% of athletes not completing the race.

2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe Facts

  • Registered Entrants: 2700+
  • Did Not Start: 565 (21%)
  • Finishers: 1,719
  • DNF of Race Starters: 20+%; DNF on Bike: 267 (12%); DNF on Run: 182 (8%)

The DNF rate does not quite meet the 29% rate that Ironman St. George saw on a particularly tough day in 2012.

Although it is true this Ironman was hard, I had trained well and had a very enjoyable experience. I enjoyed getting in the water while it was close to freezing outside, dressing in warm clothing for the bike ride and climbing the Sierra Mountains with all my strength. I enjoyed finishing the marathon running through Squaw Valleys athletes village with all the spectators cheering me on, my family there to give me a high five as I finished and the announcer Mike Reilly telling me Joseph Beckerley You Are An Ironman!

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