By the following October I had my weight down to 162 and I won the Longhorn 70.3 amateur race and earned the right to race professionally. My goal all year had been to earn that right. I knew I would have to have a new goal for myself. There were many people that doubted I could actually compete at the professional level. I set a goal of proving to myself that I could! That goal was put on hold when achilles tendon surgery ended my 2010 season. My pro debut would have to wait until March of 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I placed 20th of 22 pro finishers...hardly grounds for proving anything. In May I had another crack...this time at Ironman St. George. I had all kinds of mechanical problems on the bike and my day ended when I crashed at mile 108 of the bike...still no proof. I began to wonder if I really belonged. I worked harder than ever. On July 17th I raced a 1/2 Ironman in Racine, Wisconsin and placed 6th out of 18 pros...finishing as the 2nd American across the line and missing a pro paycheck by 1 minute. I belong! I had run my way from 11th to 6th and knew as I ran in the last couple hundred yards this was proof to myself I can compete with the best. The feeling was awesome.
My goals have changed once again. I still want to become the best triathlete I can be. I'm more hungry than ever to earn a pro award (which is a paycheck). This however is not my biggest nor most important goal any more. My bigger goals now are to inspire people to DREAM BIG...inspire ordinary people with full-time careers and families to make time for physical fitness...inspire them to set goals no matter how big or small they may be. In many ways I was inspired by the kids I coached. Kids like Charlie Paul who couldn't even make the Fresh/Soph top 7 his freshman year and he later finished 3rd in the state 3200. This weekend Charlie ran a 14:23 5k at Iowa State where he has continued to amaze and inspire me. There were countless other kids I coached who showed me what can happen when you take a chance at being great. I have realized that my own story can do this. The further I go and the more I improve can have an impact on people I've never met. The odds are stacked against me. I'm in an extreme minority of professional triathletes in the fact that I'm married, have 2 awesome children, and teach full-time. I don't want to be good at just one of those...I want to be great in every one of those aspects. I want to be a great husband to Jen, want to be a super-dad for my kids, want to be the best history teacher my students have ever had. I want to be the best triathlete I can possibly be and I want to prove all these things can be done simultaneously! Like I said, the odds of the triathlon part are low...but I've never been one to care much for odds. There's a reason games are played and races are run. I want to defy the odds...to do something most would say is impossible! The most fulfilling thing of this entire journey is when I meet people at races that tell me they follow my blog and it has inspired them to work out or do their first triathlon or even 5k. It makes me realize the impact my own story can have on others. It can be done. No goal is too big...set the bar high and work for it. Have patience because there will be obstacles...my surgery comes to mind. Believe that it can happen...then picture yourself doing it...picture how great it feels. One thing I learned from the book Psychology of Winning is that the body can't differentiate between mental imagery and physical doing. When you picture yourself doing something there's a much greater chance it will be accomplished when the actual day comes. The mental preparation is like the rehearsal.
Live Uncommon is a non-profit organization born in the Quad Cities that seeks to inspire busy people to live healthy and active. We have a great start going. I now see students in my Jr. High wearing Live Uncommon and living out the goals of the movement. I see people in the community running on the bike path in Live Uncommon shirts. It's awesome to bring awareness to physical fitness and health...especially awareness to young people. It is scary when I walk into a classroom and 1 in 3 of our adolescents is at risk of obesity. The age of technology has given people more excuses why not to be fit. Together we can change this. Together we can inspire. Together we can Live Uncommon. Check out the awesome website at www.liveuncommon.org Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!