If you think that a support group isn't important when setting out to train and compete in ultra endurance events, well I've got a news flash for you.
A support network is extremely important.
I could not have completed my goal without an incredible business partner in Kevin Kelsey and the enormous understanding and support of my wife. I like this light-hearted photo of us right before the bike check-in in Tempe. It was one of the few moments when we were both laughing and relaxing. Most of the time, it was a tough struggle.
I was late for dinner. A lot.
I was complaining about injuries. Far too often.
I was constantly limping around the house.
I was in a bad mood knowing that I had really long workouts and that my time was running out (because I had procrastinated)
I went to bed really early (8:30pm) and was asleep most nights by the time she finally got to bed at our pre-Ironman training time of 10:00pm.
I often was very restless when sleeping due to pain and kept my wife up, woke her up and generally prevented her from getting the best rest possible.
I often was not home when Connor went off to school because I had to do early morning workouts; there just was no other way to get them done.
I was cranky, crabby, irritable when in pain (most of the time).
As you can see, I was generally not a lot of fun to be with. Nobody willingly signs up for that kind of a husband, so I'm grateful she stuck through all of this and continued to be supportive and encouraging.
What came out of all of this was that my self-confidence increased dramatically and I am a better person for the journey. I no longer have daily migraine headaches from stress, I have lost about 45 pounds and despite all the injuries I continue to nurse along, I think I've added at least a few years to my life.
The support of family, friends and associates is really very important in this endeavor. You can still do it without the support, but let me assure you, there's enough to worry about with all of your training, nutrition and recovery requirements.
Take my advise and make certain that you have a firm support network in place before you start on this journey.
Again, thanks to all who helped me along the way, especially my wife, my son Connor, my coach David Warden, my incredible business partner Kevin Kelsey, my terrific cousin-in-law Chris Barsh, my great friend and crew chief Kelvin Shields (you are awesome man!) and all those in the Ironman community who offered their time and counsel.
Now I ask for your support and understanding yet again. The 2009 Ultraman Canada event beckons and I am answering the call.
I need a crew and am hoping that Kelvin Shields can come to my rescue again. The great thing about Kelvin, not only is he a once-in-a-lifetime true friend, not only is he a sportman who has completed Ironman events and ultra endurance events, not only is he a world expert at prioritization and focusing on what matters most, but in this case, not only does he literally love to take roadtrips (Canada anyone?!), he's all those great things, but the most important attribute is that he is a trained emergency medical first responder. Kelvin Shield may literally save my life in Ultraman Canada. Now that's a crew member I really need!
I am also hoping to land Connor again. He'll likely be a counsellor at Camp Cherry Valley on Catalina Island, but I'm hoping to pull him away to manage the hydration bottles and the music for the roadtrip. He's got great style and great musical instincts, plus an iPod with a massive hard drive!
Of course I hope my wife will come for support, but that's a lot to ask. She's already going to have to put up with the complaining and injuries and missed meals and events for the next 8 months. A road trip to Canada may be asking a bit too much in addition to all that she'll be putting up with, but we'll see how that goes!