There’ll be 2000 starters at the November 22 Ironman Arizona in Tempe Town Lake, but I’m really just interested in how Pat O’Neill will fare.
I’ve known Pat since we were little kids. He was once an excellent skate boarder, has always been a good swimmer, and continues to be an excellent skier; but until recently that was the extent of his interest in sports. So it was with a measure of surprise that I learned he was going to tackle an ultra distance triathlon.
Pat works in the banking industry and lives with his family in Montclair, New Jersey. He was working across the plaza from the twin towers when the planes struck 9/11. He’s had a front row seat for many of the dramatic changes taking place in the United States since that day.
This week he finds himself on the cusp of his own transformation. Read on for Pat’s Guest Post.
Guest post by Patrick O’Neill:
My Ironman Adventure: 1,100 Miles Running; 3,800 Miles Biking; and 102 Miles Swimming.
As I pack my bags for Arizona, I can’t help wondering if 440 hours of swimming, biking and running over the past 35 weeks will be enough to get me over the finish line and a chance to hear those famous words shouted out by Mike Reilly, Ironman Race Director, “Patrick O’Neill, you are an Ironman!“. What once seemed unfathomable is now within reach, the Ironman distance triathlon: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.
Aside from being a reasonably capable downhill skier, athletics have never really been a major part of my life. Just a few years ago the very thought of running a marathon was about as likely as scaling Everest. That all changed in the summer of 2007 when a friend urged me to register for a sprint distance triathlon (swim 1 mile, bike 15 miles and run 3 miles). Although exhausting, the experience left me wanting more. One race led to another and here I am – a week away from my first long distance triathlon, Ironman Arizona.
First-timers often hire a coach to plan a program and provide motivational pep talks throughout the process. I opted for the free “36-week Ironman Plan” from a triathlon-related website. Although I have managed to stick to the program, frequently I asked myself: why? It’s been particularly tough to provide a rational answer when dragging myself out of bed at 4:30 on a Saturday morning for a five hour ride in the rain. For reasons that remain a mystery, I have been able to ignore the “why” question and get out of bed.
There have been little victories along the way – a sub 8 minute run pace following a 75 mile ride; completing the program’s peak week (200 miles on the bike, 40 miles of running and 4 miles of swimming). While these achievements have helped on the self-motivation side, I could not have made it this far without a supportive family. Whether it was driving to a blustery beach for an early morning race in Rhode Island, or making sure I ate the right amount of carbs the night before an 18 miler, my wife Christina has been by my side throughout. And my boys have been my biggest fans.
There are no guarantees come race day – anything can go wrong. Regardless of the outcome the preparation itself has been personally rewarding.
Stay tuned for post race comments….
PS. Pat is raising money for the Food Pantry in Montclair, New Jersey. Four days away from the race he’s pleased to report that, due to the generosity of friends and family, he’s exceeded his goal. The “Pantry” is a local non-profit organization providing food, clothing and other services to people in need living in Montclair and neighboring communities within the greater Newark area. All support comes from individual donors.
For additional information about The Pantry, please visit humanneedsfoodpantry.org.
Pat says there is still time to get involved. Follow the link below to contribute.