Heading into any race it is important to know what you are racing for. For Canada, I wasn't really racing for anything except to have fun, and it showed. For Kona, its a bit of a different story and brings my life full circle to setting and achieving goals, while getting back to what makes me truly happy.
Lets go back over 15 years to my last year in Track and Field. Having a very promising Junior year, my season was looking great and pushing for a trip to a regional or state qualifier. In retrospect, I let some things distract me from that goal, be it drinking, or other things. Typical for a High School kid, but a trend that started non the less.
College basketball fell in line with this attitude. Working hard, but not making the sacrifices to be great. Lucky for me, I did well in school and didn't squander a great college experience in multiple ways.
Heading into the real world, athletics took a back seat. There was always "tomorrow" to get back to my old self. Shedding the 5-10 pounds I thought was hanging off me. All the sudden, the 5-10 pounds turned into 40! What the hell did I do to myself? Work and personal life can give you a great number of excuses to not take care of your body, but this was out of control. My own intervention was in order. Luckily I have the Dad I do to help right the ship. Once I had even a slight interest of getting into shape he was on it and registering me for an Escape From Alcatraz clinic and race that coming year. That was the major wake up call. Even in my own head I thought I could shape up in a few months and breeze through the race, but real life doesn't let you do that. After the longest three and a half hours of my life, hurting back and pride, it was time for change.
My journey back to fitness has been one of sacrifice over the past six years. Quitting a few bad habits, some I'm still embarrassed to post publicly, and learning to live a healthy lifestyle were starts, but in the process of wanting to be great at something, extra effort was needed. Some might see this as self aggrandizing, and I can't argue with them, but all too often people reeeeeeeeeeeeeally want to do something, but fall short and then turn around and blame someone or something else for a shortfall. That was a pitfall of mine in a few instances. Not now. I hope to help people see what is necessary to accomplish what you set out for, be it work or personal gain. Do I need to go to this "Happy Hour" on a Wednesday, is it necessary to close out a bar to have fun? These are the questions I faced over recent years. Many people didn't understand some of my choices, even some of my tri-friends, but how often do you get the chance to do something great in your life though. For many, something as trivial as Ironman doesn't qualify as "Great". That's fine, but there isn't anything about that opinion that should keep me from trying.
The driving force is now wanting to inspire others and give back to those who supported me. I have family members, friends and co-workers I would love to see get out and get fit. They all can see how I push myself for my training, and if that inspires them to get out for a run, then that makes me happy. When people show interest in improving and ask for advice, that makes me happy and I'll try my best to help. Watching others attempt the same transformation makes me lifts my heart too. Its easy to say that triathlon makes me happy.
My life has come together to support this as well. An incredible girlfriend who isn't a triathlete, but shares the value of fitness (she rescued me when my I broke a spoke this weekend in the middle of nowhere, now that's love). My loving family and friends who understand me and have obsessions the same way I do. A great job and employer that allows the flexibility to accomplish my work, and train as needed. Coaches that take the time to understand me and know my motivations (M2 and runcoach). It takes time and effort to find the people and place in the world that allows you to be your real self. Finding a way to repay these relationships is a priority, but difficult for a time crunched young professional.
Kona for me is about finishing what I started 6 years ago. It wasn't my goal then, but it became it as I realized the potential left from a reformed ability. I was given a second chance at my athletic youth (some call it being a man-child) and it will not go wasted this time. Paying back my work relationship is easy, I get to be Iron Kitty! Giving some free advertising along the way. My friends, family and girlfriend are a bit tricky. Lost time can never come back, but making the sacrifices when you can, goes a long way to letting them know you care. I'm in arrears on that front, but hopefully that is what the holidays are all about.
Stepping into the water at Dig-Me beach, I know what I'm racing for and what got me there. Thankful isn't enough to say for the love and support given to me over the past few years, so lets just say I'm honored to be able to race on the greatest venue for everyone who has been there to help me out along the way.
Wish me luck and I'll be thinking of everyone over these last two weeks. Can't wait for round 2 of the Miller family reunion in Kona!