Where to begin?
my passion for exercise grew from an active childhood
My earliest memories of exercise are from elementary school in Idaho Falls, Idaho. My classmates and I ran outside for recess everyday, even in the snow-covered months of winter. We dueled in pairs on the monkey bars where we would shimmy across the bars towards each other then try to knock each other off by using our legs to grab and pull at our opponents. I don’t remember ever losing on the monkey bars — and I would guess — this was the start of my competitive streak.
In tenth grade, I ran my first road race, a one-mile fun run, finishing in second place overall. I was recruited on the spot by the track coach to run the mile and two-mile events for the high school varsity track team. Each spring, my dad and I prepared for the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10km (6.2-mile) run. We slowly worked our way up from three, to four, to five then eventually six miles as we ran through our neighborhood in Hanahan, South Carolina. In my best Bridge Run race, I finished in a little over 37 minutes for a fifth-place finish in my age group.
in the navy: learning discipline and fitness
During my senior year in high school, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, accepted my application. On Induction day, the institution shaved my head, took my civilian clothes, and dressed me in a “white works” sailor’s uniform. My vocabulary for Plebe year quickly and simply became:
- “Sir, yes, sir!”
- “Sir, no, sir!”
- “Sir, I’ll find out, sir!”
- “Sir, aye, aye, sir!”
- “Sir, no excuse, sir!”
My running and fitness background benefited me tremendously throughout my four years at the Academy. More than any other exercise or sport at the Academy, I grew to love PT, which consisted of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and other calisthenics for strength and flexibility. It was not uncommon for us to do as many as 200 pull-ups, 600 push-ups and 300 dips in a single workout.
After graduating from Annapolis, I spent the next year and a half in three different Navy training schools before reporting to a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Memphis (SSN 691). Submarine life underway was extremely demanding with little time for activities like exercise or reading. I lived with 120 other sailors in a cylindrical tube 30 feet in diameter and the length of a football field. My only privacy was lying in my rack (bunk), which was the size of a coffin.
i have cancer…
“I am sorry, but your tumor is malignant. You have cancer.” I heard these words from an oncologist (cancer) doctor in 1995 when I was only 23 years old. My cancer treatment consisted of an initial biopsy, radiation, a second surgery and more radiation.
While lying in the hospital unable to move because of the catheters embedded in my right hip, I formulated a new goal: I wanted to compete in and, perhaps more importantly, finish a triathlon to prove to myself that I had beaten the cancer.
…but cancer does not have me.
A few months later, I competed in my first triathlon, a sprint-distance race in Atlantic Beach, Florida.
I anxiously watched the other athletes preparing before the race, mimicking them as I set up my own transition area, prepped my bike and warmed-up with an easy jog. When the starting gun went off, I quickly forgot my anxiety and was drawn into the dynamics of the race. I crossed the finish line in a little over an hour, finishing in the middle of my age group. I was ecstatic: I was now a triathlete!
Two years later, I finished my first Ironman triathlon, Ironman Canada. In 2002, I won my 10th Ironman distance race, the inaugural Blue Devil Triathlon, with a sub-9 hour finishing time.
living the active lifestyle…
In April 2006, I took a leap of faith and left my cube in corporate America to pursue a new career centered around my passion for endurance sports with my new company, ENDURANCEWORKS, LLC. The same year, I launched the Luray Triathlon in Luray, Virginia. A month later, I published a book about my experiences with first conquering cancer then conquering Ironman triathlons: Full Time and Sub-Nine: Fitting Iron Distance Training into Everyday Life.
The following year, I repeated my sub-9 hour performance with an 8:51 at Challenge Roth in Roth, Germany, while earning my pro card (elite license) through USA Triathlon, which I kept through the end of 2009. I raced two more Ironman distance races in 2010 as an amateur then decided to take a break from triathlon while I picked up new activities like martial arts, rock climbing, skate skiing, Pilates and Spartan Races.
After living for six years in the mecca of active lifestyles, Boulder, CO, I currently live in Southern California.