Two years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think I could do this.
I barely slept the night before.
3AM, I was up getting ready.
4AM, I was shivering in my tri-suit in line for the shuttle to take us to the harbor.
6:30AM, all 3,000 triathletes were at the starting line.
By 7:05AM, my wave started.
I hadn’t learned how to really swim correctly up until 8 months ago. I trained 3-4x/week to get myself from panting from just one lap to swimming up to 2 miles comfortably. So, by this date, I thought maybe I’d feel something like this during the swim.
But I didn’t.
The water was freezing so I immediately started hyperventilating. My body panicked. I just remember the water was so cold against my face.
Then, I remembered what this guy (who had taught me how to swim and encouraged me since day one) shared with me.
“You’re going to freak out with the water. It’ll be okay. Remember to breathe. Just breathe.” – Marz
So I focused all my energy on breathing in and out calmly.
Even when swimmers bumped into me, even during the motion sickness, even when the nausea kicked in. Just breathe.
I was scared I’d be way behind. If I didn’t finish the swim in 1 hour 10 minutes, I’d be disqualified right there. After so much training, I prayed this wouldn’t be where my race would end.
1.2 miles and 49 minutes later, I amazingly finished the swim.
Then, came transition.
It can be the hardest thing to run from one challenge to the next, trying to slip out of your wetsuit and not use too much energy because you know you’re nowhere near done.
But I looked forward to biking. There are moments where I can glide, relax, just enjoy the breeze.
‘Til I hit the hills in mile 43 and realized I still had to bike over 2,000 feet in elevation.
56 miles and 3 hrs 43 minutes later, I finished the bike course.
It’s a terrible feeling to realize that, after you’ve done all that, you’ve still got to put on running shoes and run a half marathon.
After finishing the bike, one guy said aloud:
“I think I’m going to walk the next 3 hours.”
That sounded good to me.
There were so many moments I seriously wanted to just give up.
But what helped push me every step of the way, were the cheers of people who still believed in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself.
And knowing that there were loved ones racing to meet me at the finish line.
Granted not everyone was in the best of moods.
I felt pains in my body I’d never felt before. My achilles tendon hurt. Salt built up all over my tri-suit from the sweat. I was thinking of everything I wish I’d done differently from getting a different bike seat, having a race belt to carry the bib, to bringing a visor to block out the sun.
Those last 3 miles were killer.
I seriously wanted to give up and go home.
But, as soon as I saw that finish line in the distance, God gave me that last energy I needed.
All I could see were the faces of my friends and family, of actually finishing something I thought was impossible for me.
Then, somehow, I made it.
Because I never finish a race without my son (Knightly is the reason I run), Cara handed me Knightly after the finish line so I could carry him ’til the end.
My wife was sobbing (I might have had a few tears).
Ironman has this motto:
Anything Is Possible
And knowing the lazy, depressed, unhealthy person I once was to seeing myself actually cross this finish line in my life, I’ve gotten a taste of how true that can be.
That sometimes you can actually do what you thought you never could.
Special thank you to Matthew Wedin for taking the time to coach me to finish an actual Ironman 70.3. Special thanks to Marz and Lisa for all the advice and encouragement since day 1. Special thanks to my family (Park, Ponce, and DPARK) and Lifegroup for being there for me and cheering me on.
And thank you to my beautiful wife, my emotional ironwoman who got me to this finish line.
To all those who encouraged and prayed for me, thank you. I really could not have gone this far without you.
My next impossible?
The full Ironman – 2.4 mile swim, 100 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.
Hopefully, in 2016 or so.
Bring it on.
Read more about my journey to Ironman here.