A lot has happened in the last four weeks since I last wrote. School is back in session and I’ve got a new group of impressionable young minds filling my classroom.
I also find myself training for another Ironman 140.6. I had no intention of committing to such an endeavor again this year. Training for the 2.4-mile swim, the 112-mile bike and the 26.2-mile marathon that makes up an Ironman triathlon is a physically and mentally draining process, that can leave you with little time or energy for much else.
To tell the story of how this development came to unfold, we must go back in time a bit. As I shared with you last, my involvement in this sport has been a tremendously positive outlet. I’ve gotten the chance to answer a lot of questions I had about myself. I’ve been an athlete for approximately 30 of my 42 years, but truth be told, there’s been a lot of unrealized potential and disappointments. I had an unremarkable and injury plagued career as an NCAA lacrosse player. My 5’9, 150-pound frame just wasn’t cut out for the pounding that takes place at the collegiate level. Frankly, I was also immature, unfocused and never fully committed to success on the field. My injuries and shortcomings as a collegiate athlete became a source of tremendous regret for me as I got older. Triathlon has given me the opportunity to prove to myself just what type of athlete I am and realize athletic potential squandered as a younger man.
The pinnacle of my redemption came in 2017 when I finished my first Ironman triathlon in Panama City Beach. It was the culmination of years of training and hard work. Then last year happened and I was served a healthy dose of humble pie. My second attempt at an Ironman was a disaster. The race was in Louisville, Kentucky on Oct. 14. A couple days before the race, temperatures dropped, race morning the rain came pouring down. Then, due to the heavy flow of the Ohio River, the swim course was altered causing a delay. By the time I hit the water, I had been standing around in the cold rain for over an hour, my body shivering. I was in trouble. I made it onto the bike course, but it didn’t take long before my body began to tell me what my mind didn’t want to hear. I was forced to pull out of the race and wound up in the med tent being treated for hypothermia. I had no excuse, my body failed me that day. It was a tremendous disappointment and a serious blow to my pride.
With a little time and support from family and friends I recovered. The 2019 calendar filled with shorter races, but I knew that one day I’d redeem myself and take on another Ironman. But I never really got over it, and by June the idea was growing like a weed inside my head. I was healthy, already in great shape, had the time, and the desire. Last month I finally gave in and registered for Ironman Florida on Nov. 2.
The training has been going well so far, I’m excited at the prospect of toeing the line again, hopefully with an outcome like 2017. There’s a long way to go yet, lots of miles to log, many 4 a.m. alarms yet to go off, and a lot of sweat equity to deposit. When I think of crossing the finish line of another Ironman, I get goosebumps, it’s an indescribable experience.
I’ve always believed in the redemptive, cathartic qualities of sport. There are highs and lows, triumphs and failures, just like in life. My journey continues and I look forward to sharing these experiences with you. Feel free to reach out and tell your story, ask a question, or just wish me luck.
Jim Jordan is a special education and history teacher with Sarasota County Public Schools. He also is a competitive runner and triathlete. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.