Wednesday, March 27, 2013

About A Family Affair

I'm a lucky man.  Yes, I am.

Every father, every husband, every man, dreams of being a positive influence and a good role model for his family.

I do not claim to have all the answers, nor do I claim to have done everything perfect.  Along the way, I have stumbled a few times, scraped my knees here and there. I have made choices I wish I could take back, but one thing I have constantly done is that from every experience that came along, I have learned.

We (wife and I) do not have great treasures to pass along to the girls.  Material things really mean very little to us.  We live a modest life; work hard to provide, value everything and take nothing for granted.  We wake up every morning and are thankful that we just have the opportunity to do it all over again.

What we have tried to pass along to the girls is a good example.

A few years back I was just about crippled with back issues; simple things we mostly take for granted; walking, sleeping, showering, lacing up your shoes, sitting down to watch a soccer game, were almost impossible to enjoy.  The pain was debilitating and the prospect for a normal future seemed gloomy.  And no, I'm not exaggerating to make the story look better or more glamorous.  I spent days on out, in bed unable to even turn side to side.  So I opted for surgery.  I weighed 198 lbs.  I'm 5'10" tall.  So, yes... I was too short for my weight.

Everything the doctors had suggested I had done.  Therapy, Epidurals, Medicine, etc.  Nothing seemed to work.  So the last option was surgery.  Reluctantly, I agreed.

For the first five to six months after surgery, the pain was gone.  Then one day... BAM!  That ever familiar stab in the back, came back.  Again, the routine was started.  Again, therapy.  Again, epidurals.  Again, medicine.  Again... well, doctor suggested surgery, but I said NO.  Not this time.

After some serious soul searching and plenty of research the answer was simple: I must exercise.  I must get in shape.  I must get rid of my gut and strengthen my core.  I must change my life style.  So I joined the gym. The Y and I have been constant friends since then.

I cannot tell you when or how the process came about but exercising has been a consistent part of my life since those days.

On April 28, 2007 I ran my first race ever.  The Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, TN.  I have done 53 races including triathlons, since then. I have finished an Ironman.

I learned through the process the positive impact that exercise brought to my life.  Not just the physical impact but the mental and emotional impact as well.  I was really enjoying what I was getting out this.  I think my family was too.

It wasn't long thereafter my wife took up running as well.  She had accompanied me to every race, she had been to every finish line to cheer me through, she had supported every step (no pun intended) of the way.  She thought she would give this a try as well.

Since the day she started running, she has gone through thyroid cancer and all the excessive amounts of radiation therapy that comes along with it, she has fought through foot surgery, plantar fasciitis, ITBS, but she has persevered and pulled through each one as a true champion.  She has joined the world of triathlons and I think she enjoys her bike more than anything else.

Our youngest daughter Marcela has been an athlete all her life.  Soccer has been her passion.  She's an NCAA Student Athlete; played Div 1 soccer for Belmont University.  Her team won a Conference title and made it to the Big Dance Once.  She's now pursuing a Nursing degree, when she can make the time, she joins us and/or her sister for a race here and there.

Our oldest daughter Juliana became a triathlete this past Sunday.  Her and her mother ran a sprint triathlon in Murfreesboro, TN.  Sports and Physical Fitness are not new to her either.  She was a gymnast.  Competing at a high level, she was Overall State Champion once and won several individual event State Championships along the way.  She is also the mother of our grandson, Colton.

My wife and I took Colton with us on one of our triathlon trips last year.  I was racing the Ironman 70.3 Muncie.  Colton was waiting for me at the finish line and the first thing he said to me was: "Papa, I want to do this".  A few weeks later, he participated in his first Kid's Triathlon.  At the finish line, when I asked him how he liked it, his only response was: "When's the next one?"  This year, God willing, his mother is going to get him to do three Nashville Area Kid's triathlons.

My brother Hernando, who lives in Florida, also became involved in running and triathlons.  He is a few years younger than me and he's much faster than I am.  We're not ever in any sort of competition, we just like to encourage each other on.  We've run three races together, two half marathons and a full marathon, we're planning on racing Ironman Louisville 2014 together.

I am very proud to sit here and tell you that not once, ever, have I asked anyone or insinuated to anyone that they should be running or racing triathlons.  I understand that what I do is not for everyone.  I let them make up their own minds... But, I must also tell you that I only need a very small window of opportunity, a small hint of interest for me to start the encouragement process.

I'd like to think that the family has joined in this awesome adventure purely and simply due to an example well set.  At least that's what I'd like to think.

Monica and Juliana after ADPi Sprint Triathlon

Colton and I before Kid's Tri
Monica and I after Mach Tenn Sprint Triathlon
Marcela and Juliana after The Women's Half Marathon

Monica, Marcela and I before Moosic City Dairy Dash 2012

Hernando, Me, Marcela, Juliana and Colton after CMM 2012
On May 5th, Monica, Juliana and I will be racing in the Rev3 Knoxville Olympic Distance Triathlon.  It will be the first time racing this distance for all three of us.  We plan on racing two or three Sprint Distance triathlons this summer, again together.

Our Marcela, like I said before, is up to her eyebrows in books finishing Nursing School.  However, I feel confident that once that's done, she will be joining the rest of the family across that finish line... somewhere!

So I ask you, What more could a dad ask for?