Let's not call it "retirement"........ It's a Sabbatical
It’s taken me a while to put “pen to paper”, and honestly maybe it was just best to blow away in the wind and go unnoticed. However, I feel that I owe too much to everyone who has supported me along the way to not take the time to write this. Over 14 years ago, I sat in Korea, unhappy with the path I was headed down in life, when a flier for a triathlon caught my eye. I had 6 months to train for a sprint triathlon, with my only intention being to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
Little did I know, a $200 steel Korean bike, some $40 “bike shorts” from the BX, and the reflective vest required to ride on base, would send me on an amazing life transformation over 14 years. From falling in love with a sport that required hard work and dedication, to falling in love with my soulmate and starting a family. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider racing an IRONMAN, running a marathon, or racing at a professional level; nor would anyone from any of my high school sports teams thought that possible. I grew up “playing” sports, with the majority of that time being spent on the bench or sidelines, I was never athletically gifted.
I self-trained and followed online plans over the first few years in the sport, but I was fortunate to meet my long-time coach, Scott DeFilippis, in China while at my first 70.3 back in 2009. He started coaching in 2010 and from the fall of 2010 through late 2018, Scottie guided me from being a newbie to the sport to qualifying and racing at the professional level. Without his guidance, mentorship and friendship through the years, I would not have made it to the level I did. Over the years, there were a few occasions where we shared surprise in some of my results and accomplishments. During those 8 years of working together we not only had a working relationship, but he also became one of my closest friends and to this day remains so and also became my business partner at KIS Coaching.
As I look back at my journey through triathlon, sure there was a decent amount of athletic success. There are a few moments that stand out as my performances of my career, but those are nowhere near what I walk away from competition most proud about. I walk away from racing with some amazing friendships that have formed into life long friends, and those far exceed any race accomplishment.
While in St. George a few weeks back at IM World Champs someone asked me “Do you miss racing?”. I took a few moments to think about it, and honestly it hit me that I actually didn’t miss the racing. I think my answer would be different if I wasn’t still around the sport, but given I’m still at a few races a year and able to continue to see friends and former peers, I don’t miss the racing. If I was completely removed from the sport, I think I would miss the racing, but it wouldn’t be the racing, it would be the friends and race “environment” that I would miss.
The most common question I get asked, and what partially led me to write this is “What have you been doing since stopping racing?”. Well, since my last race at IMFL in 2019, I’ve done a few “athletic” things. I stayed in decent form through most of COVID with a focus on running and capping off my “racing” with a 2:43 marathon and then my fitness has slowly drifted away since then. To meet a challenge set by my coworkers, I went on a cycling adventure from Montgomery, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida for 204 miles and reached the beach. I managed my way through a 27 mile trail run/trot, and then was fortunate enough to help support athletes on a few segments of the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride with Bristol Meyers Squibb employees. All of those challenges/events, outside of the marathon, showed me that years of endurance sports doesn’t have your fitness vanishing overnight, but the high intensity efforts and the recovery are far harder/worse when out of shape.
And that question is typically followed up by “What’s next?”. The main reason I stepped back from racing is our family, which is my number 1 priority. The kids are now almost 6, 5, and 3, and being gone every weekend training and typically in a state of exhaustion every day is something I was no longer willing to do. Hila’s career is continuously on the rise and her work demands are only becoming greater. I wanted to be able to support her career as she has mine over the last 7 years. So the new “normal” includes being the “primary parent”, getting the kids to/from school, to the extra curricular activities and being available for them whenever they can’t make it to school.
Outside of that, I’m still coaching at KIS Coaching and I’ve continued to work at Precision Fuel & Hydration, running the sponsored athlete program, ambassador program and managing our social media. It’s been great to have a lot of flexibility and continue to be involved with the sport that’s given me so much in life and I look forward to continuing to give back through coaching and my work with PF&H.
I’ll be back to racing at some point, which might just be 15-20 years from now, when life has hopefully slowed down a bit. Until then, I hope and plan to stay active, just not in a competitive way–just enjoying swimming, cycling and running for what they are and how they benefit us as humans.
I’d need another page to write out the list of everyone that has helped me through my career–it’s a long list. First off, to Hila and my extended family, thank you so much for the continuous support from the beginning and then believing in me and supporting me to follow my dreams. It’s been a journey far beyond what we ever imagined. I was fortunate to have two amazing coaches, as mentioned above, thank you Scottie for being more than just a coach. To Julie, thanks for taking me on in a very broken state and getting me back to where I once was. I feel like a corner was just being turned before COVID hit, and I’m saddened to not have been able to see what was fully possible. To those that supported me financially, the journey would have been shorter lived if it was not for your generous support. The numerous industry partners that I had over the years, thank you. To everyone else that supported me, followed the journey and been a part of this, THANK YOU. Without the continuous support over the years, I do not know where I would have ended up or where I would be today, one thing is for sure, I would not change things one bit. Life is a journey, made up of new chapters and adventures - look forward to what the future holds and may I continue to be surrounded by so many amazing people!