By Doug Dunbar

Random thoughts from a worn out triathlete!

Season’s over. And I for one am glad! It’s time to rest.

Triathlon has been one of my passions of choice the last few years, and I just wrapped up the season, with a half Ironman in Austin. Race morning was a chilly 45 degrees. You learn a lot about yourself, and who you are willing to snuggle next to, when it’s that cold out!

Doing Tri is a great test of endurance, no matter what distance you choose, sprint, Olympic, half Iron, or full Iron. I like challenges, type “A” thing my wife says. But it’s also a great test of who you are, and how far you can push yourself. I’ve asked my family to sacrifice a bit as many triathlete’s do, to squeeze in training. I’ve asked more of my body at times, that it had the power to give. I questioned why I was doing this, while just as quick to be overjoyed at a good performance. My mom often says, “what the he%$ are you doing to yourself?” For me, it’s going somewhere I’ve never gone before. Challenging myself.

I began this season with a half Ironman in Galveston. Raced Sprint and Olympic distance through the summer, and finished off with this latest Half Iron, and the payoff you ask? Most people see the medal on a ribbon, the announcer calling you an Ironman, and an exhausted athlete crossing the finish line. What I see, is a father who hopes to inspire his kids to go farther than what they see. To understand that to achieve, you must work. Also to understand that when you work hard, you don’t always win, but the finish can be a huge victory in itself.

I have won just one race, in three seasons, and I probably won that one because all the good racers stayed home that day. I usually finish in the top third or middle of my age group. When I see the men who I compete against, that is a big victory to me. I explain time and again to my kids, what we all grew up hearing, it’s not always about winning. I train day in and day out, knowing full well, that I have no shot at touching the podium, and you know what, it doesn’t matter. The journey can be just as inspiring.

During my race yesterday, all 5 hours and 51 minutes of non-stop swimming 1.2 miles, then biking 56 miles, then running 13.1 miles, I had the greatest thoughts. My mind had 6 hours to wander to places good and at times sobering. I thought much about my friend Charlie, who I pulled from an airplane crash just weeks ago, alive at the time, but Charlie died two hours later at the hospital. Funny, I knew he heard me because when I said his name, suddenly the sound, and then the glimmer of an airplane came into view. True story.

I thought about my wife and kids, and my love for them.

Thought much about my awesome mom, who grew up in Frankfurt, Germany during WW2, and her 80th birthday this week which we will celebrate. What she has seen in her life amazes me to this day.

I thought about all the time put into this effort, and what a great honor it was, to be out, pursuing yet another of my passions. How blessed I am to be where I want to be in the working world, at a great station, with great colleagues. So many blessings, I would need 6,000 hours to count, not just 6.

So, as the season draws to a close, I am ready to rest. Mind, body and soul, but as worn out as I might be right now, I know the next season, the next challenge, the next days, weeks and months of preparing, are right around the corner. I just hope I am. 🙂

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