Why Ironman Arizona?


Source: Guardian

If you have not been reading this blog for a while you may not know why Ironman Arizona is as important to me as it is.  I figured that with 7 weeks left until race day I would let you in on why this race has more meaning than any other race I have ever done.

Back in 1995 during graduation week from SUNY-Oswego I was given the news that would alter my life forever, yet at the time I didn’t realize it.  I was more interested in grilling, drinking beer and playing beach volleyball at our frat house than I was in allowing the news to sink in.  Crazy thing is I remember this day very vividly but I probably could not recount it for you a couple of years ago and I think that is because I mentally blocked it out.

On this day I was told by my parents that my father had cancer.  My father grew up poor in a poor neighborhood in Puerto Rico before moving to New York and growing up under not the greatest of circumstances.  So he picked up cigarette smoking, and if I remember correctly that started at 9 years of age.  When I got to high school I practically begged my parents to quit smoking and they actually did.  They both went cold turkey and it was great and I was so happy for them.

When I got the news and found out that it was throat cancer from smoking I found it so ironic.  Here my Dad was telling me he had cancer from smoking and yet he hadn’t smoked in years.  The questions swirled through my head as to how, why, when, where…..you name the question it went through my head but again it was with the thought that he would beat it.

My father would go through chemo and be in and out of the hospital more times than I could count and then he finally succumbed to the disease.  In a way it was the most peaceful thing that could happen to our family.  We struggled to watch him suffer as my father was very tough and this weakened state was not him.  My mother spent years sleeping on a pull up bed in his hospital room and I was in charge of taking care of my younger sister.

My father passed away one week prior to his 50th birthday.  Imagine not making it to your 50th birthday.  It is impossible for me to fathom, and yet it happened.

When I got into endurance sports I had never run a race in honor of my father.  It wasn’t until a 15k that I chose to dedicate to him that I started to lean on him during the hardest of times during races.  When the pain in my legs would get to unbearable points I would think about my father and what he endured and realized that I could go further.

As I began training for long course triathlon I pointed to Ironman Arizona in 2013 as the race I had to do.  I knew the difficulty in getting into the event because it sells out so quickly but I was going to go to this race no matter what.  Along the road I noticed my training was going well and chose to race Ironman Texas as my first 140.6 race and I am glad that I did.

Ironman Arizona is in 7 weeks and with this being the second one I am less nervous about the training and the race and more focused on hitting the sessions and being prepared for race day.  Race day is November 18 or in my world…..my father’s birthday.

I had to get into this race this year because it would have been another 7 years before I could race Ironman Arizona on my father’s birthday.  When registration opened up the blood surged through my body as I answered every question and clicked through it all until I got the notification that I was in.  The adrenaline left my body almost immediately and I went and took a nap.  When I woke up I smiled and thought that I would be racing on November 18th.

When this day rolls around I hope to keep the tears from filling my goggles and I hope that when mile 24 of the marathon comes around I can think about the strength my father had and hope that it transfers to me.

This is going to be an emotional day but I will be doing it not for myself but for my father.  I am going to give him a birthday present he never would have asked for.

Thank you for everything Dad.  I will make you proud.

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  1. I will think of you and your Dad on 11/18 Jason.
    You will have an amazing race because you will have a copilot with you on that day and fire in your heart!
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..Media BlitzMy Profile

  2. Very touching post Jason… I am honored to spend a this special day racing with you and will keep you and your father in my thoughts. On a lighter note, I cannot believe you got in via online registration!!! That was a close call!
    Rose @ Eternal Recess recently posted..Last Weekend’s 100 Degree Photo BlogMy Profile

  3. Jeannie says:

    What a perfect opportunity and dedication in honor of your father! I hope it is a truly amazing day for you Jason!

  4. Bob says:

    Wow, we think a like…
    1/20/93 4:17am My son Mat is born..
    1/20/93 11:17am… I finish the Houston Marathon in his honor with his name on the front of my shirt “Mat born today”
    4:17 after the start..
    Different circumstance from yours, but something done in love and you will never forget…
    Bob recently posted..BAILIWICK…. FIND YOURSMy Profile

  5. Natasha says:

    Wow what a story, I’m glad you have found a way to honor your dad’s memory that is meaningful to you. I didn’t realize this was only going to be your 2nd IM you are already a pro at it! I remember finding out my grandfather had died as I drove to a sprint triathlon one morning and my mom said she called to tell me so that I could do it in his memory. It was one of the best races I had and I could feel him with me the entire way.
    Natasha recently posted..Weekend Warrior Recap!My Profile

  6. Scott says:

    This was a very powerful and touching post, I admit, it choked me up some. I have done in honor of a loved one, its so emotionally powerful
    Scott recently posted..Weekly RamblingsMy Profile

  7. katie says:

    This makes my heart heavy for you, but I’m glad you’ve turned it into something positive and a way to honor him.
    katie recently posted..a generalized ramble about the state of thingsMy Profile

  8. lindsay says:

    awesome, awesome, awesome. obviously i am so sorry for your loss but you’ve certainly turned it into the best it can be. i know your dad is proud!
    lindsay recently posted..fight gone badMy Profile

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