There are sooooo many people to mention in this post, so bear with me, but I must start with the ONLY person that drives me to be the best I can be EVERY DAY...My amazingly patient wife, Molly Day.
I'm not afraid to put this out there. Training for this Ironman has impacted our marriage. It has created many moments of selfishness, resent, sacrifice, tears, hugs, threats, regrets, promises, hope, fear, forgiveness, etc. And it has taught us both valuable lessons in prioritization, tradeoffs, respect, time management, and true love. The early mornings, the late nights, the long weekends were all decisions that required careful attention and often lead to heart to heart discussions about the impact that my training would have on the entire family. I am a better husband, father, and man because of this journey, but it's only possible from the amazing support of my wife, and I would never make it to the start line, let alone the finish line without her! I love you more than anything! I carry the title of your HUSBAND well ahead of the title IRONMAN.
In my journey, many organizations have played a key role in many different ways. The one organization that I must thank first is Got Chocolate Milk and Team REFUEL. It is amazing to think that only 9 months ago the idea of being a sponsored athlete never crossed my mind, and this weekend I will cross the finish line wearing my sponsor's gear and proudly carrying the banner for Chocolate Milk. The financial support of Team REFUEL continues to amaze me in ways that I simply don't feel worthy of. The entry for an Ironman is over $600 and not only is my entry fee covered, but I'm given official VIP status and treatment for race weekend! Plus I get all the cool gear! People ask me all the time about the benefits of Chocolate Milk, and it is REAL. Drinking chocolate milk immediately after a workout helps refuel, rebuild, refresh and recover my muscles much faster so that I'm ready for my next workout! Never thought I'd say it "I'd like to thank my sponsor!"
I decided I could not make this journey alone. I decided that I needed someone to hold my hand during the process and make the decisions for me, so I stepped out in faith and hired a coach. Thank you Justin Roeder for not only the great workouts, tips, advice, clinic and coaching, but for building a "can do" attitude inside of me that gives me the confidence to toe the line on Sunday. You've given me the same nutrition tips and race strategy used by elite athletes every weekend. Proud to call you coach and friend! I hope to make you proud!
There is a group of local athletes made up predominantly of triathletes that operate under the name Muncie Area Fun Squad (MAFS) - The club is actually officially entered into the Tri Club competition this weekend, and my finish time actually will score points for our team! Out of respect to this organization, I'm opting to wear the yellow MAFS jersey on the bike portion of the race Sunday. To the veteran triathletes of this group, I say thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience. There are a few key people in this group that I want to thank by name...Gary Thomas, you have been my biggest inspiration in this sport. Watching your every move for over two years and trying my hardest to keep up with your every step has been an enjoyable challenge. I will never match your athletic ability, but hope I can inspire others the way that you inspire me. I vividly remember telling you during my first 70.3 that I appreciate you, and that in order to meet my goals, I NEED you! You've done all you can for me, now it's up to me! Thanks to you and your wife Amy for believing in me and sharing this journey with me. Thank you Lucas Smelser for your leadership within this group. What you and your wife Lisa have helped to create will serve aspiring triathletes in the Muncie area for years to come. Again, I will never hold a candle to your athletic ability, but you've taught me a tremendous amount about how to be self confident while demonstrating an unselfish attitude through your example. Thank you for your unwavering support. Thank you Chuck Alfrey for literally being on this progression with me stride for stride. It makes me smile to recall our past and how we have grown together. From a year ago finishing our first 70.3 together to this weekend finishing our first 140.6 together, your words of encouragement and support continue to build me up in ways that no one else can. I can still hear you in my ear during my 5k PR! Thanks to you and your wife Staci for becoming very important people in my life. A year ago, I sat up in my rocking chair and watched anxiously on my laptop for Amy Fletcher to cross the finish line at IMLOU on the live feed of the finish line. I've never been so happy to see someone realize their dream, and never more inspired to believe that I too could do something so bold. You were the first person I reached out to with all my crazy questions when I decided to dip my toe into this sport. Your persistence with your fitness and healthy lifestyle has shown me that my choices are not temporary; that the experience of becoming an Ironman is not only a life changing moment, but also a life long title! Thanks to you and Doug for the role you play in our lives! There are so many others to thank in my triathlete community, including: Kirk Vanooteghem who rode my first 100 miler with me, Ironman veteran and world champion qualifier Monte "Big Island" Hitchcock, Steve Kinch, Leland Wilhoite, Jason Tucker, Mike Shunneson, Ivy Farguheson, Reuben McCracken, Terry Glidden, my awesome bike mechanic Mike O'Neil, and his wife Misty O'Neil, Sara Fauquher, Earl Chandler, Walter Evans and last but not least Doug Elliot who I will miss dearly this weekend. Doug and I have been swimming together every Tuesday and Thursday morning at the downtown Y, and when he didn't show up to the pool one morning, I never dreamed it was because he had been hit on his bike by a car the night before. Doug, there were many mornings I didn't want to get up and swim, but I knew you'd be there and in some way I always thought I was letting you down if I didn't show up. Truth is I would have let myself down. Thanks for motivating me in unspoken ways. You will be "by my side" all day Sunday!
The Yorktown Running Club (YRC) was the first organization that I ever joined. I never dreamed of being worthy of being in a running club, but was always made to feel welcome in this group. The YRC president Ted Johnson has become a near and dear friend of mine giving me unmatched self confidence in my athletic abilities by physically being by my side. At my first club group run, I was the last to finish, but Ted came back to run with me into the parking lot. When I ran 6 miles in under an hour for the first time, Ted was there to high five me, and when I was sobbing uncontrollably with emotions on full tilt at mile 25 of my first marathon, Ted was there to run by my side and remind me of where I had come from. Ted, your leadership in this group and around Yorktown has set the stage for a generation of young runners to be successful and self confident. The first person to ever run by my side in EVERY group workout was Pete Olson, and soon his wife Amy joined in the fun as well! Pete says I motivated him, and I say Pete motivated me. We can agree that we motivate each other to be the best we can be. We've pushed each other beyond our rightful limits and proven that the "big guys" can still move! Pete and I have traveled from Vegas to Nashville and countless points in between to race together. He is my first true running partner, and has been my faithful sidekick at race after race after race. I can't thank you enough for being there to cheer me on in a sport that you are not fully immersed into. Seeing you during the marathon will drive my running legs to their highest potential. Again there are many others involved with YRC that have helped support my efforts and continue to make meaningful comments to me on a regular basis. John Mickle and Mark Stagge, your speed is something I can only dream of, but every time you slow up to run with and encourage me, I puff out my chest a little more and am thankful to run tall next to you. Matt Stinson, Norm Aul, April Nicholson, Shannon Cline, Chris Cook, Brian Riggins, Dale Anderson, Dustin Woods, John and Amy Scheib, Matt and Lisa Harber, you have all played a major role in my journey. Each of you has a strong history of giving me positive and encouraging feedback and I'm eternally grateful for your support.
This last group of people hold a very special place in my heart. When I began my journey to a healthy lifestyle, I did it for selfish reasons, I did it for me. But somewhere along the way, I apparently inspired a handful of people. Many of you have come to me for tips and advice on how I dropped the weight or began my running lifestyle, but these people continue to have conversations with me about my success and have demonstrated amazing drive and transformation themselves. In turn, I have been equally inspired as I watch them meet their goals head on! Thanks to Mark Culp, Jeremy Sterk, Del Brinson, Jess Smith, Ryan Richardson and Haley Day for reminding me of how I got here and why I continue to do these things. You inspire me daily! Special thanks to LeAnne Greene who not only has found inspiration to improve herself by returning to a healthier lifestyle, but has endured countless hours of my rambling about my workouts, goals, races and quest to become an Ironman. Thanks for holding the office down while I step away to fulfill my dreams! And of course, thanks to my parents Tim and Karen Day who have demonstrated the ability to live an active and healthy lifestyle my entire life, and continue to inspire me today.
Let me end where I began. I could NOT do what I do without the support of my family. Each of my children, and especially my wife Molly Day who support me every stroke, pedal and step of the way. I owe you many hours of my time, but I pray that the investment in my health will return countless hours, days, weeks, months and even years of a longer, healthier life that we can enjoy together.
Signing off now, so that I can go become...an IRONMAN!