This story originally appeared on innervoice.life, the voice of endurance sports.
THE END OF A DREAM CAREER
I was 15-years-old when I entered my first race.
On that day the swim was in a pool, so it felt fitting when I ended my career with a pool-swim at Major League Triathlon in Charlotte on October 6, 2018. For a long time, I've made a living by pushing the pace and playing to my strengths.
Now, at the age of 34, I walk away satisfied with how I went about my business: honest, dedicated, and collegial.
We all know that it takes a particular personality to put your whole life into sports; it’s usually the kind of competitor who gets mad when they lose at Candyland. Guilty as charged. As a racer, my goal was always to see if my best was better than your best. Some days it was, other days it wasn’t. On the days that it wasn’t, I am proud to say that I raced against some of the greatest to ever toe the line.
Here’s to you Alistair and Javier, Crowie and Macca. And then there was Greg Bennett who had an uncanny ability to show up on the biggest stages and knock it out of the park.
You all were an inspiration to me.
After 12 years of professional racing, you accumulate a ton of memories. Racing in crazy places, staying in sketchy hotels and meeting some of the most amazing people on the planet. One of my fondest memories is having raced in all three of the Island House Triathlons. Highbourne Cay is the most beautiful place I have ever been, and Mark and his staff, along with Luke and Beth the race directors, gave the athletes the racing opportunity of a lifetime.
From the best ITU guys to Ironman champions, the multi-day and multi-race formats allowed for triathlon to be raced in its most genuine form; against the best in the world. I think triathlon is unique in that almost all of the people that race are good, fun people, and those friendships are something that I will greatly miss. It’s incredible to think that I know people from all corners of the globe, and will hopefully be able to catch up with many of them again over beers, instead of in transition.
Another fond racing memory is taking part in the first ever Super League race in Hamilton Island, Australia. The pain from racing is certainly a memory, but it was the opportunity to room with a 19-year-old future star and get to meet all of the people that will be at the top of the sport for the next ten years. I am really cheering for Super League to succeed because it’s the most fun kind of triathlon. It’s short, fast, and the distances aren’t standardized, which makes for the most exciting racing. I certainly wish it had been around ten years ago, but I will enjoy watching it and cheering for its continued success.
They say it takes a village, and there couldn’t be a more applicable place for that idea than in professional sports. I would never be able to name all of the people that have contributed to my career’s success and longevity, but I want to at least try and name a few.
One group that stays mostly in the shadows is the race directors that put on the events. They do everything behind the scenes and never get any recognition, but they make being a pro possible. I was privileged enough to work with some of the best, that care about pro racing, and are the backbone of the sport of triathlon. Again, there are too many to name all, but I really want to thank Bill Burke, Philip Lahaye and Susan Daniels for their support of pro racing, and for taking such good care of me over the years.
My coaches Neal and Grant have been by my side since the early days of my career. As my swim coach, Grant gave me the push to do that first race and has been my go-to for advice ever since. I was lucky enough to begin working with Neil in year two of my career, and we have been doing it ever since. Most athletes have to struggle to either find a coach that can adapt to them, or they adapt to a coach. I was fortunate enough to find one on the first try that was willing to push me when I needed it, and reign me in when that’s what I needed too.
I owe them both a tremendous debt of gratitude.
My family is the reason I was successful. It’s that simple. My parents taught me at a young age how to work hard and overcome failures, while at the same time they allowed me to chase any dream I wanted. They were my first ever sponsor - my Dad wrote me a check, and in the subject line it said ‘sponsorship’. When there were plenty of reasons to get a job after college, they told me to give triathlon my best shot, and they meant it.
I can truly say my wife is responsible for every win I have ever had in triathlon. I met Natalie about five months before I won my first big race, and she has been along for the ride ever since. Getting married and having kids early in my career definitely made for some challenges, but now it allows me to have unrivalled support and love. I am excited to watch my kids play sports, take more family vacations, and relieve my wife of ‘Single Mom Saturdays’. Natalie’s support has been unwavering in this crazy and unpredictable sport, and it is what has allowed me to get out the door every day and chase my dreams.
I have tried hard to treat triathlon as the job I love, but not completely link my identity to being an athlete. That said, identifying myself as a former athlete is still going to be a struggle. Since that last race, I have spent lots of time in the gym lifting really heavy because I finally can put on a few pounds. So far we’re only at six, but it’s a start. I’ve played lots of racquetball, and a few rounds of golf and been able to enjoy watching my Hawkeyes play on Saturday morning.
I have gotten so much from the sport of triathlon, and I want to continue passing that on through coaching. I will also be turning my hobby of trading equities into a job and heading into the wide world of finance.
Thank you again to all my family, friends, and supporters for what has truly been a dream career in triathlon.