Don Davenport was huffing his 220 lbs. body up a three mile hill on a red and white, Cannondale race-bike that he bought as part of his New Year’s resolution. Sweat rolled down from his head. He squinted as it hit his eyes, the stinging sensation felt like diluted battery acid. He wanted to wipe the sweat away but the incline was too steep to take his hands off the handle bars. It really didn’t matter since he had forgotten his white wrist-band that he usually wore on his training days. Mental note, he thought, next time don’t forget wrist band.
As Don’s legs began to burn with each pedal. He thought about the affirmation his coach taught him, I’m strong mentally and physically and forward motion gets me there. Don imagined himself crossing the finish line at Ironman Kona. He hadn’t raced in an Ironman yet, therefore he didn’t qualify to race at Kona. But he imagined himself getting off his bike and going for a long, 26.2 mile jog through the parched lava fields on the Big Island of Hawaii after his 112 mile bike ride and 2 ½ mile swim. But he knew that was at least a year away.
As he thought about the run, Don pictured him and his dad watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports when he was five years old. He remembered Julie Moss, a physical education major, crawling to the finish line. She had only eaten half of a Snicker’s candy bar the entire race. She threw the other half away when she realized that ABC’s van had pulled up beside her and was filming her out in first place. She hadn’t even trained for the race, and within yards of the finish line, her body was shutting down. Don remembered turning to his dad and saying, “I’m going to do that someday.” His dad said, “Well then maybe we should take off your training wheels.”
Don snapped back to reality when he swerved his front wheel to miss a pothole in the road as he crested the hill. He realized that his legs weren’t burning anymore. He repeated what his coach told him, this time out loud, “I’m strong mentally and physically and forward motion gets me there. And even if I don’t qualify for Kona, I will finish my first Ironman next year, even if I fall down dead at the finish line.”