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Ironman Thank Yous

NumberPlateI find myself on the eve of the known unknown. It’s been 9 years 1 month since I last completed an Ironman. I know what to expect. Yet there are so many unanswered questions. One question I can answer is how to play along at home. You can track me here. In keeping with my pre-race traditions, I have a long-ish post.

As with any undertaking of this magnitude, the nerves come into play. With old age comes wisdom, though it appears that the accompanying dish of calm and grace under pressure was not on the menu. Barring an injury on course, I will complete the distance. The question really comes down to the total time on course. The work has been done, deposits have been made. Tomorrow, athletes will withdraw with gusto, hoping that they have sufficient funds, and in some cases, overdraft protection.

To get to this point is a monumental effort. Not by the individual, standing along in the face of trials and challenges, but rather by an extended team of caring, loving and supportive people. This is the most selfish thing I do. It requires tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort. Despite my best efforts to impact my schedule alone, the tax on my family, friends, and social network cannot be ignored. I want to take a minute to thank each of them, and tell them I will be carrying each of them with me on course tomorrow.

To my wife, Christy, you are an amazing life partner. There is no chance, NONE, that I would have this opportunity if it wasn’t for you. When I was nearly dead and broken, you did what needed to be done. You were patient with me, and then told me to get off my ass, quit my whining, and get back to racing. It takes a special kind of love to deliver that message. As a role model for our children, I could ask for none better. Your dedication to Oom Yung Doe excellence is a constant reminder to our children about the value of setting and achieving goals. Your dedication to your husband, and their father, is a shining example of what it is to give in a marriage. You give so that I may race. For all that you do, I love you to pieces.

Kid Bots, I hope that you find this message one day in the future and can understand how much you mean to me. You guys give me more joy in a day than I deserve. C, your intelligence and wit are without match, and your incredible curiosity tells me that you are likely to be a creative genius some day. T, I have little doubt that should you continue to want to be a professional life size Lego creator you will be one. I love how lost you can get in the craft of building your creations, and you honor me every time you share them with us. R, your personality is starting to shine through, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see you out on course going long some day. You’re fierce and strong, and don’t take shit from anyone. You guys keep me going when I get to the dark places in training and my racing. I look forward to seeing you all at the finish line.

Alex, there is no greater best friend a man could ask for. 20 years, each one a joy. While I am sad that you are off to new adventures on a new continent, you have served as a role model to me in more ways than you will ever know. There are few non-family moments of which I can think that I cherish more than our morning rides. I’m not sure when we will get another one in, geography being what it is and all, but that doesn’t matter. There are years ahead of us still. I am a much, much stronger rider because of chasing you.

Coach Ben, you have taken a broken down old man and whittled away to get something that, if you squint hard enough, resembles an athlete. My goal for this race is pretty simple. Go faster at 40 than I did at 30. It’s a much harder course, but I don’t really have any doubts about the results tomorrow. This has been a great journey. I hope to do honor to the team colors I will be flying tomorrow.

529Legion guys. Where would I be without you guys? More than anyone else, each of you has been witness to my transformation through sport, specifically riding. I love being in the saddle, whether it’s XC racing, all mountain riding, down-hilling, or being a roadie. I love you guys for the incredibly down to earth people that you are, how much support you give each other, and how fun you make it to be on two wheels. A couple of you have sent me mails ahead of this race. THANK YOU. Your words and encouragement will carry me through the race. As a group, you guys really are something special and to be treasured.

Harvard-Westlake Scramble Participants. It was a great joy being a part of the process, and helping raise funds for such a cool event for high schoolers. A special thank you goes to Rob Levin. You always believed in me, and I’m not sure why. Kids don’t forget the kindness of adults. Please don’t stop being you, and please keep nurturing and shaping those young lives. I look forward to finding other opportunities to connect my racing with the young’uns at HW.

Lastly, a message for those of you who find this posting and think “I could never do that.” Yes you can. 19 months ago I was 191 lbs and a complete out of shape mess. This race day sees me at 157lbs, 2 lbs under my target, and 2 lbs more than I weighed when I was in college. There are no hacks. No short cuts. Just dedication and hard work. You have to believe you can do this, and you will do it. You have to be willing to put in the work. No excuses, no complaining. I get it. It’s hard with family and work and pressures etc. I get it. The support crew has to be in place first. No question. Without my wife’s support, no way I do this. No way. I am extremely fortunate to have a coach put together a plan for me, and hold me accountable, but there are a myriad of these options available to anyone. Ben is awesome, and he will ultimately be the difference between me as an endurance event participant with a finisher medal, and me as an endurance racer at the pointy end of the field. If you do the work, you can complete these races, whatever the distance. I dare you to try. Hold yourself accountable, but please try. If you have even an ounce of desire to discover more about yourself and about what you can achieve, *try*. Or Tri. That’s the route I went. Just get off the couch.

My cousin had an extremely scary cancer run in. It was a wake up call to him about his health and lifestyle choices. His transformation has been nothing short of astounding, and he inspires me. He put in the work. He looks and sounds so much healthier for it. It’s great to see his progress shared so publicly on Strava. He didn’t look for a shortcut. He looked for a result. The power to dream is such a beautiful gift. One of my dreams is to continue to improve in this sport, see the world via race venues, and continue meeting amazing people who share a passion and love for this sport. Whatever your dream, don’t wait. Nine years and almost to the day my father passed away. He never saw me race. These things are so much more special when you can share them with loved ones. Find your dream, share it with your loved ones, and, to quote Lt. Daniels from The Wire, “do the work.”

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More Stories By Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson is Director for Windows Phone 7. He specifically focuses on developers and the developer platform. He rejoined Microsoft in 2008 after nearly a decade on Wall Street and running successful start-ups. He has both an engineering degree and an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, and blogs at www.manyniches.com.

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