People ask me why after 18 ironmans, I could just simply stop doing triathlons? Well I will try to explain.
First of all, I started to do triathlons for one reason, I wanted to be healthy, enjoy life, train and workout outdoors and I did achieve that, but I also wanted to help people change their lives specially mind and body. I did achieve that by becoming a coach.
The fact is that I was doing all that, I went from 260 pounds to 6% body fat, I did some major changes in my life, but I never felt fulfilled. Truth is I was still searching and it was hard to put all together. A few moments during those years I wanted to stop, but my EGO did not let me. I was achieving a lot but as a coach and not as much as an athlete (talking about fulfillment here).
A few years of pushing my body to the limit, day after day, race after race my health started to decline, I started to have thyroid issues, hormonal imbalance etc. I started to debate is that was healthy for me. With this debate in mind I started to learn that a few athletes, that started with me or even after me got caught with doping (I can name 3 on the top of my head besides the countless age groupers). That news was a cold shower. I remember also in one race a saw one of my favorite athletes drafting (which is illegal in an ironman), and that was another cold shower.
Those incidents happened back in 2012, and I kept pushing it thru. In fact I started to win more local races after that, but my debate was just starting. I kept on going and thinking that I could not give up, and my ego was always saying that I needed to do training harder and faster to prove something. I did not know what I needed to prove of for whom but I needed to prove something.
This battle between ego, health and my true self kept on going. I wanted to win a full distance triathlon no matter what. In 2015 I was on the breaking the course record in Naples Hits Triathlon series full distance when my tire exploded and I lost 45 min waiting for a new tire. I did not give up and I did the best I could, and end up in 2nd place. After all that, I took a small break, I was not motivated and the debate was growing and growing. I decided to give me (or my ego) another chance. I went to Cozumel and that did not go well, I lost my water dehydrated big time and decided not to finish. My wife was pregnant and my mind was in another planet. Still with all that I gave another shot. I sign up for hits Naples. I remember that day, I saw a shooting start and I asked to please guide me.
I went to Naples and I won the race, I had finally finished first in a full distance triathlon race. That was a special day; it was my wedding anniversary, and also in 2016 was the year my son was born. Once I cross the finish line, my first thought was: And now what?
2 weeks after the race, I tried to go back training but it was not happening, I was physically and mentally tried. I started seeking myself again. I kept it easy just biking but my neck started to hurt, which I never had an injury before. I had 3 herniated discs, so for me that was a sign that my cycle is coming to an end, and I decided to listen. I started to focus even more on my coaching skills, which is comes naturally for me…
When Luke was born, we had a surprise; he unexpectedly came with a genetic disease called nemaline myopathy. Luke brought me so much light, despite with most people would think, the challenges we went thru in his first year were a huge blessing. You know it sound ironic 2 triathletes have a kid with a disease that cause muscle weakness, and my whole life was based on mind and body. Neither I or Carol is carriers of the gene, how could that be? Why me? Why us?
Reality is, why not me? Why not us? So in the middle of those challenge moments I decided to meditate again, but more religiously, like every day. I have meditated so many times in hard moments in life to get answers or simply look how I could deal with something. I moved from why me, to why not me, and decided to start learning what Luke wanted teach me.
I started to look to the signs and coincidences, a special one and freaky one was the incubator that Luke was in the hospital (the very first incubator) was clean on my birthday. It had a sticker, at that moment I realized, there is a huge lesson involved here and I must learn. That was the beginning of reconnecting with me again, with my true self, with my soul. The lessons were countless and the spiritual growth was huge, to a point that I decided to write a book about it.
I did a big dive, and in pretty much 1 and a half year I saw my life rewinding in front on me (but the battle was going on for awhile), I gain a bit of weight, I started some courses, I did things that I really like it when I was a kid to help me reconnect and I started to challenge some of my beliefs. That is how I came up with the C.O.R.E method.
You might ask me, where am I now? Well using the C.O.R.E method (I always test my theories with myself first), I realized that my dream was to inspire people but not on the performing as professional athlete, but by being true to myself. The truth is, I have never felt at home in the professional triathlon “world”, I never felt I belonged there, I could not agree with the drugs and cheating on race such as drafting, and let’s be honest, that happens all the time. The only part of the triathlon world that I really fit in is coaching, I just freaking love it but I wanted to coach more than just triathlon. So I decided to add to the coaching side (my gift), the soul part of it. I wanted to inspire people to find balance on their mind, body and soul.
Life will never be perfect, but we can find the good on everything in life, in every situation, no exception and this is the closest thing to perfection. When you find the balance between mind, body and soul you can take on any challenge that life throws at you and learn from it. Life is just like an Ironman race, it’s never perfect, you will have up and downs, but in the end is all about crossing the finish line feeling good knowing that you overcame the challenges with mastery. That is why I love the sport.
Now my efforts are all on helping others create their Feel Good Way of Life (mind, body and soul) and helping Luke overcome his challenges. I will be paddling 200 miles in 2018, from Lake Worth Florida to Key West in order to create awareness to Luke’s condition Nemaline Myopathy
Another Ironman one day? Maybe if Luke ask me to do one…Until then I will create awareness for his cause, paddle board, and coach!