For some, May 21, 2011 was to be the end of the world, but for me, it was in a way, the beginning of a lifetime of embracing the endless possibilities. These are my thoughts from IRONMAN TEXAS (IMTX).
For those who have done an Ironman, you understand a lot goes into getting ready for the race. The time spent training and planning, and the sheer impact it has on us, and those around us hard to comprehend. Completing an IM made my bucket list years ago when I saw a show on television. While running the New York marathon I had it in the back of my mind I wanted to do an IM in 2011 and somehow, someway, give something back to community where we competed.
Mark’s Barrel Company is going through some growing pains right now and I channeled some of those pains into my training. I made a commitment to donate money based on just how much we beat our goal time of 13 hours ($10 per minute under my goal). We chose the Freedom Place: A safe haven from child sex trafficking near Houston. (www.freedomplaceus.org)
When we arrived in Houston there was a distinct buzz in the wind. The race took place in the Woodlands, about 30-45 minutes North of Houston. 2700 people signed up to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, 140.6 miles in all. In short, we paid to exercise all day long! Thursday night’s banquet was packed, with nearly 6,000 people jammed into the convention space. Incredible testimonies from men and women who shared why they were doing the race were quite inspiring.
When Saturday rolled around it was hard to believe I had spent over four months training about 20 hours a week for that race! I ate my breakfast (can of tuna, and a large bowl of granola, yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries) and washed it down with some electrolyte water.
The starting gun fired promptly at 7 a.m. and some 5,000 arms and 5,000 legs started paddling towards the desired finish. An hour and four minutes later I was climbing out of the water and putting on my bike gear. 112 miles is a long time to be in the saddle. It is important just to hunker down and race your race. I was passed by several riders and passed a few my self. A little short of six hours I was greeted by the “dismount” sign. Music to my eyes! Another transition into my running gear and off I went into the 90-degree temps and 70+ percent humidity (in other words: Houston). It was hot! The volunteers and locals who came out to support us were awesome. The run course looked like a MASH unit at times. I just needed to manage my body (temperature, nutrition, emotions, etc.) one step at a time. Rounding that last corner and hearing those magic words: “Mark Schwietz, you are an Ironman!” was music to my ears.
I cannot describe to bond I felt with fellow racers. The commitment it takes to get across the finish line is significant and it has an impact, positive and negative on everyone around me. Setting a goal and accomplishing it cannot be under estimated. Along the way I discovered a lot about myself, and the support in my life in the form of my Creator, my family and friends.
In some ways I have opened yet another door on this journey of abundance. Possibilities. That is what completing IRONMAN Texas opened me up to. What God has in store for our business and me is greater than I can ever imagine. In gratitude for all those who support MBC and me personally, I will see you somewhere along the sunny side of the street.