Today is Saturday and I am on my way to sit by the pool and enjoy the sunny weather. Today was also the Over the Mountain Triathlon in King's Mountain, North Carolina.
Quick recap of the days festivities: As usual, the 4:30am wakeup came slightly earlier than expected but after a restless night's sleep, I was honestly ready to wake up and get the day underway. Kristen was kind enough to drive me out to King's Mountain for the race start. Unique to this race, the point to point format offers a wonderful vista for the racers but always results in a logistical nightmare the morning of the race. I set up transition and arrived at the race start with five minutes to spare. I warmed up with my now trademarked "will not get hypothermia during the warmup" warmup which consists of jogging to the portolet and splashing around in the water right before the gun goes off. Well, its honestly a little bit more thought out than that but I believe that covers the highlights.
The swim was uneventful. I managed to sit into the second pack until the turn buoy where the pack splintered and one group went left while the other group went right. I decided to swim...well...straight and figured the groups would have to come back together before the swim finish. Luckily, I was right and the groups did come back together, unluckily (word?) it occurred right before the final buoy where it was a mad dash for the shore anyway. Onto the bike and into the pain locker. After roughly three weeks of what Marc would call 'reasonable volume' and I would call I cannot move off the couch by seven o'clock at night, I had little in the engine room to respond to the early pace. However, the pace settled and I was able to ride into sixth place coming off the bike. With the two leaders clear of the rest of the field, I was feeling confident in my running ability to bridge up and finish on the last stair of the podium. So I stopped racing and packed my gear up, got Kristen, got in the car and went to get lunch/sit by the pool. Seriously, though that's exactly what happened.
After much thought and prayer, I have decided to step back from the sport of triathlon. This decision did not come easy at first but as I thought more and more about it, it is the right one. For years it has been my goal to achieve something special and prove myself in the sport. At this point I have nothing left to prove. I have placed top ten in the world in my age group, I have won every age-group race I have entered at the half-iron distance and I believe I have distinguished myself as a contender at most races. I am not willing to sacrifice what is most important in life, relationships and careers, to pursue a hobby that should be nothing more than a lifestyle. With everything I have given 110% of my efforts to achieving my goals in triathlon but there comes a time when you need to get your head above the water and see if you are headed in the right direction. At this time I do not feel like I am headed in the right direction. With medical school quickly approaching my priorities need to focus more on gaining entrance into a top medical program rather than on a hobby. I am not willing to lose the one's I love and to throw away my academic career for another top podium spot.
It is difficult to step away from something that has been such a part of my life for so long. However, I find myself at a crossroads. I wish to leave a legacy but as a father, a husband, a doctor and then a finally at the end of the list a badass endurance athlete : ) Fear not I will continue to keep my fitness up just in the odd chance that Dean Karnazas might show up to an ultra-race in the near future that I might be running in...but for the time being I am going to enjoy interning in the emergency room/the local oncology team, performing medical research and exercising for fun because at the end of the day, "if its not fun..."
I want to thank my friends, family and sponsors from the bottom of my heart. Without your years of unquestionable commitment and support, I would never have been able to even attempt most the goals I sought to achieve. You make me recognize what is truly important in life and your advice over the last few weeks has been heartfelt and deeply insightful.