IRONMAN World Championship – A Celebration of Life & Making a Difference #endprostatecancer
October 8th represents a most memorable milestone for me. It had been a 30-year dream to go back to Kona and race at the Ironman World Championship – one more time. Without a doubt, it is the most grueling single day endurance test on the planet.
In order to even get to the starting line, I had to overcome the biggest obstacle in my life – CANCER. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer on my birthday in 2015. 17 months prior to Kona, I was getting around with a walker and wearing 2 catheters. With the encouragement and support of my wife (Lauren), I made the decision to fight the cancer and embrace the Ironman motto – “anything is possible.” I set goals to get beyond the hard times, culminating with Ironman Lake Placid 2016 in July (14 months post-surgery).
In March of this year I decided to share my story and joined the ZERO Endurance Team. Subsequently, I was invited to represent ZERO and race at Kona. Even though it was only 11 weeks after Lake Placid; I welcomed the challenge and more importantly, have the opportunity to share my journey and have an impact on a much larger audience.
Ironman is a metaphor for life. There will be ups and downs; it is how we deal with the challenges that define us. Life is full of setbacks, success is determined by how you handle them. As I articulated in my blog published July 28th, WITH PERSEVERANCE, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE; I had many challenges at Ironman Lake Placid, missing a DNF (did not finish) by 22 minutes. Lake Placid made me question if I could even complete “the most grueling single day endurance test on the planet.” Little did I realize that my Lake Placid experience was making me tougher mentally. That mental toughness would serve me well in Kona.
The theme of this year’s Ironman World Championship is KUPA’A. This means having the strength to stand firm, to believe in and be loyal to yourself and your surroundings. Achieving the goal of finishing the World Championship requires dedication, passion and courage.
What separates Kona from all other Ironmans are the intimidating conditions. These include the ocean swim, biking & running in the black lava fields, heat, humidity, and the cross winds coming off the ocean. Another obstacle in Kona this year was a lack of water. Three aid stations on the bike course ran out of water (I chose to stay focused on my goal and not dwell on this).
As in life, we learn and grow from our mistakes. There were lessons learned in Lake Placid, e.g. nutrition. I applied those lessons learned and built a strategy for Kona. Executing that strategy required mental discipline – staying true to myself. Examples include: not letting the adrenaline take over in the swim and go out too fast, resisting the urge to stop at all the bike aid station bathrooms (I cut the visits in half, compared to Lake Placid), going with an all-liquid diet during the race and walking at the aid stations, only, during the marathon.
As in life, having a plan and setting goals is so important. To quote my idol, Coach Vince Lombardi, “the quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence.” In Kona, I stayed focused and executed the plan and beat my Lake Placid time by 2.5 hours!
Running down Alii Drive to the finish was filled with many emotions; crossing the finish line at the Ironman World Championship is one of the most incredible experiences in my life. More importantly, and what I am most proud of is the impact I am having with ZERO. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to represent ZERO and share my story with an international audience.
To date, I have raised over $30,000 for ZERO. My 2016 fund-raising goal is $32,000. Knowing that 97 cents of every dollar is spent on research, education and family services, is a big reason I have embraced ZERO. Every small donation has a huge impact. My ZERO – End Prostate Cancer fund-raising page… www.zeroprostatecancerendurance.org/ironman2016/tomhulsey
A special shout out to my other sponsors; O3inspire and Vitality Sports Medicine.
LIFE IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT