During my junior year of high school I broke my ankle… badly. I was on crutches for a little over a year and missed both my hockey and lacrosse seasons. As someone whose always defined themselves as an athlete, this was really devastating for me. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t skate, and I couldn’t do any of the training I’d spent my life doing.
After a depressing week of self pity, I took to the pool. Swimming was the only exercise I was allowed to do (so long as I didn’t kick) and I was determined to stay in shape, while also hoping for a miracle of a fast recovery and a swift return to the ice.
Unfortunately, my recovery was slow and painful and finally the doctor’s decided my ankle would never fully recover, and what the heck, it certainly couldn’t get any worse, so without a second thought I left the pool and returned to hockey, not giving swimming a second thought.
Fast forward two years towards the end of my first hockey season at Colby. For no reason in particular, and completely out of the blue, I suddenly became obsessed with Ironman triathlons. I read everything there was to read about them, I researched, watched videos, listened to interviews, and began to dream of becoming the next great Chrissie Wellington (pictured below).
Before the season could even end or the snow could melt I found myself back in the pool, sitting on the stationary bike for hours, and alternating between the outdoor slush and a treadmill, while still trying to keep up with my hockey schedule. Then I made it official and signed up for my first ever triathlon, a half Ironman (also known as a 70.3) in september of that year. Before that official date I signed up for another triathlon and countless other road and bike races to prepare myself.
My mom, a long time runner and hockey player herself, decided to join me on my journey to becoming an Ironman. We trained separately all spring, her at home and me at Colby, and then once the summer began, starting merging some of our swim and bike workouts (our running paces were too different to run together). Whenever I was feeling unmotivated or just too tired to workout, I’d say to myself “if your mom can do it, so can you,” and get out of bed and onto the road.
Finally the day came, and as my mom and I set up our bikes and drop bags at the transition sites I was completely numb, I hadn’t actually believed the day would ever come. The national anthem played, the gun sounded and the swim began.
Somehow I finished the race fully intact, and miraculously with more energy then at the beginning. I was hooked and shaking with anticipation. Later at the award ceremony I was awarded third place in my age group (only to find out later there were only three people in my age group, but I did manage to claim the honorable title of youngest competitor by a full three years), and knew that many full Ironmans (140.6) were my future (hopefully ones that I will win against more than 2 competitors!)
Mark Allen – Ironman