Giving it all for 70.3 … for 135+ kids

Happy Giving Tuesday!

#899, racing for Team World VisionIt’s been far too long since the last update, written on the eve of Ironman 70.3 Arizona. Raced on that good day — October 16th in Tempe — alongside my brother, a fun five hours (or so) of endurance, raising money for Word Vision water projects in East Africa. Their future motivated me to do my very best in the present.

Today I want to implore you to give to their cause, developing community and providing water for children especially, the most vulnerable ones on our shared planet. You can give to on my water fundraising page, or give directly to World Vision with a matching grant.

Here’s my effort to briefly describe the fun and painful moments of enduring 70.3 miles. So far all have given $6,752, providing life-saving clean water for 135 kids in Africa!

Swim 1.2 miles

First wave of athletes hit the water at 6:20, and my wave (age 35-39) started at 7:00. So, the first racers were out of the water by the time we got in for our warmup. The first time I raced 70.3, and swam 1.2 miles, we had about the same number (168) in whole race than were in my age group. So, the water felt like a fish hatchery, everyone swimming into one another, arms and legs and goggles flying. My brother John and I swam nearly the same pace and time (34 minutes), while his goggles came off and he realized he could see better without them!

Found my swim cadence on the final stretch and came out of the water fresh and ready to ride.

Having worked on “transitions” — that time between one sport to another by visualizing and seeing each movement, over and over — so those were fairly quick. As World Vision is able to provide water to a child about every thirty seconds on average, let’s think about it like this: about four kids received water between getting out of the water and being out on the bike.

Bike 56 miles

Three laps on this urban-ish course, it took me until the second lap to find my rhythm. Kept power output steady to not over-bike (or “blow up”), and stuck to my nutrition plan with sips and bites on intervals. Though there’s “no drafting,” the course feels like an ant hill with so many cyclists all going different speeds. (Remember the last race I did had 168 total athletes in it on a hilly out-and-back course, and here were about 1,800 cyclists all out on the course together, crammed onto an 18-mile course for three laps. Yes, ant hill is an apt description.)

As a newish cyclist, on course with lots of turns, I didn’t press too hard, but the borrowed deep race wheels (Enve Composites from friend Paul) gave me confidence to get up to speed when possible and maintain velocity. Total cycling time of 2:45 was a solid effort (21mph; 192W avg) and improvement over my last race at this distance. My brother John biked 2:26 (23+mph!) well on his way to a spot in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
Stopped once on the bike and got off with no cramps or leg pain, so ready to run! One key learning was that I ate too much right before finishing 56 miles. Picky Bars were the best fuel and I should have stuck with just those (note to self: remember this, for they don’t call it “Real Food. Built to Fuel” for nothing!) but I shoved down some extra sugary energy chews. Big mistake as we’ll soon see …

Run 13.1 miles

Felt great off the bike, no cramping, and found my stride in that first mile (6:51), but knew that I wouldn’t maintain that pace the whole time. The weather was heating up, the course almost all on concrete (pounding), and about three miles in some gut distress hit me. Legs felt fine, mind was clear, but my stomach was turning, and nothing but time could fix that. (Don’t jam a bunch of carbs down, especially processed ones. Again, should have stuck with Picky Bars alone.)

The thousand (+?) volunteers were stellar. Every mile or so was an aid station, and jamming ice down my World Vision kit was a key feature of each stop. Plus the hopes of seeing my brother. Near the end of my first lap he was about to finish his second and final one, and while I tried to catch him, we did manage a high-five during an out-and-back stretch.

The second lap would be lonely, even with hundreds of runners around. My mind wandered and I had to focus on what I knew was true:

  • This pain is temporary, but that clean water for kids lasts a lifetime.
  • Seeing my wife and kids at the finish line will be worth it.
  • On the bike I repeated Seeds of Courage songs (Seeds of Worship). Those came back to mind with each step running: “The lions grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10 aka The Good Song)
  • Keep going!
  • All that training, the pain-on-purpose, paid off (more than 350 hours and 4,000+ miles). Welcome to the hurt locker. While my pace slowed gradually over the 13.1 miles, I kept pressing on. This is #gracedriveneffort

Five fun hours

Finish lineOne goal was to finish, the real goal was to provide water for more than 100 kids, and I had it in the back of my mind that finishing in the top 100 (was 99th overall) and in under five hours would be my best effort.

Thought of it this way: how about I finish at the same moment the Renew Church family back home wraps up the morning worship gathering? Considering I wasn’t preaching (long-winded), that seemed unlikely … yet I’ve since heard that that morning’s gathering spanned all the way until 12:10 PM, and so I barely finished seconds before they did. Ha.

  • Official time: 5:09:54

Proud lil’ bro

At the finish line with brother John and friends
At the finish line with brother John and friends

Triathlon first caught my eye by watching my brother from afar. Down in Tempe he was swimming, cycling, and running year-round, with Ironman efforts and races. So a couple years ago I trained for a sprint triathlon, repeated it last year (2nd overall), and decided this year to jump up to the half-Ironman distance (aka “70.3”). This race was a tuneup for my endurance-built older brother, and he was absolutely stellar: 4:46 is a fast time! With that John qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships held in Chattanooga, TN next Fall. Not bad for a tune-up race on the way to your full 140.6 mile Ironman.

imaz-703-bro-times

The real endurance athletes

70.3 needs/tears/hungers/thirsts/mishaps. But I finished! #ironmom #canigetatshirtforthat
70.3 needs/tears/hungers/thirsts/mishaps. But I finished! #ironmom #canigetatshirtforthat

Thank you to my wife Kari and kids Dutch and Heidi for entering this journey with me. You’ve endured my absence during training, and while musing about training, and while I tried to end sessions before 7:00 AM, you know full well that sometimes my time cut into your time. With you I cannot really be called a “Loneliman,” and truly being your Husband and Father is the deepest earthly joy imagineable. #SacredMundane

Thank you to the Renew Church family for cheering me on, up close and afar. We don’t all have the same hobbies, and I’m convinced that your willingness to let me thrive in this crazy endurance hobby with three sports truly makes me a better pastor and person. #RenewReCreate

Thank you to Team World Vision for letting me join your team. Billy Downs you are a true inspiration. Tye Eckhart, thank you for stepping into the lead role, and encouraging me along the way (and before the race sending another pair of tri shorts that fit!). Rusty Funk, while you aren’t officially on the triathlon/Ironman side of Team World Vision, your relentless enthusiasm for the 6K for Water, and meeting your brother Jimmy at the finish line, made the world smaller and our cause bigger. It was fun to race in your hometown. I love it when people ask me, “Are you sponsored by World Vision?” Actually, it’s the other way around! Let me tell you about … #GoFartherTogether

Thank you to the women and children in Africa who endure for water and so much more every day. Every day! Many of you go much farther than the average 6 kilometers, and enduring for your sake is worth every step. Five hours of effort at threshold is nothing new to you! I long for the day when your energies can be devoted to other pursuits beyond mere survival. In this with you. #realheroes


Every day, 1.1 billion people have to wash with, bathe in and drink dirty water. However, it’s possible to change this number. World Vision is partnering with communities all over the globe to provide the most basic of needs to communities in order to help children live beyond their fifth birthday.

6K for WaterYou can do 6K!

All of you are welcome to join me for a much shorter race with the same goal: water for all! The Global 6K for Water will be May 6th, 2017, and you’re welcome to join us in Oregon City, Oregon … or wherever you live.

Global 6K for Water

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
—2 Thessalonians 3:5