In the fury that was the week of and week after Ironman Wisconsin, many amazing things happened, but sort of fell through the cracks. One was my selection as East Nasty of the Week, which is a high honor doled out by my running club. I was very grateful, but had a difficult time enjoying it because of the race and recovery period. I just sat down to read the article again and am especially humbled by what the guys I trained with for IMWI wrote about me for the article.
Daniel Hudgins, “Mike has been a key supporter for Ironman as the “Fab Five” has been training. He is so much more than your average athlete, though. He is tenacious, and I think we’ll see him continue to improve throughout the years. When we first met last year, I remember him coming to a triathlon I was also doing to watch Jim. He was so interested and the best way I can describe his demeanor was quietly excited. As time went on, and he decided to do Ironman Wisconsin, we became closer and closer as friends. Mike and I battled for who would show up last for our morning workouts in January, and he often won. We joked that he’ll write a book “How To Sleep Your Way To an Ironman”, and it will probably be a New York Times Bestseller. After seeing his consistency, his success in racing, and his talented writing on his blog, it’s much less of a joke now. He’s one of the first people I called when I had a bad ride or something was bothering me. I’d also call him after a great workout or a successful race. I knew he would listen and want to talk about it in detail – and at the same time, he’d provide some comedy in the reality of all the craziness we were putting ourselves through. I’m so proud of him, and I know after this Ironman, he will continue to excel at whatever he pursues.”
Jim Schwan, “Tarrolly is truly an inspiration. Watching the transformation he has made from his first day at the couch to 5k program to his completion of an Ironman has been astounding. From the first day I met Tarrolly I knew he was someone I wanted to associate with. I mean, he was wearing cool shoes and seemed like he really had it going on. This was years before either of us attempted any kind of endurance sports. Little did I know we would one day end up training together for an Ironman. He is one of the most creative people I know. He has won film-making awards and authored several fantastic blogs. His chronicling of his training via Crushingiron.com, as well as the upcoming documentary, will cement his legend. If you don’t know, act like you know.”
Kevin Gammon, “I’ve had the pleasure of training with Mike for the past nine months. During those nine months, I’ve watched him change his entire life style and dedicate himself fully to reaching a goal. It has been one of the most profound changes I have seen in the three years I have participated in running and triathlons. He has become a strong athlete and person. I constantly seek out his advice because I have nothing but respect for him and what he has accomplished. I anticipate we will see some great things from Mike, both athletically and in other areas. I will also say I look forward to kicking him during the open water swim in Wisconsin.”
Mark Scrivner, “Mike? What can I say about Mike? Dude is gonna crush it. He’s a beast. Started running last year and now you can’t contain him. He’s extremely focused and sleeps more than anyone I know. I can tell you this much, the only thing stopping him will be himself. Dude shoots video, plays drums, eats PowerBars and blogs. It’s been a pleasure training with him, when he actually shows up.”
I spent a TON of time with these guys over the last year and every minute was inspirational. Each of them connected with me in different ways and it was truly a blessing to meet them and train together for a goal I thought was impossible.
I’ve said it many times before, but Jim is the reason I am in triathlon . . . and for that matter, not a wale laying around on the couch. He patiently led by example until I figured out that I should probably follow in his footsteps. Jim made many sacrifices to make sure I stayed engaged with endurance sports, and I will forever be indebted to his efforts. Maybe one day I too will be getting up at 3:45 every morning.
Kevin’s gutsy performance at IM Louisville 2012 was the final straw that lured me into Ironman. Watching my first IM was an emotional and motivating experience. I barely knew Kevin at the time, but I was so moved by his effort that day, I knew I would sign up to race sooner than later. We didn’t bike or run together often, but our lake battles were undeniably the catalyst to me becoming a confident swimmer and rejuvenating my competitive nature.
Daniel is one of the most positive and compassionate people I know. He overcame a lot to get where he is today. His passion for triathlon shined bright all year and his results proved it. He embraced every experience like it was his last and smiled before, during, and after each competition or workout. Ironman was a first for both of us and we loved to speculate about how it would feel to compete, then finish. We dove into every detail along the way and I think it made us both better racers and people.
Mark showed more guts than just about anyone I’ve ever known as a competitor. It seemed like he was injured the entire training season, but he kept pushing on. And I’m not talking about hang nails. He had a double hernia and a torn bicep, but didn’t let either get in his way. Despite these setbacks, having a family, and owning a business that was exploding, he kept his eye on the prize and peaked with a great performance at Wisconsin. He showed a lot of confidence in me and that became a big source of motivation.
It was, is, and always will be the Fab 5 I think of first. We committed to a journey and each other. We followed through with a major challenge and came away with far more than medals. We are great friends who shared deep and meaningful experiences that no one can ever take away.