Thursday, October 7, 2010

One Man's Journey From Kona to Kona

Friday, September 10

If you've found yourself on my blog, you're already one step closer to making a change in your life.

I'm Robert D. Willix, M.D., CEO of Cenegnics Boca Raton. I'm 69 years young and training for my second Ironman exactly 26.2 years after my first, an interesting twist of fate (Note to soon-to-be triathletes: The running portion of Ironman is 26.2 miles). I'm here to show you that, throughout life, you can and should set goals for yourself, whether you are 25 or 75. Goals do not all have to be physical, you can set goals to slow down your mind or to improve your diet, or you can aim to reinvent yourself spiritually and emotionally. All of these components are part of the whole package.

I completed my first Ironman at age 43 on October 6, 1984, in Kona, Hawaii. Watching the Ironman on TV the year before, I witnessed Paula Newby-Fraser collapse and literally drag herself across the finish line. I thought, “What could make someone want something so bad that they would put themselves through such agony just to finish?" I had to find out. I trained rigorously, and placed about 550th out of 1,100 athletes with a time of about 13 hours and 26 minutes. I learned then that finishing is never as important as the road you take to get there.

I haven’t attempted another triathlon since 1984. When training for the Ironman in 1985, I was hit by a car and was in a brace for 18 months. I didn’t think I’d ever even want to compete again; it’s just too physically demanding. But I was ultimately inspired by my son. He completed the Ironman last year, at the same age I was during my first Ironman. He struggled, really struggled, to get through it. Being reminded of that struggle, first through Paula Newby-Fraser then through my son, gave me the bug. This year, we'll be entering the Ironman Arizona together.

People try to convince me to do a shorter triathlon before the Ironman. They say, “Can’t you just run a 10K?” My answer is, “No! Because I think I can do the Ironman.” My only goal is to get through it, period. The big question is whether my body can put in the same miles at 69 as it did at 43. But when I feel like my legs just can’t turn the bicycle pedal again, my mind kicks in and says, “Yes you can. You’ve done it before, and you’re going to do it again.”

Some people say it’s ridiculous to attempt such an enormous goal at 69. Well, I like ridiculous. Come back every week to stay posted on my progress, and be a part of my first steps back to Kona, Hawaii (the home of the Ironman World Championship) in my marathon of life.

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