With the weather warming up we know that many of our patients are beginning to train toward their fitness goals. SPEAR is excited to share a few training and success stories with you, starting with this piece written by SPEAR president and co-founder, Dan Rootenberg. Last summer he participated in his first triathlon (alongside co-founder Dave Endres, and clinical directors Ryan Kitzen and Jaclyn Fehrenback), an event that challenged the seasoned professional baseball player and as you’ll read, produced deeply rewarding results.
At one of SPEAR’s monthly staff meetings last year, a few of our clinic directors suggested that we all do a Triathlon together as a team building event. My immediate reaction was “no way!” After all, endurance events have never played into my athletic strengths. To the contrary, my baseball background trained me for focused and steady anticipation, only to be interrupted about 4-6 times per game by quick bursts of speed and power delivered at 110%, and then to be followed by more anticipation. Yet, every time the triathlon was mentioned at subsequent meetings, I began feeling this internal pressure—mixed with my usual desire to participate in all SPEAR events—to sign up for this endurance challenge.
With a stroke of my pen, I signed myself up for something well beyond my comfort zone. The entire summer, I focused my training where I thought it would matter most–the avoidance of drowning: or as other people call it, swimming. I also ran a few miles per week. It’s important to listen to your body and knowing that high mileage has a tendency to give me knee soreness and plantar fasciitis, aka heel pain, I didn’t overdo the running aspect of my training regimen. Since I had limited time to train, and I’ve always been good in bikes, I did not even buy my road bike until 10 days before the race!
August 7th was race day. I woke up at 3:30 am to start the journey. Dave and I got to Greenwich in the dark in the midst of a rainstorm. The swim was absolutely treacherous (even for experienced triathletes), with waves hitting me in the face as I attempted to control my breathing while executing my strokes. I was scared and nervous that I wouldn’t make it. I had to stop and take a breath more than once (which is not easy to do in open waters). I eventually made it to shore, only to notice that everyone was running to their bike racks. It struck me as odd, since I was simply overjoyed to be on dry land and was ready to sit down and celebrate that! I started jogging towards the bikes, but just to look the part. I rode the 15 miles along the hilly course, all the while getting hit by rain and hail, and then ran the final 3 miles through the brush.
As I headed towards the finish line by the beach, the SPEAR team (most of them had finished already) and my family were cheering for me. Unable to contain himself, my four year old, Jack, leaped up and ran across the finish line with me. I was elated! I made it! I had not drowned! I did not come in last either! It is an experience I will always remember. I may even make it an annual event, opening up a new pipeline of experiences to come.
Dan's son Jack finishing the triathalon with his father.
When was the last time that you declined to do something because it took you out of your comfort zone? The next time you have an opportunity that you may not otherwise take – Just Do It. Jimmy Rollins, former NL MVP and current star Philadelphia Phillies shortstop subscribes to the adage “Do it scared!”
Focus on what you feel is the most important area that may need development (i.e., swimming). Now I’m not advocating risky behavior here, but rather when a challenge, meeting, social event, business or career opportunity comes along that you may otherwise pass on, consider accepting. This small act may yield surprisingly positive results and opportunities. At the very least you will be “in the arena” and will feel alive, as I did on that final leg- appreciating the struggle and the discomfort, along with the feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.
The SPEAR team after completing the tri.