I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better way to end 2016. The Mountain Goat Cyclists set up a New Year’s Even Century ride, and I was not going to miss it! It certainly didn’t disappoint as we rode the first 50-60 miles through a cold, rainy Phoenix morning. In Phoenix, most of us are expecting 60-70 degrees and plentiful sunshine, so on a day when the temperature steadied right around 50 degrees with an overcast sky and off-and-on rain, it was pretty miserable for us all! Luckily for us, the sun started peeking through the clouds by the time we hit the halfway mark, warming us up and lifting our spirits. Despite the initial cold and wet conditions, soaking wet gloves and socks, and 4 flat tires, we were all able to persevere and ended up finishing the ride with 105 miles in a little over 5 hours and 30 minutes. It was a day filled with good times and laughs, and it was the most incredible way to end an amazing year!
This ride got me thinking of just how incredible 2016 has been for me. I have grown in so many ways and learned so much about myself. I have achieved things in work, school, and triathlon that I never thought were possible. I’ve worked on improving my social life and making real, meaningful connections with people close to me. This last one is a big deal for me as my introversion has often limited my social development and my ability to meet new people. I think back to many of my individual achievements and I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished:
3 peer-reviewed publications in academic journals
Got my first accepted abstract to the Society of Behavioral Medicine
Became a Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine/American Cancer Society
Started my online blog and finished the first complete draft of my book
Finished my first marathon
Swam 225, 400 yards, biked 4,149 miles, and ran 1,140 miles
Finished my second and third half-marathons, improving my PR from 1 hour and 50 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes
Finished my first century ride, and then completed 4 more to give me 5 century rides for the year
Completed a 210 mile bike ride
Finished 1st in my age group in an Olympic-distance triathlon
Finished my second and third Ironman 70.3 and placed in my age group in both of these
Improved my Ironman 70.3 time from 6 hours 27 minutes to 5 hours and 25 minutes
Climbed many mountains on my bike for the first time, including Mt. Lemmon and Mingus Mountain
Although these are all, on paper, individual accomplishments, there is no way that I could have achieved any of this without many amazing people in my life. Those that I work with have helped me in so many ways become a better student, writer, and professional. My mentor, as well as those that I work with, are all incredibly hard-working and passionate individuals that push themselves to be better people through their work, and this is inspiring in and of itself. They motivate me to be better in my studies and at work, and this has helped catapult me to bigger and better things.
My family helps to support me and all of my goals and dreams. I am grateful to have been able to be there as I watched my mom and the rest of my family cross the finish line of their first half-marathon. Ever since my Mom began running, I have seen a massive shift in her overall happiness and well-being, and her crossing the finish line in tears at her first half-marathon was a moment I will never forget and will always inspire me to be a better person!
I was also fortunate enough to meet the Mountain Goat Cyclists this year, which literally changed my life. They have helped guide me and push me farther than I ever would have pushed myself. I would not have nearly the number of cycling achievements as I did this year without them! Hell, we rode 210 miles together! If that didn’t motivate me to believe that anything is possible, then I don’t know what will!
Tri Scottsdale and all of its members continue to inspire and motivate me every single day to better myself in the sport of triathlon. I have never been exposed to a group of people that are so incredibly passionate about life and helping others. Triathlon is an indivual sport, but at the end of the day it takes a whole team of supporters to get each and every one of us across the finish line. Tri Scottsdale embraces this concept and pushes everyone that is apart of their team to be a better triathlete and human being.
Finally, I have many friends and acquaintances that also inspire and motivate me to be a better person, including friends that I see regularly as well as those that I simply see posting amazing and inspiring things on social media. There are some truly amazing people out there in this world doing absolutely mind-blowing things with their lives!
The point is, I am fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with amazing people, whether it be in-person or virtually through social media, and it is this support network that helps me achieve my goals and push me to be a better all-around person. So for this, I thank everyone sincerely!
I think one of the most important lessons that I have learned in 2016 is to follow your dreams. I must have heard this phrase a thousand times growing up, and as cliché and corny as it may sound, it is 100% true if you want to be truly happy. Coming from a place not too long ago in the past where I had no such inkling of what happiness felt like or what it was like to be chasing my dreams, I can honestly say that waking up each day loving what you do with your life will bring you more joy and happiness than anything else ever could. I’m not a big “New Year’s Resolution” type of guy as these types of “goals” are all too often forgotten about the minute that the hype of the New Year has passed. Instead, I like to think of the New Year as a time to reflect on what got me to the point I am at now, what I can do to continue my successes, and whatr changes can be made to what I am currently doing so that I can continue to be successful and happy. In 2017, I don’t have any major “Resolutions” to halfheartedly pursue, but rather a series of small changes or improvements to my current life that will make this year an even more adventurous, crazy, happy, and successful year than 2016. Cheers to a year full of learning, fun, passion, laughs, good times and bad times, ups and downs, and heartbreaks and triumphs. It’s all necessary on our journey through life, and both the good and the bad are to be welcomed and embraced!