I’m Adam. I’m a Paratriathlete.
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
I’m Adam, and I am a paratriathlete.
That was hard to type.
One thing that people may not know looking at me is that I am 90% disabled, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
I hate it.
I hate that there I things I can’t do. For the last 13 years I have worked hard to mask these things by overachieving in the things that I can do. As a result, there are many activities that I have either quit or avoided.
With the exception of my time with Megan and Drew at Mission CrossFit, I have avoided this sport. Why? Not because I subscribe to much of the anti-CrossFit media, or because I don’t enjoy it. I avoid it because I hate being the guy off in the corner doing his own thing because. Secluded because he can’t do any WOD that requires shoulder or overhead work. Which is basically every CrossFit workout. As a result of constantly being the “modified guy” in the corner, I am also the guy on the outside of the community. Both part of, and apart from.
Admittedly I have never been a great swimmer. However, trying to swim well while having a significantly limited range of motion is comical to say the least. At best, I am a source of humor for everyone at the pool who has the opportunity to watch me swim. I assured you, it is a sight to see.
BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, FOOTBALL, & BASICALLY EVERYTHING ELSE
I grew up playing baseball, and I loved it. Baseball was life. One of the first things I tried to figure out following my injury was how to play.
I tried catcher. Which, although not pretty, was working out well enough until I tried to throw down a stolen base. This resulted in my laying on home plate in a quivering ball of tears, snot, and pain.
I tried DH. Great, if all you want to do is bunt.
I tried umpire. Ok, this was actually a lot of fun. When you umpire adult social leagues as a single guy, serving the role means that you flirt with every woman who stands on third. And drink a lot of beer. Baseball reinvented.
If it involved throwing, I was out.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
During a different season of life, I was a soldier in the US Army. I was deployed to Iraq during the early stages of the Iraq war at a period of time when the insurgency was experimenting with different forms of armor defeating bombs: IEDs.
During my tour I was exposed to 11 different blasts, either by proximity or directly. Most of these blasts resulted in nothing more than surprise and the off concussion. The most recent blast was a little more, shall we say, intrusive. Though the least significantly injured among my friends, and largely due to the sacrifice of my friend Kevin, I have a shoulder that is full of scar tissue, pain, and tiny bits of copper.
I hate that I can’t seem to overcome this injury. Mostly because Kevin died, and because Terry and Krebs were hurt so much worse. Because my buddy Dan is missing both of his legs and is an amazing yoga instructor. Because my friend Melissa is missing a leg and winning podium positions as a triathlete at the olympics. I have nothing more than a pesky shoulder injury and I can’t seem to find a way around it.
Search for adaptive technology for shoulders. Nothing comes up. It’s frustrating.
After relocating to San Antonio in 2017, I rediscovered my love for all things two wheels (thank you JR!) As I began to immerse myself in cycling I was also building some new friendships with the community at Mission CrossFit. One of these friends, Amy, who I still am convinced is me as a female, introduced me to a woman who both inspired and motivated me to do something big. Jen Rulon is a legend in the Ironman community and who possesses an energy that rivals the sun. After speaking with her and getting connected with her Instagram channel, I found my next goal: Ironman.
As the goal-oriented knuckle-dragger that I am, I took to my new objective with the intensity of a freight train. I was running all of the miles, biking like a person possessed, and swimming.. well, I was swimming. As with anything, I saw immediate early progress, but that quickly plateaued. I discovered a bottleneck. We will only ever be as good in triathlon as our weakest sport, and for me that was quite obviously swimming. Or, at least what I called swimming. I’m sure that others may refer to it as something cluster to “controlled drowning.”
After a year of training and working with a stable of coaches, I was at a loss. I/we could not figure out a solution to the swimming roadblock. My arm just did not move in a way that was efficient, or that would create the air pocket required to breathe.
As mentioned earlier, my friend Melissa is amazing. Not only does she have a positive energy, but she is a fierce athlete. Not long after her injury and return to sport, she founded an organization called DARE2TRI. The organizations mission is to help disabled persons learn to enjoy the sport of triathlon.
The 2019 DARE2TRI gala had taken place during one of my recent work trips. On that 10+ hour flight I stumped across their Instagram feed and had consumed just enough red wine to consider “Am I what I have been avoiding? Am I disabled athlete? Am I a paratriathlete?”
I am a paratriathlete.
This summer I will be attending the DARE2TRI Learn2Tri camp where we will focus on adaptive swim. From there I will be part of a community that I can both learn from and give back to. My goal of Ironman Nice is back in focus (as is the goal of getting a new bike.) I am excited to learn from the team at DARE2TRI and to be a better contribute to the team at Rulon Racing.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
As a professional I focus on helping organizations learn to run experiments, fail fast, and apply those learnings to better outcomes.
Do as I say, not as I do: I’m horrible at this.
I often get so bogged down in things that I can’t do, that I lose focus of what I can. I guess you could say that I am a catastrophizer. As with any cognitive distortion, the first step in overcoming it, is to acknowledge it.
I am excited to learn from the team and athletes at DARE2TRI. If you would like to learn about the organization, you can review their mission @: dare2tri.org/about