One of my favorite parts when watching a
concert is when the lead singer refrains from singing, holds his microphone out over
the adoring crowd and lets the audience shout out the words to the band's hit
song. There is something magically exciting and refreshing when the fans shout out the lyrics
to a familiar hit song.
So following last weekend's incredible
Publix Georgia Half Marathon, where we were blessed to have 28 athletes and over
100 volunteers cruising the streets of Atlanta wearing KPeasey blue, it seems
equally exciting and refreshing to turn the blog over to the athletes and their families and revel in
the words and feelings of their personal experiences.
Before I turn it over completely, however, Brent and I, along with the Kyle Pease Foundation Board want to thank everyone who participated in making this the high water mark to date of the Kyle Pease Foundation brief history. As is always the case after a big weekend like this it takes me a few days to finally come down from the high we all rode. And what a special weekend this was. The growth of this event and the growth of our crew at the starting line is a testament to each of you. Whether this was your first Publix with us or your fourth, we thank you all for joining us!
What we saw in the starting corral at 6:40 on Sunday morning was built by all of you. Your trust, your courage and your faith in proving that where there is a wheel there is a way was seen in a sea of blue!!
We cannot thank each of you enough for your dedication to our mission and we look forward to sharing the road with you again soon.
-Brent and Kyle
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each and every one of you. Today. Was. PERFECT. And you guys made that happen!!
I can't thank Brent & Kyle enough for allowing me to be a part of today. Gotta say, looking back at a sea of blue at 6:50 this morning had to have been one of the most joyful moments of my life!
- Until Next Time...Helen Gardner
Today was my husband and
my first time as push assists. We had the honor of being a part of Team Destiny
and Team Sherry. This experience has forever changed the way we run. Being a
part of something so much bigger than ourselves and helping athlete's and family's
dreams come true was, to say the least, life changing for us. We are so
grateful for organizations like Children's and The Kyle Pease Foundation that
make it all possible. #togetherwewheel.
-Thank You! Emily Stoniecki
Today, I rode my bike in the Georgia half marathon with the Kyle
Pease Foundation. The Kyle Pease foundation is a group that helps people with disabilities. We got put up in a hotel by them yesterday afternoon. It was so awesome. They also provided dinner for all of the runners and I met my runners at dinner. I had four girls who ran with me. Kyle and Brent (his brother) talked at the dinner. There were 28 wheelchair athletes who were being pushed. There were a lot of runners. There were a lot of people cheering me on the way. It made me feel awesome, normal and good about myself.
Thought for the day: Where do I start?
hearing Rebecca cheer for her mom to run faster
stopping in the highlands so Sara and Bill could cheer and hug Rebecca and Marjan, awww
the five of us crossing the finish line together smiling, laughing and ready for more.
struggling at miles 10-11 and realizing that my struggles are nothing compared to what the Holbrooks deal with daily.
Nothing can describe how wonderful it is to see what the Pease Foundation does for children like Rebecca. I can say wholeheartedly that throughout the years, I've seen Rebecca at her best and her worst. Rebecca's at her best during these events; when we're pushing her at these races and she's smiling and cheering and yelling "runner/wheelchair back" in her own special Rebecca way, and at her worst when I'm caring for her in the hospital and watching the KP joyful paradox is indescribably wonderful. Bless the Pease Brothers/family and all those who are involved that help make these special moments and dreams come true.
Sincerely, Gary Harris, RN, BSN
I knew this was a worthy cause, but being a part of the actual race will change the way I look at racing as well as those with disabilities. We met some amazing people that have battled the odds to cross that finish line.
A special thank you to our Captain, Matthew and his mom, Karen. They made the long trip from Rome, GA away from the comforts of home on Saturday to be ready for the race on Sunday. With a 4:45 AM time for departure from the hotel, it was a long day for all.
Matthew did great. He loved the crowd, the sun (at the end), the cheering, the music and especially the speed bumps and potholes. At first we tried to avoid them, but then saw him laugh and smile when we did hit them, so we kept on hitting them. His laughter lit up the course and was infectious to those who ran near us. The picture I have included shows just a taste of his amazing smile. We finished strong as a team, got our medals and have already discussed plans for next year.
I can't thank you enough again for your donations. Please contact me if you would like to hear more about the race or the KPF.
Thanks, Matt Harrison
I was able to catch up with Brent at the finish line, but didn't see you to tell you thanks personally. I cannot thank you and Brent and Kyle enough...the entire experience - pre-race communication, fundraising, the race (both Saturday's pre-race events and Sunday) was absolutely perfect. For me, this was by far the most fulfilling race experience I've ever been a part of...truly life changing to push Matthew with Larry and Matt and watch him grinning. I tear up and get chills just thinking about the joy that was on his face the entire time. We already asked Karen if we could push him for next year's race.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO. Cannot wait to participate in more events with you guys!
I've heard Brent say that "I loan Kyle my legs, and I use his spirit." -and I truly understood that yesterday, pushing Hank Poore in his chair. No matter if it became windy at times, or a little cold or hot, Hank never let up-pedaling the entire way (making our jobs easier with his constant work!), sharing with us the sheer joy he felt to be out there, and inspiring us to keep going.
I had worried that it would be much more difficult to run a half-marathon, while pushing a wheelchair. In fact, although I may have done the physical pushing, Hank was the one who pulled us through, all the way to the finish line, with his indomitable will.
Darria Long Gillespie
Yesterday was so awesome. My favorite part was when, en masse, our whole group started making our way to the start line and a large group of runners waiting in the port-a-john line spontaneously started applauding as we passed. That made me so happy.
Standing at the starting line, I felt like I was part of something big. Part of a movement that is going to grow and grow. I've done over a hundred races that were all about me, but it's way more rewarding to run for a cause like KPF and I look forward many more. Kyle is a hero of mine and I am so lucky to know him.
-Cordially, Scott Stafford
Thank you all for one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The smile on Matthew's face during the race was something I will never forget and the other athletes I met along the way will be in my thoughts every time I go out for a run. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help in the future!
When I first learned about the opportunity to participate in the Georgia Half Marathon as a pusher, I immediately thought of my cousin Trevor. Trevor spent all nine years of his life between his bed and his wheelchair, with his view of the world largely confined to what he could see from his bedroom or out the car window. To think of what this opportunity could have meant to him, not to mention his parents, made the opportunity to push Sherry that much more special for me. In my nearly eight years at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, I’ve been fortunate to play witness to some intensely humbling and emotionally charged moments. Sunday’s race afforded me a unique opportunity to be a part of such a moment, and it’s a feeling that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am grateful to Sherry and her family for trusting in our team to get her across the finish line, and I am in awe of the people who give tirelessly of themselves to make such experiences possible for both the in-chair athletes and those of us blessed enough to be among the pushers.
Manager, Social Media and Content
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
Kyle, Brent, and Helen,
I submitted the survey but I also wanted to personally thank you for
letting me run with you guys this weekend. It was an amazing race and an amazing experience. I loved running with Curtis and my team. I know everyone is still coming down from the craziness of the weekend but I wanted to let you guys know that I'd love to run with y'all again at the Peachtree Road Race if there's a spot on a team available. I'd much rather run with someone again and have a blast than hope to get selected in the lottery to run by myself. Also, I've been talking you guys up here in Augusta trying to get some other runners interested in joining the team. Take care and I hope see and run with y'all again soon.
Among the hundreds of unforgettable moments we have experienced since the birth of the Kyle Pease Foundation, in a mere 48 hours we will be in the midst of experiencing the Grand Daddy of them all.
When the starter's pistol sounds on Sunday morning, Publix Georgia Half Marathon, 28 KPF athletes and their volunteer will be crossing the starting line, representing the largest contingent of half marathoners to ever don KPF blue. That's right, over two dozen athletes and nearly 100 volunteers will be rolling through the streets of downtown Atlanta for 13.1 incredible miles.
I am absolutely overwhelmed at the number of people who will be participating and envision a wall of blue traveling through the city. This is our biggest year to date and every year we continue to grow.
Personally, Publix is my favorite local race, not only because it is in our back yard, but also because I am of course a long time Publix employee. It gives me great pride working for an organization that sponsors this incredible hometown race.
The crowds will be amazing especially around the Rally Corner at Virginia Highlands and I can't wait for the wheels to hit the pavement.
We would like to thank all of our sponsors. Children's Hospital of Atlanta has come forward to be a supporter for this race as well as a special thanks to all of our other wonderful sponsors.
If you're in the Atlanta area, this weekend, please come out and cheer on our athletes, as well as, meeting the athletes on Saturday, March 19 at Gordon Biersch Restaurant in Buckhead where we will be hosting an event to thank our volunteers, rev up our athletes and meet our friends and fans.
If that isn't enough exciting news, we will be joined by two incredibly special guests who will be running with us this weekend. Brent and I are so excited be joined by Amy Downes and Kamran Zokai, the incredible duo who helped Brent and I complete the NYC Marathon when our running chair disintegrated. We are thrilled to be hosting them for the race and help that the KPeasey faithful will thank them for their willingness to help us last November.
Before we begin our regularly scheduled blog post, Brent and I, as well as the rest of the Kyle Pease Foundation, would like to take a moment to offer our sincerest sympathies to Major Kim "Rooster" Rossiter, his family and the entire Ainsley's Angels of America family following the loss of their daughter and inspiration to so many, Ainsley. Ainsley left us all earlier this week and will be forever missed. Please take a moment and think of this incredible little girl and then go hug your child and all those close to you. Life is fleeting and we need to experience the joy brought to us at every possible moment. RIP, Little Angel.
Last week Brent and I kicked off our 2016 season in Augusta, GA at the Dr. Seuss is on the Loose 5 and 10 K. This of course makes me want to do the next part of the blog in Dr. Seuss type rhyming.
Six K-Peasey athletes ran and ran,
But did not eat Green Eggs or Ham.
They participated in the Seuss 10K
We'll save this rhyme for another day.
Our Augusta family really loved the fact that we traveled down there and they were absolutely the hostess with the mostest. It was great to get our wheels back on the pavement after a couple winter months of hibernation.
Next, we are gearing up for Charles Harris 10K this weekend in Atlanta, followed by one of my favorites, The Publix Half Marathon. We have more than twenty athletes signed up so far and there is still time to get involved both either as an athlete or as a pusher.
This is the five year anniversary of the Kyle Pease Foundation so we have a lot of things planned for the foundation, personally and for all KPeasey athletes. We are VERY excited about everything that is going on.
Please let us know about races in tour area as the foundation can travel and support races around Georgia and the southern region. Where There's a Wheel; There's a Way, I've been know to say. This helps us to involve athletes from all over and to share our message with a wider audience. We are also able to speak to schools, businesses and civic organizations, so please let us know if you have a contact we can connect with.
Earlier this month, Brent and I were honored at the Georgia House of Representatives by Representative Pat Gardner. The House gave us a resolution for all of our hard work with the disabled in the Atlanta area. Representative Gardner purchased a book for every member of the house. We received a standing ovation from members of the House. Quite a moment.
March is Disability Awareness month so many local schools are doing programs in March surrounding the event. As I said earlier, if your school is planning something, please let's discuss bringing Brent and I to the school.
Lastly, don't wait to sign up for the Jake Vinson Family Grant. The application can be found on our newly designed website at www.kylepeasefoundation.org.
What can we say that hasn't been said already this year? First and
foremost, we want to thank all of our families who race with us. This
year 37 different families have raced completing everything from 5k's to
Marathons and Sprint triathlons to Ironman Triathlons! Our hearts are
full and it is very rewarding to see all of the hard work come to fruition.
To our volunteers who help get to the start and finish line each
and every race, we thank you. Thank you for your selfless acts and for
allowing us to share our day with you. As Mike Ragan said, "KPeasey
is a family and I am so honored that they all are so welcoming!"
To our donors, friends and supporters. Thank you for helping
fuel every mile we take on. None of this can happen without you all and
we are eternally grateful for your support!
You all give so much of yourselves and we cannot wait for the new
year to commence!
If you were unable to attend our annual fundraiser, but would
still like to support the Kyle Pease Foundation you can donate here: DONATE or you can
purchase the new book, "Where There’s a Wheel, There’s a Way" by Kyle Pease and
Todd Civin with 100% of proceeds benefiting The Kyle Pease Foundation. The book
launched on Sunday at our bowling event and got rave reviews.
Thank you all for the many miles we have covered together and to
the many more we plan to cross.
The following is part two in a two
part series which captures the many highs and but a very few lows that made
up Ironman Panama City. As most fans of the
Kyle Pease Foundation are aware, the foundation is intended not to
showcase Brent and I, but instead to provide opportunity for
other KPF athletes. It was an absolute joy to witness our very
own Justin Knight compete and become an Ironman with assists from
John Rutledge in the 2.4 mile swim, from Paul Lick in the 112 mile bike portion
and from Tim Myers who completed the event with a 26.2 mile run.
I am so proud of Justin and his
family for their wonderful accomplishment and I can't wait to see the next
wheel in our journey.
In the following Race Report we will hear the sounds and experience the
sights of all those involved in this historic weekend including Justin Knight
himself, his mother Teresa and her boyfriend Willie McCoy, as well as John,
Paul and Tim (above). So sit back and experience Ironman Panama City
Through the Eyes of the Ironman.
Back Story by Tim Myers: I had just come back from a
fractured hip and was running my first 13.1 race on Sunday, March 22nd at the
Publix Half Marathon. I had heard that a few teams from ATC were organized to
help the Kyle Pease Foundation assisting their athletes. John and Paul were to
assist Justin Knight (aka JDude) for this event. They had such a great
experience. Seeing all the pictures and stories made me feel a little selfish
that I didn't offer and participate. I had a few discussions with John after
the race and I told him I would be interested if ATC did more with the
He mentioned that he had some
discussions with Brent Pease about doing a relay at Ironman Florida. I told
John I was most definitely in. We received verbal confirmation on May 17th at Chattanooga
70.3 that it was a go. It was hard to hold back the excitement, but knew I had
a few races beforehand I had to concentrate on.
On Saturday, September 12th we
organized the team of JDude, John (swim), Paul (bike) and I was doing the run
for a test race at the John Tanner Sprint. JDude's mom, Teresa, was there with
her boyfriend Willie, along with Brent and Kyle Pease. It started off with
Justin having a seizure and then he got a little cocky and flipped the boat and
he went under. Luckily he was fine, but this happened all before the
start of the race putting a little fear in us. Not the best way to start the
day, but we learned a lot about both Justin and Teresa's character and
confidence in us and the process.
John had a great swim and Paul buried
himself on the bike. I finished the run in 24:52 (8:01/MI) and was completely
spent, as was Paul. It was a great experience and eye opener for all of us,
knowing we had to put in the practice time if we were to make the cutoff at
Training: After I finished Ironman
Chattanooga and John and Paul finished Augusta 70.3 on September 27th, it was
time for us to start our training for JDude's Ironman in Florida on November
7th. My first day of training was October 4th and it included 6 weeks of training
for IMFL. I ran 18 times for 135.19 miles and 18:17:28 with and without JDude
and the chair. It was great bonding time for the Team and JDude's family.
We worked on pacing, nutrition and
most importantly communication. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything
as we became one big family. To further attest to our bonding, we all got
Mohawks to become unified. The confidence grew each and every week and we all
knew we would give it our all and help Justin become an Ironman.
Pre-Race: I traveled down to Panama City
Beach, FL on Thursday with Paul. When we arrived the team registered together
for the race. Later that evening after dinner we all went to the Justin's hotel
room where a local news channel did an interview with JDude, Teresa and the
The next day we had planned to do
some training with JDude, but only were able to get in a test run up the West
Bay Bridge with me as Paul's passenger on the bike. We were all confident that
we had the training needed for a good day for JDude. Later that night we all
met at Longhorn for our pre-race dinner. It was great to see so many there in
support of JDude.
Race Day: I woke up at 3:45 am and had my
normal 2 packets of oatmeal and a banana. I sipped on EFS powder until the
start of the swim. John and I walked down to Transition to get body marked and
meet the Team at 4:30 am. Once we had everything setup in transition we started
down to the swim start to prep the kayak for the swim.
We walked through the process and had
a few last minute directions before John and JDude went off for the swim at
6:05 am. The waters looked pretty good with a few breaks closer to the shore.
The excitement of JDude becoming an Ironman was overwhelming.
Swim (John): I was very proud of John and
how selflessly he handled the swim when things didn't go as planned. It showed
how much character and what a class act he is. Justin was also great during
this whole process. We were all disappointed, but seeing how JDude and John
handled this situation we knew we were going to move on and still have an
awesome day for Justin.
T1: After a long wait, we took Justin to T1 after
the swim and changed him completely out of his swim clothes into his dry bike
clothes. Justin was then wheeled around to the bike, where Paul was waiting to
start the journey in hopes of doing a sub 8 hour ride.
Bike (Paul): While they were out on the
bike, I waited and watched both Bethany and Rogue go out on the bike. After
they were on the course, Jen and I grabbed a late breakfast and then headed
back to the room to rest. We watched a few entertaining feeds from Periscope
that Brent was hosting on the bike course. We also were getting texts, phone
calls and Facebook updates from Brent and Teresa throughout the day on Paul's
and JDude's progress.
About 12:00 pm, I headed to Pizza Hut
for some pasta and then went out for an easy ride to warm up the legs. Once I
received notice that they were at mile 100, I headed to transition to ready
myself. I had heard from Brent that Teresa was bit concerned over JDude because
of the heat of the day. I took a mental note and started to plan for the run.
As we were waiting around for Paul and JDude, I was getting anxious, nervous
and excited. Standing there with my Heart Rate monitor on, I saw that it was
reading around 85 BPM. When they started to get closer my HR started to climb.
When I finally saw them coming in to T2 it shot up to 110 BPM. I guess I was
starting to feel that excitement that is was now my turn!
T2: We took JDude off the bike and into a chair we would
use to take him into the changing tent. Paul was spent and JDude looked tired.
We had a few special moments and laughs in the tent and at that moment we knew
Justin was ready to go. After getting JDude into his running gear, we headed
out to place him in the running chair.
Teresa made sure he took
his medicine and was okay to continue. John sprayed him with sunscreen and then
we were off to the run course for 26.2 miles. It was my turn to take care of
the man of the day, and I was more than ready to do my part.
Run: We started off on the run
course and had Marjan and Kyle pacing us for a few yards. The plan was to go
out easy, breaking down the course in 4 quarters. We would try to do a sub 4:00
marathon that JDude and I talked about during training. Breaking down the
course in 4 quarters is easy to do since the run course is a two loop out and
back. Ultimately, all of our goals were to get JDude to the finish line so he
could realize his dream of becoming an Ironman!
Well, my plan didn't start off well.
I was on such a high to start the run, I couldn't slow down or hold back. We
approached the ATC tent and I did a wheelie with JDude. ATC was so loud and
encouraging to JDude. It was quite a sight to see and be a part of. Justin was
smiling and laughing and I couldn’t help myself from grinning from ear to ear.
I was so darn excited that I ran the
first 2 miles at a 7:53 and 7:41 min/mile pace. Hardly taking it easy or a sub
4:00 hour marathon pace, but the adrenaline was very high and this was just the
beginning of the fun. As we passed all the Tri Club Tents on Thomas Drive,
JDude was given so much love and encouragement I couldn't stop smiling. The
spectators and athletes were unbelievable throughout the day.
We turned onto Surf Dive and the encouragement
just kept coming. Surf Drive starts the seemingly endless succession of speed
bumps. At first JDude and I were having fun with them breaking up the flat
course, but after a while it became mundane. JDude would make me laugh as we
approach each one, saying "Oh boy, here's another one!"
We approached the first aid station
on Surf Drive, and from earlier conversations with Brent I knew my priority was
to keep JDude cool and hydrated. I made sure before we started the run that he
had a hat on so I could put ice in it and keep him cool. JDude and I
communicate as we approach each aid station, so I would know if he needs any
liquids or solid food. I knew for the first half of the run we would still be
running in the sun, so I took extra precautions to make sure he had ample
liquids at every stop.
When we came up on an aid station I
would call out water and a volunteer would hand me the water and I would stop
and put it into JDude's hand. I would then call out for Gatorade, GU or water
for myself as needed. Drinking and slowly walking through the aid station until
Justin was done drinking was a priority. I was in no hurry to start running,
until I knew he had enough hydration. After all, if I hurried too much and he
didn't get his hydration his body could shut down and that would be the end of his
day and that burden would be on me.
I was not about to let that happen,
so we took extra time at each aid station. I made sure he took in water and I
would also continue to put fresh ice in his hat and sponges on his neck. JDude
would also pour water over himself as needed. I was constantly checking in with
him to evaluate him. I even told him I would be doing this more often than
usual and he might get tired of it, but I wasn't going to stop as this heat was
a serious thing.
We continued that similar approach to
each aid station, changing out sponges and getting ice into his hat. We started
getting more efficient with each and every aid station. In some cases, a
volunteer would come out to us and ask what we needed. They would run back and
get everything we needed so we could keep moving. I still took my time at each
station to make sure JDude was getting the hydration that he needed.
It was a challenge to get around
people, but we managed with Justin's mighty horn and me patiently waiting for
people to move over for us. We were moving well compared to the rest of the
field. I later found out from Rogue we passed over 1,000 athletes. I even
started calling "On your left!" I think JDude got a kick out of me
saying that, so with horn in hand and him yelling "On your left", how
could I not help but smile the whole time out there?
I think a few people
would get a bit discouraged when we came up on them with JDude honking and
announcing we were on the move. Once they saw what was happening, not one of
them didn't acknowledge him and saying what we were doing was
"Awesome". JDude would say right back to them "You are Awesome,
too". JDude was so polite with each athlete when they would say "Good
Job", "Keep it up", "You are an inspiration", etc.
It was hard not to get a bit
emotional and just keep smiling. He motivated me to continue to work hard and
get him to the finish line. The one that cracked me up was when someone would
say "Keep it up!" and JDude would respond by saying "Alll Daaaay
Loooong!" I told him that I didn't think I could keep it up all day long, but
I would keep it up to the finish.
As we continued on, we came across a
small dirt section near a bar a few miles before the St. Andrews State Park.
Each time we went by it, the people erupted for JDude. That was really
exhilarating and timely, giving us a lift. As we approached the park, it became
a little more difficult to maneuver around people. We ended up taking out 4-6
smaller cones in one section to get around people and JDude thought that was
fun, but definitely unavoidable.
We made our way into the Park and saw
Angela Nelms at the Base Salt station and she ran with us shouting
encouragement to JDude. It was a little bit of an uphill there so it helped me
get up that section a little faster. We made it to the turnaround and headed
back to the start where I told JDude he would see his Mom and the rest of the
Pease and ATC families.
On the way back, the sun started to
set and JDude told me he was getting cold. I quickly made sure he didn't have
any ice in his hat and removed all of his sponges. I didn't want him to go from
hot to cold, as that could have been just as bad as being overheated. I would
continuously check in with him and ask if he was hot or cold. He would say
"No" to either one and I would then ask if he was "perfect"
and he would say "yes". So that became our word when I would check in
with him. Are you hot or cold or just perfect?
As we made our way back to Surf Drive
and all the speed bumps, we started to bottom out on some of them. I would not
have been concerned, except knowing what happened the previous weekend to Kyle
and Brent at the NYC Marathon left me a little concerned. I wasn't about to
stop and I knew we had a backup plan, if something were to happen. So we
continued and just had fun with it.
Making our way back to Thomas Drive
and the Tri Club tents, it was getting loud again and we started looking for
the ATC tent. I planned to give my sunglasses to Jen and get my headlamp from
her for the second loop. I told Justin about the swap and that he would be
wearing it. I think he was excited about it wearing it. We passed the ATC tent
doing another wheelie and they went nuts for JDude.
We continued on and Brent was
Periscoping and talking to us about our first
loop. We did the turn to
head back by the ATC tent and our second loop shortly after. This time we
stopped and Jerome assisted with putting the headlamp on Justin. Everyone was
so excited for JDude at this point. We were in good shape to meet our goal of
sub 4:00 marathon after running the first half at 1 hr:46 min and both of us
still feeling good.
We headed out on our second loop and
JDude did a great job of shining the light on the course ahead of us. Athletes
could see us coming and would politely move to the side and Justin would thank
them. We made our way over the speed bumps again and made our way out 1 mile at
a time. The 3rd quarter was the hardest for me. I could see our splits getting
slower, but just tried to push through it.
Justin could hear me sighing and he
would tell me to take my time. How could you not love this kid? I made it out
to the dirt/gravel area and we were again greeted with a much needed roar from
the bar. Continuing into the park, I took out a few more cones as we made it to
the Base Salt station where Susie Kelly ran up the hill with us, shouting
encouragement. After that I kept telling JDude we were getting close to the
turnaround and then we would be heading home and he would become an
"Ironman!" He would say We will become
and Ironman....all of us!"
We made the turn and I started to get
excited. I didn't have much left to push the pace, but knew I could maintain
and possibly run a faster split then the 3rd quarter. We saw Susie again as we
passed by the Base Salt Station. She ran ahead of us and yelling "fast
runners coming!" to get people to move aside. I think JDude got a kick out
On our way back, we continued to get
encouragement from everyone. I continued to check in with Justin and asked if
we was doing okay and he said "Perfect". I asked him about halfway
back if he was able to pee. He said with a smile "3 times". I knew we
had done a good job with hydration at that point. If you know Justin, he will
never say he is tired, but he confided in me that he was tired heading back in;
saying it was a long day. I told him I was tired too, but we were going to make
you an Ironman. He again corrected me by saying "We"!
Along the way back we came across a
gentlemen at an aid station that had pushed an athlete for the Team Hoyt in the
past. I think everyone knows the story of Dick and Ricky Hoyt that paved the
way for so many. He was doing the race solo today, but was extremely gracious
as he grabbed the chair for me and started pushing as I was assisting Justin.
Although only brief, he told his story and that touch me and I got that second
We also came across Caryn and Kerry,
the other assisted group that John helped out in the water, and we spoke a
brief word to each other giving encouragement.
After that it was all downhill. I was
pushing as hard as I could breaking the course down from a 10K to a 5K and then
to 2 miles. I kept telling JDude we were heading home so he could become an
Ironman. At about 1.5 miles I started yelling out loud to him saying "You
are going to be an Ironman!" over and over again. As we approached Thomas
Drive again it felt like we were flying.
I was so pumped up and he was so
excited. I told him we would stop by the tent and take off the headlamp so he didn't
have it on for the finisher pictures. As we approached the ATC tent I could
hear JDude and a song I requested from John, The Final Countdown by Europe. We
had listened to this song during a training run capturing a moment we had
together as we were getting closer to the big day.
We quickly stopped and removed the
headlamp. Jerome filled me in that John was going to meet us at the beginning
of the finisher's chute and run across with us. I was so excited for him,
especially after the swim. I had hoped all four of us could cross the line
together, but understood it wasn't possible under the WTC rules.
We left the ATC tent and
continued onto the Finisher's chute. I was getting so pumped up and continued
yelling for JDude. I came across some slower runners, but hung back to give us
all some room. I saw John and we were both so jacked up for JDude. Together we
pushed JDude down the Finisher's chute until we saw the Pease group, along with
his Grandma and Grandpa. We stopped so that everyone could get a piece of
JDude. They were all going nuts and John and I were walking on air.
I did a few wheelies and a spin that
Justin and I had practiced and talked about. For a few weeks before, we had
discussed him walking over the line with assistance. I told him to think about
it and let me know during the run in case he was too tired from the long day.
About halfway through he told me he didn't want to walk over the line. I told
him that was fine, but I asked again before we approached to make sure. I asked
him what he wanted to do for the finish and he said it was up to me, hence the
spin and wheelies.
After the spin, we waited to give him
some space to cross the line alone. With fist pumped in the air and yelling
JDude became an Ironman and his Mom Teresa was there to put the medal around
his neck. It was great to see Paul and his brother Jim at the finish. It was an
exciting and emotional ending to a magical day.
Nutrition: Gatorade at every aid station
except when taking a GU w/water at mile 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22.
3 Salt Sticks approximately every 5
miles. Total calories: 600+ Gatorade
Run Time: 3hr: 46m:
09s Pace: 8:37/mile
Post-Race: After the race we had a few
pictures taken together, champagne was popped and we walked on air for the rest
of the night and a few days after.
Talked with Paul and his brother Jim
about the bike experience and discussed my run with JDude to everyone. Received
a lot of hugs from friends and family. Couldn't thank my wife Jennifer enough
for her love and support through this whole process.
What would you do differently: Not one thing!!
Rate your overall experience with
this race: 5
out of 5. This was by far the best race experience of my life thus far. I was
thankful for this opportunity to assist JDude to complete his first Ironman.
Teresa and Willie were awesome through this whole process and we forever bonded
with them. Also thankful for the Pease Foundation and Kyle and Brent for all
they do for athletes like JDude. You guys are an inspiration and I truly hold
you in a class by yourself.
John and Paul and now my brothers and
we feel like together we can achieve anything that we set our minds to it.
JDude is the best! We could not have had the memorable experience in the race
had he not been such a great person, athlete and friend. I was honored that he
allowed us and trusted us to help him become an IRONMAN!
JDude's Race Report
When did you know that you would like
to do an Ironman? Last year when Kyle and Brent showed me how it is
done. When I watched them, I learned about how they trained for it and I
watched them work hard and get it done. I knew that they believed in me
and I knew that if they could do it, I could too.
During training with your team, did
you ever consider changing your mind and not going for it? Nope, I never
even thought about giving up on what my dream was. This year I met, Paul,
John, and Tim and they are my team.
How has becoming an Ironman changed
your life? I think it has made my life really, really better. I
feel I am stronger and it makes me feel like I can do anything. Don't
give up, and don't quit on anything. Paul, Tim, and John are so much
fun. We worked hard together. Each one of them is strong. I
feel like we all fit together and we are special. I am happy that I have
new friends now.
How did you feel when you got to
Ironman Village to actually register? I was calm, but I was excited
too. I was excited because I knew that it was for real and I was really
there and I was really going to get to do this race. Everything was
coming together. I felt like we were going to do really well because we
had worked so hard.
When you woke up on race day what
came to mind? 3 am sucks! That's what I was thinking... but besides
that I was ready to get my swim gear on and head over to meet my team at the
start. It was dark and a little cool out there but we made our way over
to where the boat was. I wasn't nervous, I was thinking everything was
going to go smooth. So my team and supporters got me settled into the
boat and got me onto the water. John and I were getting over the breaks
in the water. Some of the waves were crashing kinda hard onto the boat
but John was able to get me over them. He started to swim and then the
lady next to me flipped over in her boat and yelled for help. John swam
over there and helped her. A big wave rolled right on top of my head, as
I saw it coming I yelled a couple of words that I can't repeat here, held on
tight to the boat, turned my head and closed my eyes. The wave hit really hard
and made my boat come apart. I still wasn't scared, I knew I was
safe. I was just trying to get all of the salt water out of my mouth so I
could breathe again. Everyone got me to shore and we were going to start
again, but the race people said no way so we just started to get ready to go to
the bike. I was still having fun!
What was your favorite
thing about the bike ride? I was comfortable on the bike but man that was
a long bike ride I was excited about the next step in the race. It was
pretty cool to be the first team leaving out on the bike. Paul was
awesome in helping me get food and drink all day long. It was pretty cool
passing other bikers on the street and cheering them on. I could tell
that Paul was having a hard time at the end so I kept cheering him on to push,
push, push up over the bridge. I told him that he could do it. It
was hot out there too. When I knew Paul was having a hard time and it was
hot out there, I said "let's pray for rain"... and you know what...
it rained just enough to cool us off some! My favorite part was coming
down the bridge faster than 30 mph. When we made that last turn on the
bike, I was so excited that I was about to be getting off of the bike and ready
to move on to the next challenge in spite of sore hips, legs, feet, and
fingers. I loved hearing all of the people cheering for us when we came in from
the bike. I couldn't stop smiling and it was awesome.
Tim was ready and waiting for us to
head off on the last part of this race. He was nervous and excited.
We were all smiles as went ran into to the run out area. Everybody was
cheering so loud. Kyle was screaming so loud for us and he even ran right
beside us for a minute. Tim was so fast! We were passing everybody.
Tim took great care of me, keeping me cooled off with ice and making sure I had
something to drink. We were yelling "On Your Left", so many
times to all of the people we were passing. When we were feeling tired,
Tim would say to me: "we are gonna keep pushing, because you’re
gonna be an Ironman soon JDude. I kept telling him "You can do
it"... On the second loop we stopped by the ATC tent and got a head lamp
so that I could keep a watch out for people and holes in the street. I
helped Tim get around anything that was in the way. It was cool to see
people we knew who were on the course cheering us on. That really pumped me up!
When we came down the home stretch to
the finish line, it was so loud. Everybody was screaming, I was screaming
and throwing my arms up in the air. My whole body was sore, but I didn't
care. All I could do was scream and pump my arms in the air. My heart
was beating so fast and Tim yelled "You are about to be an Ironman".
The lights at the finish were so bright it was hard to see, but I
managed to see my grandparents, Kyle, Brent and so many of my other friends.
That was the most awesome feeling. After I came over the finish
line, there was my mom and she put the Ironman medal on me along with a kiss on
the cheek. That made me happy and pumped me up. When I thought it
was over, not so much.... there was Kyle with a bottle of champagne and gave me
my very first champagne shower! I felt so much love from everybody.
I think that other people with
disabilities will see what I did and they will know that they can do
anything. I want to help others to make their dreams come true. We
are all Champions.
Wow! Where do I begin? This
weekend was an experience of a lifetime for me as J-Dude's mom. I
always knew he was a strong soul, but that really radiated through him during
this whole Ironman experience.
As I woke at 3 a.m. on
Saturday, November 7, 2015, I knew that this day would be like no other since
Justin's birth 27 years ago. In part, I had an idea of what to expect but
another part of me was filled with excitement, fear, and butterflies in my
tummy. I knew that Justin and his team had trained hard and that he would
be in the best of hands out there on the Ironman course. I believe I was
subconsciously in constant prayer for his safety, for no seizures, and for him
to have the time of his life spreading his love, light and infectious
smile. My prayers were also with his team: John, Paul, and Tim, as well
as all of the many supporters that made the trip to PCB - that they would be
safe and healthy and love every moment.
It was 6:05 a.m. and time
to head out into the waters of the gulf for the 2.4 mile swim. I admit
that this was the only part of the course that I was somewhat nervous
about. After getting settled into the boat, John Rutledge came over and
prayed with Justin and me and prayed for all of the athlete’s safety. A few
minutes later, Willie McCoy came and prayed over Justin as well. I knew
all was going to be okay and we were set to head out into the crashing waves.
I was so excited all I could do was smile and yell for the guys as they
headed out. They made it through that first set of breaks and we all
stood in silence for a few minutes as the waves started breaking again and the
neighboring athlete needed help after she capsized. John immediately went
to her rescue while simultaneously another HUGE breaking wave came crashing
down on top of Justin. Your first thought might be that I would totally
freak out. I stood there watching, with my eyes fixated on Justin.
I saw that he had held onto his boat, he was still sitting upright at that
moment, and he was still IN the boat. Just knowing that he stayed in the
boat was instant relief and I just knew that he was okay. Many people
rushed out to help get him...Much love and thanks goes to Brent for being one
of the first ones to drop everything and leap over waves to get out there to
make sure he was okay. I know that was very calming for Justin just
knowing you were right there. Once on shore and catching his breath,
Justin yells to me: "Hey Mom.... I'm still having so much fun!"
John, you kept my guy safe and helped a fellow athlete. You were
exactly where you were supposed to me in that moment and did exactly what
needed to be done. Happy times!
What a team effort in T1 getting
ready for that 112 mile trek on the bike with Paul "The Beast" Linck.
It was the coolest sight to see these two (and Jim) riding through the bike
course. Every time we saw them, they were smiling and focused. Even after
mile 98 in the heat and knowing they were about to take on "the
bridge", they were still looking great and strong. They zipped by us
so fast that we almost didn't even see them! Justin was all about
cheering on the other athletes. The stories that Paul came back telling
me about how Justin really helped him through some tough moments out there just
made my heart smile. I filled with pride as Paul told me how Justin was
so encouraging, positive and engaging throughout the 112 miles. I am so
happy that he is learning how to let his inner light and strength shine
through. Being a part of KPF and his Ironman team has really taught him
more about himself and how to reach in and pull out strength that he didn't
even know he had. Coming in to T2, it was evident that the guys were
really feeling that 112, but you know they just kept those smiles going.
JDude was ready to rock out on the 26.2 marathon just minutes after coming in
Leaving out with Tim Myers onto the
run course, he was like "alight, let's do this!" He kept Tim
pumped through the miles. The ATC crew was so supportive with their music
and cheers! These two were flying through the streets. No one
passed them! They passed over 1000 other athletes - JDude was honking his
horn the whole while.
Once they were on their second loop
it was time for us to take our places at the finish line. Brent and Kyle,
you were both so gracious with making this so special for me and Justin's
grandparents. Grandparents took their places along the finishing chute
and I took my place inside the chute just past the finish line. I was so ecstatic
when I saw them coming towards the finish. I was so excited, I could not
even cry! I remember just jumping up and down screaming "You did it
J-Dude, You did it"!! It was so heartwarming to see his HUGE smile
as everyone screamed for him and he was giving high fives and fist bumps,
yelling and smiling with his arms up in victory. There is nothing that
can ever compare to the feeling of putting that IRONMAN medal around my guy’s
neck. I am so proud of the young man that he is. I am so very grateful
and humbled to be a part of such a caring group of people. Kyle, and Brent I
will never be able to thank you enough for what you have done for Justin and
for our family. You have given us an extended family, a desire to set and
reach new goals, and a renewed confidence that "Anything is Possible"
because "Where there is a Wheel, There is a Way!"