Apr 3, 2010

How Life Happens

Some days I feel like I have managed to pack a lifetime in less than 24 years. Maybe it’s my tendency to live life to one extreme or another. I don’t know. It may just be growing up, but I always find myself wondering how I ended up where I am. It’s 8:15pm on a Saturday night. My roommates are gone for the holiday weekend, so the house is quiet. It almost feels too quiet for a Saturday evening. I spent so many years of my life living a certain way. This lifestyle still feels fairly strange. I know my body needs rest from the last 13 days of training. My calves are still sore from Thursday’s track session, and my body is tired from today’s 70 miles of tempo riding. Deep down, I know that it is important to spend the evening recovering. But, it is hard to keep my mind from wandering. Even though tomorrow is Easter Sunday, I’ll have to bring my A game for one more workout. The plan is to meet Tollakson and McGlone for a 16 miler with 4 x 2mile at tempo pace. Strangely, triathlon is the farthest thing from my mind tonight.

Tonight, I think about how I ended up here… how I ended up pursuing triathlon… Sometimes I think about how I could have picked any life… why this one?

It didn’t take long until I was hooked. From the day I picked up a pair of running shoes, my life was different. I remember the first day I ran… really ran. I was 20 years old and had just returned from a summer on the road. I had just finished 8 weeks touring the US with Chaotic Alliance. Thinking back, it is no wonder I wanted to run. I had been sitting in a hot van for 2 months. I borrowed my roommates running shoes. They were 2 sizes too big. It was the freest I had felt the entire summer. But why did I lace those shoes up for the first time? If I hadn’t had that roommate, would I ever have run out that door?

I wasn’t even supposed to live with Brendan Barton. After a year at Case Western and way too many troublesome instances in student housing, a few of us were “kindly” asked to find a new place to live. Jim Dahlberg, Steve Chang and I were glad to find ourselves an apartment in the neighboring community of Little Italy. However, as it were to work out, I only lived there for five short weeks. One night, I was socializing at a local watering hole full of college students. Without going into too many details, words were exchanged and a much younger, less responsible AJ may have lost his temper. Unfortunately, I was with two girls and they were with many, many other guys. To avoid an unfavorable altercation, I skipped out the back door and ran home… I was followed. As I sat at my kitchen table, there was a knock at the door. The next 5 minutes were in slow motion. Three guys broke into my house and confronted me in my kitchen. I reacted as if my life was on the line… it may have been. I spent that night in the hospital. 

Three days later, I left town for tour. A day after that, I was officially evicted. On a side note, it was hard to come to peace with that evening. I spent a year thinking about my revenge. It took a changed person to forgive and forget. Steve and Jim ended up living together without me. I found a new roommate when I returned to Cleveland 2 months later. It just so happened to be triathlete and aspiring Ironman, Brendan Barton. His influence would change my life.

Everyone has a story on how they got into the sport. Mine just so happens to entail an unfair fight, a summer on the road, and a new roommate.

Cheers everyone.


  1. Quite the time-line there. Hope you had a good run today.

  2. Interesting!!! I guess as they say, things have a way of working out for the best!