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Lee's Ironman Adventure - More Than A Race

I've set a lofty goal for myself in 2013; I've signed up to run Ironman Wisconsin. In order to provide balance to a sport that can become a little self-focused, I'll bring awareness to the Kenya Children's Fund during the training process.

Lee HetheringtonI am celebrating my fifth race season this year. I confess I've become a little obsessed with the triathlon lifestyle. Triathlon, obviously, is an excellent way to stay fit and is why I originally took up the sport. My off-season passion is hunting with bow and arrow, and my adventures often lead me to mountainous terrain. Success in extreme hunting requires a high fitness level.

Before I discovered triathlon, my spring goal each year was to shed the 15 to 20 pounds of excess weight I gained after my fall hunting season. With age it became difficult to shed the extra pounds. I needed a program that helped me to stay fit year-round.

Enter triathlon.

Triathlon training was perfect: an effective weight management discipline with periodic races that provide motivation to continue the journey!

Fast forward a few years, and my enjoyment transformed into an obsession. Including my running and duathlon events; I raced eight times in 2011 and nine times in 2012. My knowledge and overall ability to race has grown tremendously from my first event in 2009. As I push myself to perform at a higher level, I have been seeking additional challenges through out-of-town destination races and longer-distance races. Of course, the Iron distance has been on my radar, so last season I ran the half-Iron distance as a test. As I crossed the finish line, I said, "Never again."

Famous last words. Within two months I volunteered at Ironman Wisconsin, and my experience during the three-day event inspired me to sign up for Ironman Wisconsin 2013! Clearly, the obsession continues.

Triathlon requires vast amounts of time to train, which often means sacrifices made by my family, friends, and employer. With so much focus and dedication being directed inward, I must be careful about losing perspective and placing an unhealthy emphasis on my athletic pursuit. I must remind myself that triathlon is a sport, a form of recreation, and a hobby. Sure, participating in triathlon reaps significant benefits, but keeping a healthy balance of life along the way is essential to my overall success. I must remember that it does not pay my bills (actually just the opposite), my family misses my time and attention as I train, and it can become a distraction to my career.

Realizing that balance is critical. I admire those who take emphasis away from their individual effort and dedicate it to a higher cause. Professional triathlete Chris Leito, for example, founded More Than Sport that "seeks to set a pace to help those the world forgets. ...More than Sport is committed to making a positive impact in every community where they race. They want to see lasting change and improvement in the lives of children and families and they know that small efforts can go far."

Lee's Kenya Children's Fund

I am using this example to balance my internal goals by setting external ones. During the intense training process of the next five months, I will make the focus of my individual race performance secondary. Instead I will focus my efforts on benefiting the Kenya Children's Fund, a group dear to our family. Kenya Children's Fund is a mission dedicated to curbing acute poverty in Kinyago Dandora, one of the poorest slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

So, as part of my process, I am looking for sponsors. The funds from each sponsored mile of the 140.6 mile race will provide food, clothing, and education for a KCF student. This also serves to honor my late mother, Lois Hetherington, whose generous and sacrificial giving taught me the joy that comes from loving people in need.

I've created Lee's Ironman Adventure blog, leesironman.blogspot.com, to provide periodic updates on my training and support received toward the goal of sponsoring each of the 140.6 miles. With my sponsors, I hope to present KCF a ($5,062) check that is enough to sponsor 12 children for an entire year!

Triathletes often create mantras that they use to motivate themselves throughout the grueling race process. With each mile marker, nothing could motivate me more than knowing we are going outside ourselves, channeling our hard work and love of sport into something positive, and supporting human life!

For more information, or to make a donation visit:
Lee's Ironman Adventure: leesironman.blogspot.com
Kenya Children's Fund: www.kenyachildrensfund.org