Tommy has set another personal goal to complete 321.6 miles next February (2018) in his very first ULTRA triathlon – the Ultraman Florida race. This, in itself, is an impressive undertaking. Add on the fact that Tommy will be training for this event in Iraq and it becomes exponentially more impressive.
He swims whenever he can arrange to be placed at the Embassy for a couple of days here and there (which is NOT often or regular by any means), and when he is home on his rotations three times a year he tries to squeeze in a lot more pool training time. His training swims are usually anywhere from 1-2 hours currently.
While in Iraq (which is where he lives 270 days a year), he trains for the bike portion of the race on a folding bicycle set up on a trainer inside of his CHU (container housing unit). His room is about 8’x8′, and he did upgrade the saddle of the seat, but it is still not realistic to his actual tri bike that he uses in the races and while at home on his breaks. Some of his training rides are 5-6 hours at this point, and they’re only expected to get longer.
For his runs, Tommy likes to get outside, because he hates running on the “dreadmill”. In Iraq, the conditions can be harsh. From colder temps than what this Florida boy is used to in the winter, to sandstorms and extreme heat during the summer (120+ degrees F), Tommy puts mile after mile on his shoes (which eventually have to be retired while he hunts for the perfect next running shoe while he’s home on break). He doesn’t complain – he just sees these challenges as missions that he has to accomplish. His training runs have started out fairly easy so far, averaging around 2 hours at what Tommy describes as an “easy” pace. “Easy” is a relative term though. As his wife, I can barely keep up with him while on my bicycle trying to help pace him on a run. Eventually, his training long runs will be anywhere from 8-10 hours. Insane.
Now you’re wondering – Why does he do this? Trust me, I have wondered the same thing. I have two theories.
One: This is his mid-life crisis. I have joked with him often about this.
Two: He really has a passion for helping kids. When Tommy embarked on training for his first half-Ironman race in 2015, he decided to make his race really count. He knew he wasn’t going to be taking home any first place awards, so he needed to find a way to make his training efforts count. Tommy chose a charity that supports Children of Fallen Soldiers, and decided to set a goal of $100 for every mile he would complete on race day. His goal was $7,030 (70.3 miles for 1/2 Ironman). I was (quietly) a nay-sayer. It seemed like way too big of a goal. However, I completely underestimated my very determined husband. He surpassed his goal, and I was extremely proud to be his wife.
For his second event, a full Ironman distance race (140.6 miles), Tommy joined the Children’s Tumor Foundation team at Ironman Florida. He again set a goal of $100 for every mile he would complete, for a total of $14,060. Again, I quietly thought there was no way he was going to meet that goal. With every month that passed after he signed on in July 2016, I would notice how much farther he had to meet his goal, stead of how far he had already come. Somehow, before the race in early November 2016, he had not only managed to meet his fundraising goal, but he EXCEEDED it. By THOUSANDS of dollars. Tommy still keeps in touch with this NF kid via Facebook.
Once again, Tommy has selected a new challenge and set an even higher goal. Ultraman Florida. 321.6 miles over the course of three days. (WHAT??!!! WHY?!!!!-these are my thoughts, not his, and I know that most of you agree with me on this! He is CRAZY!! LOL) His goal is $100 for every mile, once again. $32,160. Holy cannoli! I am still doubting his abilities in my mind, but am SO crazy supportive of him that I suggested this time he start his own children’s charity. It has been a labor of love, getting it all set up, relying on some good friends to help make decisions about how the funds will be used to help kids. We are still narrowing focus and consulting our accountant for specifics, but 99% of the administrative work is complete.
Tommy is doing the hard part – he is training and will have to finish this race. He will suffer ear infections (despite wearing those custom earplugs he had made), flare ups of plantar fasciitis, chafing in some “sensitive” areas after sitting on that bike saddle for 5-6 hours at a time (send Body Glide!), and goodness only knows what else. His mindset is always positive though – what he has to endure is far easier than the reality that some children have to face each day. Whether that reality is that the only meal they get is at school, or the fact that they have never had a new pair of shoes that they were able to choose themselves (more about a personal experience with that later), or a child who needs to undergo a life-saving treatment, but their family cannot afford the airfare or other travel expenses to get their child to a facility to undergo those treatments. Most importantly, despite living in a third-world country 270 days a year (although not under third world conditions), Tommy realizes that even on his worst day of training, his trials are nothing in comparison to the reality that many children in the United States face on a daily basis.
Please consider donating to this very worthy cause. Proceeds go directly to Warriors 4 Kids Inc, a non-profit corporation registered in the state of Florida. Solicitation efforts are registered with the Florida Division of Consumer Services under Registration Number :CH51390. Warriors 4 Kids Inc is an IRS qualified charitable organization 501 (c) (3) and all contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.