Thank you for visiting the Tri Sam blog.

Potential Race Schedule 2011

Grand Duathlon, Kentwood, MI 5k/30k/5k*

Race Report Link:
Grand Rapids Triathlon, MI 1.2mi/56mi/13.1mi*

Race Report Link:
Triceretops Tri, Brighton, MI .5mi/12.4mi/3.1mi*

Race Report Link:
Johan's Trifest (Volunteered)
Del Sol Triathlon (Volunteered)
Duncan Lake 70.3, Training Triathlon* (See race report in a post below)
Millennium Triathlon (Volunteered)

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE, Louisville, KY 2.4/112/26.2*

My Book

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For 2012

You can now find my podcast, Tri Briefs, at:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thank you...

Thank you to all of you who have followed my journey.
If you have an interest in purchasing my book, which is more or less the last year of blog posts, check it out at See the photo of the cover above.

Anyway, more importantly...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support.

Over and out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ironman Louisville Race Report- Extended Version

The final destination on the Road to Ironman Louisville of course was to cross the finish line, but in order to do that, I had to get to the starting line.
          Even with the dark and early wake-up time of 3:50 a.m., the alarm I set wasn’t necessary. I reached over, grabbed my watch off the night stand in our hotel, and turned it off before it sounded. My day was underway.
After Maggie and the kids groggily, yet willingly, prepared themselves to take on their own long day along the streets of greater Louisville, we packed our van with our Ironman survival packs, and we were on our way.
          While driving over the bridge leading us into the city of Louisville, from Jeffersonville, Indiana we were able to see the lights dancing across the Ohio River and the bright lights and mild commotion in the transition area below. It looked like bright colored ants scurrying around gathering food for their queen. I didn’t require more triggers to increase my level excitement, but the scene laid out before me put a smile on my early morning face, and I shook my head thinking, “We meet again.”
          Once parked close to transition around 4:50 a.m., Maggie and I temporarily locked the kids in the van so they could rest, and she could help me carry my gear to transition, and return with my pump. Not being entirely comfortable with this idea, we walked rather quickly to transition where the numbers of people had increased from when we saw the transition area from the bridge above. I took the pump from Maggie, hustled in found my bike, and quickly inflated my tires with the pump. Then as soon as I could, I returned the pump to Maggie, and we hustled off to our respective destinations.
          The walk from transition to the swim start is almost a mile, and with everything seemingly in place, I walked steadily along the sidewalk with hundreds of others through the dark. Ultimately we arrived at the Tumbleweed restaurant where the team of volunteers was performing the task of body marking. I received my Sharpie marker tattoos showing my race number on both arms and my age on my calf, and then I headed over to the swim start line, which was already well established.
I felt like everything and everyone was where they needed to be and I could finally take a breath, relax, and simply await the start. I reached in my designated Morning Clothes bag to pull out my iPod to listen to a podcast while I waited when I immediately discovered the small plastic bag containing my Cliff Bar, GU Chomps, GU gels, and salt tablets, which belonged in the food bike on my bike!
“F***!” I said in an angry, harsh whisper.
I knew getting angry and upset would not help my situation at all, so I immediately collected myself by taking a breath and deciding I had to walk back to transition. This of course was not in my pre-race plan, but I had to remedy this situation or I would have faced bigger challenges later in the day. So, I turned to the two people in front of me who happened to be in the middle of a conversation. I hated to interrupt, but I had to get moving. 
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I need your help. You see this,” I held up my bag of goodies to show them what I was referencing, “belongs on my bike, and I was wondering if I could leave my other stuff here and you could hold my spot?”
“Oh yeah, I’ll probably need you to hold my space in line when I use the porta-loo later anyway,” the lady with what I thought was a French-Canadian accent replied.
“Thank you very much, I’ll be back as soon as I can, but it will take me about 30 minutes.”
At this, I left. I was walking on a mission and was clearly heading against the grain as hundreds more athletes were making their way in the opposite direction. When I finally got to the transition area, I hustled to my bike, put my food items in the small empty bag on the front of my bike, and turned tail back toward the swim start. I remained calm while walking briskly back, but on the inside I allowed myself a couple mental kicks in the ass for forgetting something so obvious that had me walking about two more miles than I had planned.
When I arrived back in line I was able to sit down for a moment, but then the line began to move. It was moving much earlier than when I was here in 2009, so I was a bit unprepared for the early departure toward the water. Each time we stopped and I tried to take off my long-sleeved shirt and pants, the line would move again. I finally managed my warm clothes off. I was down to my tri shorts and was attempting to get my goggles and earplugs out of my bag when the lined moved again. We were getting closer and closer to the point where I had to hand my Morning Clothes bag off and I was still ill-prepared. Furthermore, I was holding the bag of the lady who held my place in line earlier, and she was going to have a hard time finding me because the line kept moving and moving.
When I arrived at the swim start sign I had to hand off my Morning Clothes bag. I wasn’t ready to hand it off yet, so I let the line move slowly past me. Finally, I was able to get my goggles, swim cap, and earplugs out, and I made sure all my other gear was in my bag. I handed over my bag and told the volunteers that athlete #209 was going to be looking for her bag. I asked if I could leave it at the swim start entrance and they let me know this would be fine. So, with reluctance about leaving her bag behind, I headed down the sidewalk in line.
Finally the line stopped because the athletes at the front had gone as directed, as far as they could go without actually jumping in the water. I chatted idly with those around me, and I had the occasion to sit on the hard ground to rest my legs and collect my thoughts.
While I was waiting with the 2,000 plus athletes in line, I looked up to the sky. It had the grayish hues of a cloudy morning, but with lighter grays containing hope of blue and sunshine. I knew I was very fortunate to be able to be in the position I was in, not just in line, but in line at Ironman Louisville at all. I thanked God and asked Him to keep me, as well as the other athletes, safe and confident throughout the day.
It was an honor to be here with all of these athletes who had come from all over the country and different parts of the world. We all had trained for about a year to be able to congregate on the shores of the Ohio River to begin our 140.6 mile challenge. We had put in the work and we were as ready as we were going to be before the start.
Maggie found me in line, which was amazing considering how long the line was and that I was sitting down between two fences that lined the way to the swim start. We exchanged pleasantries and ultimately wishes of good luck; she with her long day with the children ahead of her, and myself with the Ironman at hand. We had a brief kiss and we were on our way.
The National Anthem was sung, the pros had begun their race ten minutes earlier, morning glow was becoming more apparent, and now the line was moving ever closer to the river.
We were in a two-by-two formation. The athletes on the left were to enter the river from the far dock, and the athletes on the right were to enter the river from the slightly closer dock. I opted for the farther dock to give myself a little more space. The line increased its pace the closer we were to the water. The music was blaring, the crowd was cheering, and the party was really gettin’ started! I crossed the timing mat, pushed start on my watch, reached the end of the dock, and followed those who had jumped in before me. The game, as it is said, was on!
The water was already churning from the hundred or so people who were underway. It was a scene of arms swinging, feet kicking, heads bobbing, water splashing, and the sound similar to a small waterfall. It was my intention to be conservative, but let’s face it, if I’m going to be attempting to cover 140.6 miles in a day, there’s not a better way for me to start. I was bilateral breathing right out of the gate, just as I had done all summer in Duncan Lake on many of my training swims. I was energized but maintained an appropriate calm. If I allowed myself to get too fired up my heart rate would soar, and I would have to regroup. This is what I had been training for and it was great to be swimming up the Ohio River with over 2000 of my newest friends.
It didn’t take long to catch up to those immediately in front of me. There were green caps worn by men and pink caps worn by women all around me. I sighted every few strokes to find the best line I could take through those who were not up for the pace I was swimming. Most people looked under control, but there was an occasional swimmer who let the electricity of the moment get to them and was swimming on his or her back. I weaved left and right, accelerating at times to sneak between competitors. I had to go to single-sided breathing on occasion if there was somebody too close for comfort, and it was cool to have the ability to choose which side I wanted to breathe from. This was a skill that until this year, I had not had. There was incidental contact with arms, legs, and torsos, but I didn’t let it get to me. There were a lot of people in a relatively small area, so contact was going to happen.
The red pyramid-shaped inflatable buoy came sooner than expected, yet exactly where I knew it would be. I felt so relaxed I was able to hold a steady pace which got me to the turn, in what was for me, a timely manner. There was some congestion of competitors making the turn, but once we headed downriver, gaps opened and space was more prevalent.
          With each reach and each pull of my swim stroke I felt myself slide through the water. I felt at ease, and I felt welcomed by the murky Ohio. I was already almost halfway done with the swim and I reminded myself to take in the moment and not let it escape me. So as I swam, still concentrating on my technique, my position relative to other competitors, and my line toward the next buoy, and I glanced around when I took my breath to see what was happening, to feel what was happening, and to be in the moment. I was in the swim of Ironman Louisville. As much as this was exhilarating, I maintained calm about me and moved steadily forward, and was under the first of two bridges I would encounter.
          The faster swimmers who opted for more sleep and a later place in line began to arrive. Some wore green caps and others pink, and some went by faster than others. If it was a steady pass, I tried to stay in the bubbles their feet were generating to take advantage, if only briefly, of the draft they created. I wasn’t disappointed to see these athletes go by me. Instead I was impressed by their grace, strength, and speed and I wished them well in my head.
          When under the second bridge I knew I only had 0.4 of the swim left. Joy briefly flowed through me because I was still feeling strong and I allowed myself to pick up my pace…a little. Let’s just be honest, a little was all I had to give.
          The crowd along the bank was keenly apparent with various colors and shapes and sizes. The music at the finish line was barely audible, but still apparent. The cheering was getting louder, but was still clearly a ways off. The excitement of finishing one of the three disciplines was building and I was headed toward the final buoy.
          Volunteers stood on the stairs that were on the water’s edge and they were assisting athletes out of the water. I was looking forward to my turn. I noted where those around me were headed and I chose my entrance on the 3-4 aisle staircase. I grabbed the rail with my right hand and the volunteer’s hand with my left. With our combined efforts I was on the cement shore and surprisingly jogging toward the transition. There were fences on both sides of the swim exit leading to the transition area which were lined with people cheering and encouraging family, friends, and strangers who were doing their best to adapt from being horizontal to moving forward vertically.
When I arrived at the transition I heard a volunteer call out my number to another volunteer, who grabbed my Swim-to-Bike bag and handed it to me on my way by to the men’s changing tent. Once inside the tent a volunteer was just wrapping-up helping another athlete and I politely said, “I’ve got next.”
The volunteer turned and replied, “You bet, what do you need?”
“Thank you, I’m going to need my singlet pulled down once I start getting it on.”
I opened my bag, grabbed my mini-towel, dried off my upper body very quickly, and started pulling my singlet over my head. The kind volunteer grabbed a hold of my jersey and pulled it down into place. I stumbled a bit as he did this due to not having my land legs quite yet, and we both had a little nervous chuckle. Next I sat down, strapped my cycling shoes on, put my sunglasses and helmet on, and headed out the other end of the tent.
When I exited the tent, I bypassed the sunscreen brigade because I had put waterproof sunscreen on prior to the swim. I would have taken advantage of this service, but they put so much on me the last time I was here I had to scrape it off with a Cliff Bar wrapper once out on the bike. Therefore, I walked swiftly past them, hit the porta-john, and set out to find my bike on the rack.
I read the numbers on the ends of the racks, found the rack my bike was on and headed down the aisle. I was looking at the numbers as I walked as quickly as I could in my cycling shoes, and I started to think I wasn’t looking at the right rack. So, I ducked under where a bike had been taken, and I started looking down the next rack. The good news is that I was going in the right direction, but the bad news is that I was right the first time. When I realized my error, I ducked back under the rack, and finally found my bike. I had to tilt it to one side to pull it out, and although I didn’t knock off all the rest of the bikes on the rack, I did manage to dislodge the one next to mine. Fortunately, I grabbed it before it fell into the next bike, which might have caused a domino effect that nobody needed to have happen. I set the bike back up, and headed toward the exit.
When I reached the mount line, about four of us were arriving at the same time. So instead of stopping with the rest of them and attempting to board my carbon fiber steed, I took about five more steps, gave myself more room, and climbed upon my GURU. At this point I had to ride out of the tunnel of people, albeit behind the Ironman fencing, and get out to the open road. There were cheers and whoops, so I veered over and gave out some high fives before finally reaching the actual bike course.
To stay true to my plan, I peddled steadily, but maintained a relaxed perceived effort. I passed a few people early and a few people passed me as well. Most of us exchanged “good jobs” or “nice swims” as we went by, but I didn’t let the excitement of moving on to the bike, or the fact that I had just swum a personal record get me so fired up that I would go too fast.
When we were traveling River Road, I expected to take a right, which goes up a hill, but instead we turned left. This was different from 2009, but was an interesting twist of events, so it was fun exploring a new segment of the area. We ultimately ended up where the former course took us, and we made our way out to the signature Kentucky roads one might picture. There were large open horse pastures and rolling hills in abundance.
One of my favorite parts of the bike course is the out and back segment that begins somewhere around 20 miles. About halfway in the out section athletes are greeted with a monstrous downhill where I reached somewhere around 40 miles per hour. The fun doesn’t end here though, because after we got to the bottom of the hill, we had to climb a sizable hill on the other side. I like a good climb as much as the next guy, but the cool part was seeing and hearing the athletes ahead of us coming the other way, just bookin’ down the hill. Hearing the whirling tires zipping by sounded like they were supersonic, and it put a smile on my face knowing I would be supersonic not long after them.
After the out and back, the course eventually took us into the town of LaGrange where the athletes had another shot at stardom. When we rolled over the timing mats in the road, it triggered the chips on our ankles, which in turn put our name on a screen for the announcer to call out who we were. The crowd would cheer as we went though and there were wall to wall people. The words from Nickelback came to mind, “Hey, hey, hey, I wanna’ be a rock star.”
When my name was announced I gave some fist pumps and the crowd that was waiting for some kind of recognition from the athletes cheered even louder. Hey, if you were standing around for hours waiting for the athlete you were looking for, you would want a little affect from the other athletes to keep you occupied as well.
On the other side of LaGrange there were more rolling hills and countryside which looped around, bringing us back for another rock star session, before spitting us out and sending us back toward Louisville.
Around 90 miles fatigue was starting to set in. I could have used another bag of GU Chomps, but I didn’t have any left. The only nutrition I had was two Power Gels…both chocolate. That sounded so awful I didn’t want to consider it. So, I stuck to my stores of water and Ironman Perform sports drink. I had started out with my tasty GU Brew, but I couldn’t carry enough. I considered bringing GU tablets to turn water into Brew, but I opted against it. I shouldn’t have though and that was obviously my mistake.
While cruising back on River Road the amount of people passing me started to increase as my energy was dwindling. I still managed to pass a few people as well, but the number of people going by me was greater. I think I could have picked up my pace, but I would have been cooked at the end, and there was still the whole 26.2 mile thing to attend to.
I arrived at transition, soaked in the cheering from the race fans that again lined the course, and climbed off my bike at the designated dismount line.
The Ironman transition is pretty cool. One feature making it cool is that the athletes get to hand off their bikes to volunteers who in turn rack their bikes for them. So, I walked quickly and deeper into transition, and handed off my GURU.
Next I took off my cycling shoes in order to walk more effectively, and I removed my helmet for a more efficient transition. The walk was about 25 yards of cement before reaching the Bike-to-Run bags. Again a volunteer called out my number to another volunteer, and that volunteer handed my bag to me, and I headed into the men’s changing tent. This time there weren’t as many people in the tent, but I also didn’t need any help. I quickly deposited my helmet and cycling shoes into the bag, and exchanged them for running shoes, my GU visor, and my Nathan hydration belt. After slipping on my shoes and hat, and affixing the Velcro of my belt, I headed out of the tent. This time I let the sunscreen brigade put sunscreen on my shoulders, the back of my neck, and my lower back. Finally, I hit the porta potty before walking with a purpose out of transition.
It was challenging for me in the first few miles. This was not so much because of additional fatigue, but because people thought I was walking because I wasn’t up for the challenge of running. I heard things like, “That’s right, walk it off, and then get after it.”
What they didn’t know was this was getting after it. This was my pace. This was my plan. It wasn’t that I smoked myself so badly during the bike that I didn’t have it in me to run, I just couldn’t run because my Achilles hadn’t let me run all summer. So, it was very humbling those first few miles. After this it wasn’t quite as challenging because more and more people were starting to walk at different times. I started to not stick out like a sore thumb…or Achilles.
Around mile two, professional triathlete Amanda McKenzie from Australia ran up to me and started walking along side me. She informed me she had the flu for the past week and wasn’t sure if she would even be able to make the starting line. She coughed after every few words she spoke and told me the swim was a particular challenge because she had to cough so frequently in the water. I told her I saw her on the bike and knew something wasn’t right, simply because we were riding together in the same zip code. I didn’t think she should continue. I thought it was brave, honorable, and maybe a little stupid for her to go on, and I found her wise to drop out of the race and live to race another day.
Somewhere between the start and the fist turn-around of the run, I encountered Half-IronMike. He is a gentleman I had encountered on the forum, and I had met two days prior. He was moving right along and looked solid. He called me out, “Hey, Tri Sam! It’s Half-IronMike!”
“Keep it up!” I replied. It gave me a jolt of positive energy to see him doing so well.
The run course was not as entertaining as the bike course in terms of variation of terrain, but I welcomed the mostly flat course. The turn-around seemed to be a long time coming, but it was a welcomed sight, and I was relieved to be headed back toward the city of Louisville. Unfortunately, I could feel blisters forming on the forefoot of each of my feet. I don’t normally get blisters in this area, but I also don’t normally walk this far, but on I went.
On my way back into the city I saw Jillian from the forum. I didn’t recognize her at first, but then we exchange encouragement as we went in opposite directions. She had been morbidly obese. She lost over 140 pounds. She was doing an Ironman after only being in the sport a short time. She was impressive and I was proud of her for all she had done, and because I knew she was going to finish what she started. Again, positive energy flowed through me.
Walking through the city was amazing with all of the people, and the music, and the hype. There were a great deal of encouraging words being delivered to all of us athletes and it was much appreciated. I gave frequent high fives and I was liberal with my thank yous when I was out there. Heck I was walking…I had time.
At Ironman Louisville, the second turnaround is on the same street as the finish line. So, we athletes get both the joy and pain of not just seeing the finish line, but seeing others finishing as we headed out for another 13.1 miles. It was here where I saw my daughter Alex standing alone. It was evident that Maggie had the rest of the children elsewhere, later I would learn it was in the bathroom. I said to Alex, “Tell Mom my pace is dropping off slightly because I’ve got blisters on the bottoms of my feet, and I can tell they are getting worse, so I don’t know how long it will take me to get back.”
I headed back out with determination. I was determined to finish this but I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I was picturing myself having to take off my shoes to relieve the pain on the bottoms of my feet. I wondered what might happen if things took a turn for the worse. I mean, when I’m running and things start going bad, I walk. Well, I was already walking, so now what? I wasn’t going to just stop.
Approaching mile 19, I was getting really sick of walking. I think it was around here that Jeremy from the forum was running the other direction, looking strong as heck, he said something to the effect of, “Hey, Sam, let’s do this thing!”
Again…inspiration and positive energy.
While I was walking and starting to feel sorry for myself because I had to walk the whole frickin’ thing, I saw two guys run past me…slowly. They both had this marathon shuffle type stride that looked like it didn’t engage the Achilles much. I thought maybe I could pull that off. So, I decided I would run from mile 19 to 20 to see how it would go. Oh it was great feeling like a runner, albeit a slow one, moving past people, but more importantly, covering ground faster than walking. I was on pins in needles not knowing if my Achilles would form a major revolt and simply rupture, but it held in there. It felt a little sore, but not so badly that I couldn’t muster what it would take to get to mile 20.
When I arrived at mile 20 I felt relief. It was relief that I was able to run, but also relief that I made it to mile 20. In fact, the relief was such that I was too nervous to run again like that. I thought maybe I would run every other mile, but I changed the game plan. I decided to set the timer on my watch for four minute-two minute intervals. So, after I walked for awhile sorting this strategy out, I pushed my watch and set out for four minutes of running. Once it beeped, I walked. So far, so good.
Now I don’t recall where I was on the course, and I wish I could, but I was heading toward the turn-around when Fred, The Cube, from the forum came up from behind me, gave me a sportsman’s swat on the ass and said something like, “Keep it up!”
Seeing Fred doing so well provided me with…you guessed it…more positive energy.
I continued along with my four on and two off method, and was happy to see more and more ground covered. I could see downtown Louisville, with its tall buildings on the horizon.
During one of my run segments, heading the other direction was Noah from, yes, the forum. I don’t recall what he said exactly, but it was something like, “Hey, Sam, you are running! Looking good! Keep it up!”
          It was great to see Noah moving because I knew he had been battling a hip injury all season. I was worried about him, but from how he looked, I didn’t need to be. He looked very much in control of his destiny.
          My blisters were really bothering me, probably more so than my Achilles, and I reverted to walking again. Another athlete decided it was time for him to walk as well. So, we walked along the course chatting about how our respective days had gone, and then within a mile and a half he decided he was going to run it in. We wished each other well, and off he went.
          Finally, I was within a few blocks of the finish. The people that had been out all day were still out cheering and encouraging us. I shook hands with a guy dressed in an all green costume and told he and his companion who was dressed as a superhero thank you very much for coming out. More high fives and thank yous were given, and then all I had to do was round the last corner, and run in a straight line for two blocks.
          It was time. It was time to enjoy the moment as I strode along with the lights, the crowd, and the festival atmosphere that was waiting for me. It was time to be grateful that I could be here. It was time to be grateful that I was almost done. It was time to smile some more. It was time for me to allow myself to feel a little choked up with emotion. It was time to wave to my family that started jumping up and down when they saw me. It was time to give out more high fives. It was time to hear Mike Riley call out through the speakers to me again, “Sam Wilkinson, you are an Ironman!”
It was time to raise my hands in the air. It was time to finish what I started nearly a year ago. It was finally time to take my last steps on The Road to Ironman Louisville.
I crossed the line and was guided by the volunteer. He gave me water, he took me to get my photo taken in front of the Ironman banner, and he walked me to my family. I thanked him for his help and he disappeared back into the crowd and back to help another athlete crossing the finish line.
My family and I exchanged hugs and we made our way to our van which was parked only a block away. The road had been traveled and the journey was complete.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

140.6 Miles of Celebration

It's nearly 5:00 p.m. and I'm sitting in our hotel room with my feet up and composing what will be my last post before I become an Ironman...again. As I sit here and work through my race in my mind, I feel a joy. This is a kind of joy I only get from taking on something as monumental as 140.6 miles of insanity. It's the kind of joy that can only come from hard work, dedication, and perseverance. It's the kind of joy that comes from knowing the hard work of nearly an entire year has been done and knowing the only thing left is to go out and have the kind of experience I've been dreaming about from the moment I registered. It is likely that this won't be the exact outcome I had hoped to achieve due to my circumstances with my Achilles injury, but this will not keep me from finding the kind of joy that comes from completing an Ironman. Tomorrow will be more than just an event. It will be a 140.6 mile celebration.
Although I'm looking forward to providing you with a detailed account of my race, before I even get up early tomorrow to go to the starting line, I want to say thank you very much for checking in and following me on my blog. So, thank you. I hope you have found your time reading my posts and watching my videos worth your while.
Peace., and a Common Dream

Last night I met my friends from We had been interacting through the Internet for the greater part of this year. We shared ideas, stories, and advice. We laughed, we teased, we encouraged, and we had each others back, and all of this because we all share a common dream. That dream of course being to cross the finishing line at Ironman Louisville in our respective times, in our own way, but all of us either joining the Ironman family for the first time, or yet again. What a pleasure it was to have finally met in person the cast of characters that have really helped bring Ironman Louisville 2011 to life. This group couldn't be more varied in ability and personality. I was nervous/excited about meeting, and the gathering, though we had never met in person, was like a reunion of life-long friends. Tomorrow we will toe the line and cover 140.6 miles and share a life-long bond.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me BTers. You are fantastic!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Real Joy, Genuine Hope, and Serious Posibility

I just deleted a page worth of text outlining what I did today. It noted the tasks I completed and told about how I'm basically packed and ready to go. Then I realized, nobody cares. Not that anyone cares about all this other stuff I've been posting, but I'm just sayin'. 
I had a moment today that was different than any other moment in my day. It was a moment I wasn't necessarily going to blog about, but it was still something I thought I shouldn't keep to myself. It was a moment that seemed more spiritual than intellectual, yet it all took place within my head.
When I was mowing the lawn, a thought came to me. This wasn't just a thought, because it came as a packaged deal with real emotion. It went something like this:
"You are going to be able to run part of the marathon at Louisville." 
I felt joy. Not joy as if I thought that would be nice, but joy as if I was just given the green light, the o.k., or permission to give it a shot. I remember smiling at this point and then a vision came that looked like this:
I was in the marathon portion of the run. I had half the run ahead of me, but I started running. I ran a mile, then walked a mile. I ran a mile, then I walked a mile. I was making up time, I was passing people, and I was feeling good while a smiled, high-fived volunteers, and...ran. 
The vision shifted to this:
I turned the corner and saw the finish line. I was running...slowly, but running just the same. There was loud music, the crowd on hand lined the street, and I was getting closer to pay dirt, and Mike Riley was saying, "Sam Wilkinson...You are an Ironman!"
I felt joy again. I felt hope. I felt like these thoughts, and these visions were true signs of things to come. I smiled again.
Then I started to talk myself out of this reality. I don't know why, but a voice said, "Really? Can this be true? Can I do this? Can I run?"
The reply I got was, "Hey, you were patient, you showed you are willing to walk the entire marathon. You demonstrated perseverance under duress...and you may run."
I smiled on the inside this time. A story from the bible came to mind. I thought of Abraham about to sacrifice his son Issac, and then God stopping him, and telling him it was a test of his faith. Was this as test of faith? 
I continued to try to ignore the negativity sneaking into my head, but it carried on by saying, "Well, this won't happen until you have at least 6 miles to go." It went on to say, "Well, maybe even with just two miles to go. Most likely just down the finish shoot, but c'mon, for half the marathon?" 
At this point my joy lost a bit of its luster. I began retreating to what I figured, in that moment, my reality would inevitably be. 
However, I haven't lost sight of the fact that I felt real joy, genuine hope, and serious possibility, and it was...and like it still is within my grasp.
I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. In three days I'll find out.
Tomorrow I'll be putting the van in 'drive' and I will be continuing the metaphor, but I will be traveling the actual Road to Ironman Louisville, and it is full of possibility.