Named executive editor of The Augusta Chronicle in March 2009. Previously was executive editor of The Times in Shreveport, La., for five years and managing editor for four. Started professional career as a staff photographer with the Knoxville Journal in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1987. Worked in different roles at several newspapers on the East Coast. Recently elected to the Associated Press Managing Editors board of directors after efforts helping coordinate convention events and will serve as program chair for the 2010 convention.
Posted September 23, 2010 02:18 pm - Updated September 23, 2010 03:19 pm

Inspiration found at ESI Ironman 70.3 Augusta event

Don't expect me to beat many folks in the ESI Ironman 70.3 Augusta race this Sunday.

I've been training and believe I can finish, but my dedication to the training needed has been modest compared to most.
Pulling me through long rides and the need to buckle down for fitness comes from inspiration from other participants like Brittany Banker, a single mother and a survivor of ovarian cancer. She has powered through life's challenges, through triathlons and a full Ironman.

There are many inspirational stories of folks overcoming life's hurdles to compete in this event. There are also some pros and some who are just in it to challenge themselves.

There is a sacrifice all make in the long hours spent training. Sometimes this impacts family, friendships or work. The balancing act helps us unearth time we waste on vices.

Also inspiring the commitment to compete is my fall from fitness the past few years. I didn't want to be part of Georgia's state obesity rate, while down from last year is still in the top 20. We are doing better but need to do more.

Eying a bike at last year's EXPO with all of this in mind, I ran into a young athlete recovering from heart surgery heading into his first half Ironman. He didn't care how long it took, explaining the goal helped him recover. He believed he wasn't destined to be an invalid or be knocked down by what life threw at him. He tackled a flat tire and much more on Race Day.

Thinking about all of this offers some calm against nerves and anxious feelings erupting with only a couple days to go. No phobia of water, but I'm new to swimming long distances. No real fear of the bike ride, but technical issues training and news of other riders' tumbles offers caution. Running after exercise that has already taken 4 hours requires no mistakes hydrating and eating during the event. I'll be running a while and glad to know crawling across the finish line will count toward completing the race.

In training, I experienced it all.

  • Panicked in my first river swim sans a wetsuit. Brrr. (Breast stroke got me past two bridges and I regained composure halfway.)
  • Stranded with a flat tire near Jackson, Ga. Compassionate fellow athletes stopped and gave me a hand. (I had grease everywhere.)
  • Fell three times while running, my feet gave way to rocks, a ditch and a buckle in the road. (I was too tired to keep focus on my trail. My left ankle is still swollen.)

I don't believe I'll beat the mayor, who appears much more dedicated and fit. He outrode me easily in a training run. I won't beat Brittany or many of the new friends I've made meeting at the boathouse for swims and biking, but just crossing that finish line makes all winners.

This is an exciting celebration of the human spirit about to take place in the heart of Augusta. You should come down and cheer and support.

You'll be inspired as you see thousands of examples of how we can all push ourselves to overcome any obstacle with a little sacrifice.


Chronicle Ironman coverage collection

Ironman Augusta site:

Alan's wave time: 9:02 a.m. Bib#2745  All athletes Bibs and start times:

 What is an Ironman? Video and how to watch.