Race Coverage

"Now I'm Quinn's Dad"...


By Jake Keehan

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report - 140.6 miles in 9:33:07. I needed to gather my thoughts after this one. After crossing the finish line I was speechless. For about ten minutes after, the only thing I could muster to say was, “I don’t know what just happened”. Part of the reason it’s hard putting into words is because, although I had day dreamed about a performance like this for years, I was mostly convinced it was something that just wasn’t going to happen for me. Watching some friends accomplish their goals this summer was incredibly motivating but...

watching some extremely talented athletes put up super solid races yet fall short reinforced how much luck can play a role in qualifying for the Ironman World Championships. It’s not enough just to go fast; it’s not Boston where you can focus on a time and if you go under you’re pretty much set. You need to have your day on the right day and I was beginning to come to grips with the idea that my best might not be quite enough even when all the other stars align. Which is more speaking to the quality of the competition than what I thought I was capable of, but I didn’t quite think I was capable of what happened on Sunday.

jakequinn.pngSwim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, then run 26.2. I always envisioned Ironman as the ultimate test of endurance, and not necessarily because it’s the most painful (I’ll still contend that ultramarathons and even racing a marathon hurts more) but because of the discipline required to master all three phases. In longer endurance events I’ve found it’s not about making sure everything goes right, but instead dealing with what will inevitably go wrong. More phases means more that can go wrong and more discipline in dealing with obstacles while keeping your focus on the goal you set out to accomplish. Maybe it was (hopefully) figuring out what led to the obstacles that I dealt with in the past, and maybe it was a level of focus on my race instead of everyone else that I haven’t had the discipline for in the past. Likely those and a lot of other things. Either way, on Sunday everything went right. I just kept waiting for something to go wrong; my stomach to blow up, my legs to stop working but it never came. Everything clicked. I won’t hesitate to say this was the single best performance of my life. It really did shift what I came to think was possible.

Swim - 1:01, Bike 5:13, Run 3:10. Part of the reason I was second guessing my ability to get to Kona was born last October 7th. And that’s definitely not a, “kids ruin your life and take all the fun out” thing, it’s realizing that priorities change and that’s a good thing. Right now I love being able to put in 7 hours on some weekends busting my ass biking and running all over wherever we happen to be that day. In a few surely-much-too-short years I’m going to rather be coaching Quinn’s little league games and playing catch. Again, not that I’ll stop doing what I enjoy, but the priorities will change and the focus will shift and I may not be as competitive at this distance as I can be now. But, Quinn isn’t playing any baseball yet (or whatever kids are into these days) so for the time being I still have 24 hours in a day and an hour or two to myself to train how I’d like. It’s kind of funny, but before Quinn was born, when I started spreading the news that Brie and I were expecting a child I got a lot of comments telling me how my fitness was going to go out the window and I wasn’t going to have any time for this stuff anymore. “Everything’s going to change”. The more I heard it, the more determined I got and my motto became, “it’s been done before”. I’m not the first person who’s had a child and still found the time to train. It’ll certainly take more discipline and focus, but it’s doable. What I didn’t expect is they weren’t totally wrong. Things definitely did change but not in the way I’d been warned. Quinn is the reason. He’s the why. The motivation to get on the trainer all winter and in the pool every morning. I’m not just proving stuff to myself anymore but I’m showing him what you can do if you put your mind to it. He gives everything more purpose that was shallower before. Lastly, and absolutely most importantly, NONE of this happens without support. I’m not a big fan of pumping up significant others on social media. My words for Brie are for her, not everyone else, but I will say this: I would not have the opportunity to do any of this if it weren’t for her love and support and that can’t go unsaid. I did not do this alone.

I’ll finish by stealing a quote from HOKA athlete Miranda Carfrae. She made a video for HOKA about a year ago detailing how her mental approach changed after becoming a mom and although I definitely did not go through anything close to the challenges that pregnancy brings, her outlook really stuck with me: I’ve spent a lot of time training for a lot of things over the past 15 years, but that’s not who I am anymore. That was Jake Keehan. Now I’m Quinn’s Dad, and Quinn’s dad hasn’t done anything yet.

Well, Quinn’s Dad is going to the Ironman World Championships next year, so that’s not a bad start.

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