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Starting with Ironman Wisconsin in 2002, the first IMW, I raced every IMW and three Ironman Coeur d’Alenes. In each case, I failed to qualify for Kona. Finally, on September 11, 2011, at the finish of my 13th Ironman, I qualified.

Perhaps it is not a good thing but I identify very strongly with being an endurance athlete, a pursuit at which I have earned exactly zero dollars. And maybe that is a reason for my affinity. I do Ironman, marathons and ultramarathons for the love of it.

The races give me a sense of accomplishment and provide a measuring stick, letting me know how I am doing relative to my (aging) peers. More than races, though, I love the quiet of a fall morning before the sun rises. I love the feeling of having all of the outdoors to myself and my thoughts. I love to feel myself glide along running paths underneath trees and beside mirror-still lakes. Physical exertion has become a big part of who I am whether that exertion is measured in a race or on display to no one other than me as the first one onto the trails in Eden Prairie.

I write about this stuff to explain it to my family and friends but perhaps even more, to explain it to myself.

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