Saturday, November 24, 2007

Training Partners

I wrote a good portion of this summer after completing our largest training block before IM Canada. I was thankful then and even more today of the people I got to train with this summer.
I was teaching at a spine conference four days last week in Niagara Falls, so I missed the training groups “Big Day” on Saturday. So, after the Sunday morning swim with the boys, I was solo for 5 hours in the saddle and a 1 hour run. Lot of thoughts traveling through my head over that time span, but one that I will share is my reflection on a couple of training partners I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent time.

Needless to say, much has been said about the current squad on the various blogs; I can only echo what has been said and how fortunate I’ve been to be included in this group. Gordo has a knack for surrounding himself with quality people and this group is no exception. The more I get to know them, the more impressed I am of them as individuals aside from their athletic achievements. Denny, Justin, BDC, Mat, Billy, and Gordo…thanks.

The original TriCows deserve equal mention. Without their guidance, I still wouldn’t haven’t started swimming or biking (some might argue that I still don’t do either)! Keith, Jeff, Tim, and JK exemplify most what I like about age group triathletes…incredibly successful people with a healthy outlet for exorcising their demons!!!

For those that currently know me, any reference to the “Shilt Bros” usually represents my youngest brother John and I.

But the original Shilt Duo was my brother, Jason and I. Jason was, and still is, the consummate athlete and sports fan. Despite our nearly 4 year age difference, his appetite to shoot hoops or play catch was unmatched during our childhood. He always kept me on my toes and honest in whatever sport we were attempting. Physical differences didn’t subdue his competitiveness-he would front up no matter what the odds.

After picking up golf from our father when I was 12 or 13, we spent nearly every day in the summer playing golf. I can remember trudging around the course from sun-up to sun down. My highlights from growing up….trudging around 36 holes/day at the cow pasture in Piedmont that was serving as a g.c., shagging balls at A.L. Gustin G.C., hitting countless range balls, spending hours on the putting green. I was amazed as I watched my “little brother” progress in the sport. It seemed like overnight that he went from a little duffer to a scratch golfer outclassing my golf game by miles. It was one of my absolute life highlights watching him win the state golf championship during his senior year in high school. I couldn’t have been happier watching my brother, my first real training partner, reap the rewards of years of work. I’m remember being amazed at how talented he is…not many people get the privilege of observing that sort of successful progression in its entirety close-up.

Which makes me lucky. Not only have I had the fortunate opportunity to see that sort of successful progression once, but now twice. My current training partner, my youngest brother John, has developed into one of the top triathletes in North Carolina. And though I enjoy watching him race, the greater experience is the training time we have spent together. He exceeds the expectations anyone could have of a training partner. He has swum more strokes, biked more miles, and ran more footsteps with me than everyone else combined. And along the way, provided inspiration, clear perspective, and support that is unparalleled.

We are at an interesting time in our lives as we each explore different professional opportunities that are available. Nearly every day I lament how much I will miss him if he chooses a path this is different geographically. Though I will always support any decision he makes and be grateful for the many training miles we’ve shared, I hope there are many more ahead.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Weekend.