A Proud Ironman 70.3
by Ganesh P.
My wife Latha and I got into running in 2012 to embrace a healthy lifestyle, inspired by my brother Harish and sister in law Aparna. Over the years, the Pai family trained and raced in several 5K/10Ks, half and full marathons. I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2014 and have done close to 20 half marathons. In 2016, I was forced to take a break from running due to several foot injuries ranging from plantar fasciitis to achilles tendinitis.
Frustrated with my situation I started looking around for options to maintain a healthy lifestyle without burdening my legs. That’s when I came across and signed up for the ET Naperville Sprint Triathlon in 2017. As a kid, I had taught myself to swim (breaststroke only) and grew up biking to school.
Having registered months in advance I received an email to rsvp for Coach Joe LoPresto’s Tri 101 Seminar. I was blown away by his personal story, passion for the sport and his commitment to coach aspiring triathletes like me regardless of skill levels.
I then signed up for ET Beginner Tri Training class with Coach Sarah and Coach Jim to train for the race. I met Susan H. and Erin C. and we immediately became tri buddies training together. I had problem though, I couldn’t swim beyond two laps in freestyle. I took a couple of private lessons with Coach Joe followed by his ET Swim 101 class. Before I knew it, I was able to swim 3,000+ meters continuous.
Less than a year after my first sprint triathlon I am now a proud Ironman 70.3.
What an amazing journey it has been, one that I am blessed to have an opportunity to undertake. This post is not to tout my accomplishment but to publicly acknowledge all the folks who supported and helped me achieve my goal.
Family first, I start with a special woman and love of my life, Latha Pai, for her incredible and unflinching support throughout this journey. She believed in me more than I did in myself. She sacrificed so much and put up with my crazy mood swings without complaining even once. Her constant encouragement and faith in me are what made me overcome my insecurities about the race. Next are my awesome kids, Avani Pai and Oorvi Pai, for the countless, “You can do it, Dad!” and, “You got this, Dad!” whenever I was feeling down or failed to complete a workout. Then my parents Raghavendra Pai and Vimala Pai for their blessings, brothers Harish Pai and Girish Pai and their families, Aparna Pai, Lotika Pai, Nachi Pai, Neel and Sameer, my mother in law Uma Kempanna and brother in law Mk Santosh for their constant support and encouragement. Special shout to Appi for recommending Matt Fitzgerald’s book How Bad Do You Want It? that helped me navigate the “mind versus body” conflict.
Second is my coaching family. I start with my super amazing coach, Sarah Wangerin of ET Personal Coaching Services, for believing in me, and pushing me to test my limits. There were times when I felt I wasn’t cut out for this endurance thingy and using data she convinced me otherwise. I couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you, Coach.
My role model for this sport, Joe LoPresto, CEO and Head Coach of Experience Triathlon and an amazing, down to earth human being. Six months ago I couldn’t swim beyond 50 meters of freestyle and that too in a pool. Thank you, Coach. I am so glad I was able to achieve my goal on your birthday.
I was further blessed with the super cool coaching staff from Experience Triathlon. Coach Suzy Cerra for patiently supporting and building my confidence during those long group bike rides. Coaches Kurt Woodward and Jim Riga for teaching me all the tricks for open water swim at Centennial. Ride leaders Drew R, Larry H. and Sharon K. for patiently hanging with this rookie slow rider at the rear end of the pack. Thank you all.
Finally my fellow athletes from the ET family. I was fortunate to have met Susan H. and Erin C., my rookie tri buddies, at the ET Beginner Tri class last fall. Susan joined and supported me on bike workouts and Erin on my swim workouts and the constant encouragement they gave me since I committed to this goal helped tremendously in building my confidence. Thank you both.
Laura R., David B. and Shanley M. for encouraging me during various stages of my training and on the Muncie course. All the other ET athletes who shouted, “Go ET!” during the race.
Special shout to Marijo W. for the remote cheering from her home on race day. #milesformarijo
They say Ironman is an individual endurance event. From my post above I am sure y’all will agree with me when I say no individual can succeed in any endurance event without a community of support helping them.
Thanks to my awesome experience and the support from the ET community, I have fallen in love with this sport and have made it a part of my lifestyle.
#ETfamily #ETway #etsn80