Below is a letter written to Brennan from his Uncle Quniton Stevens after completing he completed the 1st of his 2 Half Iron Man competitions – this year!. Despite the physical challenges that presented themselves during his race, he Pressed On! Since this letter was written Q, as we all lovinging refer to him, has successfully completed his 2 Half Iron Man competitions in Brennan’s honor.
Uncle Q has been mightily impressed by how tough you have been over the last two years. Hearing how you and your parents have dealt with the challenges you have faced has inspired me and I’m sure thousands of other people who have followed your journey through your Daddy and Mommy’s CarePages updates. I know you said that you wanted to help people in your Mom’s CarePage update “I Can Do This”. You have already helped me and so I thought I would share a story with you.
Uncle Q decided 6 months ago to start to do some triathlon training. So I started to swim, bike and run. It seemed to go reasonably well (I lost about 20 pounds) and so I entered a half ironman triathlon. Really like an ironboy triathlon given its half the distance of a full ironman. The distances are 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. The race is called the REV3 Quassy half iron triathlon in Connecticut and is considered to be one of the tougher half ironman events. The bike has some long and steep climbs and the run is very hilly. During my training, when I hit some difficult patches, I would look at my red Brennan Simkins Press On wristband and think about many times you have done well in getting yourself to be stronger by doing your physical therapy, drinking Gatorade and eating. About three weeks ago, while training, I rode the bike course for the race in the pouring rain and I needed to rub that wristband for luck to get me home safely and it worked.
The race was this past Sunday. Conditions were good and I got off to a great start in the swim. Coming out of the water I got a slight cramp in my leg in my hamstring muscle. It seemed ok when I got on the bike and for the next 45 miles it did fine. Then I started to cramp again and by the time I got off my bike over 3 hours later both legs were cramping. Not a good place to be with 13.1 miles still to run. I started off the run and when I got to the 1 mile mark my legs cramped really badly. I stood on the side of the road frozen in place as I could not move. I had a moment of panic that I would have to call a race official to take me in a car back to the start and that I would not finish the race after 6 hard months of training. As I stood on the side of the road in a lot of pain I looked down at my wristband and I asked Coach Brenny to help me get through this challenge. I really badly wanted to get to the finish line to see Amy, Katie, Samantha and Charlie who I knew were waiting for me. They had been big supporters of me during my training and we had agreed that they would run over the finish line with me. I didn’t want to disappoint them. As I thought about how tough you have been and how you keep on going when things get hard I started to rub the cramps out of the back of my legs and when I could I started walking slowly down the road. I ate lots of bananas and pretzels at the aid stations and drank lots of Gatorade to try and make me feel stronger. I managed to walk and run the rest of the 13.1 miles while dealing with cramping and really sore and tired legs. It was a pretty slow run/walk. A race at this long distance allows you to see how tough you really are. The girls and Charlie were waiting for me when I finally made it to the end and we got to run over the finish line together like we had planned. I had a great sense of relief and then joy and accomplishment as I crossed the line. I could not have done it without you helping me. The race officials handed me a medal at the finish. But it belongs to you. You should share it with your brothers and Mom and Dad who I know have done a great job helping you. I will mail the medal to Augusta to welcome you back home. You and your family deserve it. You are my ironboy and my toughness Coach!
I have entered the half Ironman in Augusta on September 25th and am looking forward to visiting with you while we are in town. I need you as my Coach to see if we can figure out a way to avoid the cramping and for us to do a faster time than the 6 hours and 21 minutes it took me to finish this last race. I love you and you inspire me.