The event has been well-documented on several television stations around the country, newspaper stories, all over social media and on several blog posts, as it was a real life example of our motto, "Where There's a Wheel, There's a Way". We've attached several links in the unlikely event that you missed it.
As Brent and I have long stated, however, the Kyle Pease Foundation is not about us, but about the many athletes that we are able to support. The attention is exciting because it ultimately brings attention to the true heroes that make up KPF but it's time to turn the spotlight onto them.
This weekend marks the pinnacle of the Kyle Pease Foundation brief history as Justin "J-Dude" Knight will be participating and ultimately completing Ironman Florida in Panama City. J-Dude will be swimming, biking and marathon-ing over 140.6 miles with assistance from John Rutledge, Tim Myers and Paul Linck.
With the KPF Team busily loading up the trailer and heading to Panama City, John and J-dude's mother and biggest fan, Teresa, spent a few minutes and shared their thoughts on the upcoming, historic Ironman weekend.
Before I turn the blog over to our guest bloggers, we want to make sure that people sending well wishes and also those at the event posting to social media rooting the KPF team on, use the hash tag #imjdude or #togetherwewheel either together or separate to have their posts appear on the KPF Tag board. You can post as you normally would to any social media site and can include pictures or just well wishes from afar. Our goal is to have fans post real time using that hash tag.
And now, here's......John and Teresa!
Q: How many Ironman events have you participated in solo?
John: I've completed 4 Full Ironman races and 9 Half Ironman races.
Q: Presumably this is your first as a partner athlete, how do you view the difference?
John: This is my first Ironman as a partner athlete. I raced the Publix Half Marathon and John Tanner Sprint Triathlon with Justin earlier in the year. Both were a blast! I can honestly say that those two races were among my favorite sporting events I've ever participated in. As far as differences, an Ironman presents challenges to athletes that are much different than shorter events.
You not only have the physical demands of moving for the better part of a day, but you have to get your nutrition right and also stay mentally positive. Additionally, racing triathlon is usually a solo endeavor. I've always loved team sports; this race offers a rare opportunity in triathlon to experience the joy of competing as a team. It is going to be a rewarding experience to race with new friend Justin and my longtime friends and teammates Paul and Tim.
Q: What do you think the biggest challenge will be?
John: One of the hardest parts, to me, of completing an IM is the mental ups and downs you face throughout the day. Overcoming the down times and getting through it also happens to be one of the most rewarding aspects of long course triathlon racing. There are times in a race that self-doubt tries to creep in and you have to keep a laser-like focus to stay positive. Justin will be experiencing the same mental struggle we face, so we will work as a team to overcome it.
Q: How will this impact your life and how do you think it will impact Justin's?
John: As I mentioned previously, triathlon is typically an individual endeavor. It's easy to become a little self-centered, focusing an inordinate amount of physical and mental energy looking inward. I feel like racing with the Kyle Pease Foundation this year has already opened my eyes and challenged me to look outward for more opportunities going forward to make an impact on someone else's life.
One of my goals for this race has always been to show my Atlanta Triathlon Club teammates how much fun this can be, to encourage them to get involved with the KP Foundation or one of the many other Atlanta-area organizations doing great things in the community.
I'm hoping that Justin experiences the same feelings I did when completing the race. That feeling is an overwhelming sense of pride that you completed something that you yourself might have doubted was possible. For me, that sense of accomplishment has bled over into other areas of my life, giving me the courage to do things that I might not have otherwise. I sincerely hope that Justin feels the same way, because that self-confidence can be a springboard for great things.
Q: What has your training regimen consisted of?
John: I train year-round swimming, biking & running, with changing distances and intensities of each depending on what races are coming up. For this race I've tried to consistently swim 3-4 times a week with at least one of them being an ATC group swim where I'm swimming all-out with faster swimmers and one being an increasingly longer continuous swim. We also had a chance to do an open water swim at Red Top Mt. last weekend as a team to test out the boat, harness and a new wet suit. All systems are go! We're ready...all that's left is for us to do it.
Q: As mother of the future Ironman what thoughts will be going through your head during the event?
Teresa: I am so excited to be supporting him through this dream he has. I am sort of a nervous wreck as well. LOL. While he is out on the swim I know I will be on pins and needles because I know if he goes into the water he will be face down and can’t turn himself over. I know the guys will get to him, but I also know that it will be a struggle for them as well to get him back into the boat, etc.
But, we are going stay positive and keep fingers crossed that he stays in that boat! LOL. I am bursting with pride and can’t wait to see Justin out there on the course having the time of his life. I am hoping that I will be able to stay in a close proximity to where they are throughout the course so that I can keep an eye on him since he does have some medical issues with seizures and such.
Part of me is probably overly concerned but the other part of me is over the moon with pride. Overall I think everything is going to go off without a hitch and I will be a blubbering, proud, crying mama as he comes down the finish line chute.
Q: You watched the Pease Brothers complete this event last year, did you think that Justin would be participating this year?
Teresa: Yes – the whole time we were there in support of Kyle and Brent, all Justin kept saying was “I’m gonna do it next year”! I knew that it was in his heart and he had set his sights on completing this feat. As Kyle and Brent came down the finishers chute, they stopped and hugged Justin and gave him a big high five and said “Next year is your year J-Dude!”
Q: Is this the biggest moment of Justin's life?
Teresa: Without a doubt and without question, this IS the biggest moment of his life. It is the most monumental goal he has set for himself and I am just in awe of him, his courage, and spirit. I have always taught him to look past his disability and know that he can do anything he set his mind to. I have stressed to him that it doesn’t matter if he looks different than typical peers in doing something, he can still do it. I can remember the first time that he and I did the Marine Corp Marathon in 2013.
It was such a blessing to be pushing him through the streets of the Capitol. He and I had such a fun time together. I will never forget making our way up that last hill, and at the top there was a line of Marines he bent down and gave him high fives as we passed. Crossing over the finish line, he threw his arms up and jumped up in his seat in excitement. If he hadn’t had a chest strap on he would have probably come up out of the racer!!!
Picturing that moment makes me truly anticipate his level of excited and pride as he and his team come down the chute and the announcer says “Justin Knight you are an IRONMAN!”
Q: As the first KPF athlete to compete in such an event, what does it mean to the other athletes?
Teresa: This will help pave the way for other KPF athletes to overcome any fears and know that they too can take on such a challenge. After he completes this Ironman, Justin plans on helping to motivate, inspire, and encourage other athletes to keep moving forward and take on challenges and know that with a strong spirit you can do anything!
Q: What type of training has Justin done leading up to the event?
Teresa: Each weekend in October Justin has trained with his Relay Team each Saturday and Sunday. They have put in approx. 5-6 hours each of those days training on the bike (about 80 miles per weekend) with Paul Linck, swimming at Red Top Mountain with John Rutlege, and running with Tim Meyers. He has gotten stronger and his endurance has gotten stronger with each training session.
The guys all work so well together in communicating needs and what might work best for such a long day as Nov 7th will be. The care and encouragement that the guys have given is immeasurable an Justin has really gained some wonderful friends.
In addition to training with the relay team each weekend, Justin has been training on a stationary recumbent bike at home as well as doing floor exercises to keep his muscles stretched out. He can now even hold a two-minute plank!!!