Why The Malibu Triathlon Is Important To Me
My Malibu Story
Malibu is a town on the California coast. It’s the home of Zuma Beach, The Beach Boys and iconic California surf culture. It’s also the home of some very wealthy people and modern day cliff
dwellers. I was born in the town next door to Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and lived there for the first 12 years of my life. I knew Malibu as a kid might know his out-of-town cousins: we were acquainted but not intimately. In my last two posts, I’ve mentioned Malibu in connection with a triathlon in which I will participate on September 18, 2016. The race organizers asked all the athletes if they would write a short bio describing their unique situation. Race organizers do this so they can identify special interest stories that make good PR campaigns. Usually, they are looking for a cancer survivor or a combat veteran or a 102 year old athlete. Most of the time, I ignore these requests for stories, but not this time. TriRiot is about the age grouper, because I believe that everyone has a unique and inspirational story to tell. Here is what I wrote:
My Triathlon Story by Lowell Gould
Triathlon is an amazing journey and I often say that it is a microcosm of life itself. If that sounds too lofty or cliché, then consider the first noble truth of Buddhism: “To live you must suffer”.
Now, I’m no Buddhist, but I do know that a right amount of suffering is needed to grow in all aspects of life. Grass grows thicker when you mow it, muscles get bigger when you stress them and people learn things after failures. Triathlon embodies all of that.
My story begins with a man who was absolutely obsessed with endurance running and his youngest son who absolutely hated it. You guessed it: I’m the son and my dad is the obsessed runner. This was back in the late 60’s or early 70’s in Pacific Palisades, California: back when you could see Walter Matthau, Ted Knight or many other famous personalities strolling through town.
Dad pushed himself hard because he believed that hard work would yield great results and he was right. He could outrun me when he was 60. On the other hand, I believed that sitting on the couch and watching TV would make me great: which actually worked, because I was the greatest little couch potato ever. I clearly remember one day when I was minding my own business in front of the TV and Dad walked through the TV room. Seeing me sitting there must have triggered something in him, because he lit into me for the first time that I can recall. He yelled at me to get outside and do something active: hit a tennis ball, run to the park, do something other than sit in front of the TV.
That was a long time ago, and around 2004 his words came back to haunt me. I was out of work and suffering from depression and saw no future for myself other than failure: failure of everything. Then something changed and I can’t explain what it was. Maybe a realization that only I had the power to make my life a success. I started lifting weights which I enjoyed somewhat, but still felt unsatisfied. After a year or two of that, my wife urged me to enter a 5K race with her. I did it and found a sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt before. That’s when I realized that I really did have my father’s love of endurance sports. It didn’t take long to get hooked on triathlon because I knew many people who had either survived cancer or died from it and the Team In Training program helped me raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In turn, they trained me for my first triathlon. From then on I could hear the excitement in my father’s voice when he would ask about my training and racing. Those were moments of real connection between father and son, but by that time my father was battling prostate cancer and was no longer running or biking. We were, however, able to swim together a few times at the MPTF pool. Those are moments I will always keep with me.
I raced my second IRONMAN on the first anniversary of Dad’s death. I still keep his picture on my basebars from that race five years ago. He never saw me race, but it made him so happy that I got out there and did it. Winning was never the point for him and it isn’t for me.
These days, my goal is to capture the essence of triathlon. I believe that every triathlete has a story worthy of attention because, every journey to the finish line is a journey of self discovery. There is something deep in the human experience that pushes us to test our physical and mental limits, because only through that testing and pushing are we able to grow.
In my web show (TriRiot.com), I attempt to show the world what it means to be a triathlete and why so many people love our sport. I believe there are too many people hesitant to enter triathlon or just get off their couch simply because they don’t believe in themselves. I’d like to change that.
Otherwise, I’m just an ordinary dude having fun, enjoying life and pushing myself to the limit.