On more than one occasion, and perhaps more times than can be counted using fingers and toes, Morgan Hill native Greg Tate questioned his decision that had him on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
“The water temperature is 55 degrees so it feels like your face is freezing right when you get in. The wind is blowing on the bike ride and the sun is hot on the run,” Tate said Tuesday while waiting for his flight back to California from Tacoma. “There are lots of reasons to ask yourself, 'Why am I doing this?'”
By the time those internal inquiries surfaced, it was too late, and Tate bounded into the water with 2,200 others as part of the 2012 Ironman triathlon Sunday in Idaho.
At the coaxing of a group of friends - 14 members of PacWest Athletics - Tate submitted his name for the ultimate fitness excursion a year in advance. Typically, sign-ups for Ironman events begin the day after that year's event, and slots fill quickly. Before he knew it, his name was in.
“There was a bunch of peer pressure to get involved,” Tate chuckled. “I was a little overwhelmed when I signed up. I never really felt like I could do something like this,” he continued, reminiscing briefly on his first triathlon as a 16-year-old.
Though 355 days separated Tate from Coeur d'Alene, the training began almost immediately. Day in and day out with little break from routine.
“You can't do anything last second for this type of race,” he said.
Tate, who has participated in 10 triathlons of varying distances over the last two-plus years, worked closely with a coach to prepare for the challenge, piling up the workout hours as the date that once seemed so far away, crept up.
“For the last six months we were working out twice a day,” he said. “Then on the weekends we spent 5 to 8 hours together working out. You get to know these people really well.”
Coincidentally, three other Morgan Hill natives, Sara Hunt, Ryan Wall and Reza Mavis were among the 14 who trained, made the trip and finished the task.
After a year of anticipation, and maybe a little bit of hesitation too, Sunday was upon him. Tate's chilly, 7 a.m. dip propelled him into a day that included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
“My day starts off strong and gets more daunting as it goes on,” Tate, 41, said, explaining that the swimming portion is his forte, being a former water polo player and swimmer at Live Oak High School. Biking he doesn't mind, “But I dread running.”
Twelve hours later, Tate made a memorable jaunt to the finish line.
“It was magical,” Tate said with a reflective sigh. “The entire town comes out. You finish down the main drag downtown. Seven blocks of people cheering their heads off. I really enjoyed every second of it.”
As he sat in the Tacoma airport Tuesday, still sore (he was told to expect about 10-day recovery period), Tate answered without pause whether he'd ever run another Ironman.
“Yes, I'm already signed up for the 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe,” he laughed.
Apparenty, he wasn’t lying about enjoying every part of the experience.