Colorado Athletes in Kona: Jeff Beckman

I grew up in rural Georgia playing competitive basketball and tennis but quickly transitioned to mountain biking/kayaking/mountaineering once arriving to Colorado in the late 90’s, and I didn’t look back. In sports, I always seemed to be able to keep up with and often lead the “pack” without training. Getting after it just off the couch was my routine and I had never considered any training or exercise regimen outside of the particular sporting event. “Practice” as Allen Iverson had famously dismissed, wasn’t really in my vocabulary as well. In 2013, after putting on some pounds over the years while starting a family, the “pack” I had easily kept up with was moving far too fast for my sedentary ways. I became content with the refuge of my couch after having some epic bonks on supposedly easy excursions. During this year, I was shocked when my seemingly healthy father in his early 60’s required urgent cardiac arterial stenting, placement on multiple medications, and underwent cardiac rehabilitation. Upon my own personal physician follow up and testing shortly thereafter, I realized that I was not the prime picture of health I imagined to be. Though in my early 40’s, I had arteries of a 65 year old, was categorized as overweight and obese for my height, and was started on cholesterol medication therapy. I was floored and processed this wake up call in regards to my longevity as a husband and father.

In retaliation, I purchased a road bike, made a commitment to my health, and took up triathlon in the summer of 2014 – which changed my life forever. Other than swimming after fallen beers off a raft or chasing down kayaking gear in rivers, I never had formally learned to swim. My first training swim left me demolished after 4 lengths, and it hit me that it would be a long road to regain fitness. I embraced the mantra of exercise “practice” through triathlon training. Within 6 months of adopting the triathlon lifestyle, I had lost 30 pounds, had normal to low cholesterol levels, and was taken off all medications. My friends had suggested my transformation was “historic” and wondered where the sedentary Beckman had wondered off to. My new lifestyle and fitness not only saved my health, but also brought new life and energy into a 15 year Emergency Medicine career where I was facing burnout.

 


After my first triathlon in 2014, the Boulder 70.3 IM, I was hooked to triathlon. From there, I continued to race over the next 2 years despite injury setbacks including a clavicle fracture from a neighborhood bike accident (2014), right knee injury during my first full distance IM in 106 degree record heat in CdA (2015), and left knee injury in a bike accident during the Boulder Ironman (2016). After three straight years of injury, one might say I was a little crazy to return… I was drawn back to triathlon not only for the love of the combined sport and methodical training regimen I had adopted, but to keep good on the promise I made to maintain my health and fitness I fought so hard to achieve. Furthermore, the process of working through intense physical and mental obstacles in rehab brought fortitude, humility, patience, and experience of how to train smarter and recover stronger. In the spring of 2017, I began working with coach Tim Crowley who brought perspective, efficiency, and wisdom to my training and racing regimen and was able to carry this forward to my first Kona qualification at Ironman Canada in July 2017.

Tri Hearter: Reflections on IRONMAN Boulder’s Epic Nature

Warren Mine

By Bill Plock

About 20 minutes after the last person crossed the finish line at IRONMAN Boulder, it hit me. That feeling of wow, what a great day. The next day at the awards ceremony it bowled me over just what had happened. The epic nature and vibe of an IRONMAN comes down to thousands of moments, some inspiring, others mesmerizing and many simply beautiful that causes the ultimate appreciation and respect for the race and the athletes. At some point it just becomes overwhelming if you let it–in a good way.

I was walking with 73 year old Warren Mine of California (the oldest to complete IM Boulder in 2017) to help him retrieve his bike talking about his race (his 20th+ IRONMAN) when champion Tim O’Donnell walked by on his way to get his bike. I kind of shook my head in disbelief and reflected. What a crazy sport I thought. Here is one of the top athletes in the world, having just won the race, simply going to pick up his bike, limping a bit and commenting how his legs hurt–like everyone else’s. When LeBron finishes a game I’m guessing he doesn’t even pick up his basketball shoes. The mingling of pro’s and amateurs all aiming for the same goal, with the same vulnerabilities, the same dedication and similar dreams and hopes sets triathlon apart. It endears all of us triathletes. It builds bonds and communities and lasts a lifetime.

To spectate IRONMAN Boulder for the first time convinced me more than ever that through this endeavor lives are changed. Relationships begin, are cemented, and are celebrated by a common event experienced uniquely for everyone. I parked myself for over two hours photographing hundreds of Colorado athletes as they entered the run course from T2. The relief and smiles to be on the run leg permeated most, and their hopeful gaze for a good run was greeted by hundreds of cheering people lining Boulder Creek. Hours passed. I walked miles, taking more pictures, cheering and remembering my runs on this creek for the past three IRONMAN Boulders. All I could think about was the love and support I always felt and that was the only thing I missed about not racing. It’s addictive and appreciated. I thought how lucky all these people were to experience it–especially first timers. They will never forget it.

Champion Tim O’Donnell awards finisher medals during the magical midnight hour

Later that night, during the last hour of the race, I simply sat a few feet from finishers who were greeted by Tim O’Donnell and his wife and three time IRONMAN World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae. The unofficial triathlon king and queen of Boulder graciously medaled each of the final age groupers. Most gazed in disbelief or were too dazed and confused to grasp the significance–but once they understood who was putting their arms around them, the smiles beamed.

To witness the tears, the joy, the pain, the end, and really the beginning of a new journey for so many sticks in my mind. Tears came to my eyes many times.

But no race is complete without recognizing those who win and rise above. Those who persevere the most, overcome amazing challenges and earn one of the toughest and most coveted entries in all of sport–a chance to compete in Kona. A spot reserved for the top 2%. The dreams of the athletes, their families and coaches hang in the balance of getting a spot.

It’s not as clear cut as you might think. Going into the awards all that is known is that 40 spots are awarded. They are then divided among all age groups proportional to how many people raced in the age group.

Some age groups have one entry, others as many as three of four. But not every athlete chooses to go or some have an entry from

EK Endurance Sports, Vixxen Racing & BTC Elite Coach Eric Kenney

an earlier race so their spot rolls down. Each time an athlete’s name is called and there is no response, some athlete hoping and waiting erupts in emotion–some show it more than others and it is wonderful to witness (you must be present to claim a spot). The tension can be thick.

Coach Eric Kenney and his athlete Liz West

In the female 30 to 34 age group, local athlete, Team Vixxen Racing member, Elizabeth West, was third in her age group with two spots up for grabs. She is coached by Eric Kenney of EK Endurance. I knew how anxious Eric was, hoping to see her dream come true. If you know Eric, you know he wears his heart on his sleeve.

As Mike Reilly began to announce that age group I was nervous. My personal connection and empathy for Liz and knowing how close she has been in past years and remembering how I felt missing a spot by one place two years ago, put a lump in my throat in anticipation. Mike called the first name. Silence. He called it again. More silence.

Tears swelled in my eyes and I gazed not at Liz, but at Eric a few feet away, standing alone to the side. He crumpled to a knee and couldn’t fight the tears. That moment will last a lifetime. Liz hugged many and tears came to her as well and her mom sat crying; it was simply beautiful.

Ironman Boulder is over, dreams are cast and inspiring stories will be told for a long long time.

2016 Kona Viewing Party

Wednesday Jan 11th

Sturm Hall Davis Auditorium, University of Denver

 

6:00 P.M.- 6:45P.M. – meet and greet with IMU coaches, professional athletes, and local TriClubs. We will provide a table for your Club to set up information, and ask that you bring a table cloth, or pop up sign to promote your club.

7:00 P.M-8:00 P.M -2016 Ironman World Championship Viewing

8:00 P.M-8:30 P.M – Q&A with professional athletes

 

If your club is interested in setting up a table, please contact Sierra Pena  813-868-3539,

Day Four: 60 seconds in Kona – motion of the ocean

Presented by Roka Sports

The Ironman 2.4 mile practice swim one week out from World Championship race day. Lots of amped up, tapering triathletes making the most out of this supported & chip timed swim on the full course. Roka, Roka everywhere! Our Colorado athletes in Kona will receive custom 303/Colorado swim caps, thanks to this sponsor. Video by 303’s Kenny Withrow.

Watch previous episodes:

60 Seconds in Kona – Day 3

60 Seconds in Kona – Day 2

60 Seconds in Kona – Day 1