So, first things first. Why "disaster magnet"?
I've had 4 nicknames in my life. The most recent one is "disaster magnet." It was given to me by my good friend Mickey Rzymek (with me in the photo). I met Mickey sometime around late 2001, when I started doing triathlons. The first race I did after meeting him was Ironman Utah in 2002. There is no more Ironman Utah. The morning of the inaugural race saw a freak windstorm whip up 3-4 foot waves in Utah Lake, enough for the race director to cancel the swim. Unfortunately, the swim was called after the swim had started. It was a disaster to say the least. One man drowned. Many triathletes never even got in the water. And when it was decided to shorten the remaining two legs and make it a duathlon, many triathletes never even started the race. Disaster. It was almost a disaster for me as well, but I managed to work through the turmoil and qualify for Ironman Hawaii (if you want more, here's my personal account of IM Utah).
Ironman Hawaii 2002 was the second disaster. It was not a complete disaster from a race perspective - although there was an unusual unstopping rain on race morning - but it was a complete disaster from a personal perspective. I vomited no less than 13 times on the run course. I was lucky to finish. Disaster. (If you're interested, here's my experience at IM Hawaii).
The third disaster came in May 2003. I was hit by a car when training to go back to Utah (for a Half-Ironman this time). That ended my triathloning for several years. I did try to come back that same year, but I got a little over-optimistic in my expectations and it ended with a DNF at Ironman Florida in November 2003. Disaster. Disaster.
I decided to make a triathlon comeback of sorts in January 2008 thanks to some timely realizations. I had hoped to put the "disaster magnet" nomenclature behind me. So what happens in February 2008? I slip and fall on ice, land on my digital SLR, and break a back rib. The emergency room doctor said he had never seen a broken rib with displacement that bad. He even showed us on the x-ray. Then he broke the bad news: "You won't be doing any triathlons this year." Disaster.
But I did do triathlons in 2008. I did quite well, won 4 out of 5 races entered. But the disasters continued to follow me during the season: Steelhead 2008 (Michigan) - disaster - swim canceled due to high surf; Greater Cleveland Tri - disaster - swim canceled due to higher surf; Firmman Half (Narragansett, RI) - disaster - entire triathlon canceled due to Hurricane Hanna. Of course, I found out after we drove the 11 hours to Rhode Island.
Will 2009 be a disaster-free year? Who knows. What I do know is the best way to deal with disasters is to count your blessings and do your best to weather the storm. And I've been lucky enough to have many second chances and good friends to get me through the rough times.