• Jason Bankston


It has been 1 month since I finished my 3rd Ironman. I want to tell you a little about my race and what I learned. Each race I seem to learn something new about my self. I actually feel as each week has passed a new lesson has been taught to me from the race and life.

The race was originally set to be in Panama City but with the Hurricane having a direct hit 4 weeks before, Ironman graciously moved it to Haines City. The relevance behind this is I chose Panama City for two reasons. #1) It was close to home. #2) The course would be flat. Haines City was 12 hours away and as the title indicates HILLY.

I was prepared, but the change in venue threw my mental game off a bit. I had 3 weeks to reign it in and I did for the most part.

This course posed many challenges. For one, the swim course was 2 loops and made the pattern of pants. Most swims only consist of 2 turns. This swim had 14 turns! Future trivia question here: What race had the most turns in an Ironman swim?

The bike was hilly but not bad. I had trained in the hills for Panama City because I knew this would make me stronger. The bike did not pose a huge challenge, but I knew I would not be as fast as I had planned for Panama City.

The RUN! Well here comes the HILLS! It was deceptive at first. No hills in the first 2.5 miles of the 7 mile loop, which was repeated 3 times with likely 100 turns overall. Starting at mile 3, it was all climbing until it was time to come back down at mile 6.5 of the loop. The run was so hard I had thoughts of quitting and not finishing, which is completely not like me. I just kept telling myself - you have worked too hard for this, sacrificed so much time, and your wife and family sacrificed so much so I could be here.

These HILLS are tough, but so is life. Life is full of hills. There will be ups and downs, peaks and falls. Each part has its purpose and lesson it teaches us. Each part requires different skills and plans to execute.

For example, climbing the hill is hard work and requires consistent force to move up. It is exhausting, can be painful, never-ending, but is it a great feeling when you reach the top. The pats on the back, the high fives, the smile and joy it brings you when you have completed your task, your goal, your objective.

Going downhill in a race is fun. It is fast, not as painful, and exhilarating the entire time down. It is not always like that in life. Going down can be just as fast, but it is not usually the path you want. Everyone, or most of us, want the peak. We do not necessarily want to make the climb to get there, but we want to be there.

Running is no different. We do not usually want to make the climb, but we know we must to reach the end. We also know we must go down as well. The Finish Line is our peak. Not the top of the hill.

In life, the top of the hill may not be your peak. The climb is about the hard work and effort we put in, The downhill is the joy of the journey and the path we must take. Our peak is the finish line. Embrace the HILL!




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