The year started out with me still unable to run from an injury sustained in August of 2014, and it got better every month from there. I started running again in February and took a whirlwind trip to Eastern Europe with my wife and good friends Allie and Felipe in early March!
Not long after returning from that trip, on St. Patrick's Day, to be exact, I got the best news of my life to date...my wife told me she was pregnant with our first child! We were beyond excited, and had a very hard time keeping the secret to ourselves until after her first doctor appt in mid April.
In late April I raced in my first triathlon, post injury, and ended up taking the overall win at the Tri Tyler Half! With May came more training as the weather got nicer, and the revelation that our little baby would be a boy. In June we traveled to Lubbock with some good friends to race the Buffalo Springs 70.3, where I saw even more improvement, walking away with 6th overall and first amateur!
July was all about my build up to IM Boulder in early August, and at the end of the month we embarked on the 15 hr drive to beautiful Colorado. My parents and my wife's parents were able to join us, along with several other friends! Jeff Mayball and Felipe Garcia raced as well, and all 3 of us Tylerites had great races at Boulder! With there being no pro field at this race, I even ended up taking the overall win - an experience I'll never forget!
The month of September was spent building up for Kona, and involved many tough brick workouts. At the beginning of October, Kimberly and I set out for Kona, and as tough as that race ended up being for me and the 2000 other participants, I believe Kimbo endured the most adversity on the big island that week. Flying there and back at 7.5 months pregnant and sticking it out all week through unseasonably warm Hawaiian weather was a quite impressive feat!
Looking back on my race at Kona, I'm happy with the way I pushed through tremendous pain and salvaged a decent race and finishing time, but a little disappointed too. After a swim time that was slightly disappointing (although it shouldn't have been bc swim times were slow across the board), I pushed pretty hard in the early part of the bike. I worked my way through the amateur field quickly in the first half of the bike, and got where I thought I needed to be. But I suffered as the winds picked up heading back to Kona. A motorcycle ref got in my head when he pulled up next to me after I made a pass, acted like he was going to give me a yellow card, slightly pulling it out, then setting it back down and zooming off without saying anything. So I ended up stopping at all 3 penalty tents on the way back, none of them having my number or knowing if I should serve the penalty. Even though I did nothing wrong, I essentially served the 2 minute penalty (and probably more with all that stopping). So I started the run upset about all that, and at a decent clip. I was able to hold onto a slightly sub 7 minute pace (my goal pace) for the first 10 miles of the run, but after climbing the hill at Palani and starting down the Queen K, I began to hurt pretty bad. My legs were shot from pushing the bike too hard and the bottoms of my feet were burned. I also think my run pace early on was a little ambitious for me returning from injury. At any rate, I was in a dark place from miles 10-18. I watched the race get away from me as several amateur males and pro females were passing me. However, after leaving the energy lab, I somehow rallied a little and even picked up the pace some the last 5 miles. In the end, I finished in 9:14, 27 minutes slower than 2 yrs ago (but with much tougher conditions). I placed 7th in my age group and 51st overall, and initial disappointment gave way to joy and happiness. I'm blessed to even be able to race, to even qualify for Kona, and I still finished well within what ended up being the toughest age group!
About 3 weeks after returning from Kona, my twin sister, Katie, had her baby, Audrey (named after my grandma) on November 2nd! Kimberly and I were excited, knowing our bundle of joy would arrive soon, but Kimberly's excitement turned into contractions, and a few hours after Katie left the hospital we checked in (to the very same room, incidentally) and ended up welcoming Jordan Howard Emge (named after my grandpa and Kimberly's grandpa) into the world on November 4th at 9:41 AM!
These past 7.5 weeks have been full of ups, downs and learning experiences, and we have loved [almost] every second! Jordan has been growing at a great rate, and is beginning to smile and coo and melt our hearts even more every day.
We had a wonderful Christmas yesterday, and were blessed to spend it with both of our families. My grandma and aunt even travelled from Illinois and Florida, respectively, to visit!
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I plan to become more regular at blogging, and hope to have one out covering 2016 plans/goals in the next couple weeks.
James 1:17 "Every good and perfect give is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows'