Sorry about the delay in posting. My triathlon coach passed away unexpectedly from a heart condition at the age of 38 two and a half weeks ago, and I’m still trying to deal with it. Plus, I’ve been avoiding having to type out this post because it would make it more real somehow.
Coach Scott was one of those people that literally just changes your life the second you meet them. He and his wife were NEVER negative. When I had a bad workout, he would have a smile on his face either saying that it benefited me more than I could appreciate at the time or that the next time, it would be better. Coach Scott was more than just a coach. He was my mentor and friend. You guys may remember seeing him in my Ironman Arizona posts:
He hung out all day with my mom, sister (who was 8 months pregnant), her two toddlers, and my husband ALL day long. He deserves sainthood for that, trust me.
His motto was “Enjoy the Journey.” He drilled that into my head the day before my race. He knew that it was up to me if I was going to have a good race day or a bad one. “You are only going to have ONE first Ironman. Enjoy it. Don’t get worked up over things that don’t matter. Enjoy the journey.” And that is what I did. I had a great day. And he was cheering me on along with my family that day. He believed in you more than you did if that makes any sense. He knew your abilities more than you did. I remember talking with him two months before the race literally having a nervous breakdown about how I wasn’t ready, how I was going to fail, and how I was so stupid that I thought that I could actually accomplish such a thing with my hectic work schedule. He looked me straight in the eyes and told me that I was perfectly capable of completing a Ironman that day if I wanted to. It was so believable. And a few months later on the marathon portion of my Ironman, I remembered what Coach Scott had told me on that day. I needed to have more faith in myself. I did put in my time training, and I could do this.
He never once doubted that I could do anything that I put my mind to. That was how he treated everyone on (and off) our team. He would preach about how “consistency was key” and he was VERY consistent with his workouts. He not only talked the talk, but he walked (or ran) the walk. He was an amazing athlete completing Ironman Coeur d’Alene a little more than 6 months after having open heart surgery in 2010. He didn’t want to hear excuses, and he didn’t let a “little” heart operation keep him down!!
He was part of a team called Ironheart Racing. This is a brief video that a news station did of him. It is very well made. It will inspire you. Watch it.
When I found out that he had passed away, I didn’t believe it was true. He was young, VERY active, and ate healthily. Plus, he was such a GOOD person. It wasn’t fair. I had just cycled with him the previous weekend, and he was healthy and strong. We talked about my training plan and what we needed to tweak about it to get me through Ironman Lake Placid alive.
My team has been trying to deal with the gigantic hole in our hearts. The day after he passed away, we didn’t cancel swim practice. Instead, we got together, swam for 5 minutes trying to work on things that Coach Scott had told us to fix. I struggled to breathe since I was crying and trying to swim at the same time. It was the longest 5 minute swim that I had ever swam before. Then, we all went around and shared stories about Coach Scott. I shared the story of when he came up behind me on a bike during the run of the Troika Half Ironman course, and told me to to start picking people off. I told him I needed to poop. At least everyone laughed! We laughed, cried, and almost drowned that day, but it was so therapeutic.
The following weekend was the big Bloomsday race. You may have heard me talk about it last year since I ran it. Every year, Coach Scott would hand out Jolly Ranchers to some of the 55 to 56,000 runners. His wife didn’t want to give up the tradition, so a bunch of Team Blazers decided to hand some out with her. We put up the Team Blaze tent in the normal spot except Coach Scott was there in spirit. I cheered people on for 4 hours that day and nearly lost my voice! It was so much fun.
We asked Team Blaze people and runners all over the community to write this on their legs to remind people to enjoy the journey.
There was such an outpouring of support that weekend for Tristin, Coach Scott’s wife. The entire community was mourning her loss. People were coming up to her right and left hugging her as they ran by, and people were telling other Team Blaze members that they were sorry for our loss. He was even mentioned on the news several times. That is how great of an impact he made here in Spokane.
About a week after he passed away, our local bike sponsor held a memorial bike ride to raise money for Tristin and their 6 year old son. Hundreds of cyclists showed up. It was amazing. He was truly loved. Tristin even spoke to the crowd about enjoying the journey that we were all on in life. She is SO strong. I can’t even fathom what she is going through right now.
The memorial service was a week ago. That seemed to make Coach Scott’s passing a little more real. It was one of the hardest memorial services that I have ever been to. People from all over the community showed up in Team Blaze shirts and shorts. Coach Scott would not have wanted anyone to dress up. It is crazy to think that back in 2004 when he and his wife started the club, it only had a handful of members. Team Blaze has grown to over 200 members since then. Many were able to make it to the memorial services. It is amazing to me that we have all come together like a family during this ordeal. Or maybe it is just more apparent how much we love and support each other on this team from this ordeal.
After the service, we released balloons in Team Blaze colors and ran one mile.
They had a banner that was given to Tristin that you could write your final words to Coach Scott on.
I can’t remember exactly what I wrote since that day was blur, but this was the gist:
“Coach Scott, thank you for seeing the light in me and in others when we can’t see it ourselves at times. You changed my life for the better the second I met you! We love and miss you!!”
My message to all of you reading this:
Don’t WASTE your life. You never know when it can be taken away from you. If you want to do something or you feel you need to prove something something to yourself, quit JUST talking about it. DO it. Life is TOO short to sit there and just be merely content with your life. If you don’t like something in your life, change it. You deserve to be HAPPY. And most of all, Enjoy the Journey.
I will always remember you, Coach Scott. I hope I can inspire others like you have inspired me! I will do my very best to stay consistent with my training from here on out for Ironman Lake Placid in July. I will remember to sit back, have fun, and enjoy the journey…