Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2008 – From couch to finish line with my family!

Here's the story of Paul Burger, someone that decided to get off the couch and take family time to another level! Thank you for sharing your story. 

My 2008 year really started in 2007. I had recently moved to Los Angeles in search of a career, the sun, and the California life. What that meant was that I left behind my friends, and more importantly my family.

One weekend, when I was up visiting, I found myself at the finish line of the UBC triathlon, as an unmotivated, out of shape spectator. However, something happened when I saw my Dad, followed by my sister cross the finish line that day. The determination, the courage and the shear joy of completing something like a triathlon, was something I wanted to experience. I saw it as not only an opportunity for personal growth, but a chance to spend some time with my family and find some much needed common ground. So I promised my Dad, my sister and myself, that my days of sitting on the couch talking about it were over. I promised to compete in the 2008 UBC triathlon.  For me, a very big deal.

I should stop here and say that I am not an athlete! In fact, the sight of me trying to do anything athletic brings forth imagery of say, that of a monkey humping a coconut. It ain’t pretty!

Never-the-less on March 9th, 2008, sure enough there I was. Standing at the edge of the pool in a ridiculously tight bathing suit, amongst 30 or so other athletes. My stomach was nothing but nerves. The gun went off and so I went, up and down the pool. Then out on the bike in the freezing cold wind and rain, and just when I thought maybe I could throw my bike into the ocean, rip off my number, waltz into a coffee shop and forget about this silly endeavor, there was my Dad, screaming words of encouragement from the other side of the out and back bike course. And I remembered why I was there.

I crossed the finish line and waited for my Dad and sister to come through. I didn’t have to wait long before that rush of accomplishment hit me full force. My first Olympic triathlon, and a great excuse to be able to share the pride with my family. I had spent my life mostly getting attention for the things I had done wrong, and all of a sudden I was getting it for something I had done right. I was hooked.

As most people that cross the finish line at these kinds of things, the question arose, “What’s next?” How about a half marathon? Maybe Half-Ironman? Ironman? A marathon? What the hell was wrong with me? I mean, I had seen these things on TV, and never once did I think to myself, I would love to do something that would put that look of shear terror and pain on my face. Looks like a blast!!! And now, here I stood, staring at my computer screen with my Dad and sister about to hit “submit registration” for the Oliver Half Ironman 2008!!


The year continued, and so did our training. Five, Six, sometimes seven days a week, we would meet at 5:00am in the morning for a run, or a swim, or an early morning ride. And you would think it gets easier, but it doesn’t. But somehow, when one of us would try and bail, the others be there waiting in the cold morning air. We gained momentum as a family, running, swimming and biking further and further. We started raising money for charities and received tremendous support. People loved the idea of a family doing all these things together, and so did we.

So as 2008 came to a close, I ran through my checklist. It looked something like this:


1.    My first Olympic Triathlon (UBC)

2.    My first 17km race (Khatsalano)

3.    My first Half Marathon (Vancouver)

4.    My first Half Ironman (Oliver)

5.    My first Marathon with my wife (New York)

6.    A 5 day cycle tour through the south of France with my Mom, Dad, sister and wife

7.    A cheque to Covenant House for almost $30,000 raised for Oliver Half Iroman by our family

8.    My second half marathon (Cambodia)

9.    $6000 raised for the Angkor Childrens Hospital in Cambodia for the Angkor Wat Half Marathon by my Dad and I

10. Countless hours along side my Dad, sister and wife running, swimming, biking.

So that was my year, from the comfy couch to finish line all with my family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

Here’s to 2009!!

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