So my parents decided it would be a good idea to write up an article for a local newspaper in my hometown (the Suburban News) about my ironman experiences (apparently it was a slow news day!) Here is the article written by my mom, Judy Earley:
"Our son, Travis, is an athlete. At Churchville-Chili High School, he participated in three sports for all four years, earning 12 varsity letters. At Geneseo College, he continued by being on the cross-country team. While watching Lance Armstrong compete in the Tour de France, an interest in bicycle racing was born. He also began swimming again, and found out that he could combine all three sports, swimming, biking and running, by training for triathlons.
Thus began a six-year self-imposed program to gain strength and speed. While working a full time job, he continued a routine of biking, running and swimming approximately 25 hours a week. He read everything he could get his hands on for how to train and what to do.
Three times a week, Travis swam at 5 a.m. before working an eight-hour day. He participated in every race, 5 and 10 Ks, musselman competitions and half-marathons he could. In a few years, he felt ready to enter an Ironman triathlon.
He finished three ironmans; Florida, Lake Placid and Wisconsin with above average times. His dream, he informed us, was to compete in Kona, Hawaii someday. In 2009, he again competed at Lake Placid. This time, the scoreboard read, “dnf” – did not finish. While descending a hill at 55 miles per hour, he caught a crosswind, and was unable to control the shaking of the bike. Before he knew it, he had been thrown over the handlebars and went tumbling down the embankment.
The accident was severe. His collarbone was badly broken, and he sustained road rash over 60 per cent of his body. The jersey, like his skin, was in shreds from scraping the pavement. His bicycle was broken. The sunglasses he was wearing cut into his face right above the eye requiring several stitches. He even popped a contact lens. But thank God for helmets – his saved his life. Despite being broken into three pieces, that helmet performed at it should.
It took surgery and several months before he could return to work and his training. He started slowly to regain his strength and speed, and spent a year working up to his previous athletic condition.
In July of this year, he again entered the Ironman held in Lake Placid. When I asked him if he thought he was ready, he informed me that he had some “unfinished business with a hill”.
This time, the results were much different. His training, determination, and strong will paid off. Not only did he finish the race, he also placed 4th in his age group, qualifying for the World Champion Ironman Competition this October in Kona, Hawaii.
I don’t know if he realizes how extraordinary he is. To come back from an injury, face and conquer his fear, and do it all by himself – no personal trainer, or professional help in any way – is an incredible accomplishment. It is with great pride and love that we watch our son fulfill a dream. Our hearts will be with you every step of the way. You are the definition of the word athlete – “one trained to great physical skill and strength”.
Travis, you are truly an “Ironman!”
They are making the trip to Hawaii with me and I can't wait to celebrate on the Big Island with them, their support means much more than they know. Cheers.