California Gold

8 months ago

California sunlight shines on decades of discovery. Gold glistens in our history: a magical rock that summoned pioneers from around the world.

This is the land where pioneers dug for nuggets, with shovels full of dirt and hearts full of hope. This is the land where Native Americas sustained vibrant cultures, and immigrants created homes. This is where empty pockets can become rich, and dreams can become neighbors with reality.

And now I’m here - halfway between the Hollywood Hills and Silicon Valley - staking a claim on the shores of self-discovery. At 4 AM, I rise and say hello to the darkness of hard things: a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run.

First Swim in Morro Bay
Time Space Resoltuion Tradeoff
Moments after feeling the fifty four degree water.

This journey began in September, high above a rainy Pittsburgh river. My shaky hands grab a rope, and I inch across the branches of a great oak tree. I'm afraid to jump. Afraid to fall. I’m not ready, but I begin to count: three, two, one: and then I let go. I let go of the tree and the false idea that we must be comfortable to do extraordinary things.

It would be months before I decided to race: Morro Bay was always a destination, not a challenge. I ran the Pittsburgh streets between a triangle of rivers: never comfortable, but never satisfied. I needed a challenge: something big, scary, hairy, and audacious.

This is it—the Morro Bay half ironman. There are 2500 contestants, but my only competitor is myself. I've never swum a mile; I've never biked 56 miles. My ankle is sprained. The water is freezing, 54 degrees. The race is long and I will be exhausted. But that's why I’m here: to discover gold beneath the dirt of difficult things.