We have today one of the two 2011 Filipino Kona Ironman lottery winners. Joe Dulay from NorCal. He’s one of Filamtri’s featured athletes along with the other Filipino Kona Lottery winner, Efraim Manzano from Hawaii. I had a few words with him and quite frankly, this interview made me feel glad to be human.
FAT: Hi Joe. I’ll go straight to business, when did you start doing triathlons and how did you get started?
Joe: It all started after my surgery. After being paralyzed, I figured I have nothing to lose so why not try new things. I went a little extreme and did triathlons. I just wanted to live life to the fullest.
FAT: Brain surgery??? I didn’t expect that. What was your condition?
Joe: It’s called CVM or cerebral arteriovenous malformations. It’s malformation of the blood vessels in the brain, which can result to bleeding. One of my vessels erupted and that’s how I got paralyzed. I was paralyzed for one year and lived at the Kaiser Rehabilitation Center until I can move again. I felt like a baby having to relearn basic motor skills.
FAT: Wow… That’s really shocking. I didn’t know you had a medical condition and it affected you that much.
Joe: Yep. I think it’s the reason why I got chosen for the Kona lottery. I have a story to share and I want the world to know about it. It was really humbling to have a disability. You learn to appreciate the simple things in life. Part of the reason why I love doing triathlons is the pain that I feel from training. The harder the event and the more pain, the more alive I feel. I never wanted to feel paralyzed again. Feeling the pain reminds me that I’m alive! I’m very lucky too. My condition doesn’t have a cure and it’s almost likely that the bleeding will occur again. I was lucky to be chosen for untried and experimental radiation and surgery and it worked for me.
FAT: Very well said brother! You’re an inspiration! You have beaten the odds and went past over it and now doing triathlons! So what was your first triathlon race?
Joe: Thanks Noah. My first race was the Golden Gate Super Sprint. Again I got lucky because I got second in my age group in that race.
FAT: There’s no question you deserved it. So with a fulltime job and family, how do you find time to train?
Joe: Actually, it’s very hard. I work graveyard shift as a technical support for a software company. During the day, I take care of my son. I don’t have a specific training plan that’s why it’s not consistent. I’m also a single parent. My priority is to be a father first, then triathlons come second. If I want to train, I would have to sacrifice sleep. I have to cut down on sleep to train. I can’t have both.
FAT: Props to you Joe. You definitely have the drive and dedication. Do you have any background in any of the three disciplines?
Joe:I don’t. I’m not a natural athlete either so I have to work harder than the genetically gifted guys. It’s a good thing I have developed into a stronger cyclist.
FAT: You sure are! I looked at your 70.3 Vineman bike split and you averaged 20.21 mph!
Joe: Thanks! I knew I could have gone faster but I played it safe ‘coz I don’t want to bonk on the run. It’s ok though. I don’t do triathlons to compete. I do it to prove to myself that I can do anything if I dig deep enough within me.
FAT: What are your previous events for this year?
Joe: This year I also did Wildflower. It was very challenging but definitely a lot of fun! It’s the Woodstock of triathlons! It’s definitely a must do event. There were easily 20,000 people attending the whole weekend! Everyone I met was an athlete. If you decide to do it in the future, make sure to camp there so you can take in the complete vibe.
FAT: So how did you react when you got into Kona?
Joe: I was really surprised! I actually felt very lucky and honored. In order to validate your Kona lottery slot, you have to compete in at least one 70.3 or full Ironman event. I didn’t know about that and luckily, I got in at Vineman 70.3 otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to validate my slot and I would have forfeited my slot.
FAT: When it rains, it pours! Let’s talk about your training. With Kona just around the corner, how are you preparing for the temperature and distance?
Joe: It’s really hard to be consistent. When I wake up in the morning and my son tells me “Daddy, don’t go gym, stay, and sleep some more with me,” how can you say no to that?
FAT: That’s a really tough situation to be in.
Joe: Not really but I’ve never said no to my son. It’s a good thing he trains with me. When I go for my long runs, he tags along. He stays in the stroller and is my coach! He actually makes it harder for me ‘coz he tells me to run faster. Sometimes I bring him along on my training rides and sits in the backseat. He also joins me when I swim in the lake. We actually did our first triathlon event together. He was only three years old and his age group was five years old and younger. He was the youngest one!
FAT: Good job to him! Starting them young eh?
Joe: I wasn’t pushing him but he had a blast! It was so cute ‘coz he finished last but if you ask him about the race, he’ll tell you he won!
FAT: Again, good job to your little one!
Joe: He’s my inspiration. He’s one of the reasons why I do triathlons. I want him to be proud of his dad. Oh and to prepare for Kona’s blistering heat, I’ve been training in the sauna and have been doing my rides at noon! I’m probably gonna try running in sweats to see if it helps.
FAT: That’s some hard core training you’re doing!
Joe: Hehehe… Heat and humidity are your two biggest foes in Kona so might as well be ready for them. I also hired a swim coach to help me with my swimming. I need to make sure I make the cut off time on the swim and bike or it’s all for nothing.
FAT: Any pre-race rituals?
Joe: I don’t really have any but before each race, I listen to Miley Cyrus’ song “Climb.” That song is the story of my life. It lifts me up and get’s me all pumped up. One of the lines of the song is "Its not about how fast I get there, its not about what’s waiting on the other side, its the climb."
FAT: That’s a great line brother. It has been a pleasure to talk to you Joe. Like I said, you are an inspiration to everyone and not just triathletes. Any last words that you would like to share?
Joe: Train hard and live like there’s no tomorrow. If you dig deep inside of you, you’ll find that nothing is impossible! By the way, here’s the link to my fundraiser for Kona. http://www.eneeria.org/ironjoe/index.html To be honest, I’ll appreciate all the help I can get. Also, thanks a lot to Filamtri for all the tips and training advice the members have given me!
There you have it. Great triathlete, an excellent ambassador to the sport, and most of all, a humble human being. Let’s support Joe Dulay in his quest for that Kona finishing line! http://www.eneeria.org/ironjoe/index.html