|In the movie “Chariots of Fire,” Scottish Olympian and missionary Eric Liddell is quoted as saying, “And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.”
La Hacienda Admission Specialist Jon Garcia found the inner power to complete his first 140.6-mile triathlon, the Memorial Hermann Ironman North American Championship Texas, on April 28 in The Woodlands.
Despite hot, humid weather — and suffering an ankle injury three weeks earlier while running a half triathlon in Galveston — Jon trotted across the finish line with a total time of 13 hours, 26 minutes and 36 seconds.
The triathlon winner completed the race hours earlier, but for Jon, it was still a victory. His primary goal was to cross that line.
“Not everyone finishes,” said Jon, who was cheered on by his wife, Kandi, and by fellow La Hacienda Admission Specialist Greg White.
He also competed with approximately 2,500 other athletes to set an example.
“I wanted to show that if you get clean and do the right things, anything is possible. As a recovering addict, I understand what others are going through. Someone who is in recovery can still live a dream that they thought was lost.”
After the race, Jon posted a photo of himself with a big smile at the finish line. “I would like to give thanks to La Hacienda for the support, and a shout out to my coach, Bart Stevens, for preparing me for this experience.”
Jon grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where “drugs were easily accessible because we lived right on the border with Mexico.” He participated in sports—especially football, basketball, and baseball—as a youth, but he also hung out with “the crowd that got in trouble,” and his drug use escalated.
At 24, he realized that he was in serious trouble.
“Seeing addiction and the lifestyle that comes with it on TV is one thing, but when it became my reality, I wasn’t OK with that….There comes a time when every addict or alcoholic comes face to face with the disease, and we either get help, or we continue to suffer the consequences and pain of our using.”
Jon credits the 12 steps with teaching him “how to love myself as a person in recovery….It’s kind of like getting to know who I really am, and what my assets and liabilities were to continue to live.”
“The spiritual principals that go along with the steps have transformed me from living on the streets to being able to do what I do today.”
Exercise and other activities related to training for triathlons are also a part of Jon’s recovery regimen. He makes use of the nearby Guadalupe River for swimming, rides and runs in the hills, and works out in the gym.
Jon plans to compete in an Ironman triathlon again, this time in fall 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky.