Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 170 – Connor Emeny

Connor: [00:00:00] I’m going to pull lessons from that experience for the rest of my life. But the main one for me was — somebody asked me a couple of years back, like, what’s one thing you’ve gone all in on in your life? And I just didn’t have an answer. And to me, I wanted to do something that was relatively not comfortable, relatively not new to me, or didn’t grow up with and go all in on. And to me, like going around the world and learning from different people through racing was like the perfect outlet for that.

Jesse: [00:00:43] Did you know that we each lose a different amount of electrolytes in our sweat, largely based on our genetics? That means that there’s no one size fits all perfect sports drink for everybody because we each have unique needs. That’s why we at Solpri developed the SYNC hydration system, a series of sports drinks to help match you with the personal level of electrolytes that you need. If you’d like us to help you match with your perfect sports drink, go to Solpri.com/Hydration-quiz. That’s Solpri.com/hydration-quiz.

Jesse: [00:01:20] Welcome to Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today is the youngest person who has the world record for being the youngest person to complete an Ironman on six different continents. I think he’d make it seven if he possibly could. Welcome to the show, Connor Emeny.

Connor: [00:01:38] Thanks, Jesse. So, so good to be here. Excited to get a good chat going and reminisce on the last two years of the journey.

Jesse: [00:01:50] So I know the question that most people want to ask you, and I think you answered this in this kind of like short documentary bio thing that was done with the photographer about your journey is like, why are you doing this? I think you say something about like you’re not really sure why. Which I think to most people would be a little unfathomable. Like doing a single Ironman is typically like a pinnacle for many people, let alone doing six of them, let alone on six different continents. So have you had any more epiphanies about that, or is it still just it doesn’t really matter why I just continue forward?

Connor: [00:02:44] Yeah, I think, you know, I’m going to pull lessons from that experience for the rest of my life. But the main one for me was — somebody asked me a couple of years back, like, what’s one thing you’ve gone all in on in your life? And I just didn’t have an answer. And to me, I wanted to do something that was relatively not comfortable, relatively not new to me, or like didn’t grow up with and go all in on. And to me, like going around the world and learning from different people through racing was like the perfect outlet for that and obviously came with so many challenges.

[00:03:22] But really to me it’s about like hunting a dream, going all in on it. And no matter what obstacle comes your way, you’re equipped with the tools to overcome that. So that was kind of what I set out to do, and that’s kind of the main reason why. And I think underlining the why is like in such a fragile state in the world, I think the world needs more dreamers now than ever before. So instead of saying to my friends, like, we got this, it’s like actions speak louder than words, and if I can do it, then so can you.

Jesse: [00:04:01] You know, I would agree with you wholeheartedly that we need more people pursuing their dreams, which is. I think tough because we get so much advice about like. You know, what’s the common path? Go to college, get a job, have a family, you know, like I’m doing many of those things so I’m not trying to like bash those things because there’s value in those things as well. Longtime listeners of the podcast know have a getting close to three month old baby now, and that’s a whole challenge of its own, which I’m happy to be a part of.

[00:04:40] But like I said, I spent nearly a decade post-college chasing my dreams of professional triathlon and knowing that it was going to pay basically nothing, just that was something that I needed to do as a person. But it does kind of like you leave me to that point of like, why don’t more people go after the thing that they dream about, you know, like. I know that. I like I said, from a practical standpoint, bills have to be paid like you’ve got to have food to eat, those kind of things. But I think now more than ever, it seems like people are finding resourceful ways to live kind of an unconventional life, so to speak.

[00:05:36] And I guess the part I’ve always struggled with when people go, “Nah, I’m just going to be practical” is like you only live once. You only got one shot through as far as we know. You only got one shot through. Like, what do you have to lose? The whole experience. I mean, you have your life to lose.

Connor: [00:06:01] Yeah, I resonate with that. It’s like, you know, I when I kind of left to do this triathlon goal right on paper was, you know, had a great job, was working at a super cool tech company. Really enjoyed it, actually. But to me it was like, if I don’t take this leap and scratch this itch that I’m thinking about every day, when am I going to do that? And, you know, when I when I look back on it and kind of just when I talk to some of my friends, like the whole idea of building your life resume versus your paper resume is what stood out to me.

[00:06:39] So, you know, you can always go get more accolades, You can always go back to school. And I say that obviously from a state of privilege. I know a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to go to school, but there really is an infinite amount of learning and resources online to continue your education. But there’s a finite amount of time to go out and experience with the world has to offer. And I think the earlier you can do that, the more perspective you can gain on the world, the more serendipitous opportunities come. You run into somebody you never scheduled to meet or plan and they prevent present an opportunity or an idea that leads you onto that path that you’re supposed to be on.

Jesse: [00:07:20] Well, I think that is the — I know it’s scariest, but just maybe one of the most daunting things, but also, as you said, like serendipitous or hopeful things about taking that leap. Is that — Now with the caveat that maybe this is survivor bias survivorship bias here. But just like I feel like I know so many people that found opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise had they not taken the lead or like we were talking about before the podcast got going, you said, “Why did you even start the podcast?” I mean, from a practical standpoint of like, well, I wanted to like give value to my customers and send them content every week.

[00:08:11] But through taking that leap, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but just as somebody who’s particularly introverted and then meeting like strangers online, it was really daunting in the beginning. But taking that leap, I’ve had the opportunity to talk and be with you. I never would. I won’t say never, but very unlikely will have ever met you otherwise. Or we talked about. I got to have a conversation with Mark Allen and all these other really cool people on the show. Just scroll through the rolodex to the show for you, the listener.

[00:08:45] And that’s just like a small example, let alone like The Doors, that doing this challenge for you is probably open to people that you’ve talked to, the opportunities and things that you’ve seen that. If you just decided, Oh, I’m just going to sit at my desk job like never would have happened.

Connor: [00:09:05] Yeah. And it’s, you know, it was kind of like the craziest, most challenging, frustrating, you know, financially draining decision I’ve ever made. But and even taxing on the body. But like, the most fulfilling. The most rewarding. And I think what’s rooted in triathlon or endurance sports is this no matter what else is going on in your life or how difficult it is, you have this constant of I’m getting up and I’m putting out X amount of hours to train every day, and that’s making me better.

[00:09:39] So just this discipline of like getting up, focusing on a goal, whatever it is, and knowing that it’s not going to happen overnight, you’re not going to show up to a race unprepared. You know, a race is really just a reflection of all the work that’s been put in beforehand. So to me, it was like having this one constant through a pandemic, through, you know, life challenges, through X, Y, Z of like, I know no matter what, if a race gets canceled, I’m still going out and swimming that day or running that day or biking that day. And I found that really gave me a really great sense of purpose, irrespective of the bigger goal that I was trying to achieve.

Jesse: [00:10:22] That’s something that, you know, I just shot a video. In speaking of runners specifically, So if you’re on the YouTube version of the podcast, you can check that out. If you’re not, go to YouTube.com/Solpri. But that constant. Sometimes having that constant is a double-edged sword. Not to poo-poo your suggestion, because I actually agree. But just like if you get injured, the lack of that constant can be difficult for people because there’s so used to that being there like north star of this is the thing that gets me through.

[00:10:59] And then now I’m going to have to look it up because as we were talking about before I get going, I’ll start. Guests are becoming a blur to me. Previous conversation. I’ll figure it out here in a second. Yeah, I think it was Tim Perreira from last week, Episode 169 talking about just like decoupling the activity from your identity.

Connor: [00:11:25] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:11:25] And then, like, so, like taking your idea that swim, bike, run, whatever it is as your north star, that constant your life and then figuring out like the feeling that goes along with that, whatever it is, whether it’s just like having an activity that’s constant or whether it’s the endurance sport itself or your confidence in yourself to overcome challenges. And then like taking that and knowing that even if you’re injured, you can apply that that thing that gives you the kind of reassurance to other areas.

[00:12:05] I think I feel like that’s a challenge of mine, but like kind of the next step or the next evolution of it, whether you can or can’t continue doing your thing is like thinking about what does it say about me even if I can’t do the activity?.

Connor: [00:12:27] Yeah, the way that my brain kind of processes it is like, yes, you can be identified as the Ironman or the ultra runner or whatever your kind of craft is. But, you know, I read this book called The Power of Habit, I think, by Charles Duhigg. And really, like, we are just a product of what we repeatedly do, right? And so if you do get injured and you know, now your identity is like shattered, right? Like, oh, I’ve got to put this on hold for six months or however long. Like, I think that can affect a lot of people.

[00:13:05] But if you can kind of have the perspective of look at all the good traits that builds all of that, like the discipline I built and how I can shift that from, you know, I now I spent an hour swimming every day, like let me spend an hour writing or reading everyday and kind of educating myself about how it can become the best version of me. So just like having that mindset of discipline over kind of excitement or motivation, I think it will always prevail.

Jesse: [00:13:38] That’s where like. I — I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder whether I get too esoteric about some of these things or it’s like I just go run. Like, it’s. It’s fine, you know? But, I mean, I miss what twice is Smart Athlete Podcast because I want to, like, have these conversations about, like, let’s think about what like what life lessons running is teaching me, you know? I think it is important to have that. That north star, whatever is.

[00:14:10] And, so for you, the listener, if you don’t like running or you don’t like triathlon or like find your thing, like, I don’t care whether you like the same thing that I like. You know, maybe you like badminton or you like playing an instrument or whatever or whatever. It doesn’t matter. But just having something. I like to think of it as habit. I think you said something about, like. Getting past that like energy required for motivation or moving more towards discipline, like. Having a habit of some sort, I think grounds me whether I’m able to do all the mileage I want to do or not.

[00:14:56] So I guess that leads me to the question of like. Clearly, there’s a lot of time spent on the journey. Is this simply a — want to say, an extension or a pivot from who you were as a kid? Or is this like comes out of nowhere and suddenly you’re just doing all these Ironmans?

Connor: [00:15:26] Yeah, that’s a great question. I think really the funny story of how triathlon kind of started was, yeah, I played most sports growing up as mostly competitive hockey, and when it came to after high school, I was deciding between pursuing hockey in the States or I got into a good business program in Canada and I came to this cross bridge of like, Which one am I going to do? I didn’t really see like hockey kind of progressing past that next stage and decided to focus on my education.

[00:16:04] And in that first year of university, I was like, What other sports can I try? I always love trying new things, right? And my friends too, and my friends and I went to high school with my same university. We’re like, “Let’s try out for the rowing team.”, “Let’s try out for the triathlon team.” We decided to try out for the triathlon team and pretty quickly one of them couldn’t swim, didn’t pass the swim tests. The other one, his bike tire popped on the bike ride.

[00:16:31] And here I was like crossing the finish line, like the only one of the three of us. But something about it just like, pulled my attention. I was like, “Wow!” Like, you mean you could do three different disciplines or three different sports in one race? That was so exciting to me and so new to me.

[00:16:47] But the grounding thing was like, I like the people that I met in that tryout and I think this would have gone so differently if I didn’t. Right? And it really comes down to like what you’re saying about finding your north stars, find the people you align with because you can always get better at something if you are excited to show up. Right?

[00:17:09] So to me, I just kept showing up and my other two friends didn’t and I made new friends and one of them, his name was Ben Redson, and he, him and I would compete head to head. And then he came, went off and came 14th at Kona for our age group and Ironman World Championships. And I was like, blown away. I was just like, “Wow!” like, “how the heck did he do that?” And I found like, if this ordinary person could do an extraordinary thing, like, why can’t I do that? And so really he kind of gave me this idea of like, if he can do it, I can do it. And I hope that, like me, is some similar principle to other people around me. If I can do it, then you can do it kind of thing as well.

Jesse: [00:17:56] But, you know, you mentioned like find the people you align with. I think especially for if you, the listener or like a fellow introverted personality, we keep — we tend to keep a few close friends and that’s about it. But I think we often undervalue like casual connections. And there’s I think there’s a lot of value in those. Maybe they’re just like the people use, like you said, maybe it’s just like, I know a gym I go to, there’s a triathlon class. Maybe you just see them at triathlon class. You don’t like hang out on the weekend or do what? That’s fine. That’s perfectly fine.

[00:18:40] And like you said, I think there’s some value in having those people as like, almost like accountability buddies. Like, they’ll be like, :Hey, where were you?” Like, so when maybe you were feeling a little down or you’re like, “Oh, I’m not sure if I want to go, go hit the pool today.” You’re like, “Oh, no. Like, I know, I know. Jimmy and Susan are going to want to know where I am, so I’m going to go.” And then you end up feeling fine once you get going.

[00:19:12] Especially in this time of like more remote work. And I mean, like, what you’re doing now. What I do. With that freedom comes some loss. I think of those casual connections and I am a big proponent of remote work, so I’m not like one of those people that is like, get everybody me back in the office. Different horses for courses, as they say. But I do think it’s if you’re not getting that casual connection at work, like I think it’s worth seeking out some other place because I think even if it doesn’t necessarily help you towards becoming an Ironman, I think it has value for you as a person. Like you said, working on your resume as a person, not just like your CV to hand out to employers.

Connor: [00:20:08] Yeah. And to me, like what it what kind of lured me in right. And I guess we can, we can kind of chat about the kind of progression, but really like after joining that triathlon team and seeing Ben go off and do this thing, it kind of lit this fire in me that that I had it in me as well. And, you know, I didn’t know when I would do it, but I just had this inkling and gut feeling that I could do it. And so I texted him in 2016 when he went off and did that and was like, by 2020, I’m going to do my first Ironman.

[00:20:39] And then I didn’t really know him well. But like you said, it has this accountability metric now. And I’m a big believer in if you say you’re going to do something, then do it. And so, yeah, just kind of was always in the back of my mind. And then I kind of put things on hold when a whole different kind of path. I got a job as a beer representative, you know, like promoting a beer company kind of throughout my, my four years in university. And it was kind of a hard thing to try and wake up, hung over and then do a do like a 2K or two-mile swim. Right?

[00:21:16] So I kind of put it on the back burner. But you know, what I did like and kind of the grounding was back to running. And I always found like, no matter what, I could go out and do a run and just feel better or sweat out, sweat out, whatever kind of was on my mind or just like, get this fresh air of everything. Everything’s okay, right? And tell people they have meditation, they have their outlets. And to me it was always running.

[00:21:46] So I kind of just stuck the course with that. And before I knew it, I was doing half marathon, marathon then I did an ultramarathon and then before I knew it, I was like, “Wow, this is something that I just really like to see what I’m capable of”, right? And you fall back into this group of and I was showing up at these, these marathons and ultramarathons. You meet someone, they tell you about another race, you’re like, “Oh, I think I can do that.” Right? And that’s where I met this guy named John Pockler. And he’s a big, big ultra runner and seen and really like. We just kind of hit it off on this long run. And before I knew it, I ended up you ask me to crew for him to crew The Bruce Trail, which is Canada’s oldest and long smart footpath, 900 kilometers.

[00:22:40] And so for nine days, 17 hours and 2 minutes, I drove this camper van and ran beside him, swapping with my brother for ran 50K a day while he ran 100K, and then got to witness firsthand just this incredible human feat of running 100K a day, being shattered, being broken, but showing up and doing it again. And I think like witnessing just something so crazy like that automatically will change your wiring in your brain of what you think your threshold is and what’s possible.

[00:23:14] And, you know, a month later, I went out and ran my first 100 kilometers and I was like, man, you know, we’re so much more capable of doing things than we ever perceived. So really is the lesson here is like you just become a product of your environment. So if you’re interested in something like go out and search for the people that are doing it on a daily basis and you’ll eventually kind of either learn that you can do it or can do something that was much further along than you thought you could do.

Jesse: [00:23:45] I mean, I’ve come back to this a number of times and you hear this, but like, it’s so true. They’re like, you’re the average the five people you spend the most time with. So, like, if you want to be better and you hang out with a bunch of people, like, did — It comes with the caveat that like if like you said, you were a beer rep and you’re going to parties, if that’s what you want to do. Go for it, man.

[00:24:15] That’s the thing where I go. If you’re not hurting anybody and that’s what you want to do, do it like no judgment. But. If you want to do something else and like all your friends, go out and party every weekend and or gaining weight and they’re not exercising. And you want to go do an Ironman like you’re probably going to have to get a different set of friends just because what are you more likely to do? You’re probably going to go partying then it’s going to be tough to get up and go do the workout and be accountable to yourself versus like if all you’re in this group of people that they do get up every morning and they go run 20K or they put in their 3 to 5K in the pool or whatever it is.

[00:25:04] Like it makes it easier. It just makes it so much easier. And like you said, like. There’s something powerful about seeing somebody do the things not just like hearing about it because, like. I mean. I know people that finished Ironmans. I did. I raised 70.3s towards the end of my triathlon career. Never did the falls because I didn’t really have any interest in it, because I like going faster. I really prefer the Olympic distance. I just don’t have the talent for it.

[00:25:37] So I know people I’ve seen it done. But that’s different. Like, I know inherently it would be like you and I would have a way different relationship if I had followed you to each of the races and seen you complete every single one of them. Like I know the difficulty of finishing an Ironman, let alone six on six continents. But there’s something visceral about being physically present for whatever. So I can only imagine the kind of impact that that huge ultra run, multi-day run had for you.

Connor: [00:26:17] Yeah, it was. It was just mind-blowing. Right? Like to watch something you can read about something, you can watch a movie about it. But to see it tangible in real life like and just the pure emotion of like, man, like somebody sleeping for 4 hours a day, it’s like grimacing every step but is still finding something within him to do it, you know? And it’s like, “Why?” Like, nobody knows why. And this is kind of the same journey about me.

[00:26:44] It’s like just a sense of discovery, but kind of on this point, right? Is like that Steve Jobs quote, you can’t really connect the dots looking forward, but you can connect them looking back where it’s when I think about growing up in my first exposure to running, I joined, you know, cross-country team in grade five, six, seven. And when I was in grade ten, I shared a gym class with Justin Knight, who’s, you know, set number seven in the Olympics for the 5K and holds Canada’s top 5K or second fastest 5K time of all time.

[00:27:16] And Jake Evans on my left who’s like now on the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL and part of our gym class. We had to run 5k and here I was on a cross-country team not the fastest but like a little bit more, more in tune with running. So I thought, “Yeah, I can do this pretty good.” We go out, run this 5k just tonight, never ran before, goes out and runs sub 15 minute 5k which is like just absolutely absurd. Right? So —

Jesse: [00:27:48] I mean it’s fast for this, fast for anybody, let alone just like go out and do it like that’s, you know, that doesn’t happen.

Connor: [00:27:57] It doesn’t happen. Right. And so there was this, this like magical aura about him. Right. And we everyone at school wanted to see him succeed. So they put him on the cross-country team that year. He won every single race he entered. He won all of like the entire province offs and through that got exposure to all the universities. He ended up signing a Fulbright scholarship to Syracuse, went out and broke all of their records at Syracuse.

[00:28:28] One Freshman Athlete of the Year, even though their March Madness team went to the Final Four and he just had this, like, incredible drive. But I think what was so incredible is like. It’s just this undiscovered talent. Right. And I think that there’s so much talent within all of us on maybe a smaller scale that we’re not like bringing to light because the right environment isn’t there to shine light on it.

[00:28:54] So to me, witnessing that was pretty incredible. And looking back on it, like I didn’t really realize how special it was in the time, but it’s yeah, it’s pretty cool to, to be around those people early on. And I think the more people like that you can surround yourself with or gravitate towards, like the more you’ll look at your own adventures in a different way.

Jesse: [00:29:19] I think that’s like. I think that’s the thing that not the only thing, but maybe one of the things that drives parents to do crazy things with their kids and push them too hard is like trying to make that magic happen when it’s like it doesn’t necessarily happen that direction. You can go, you the listener can go back to the catalog and look at almost any of the conversations that I’ve had with Olympic athletes over the years, and we almost always end up talking about like this kind of topic of like pushing your kids, what do you do, and they’re almost always be like, if they have kids, they’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m not going to push my kids. Like if they want it, they’ll figure it out.”

[00:30:08] And — but then on the other side, you’ll see parents be like, “Oh, they’re going to get a Fulbright scholarship and I’m going to make sure that and they’re like trying to will their children through the things and I think that’s the tough thing is like it’s I think you can give them opportunities, but then you can’t make the magic happen like it either appears or it doesn’t. 

[00:30:32] Like in your case, I guess I don’t know anything about your parents, but I would guess that they weren’t like, “You need to be just as fast as that other guy. You need to go out and you need to run all the workouts with him and do all those things” because that probably, unless I’m wrong about you, probably would have crushed you and then move you away from running eventually and kind of made it like a toxic item for you.

Connor: [00:30:59] Yeah, for sure. No, I think like so. I have two older brothers. You know they’re twins. Three years older than I am. Alex, Ben, Connor, ABC. And they’re. They’re both, like, very competitive. So to me, like, our parents, like, would just. We never really actually played, like, super high-level anything like up until I don’t know, like 15 or 16 years old. It was always like house leg, like, try whatever you want to try. Like, I did gymnastics one summer and I was like, five years old, right?

[00:31:31] And then I was like, playing hockey, playing soccer. And even early into school, like in, in where I went to school, like I was on the badminton team, cross country team, rugby team, ping pong club, like I tried everything right. And I think there’s never this pressure of like, “Oh, you have to do triathlon, You had to do hockey.” It was just like, “What do you like to do?” And I go and try it.

[00:31:57] So I think, yeah, definitely lucky in that sense that we got to try a lot of different things and but I think the really biggest advantage for me was growing up with two older brothers who were three years ahead of me, just gave me this drive to be as good or better than them. And quickly I started playing like three years up in hockey. And I think that like really pushed me to be a better athlete and just like growing up with two older brothers, you know, you got you get put into place pretty quickly. 

[00:32:33] So I became tough-skinned pretty early on. And I think what changed was they were always better because they were three years older. But I would always show up and it was like the same thing for everything cross country. I was never the fastest person, but I would always show up and I would try and stay longer because I was like, okay, I’m going to get better, or I’m going to be the person that is going to run a little bit longer, one extra lap.

[00:32:58] And like at the time, I didn’t really know why. I just like felt like it was the right thing to do was like, if I can’t beat them in speed, like let me be the last person to leave the practice. And then just kind of like trickled into this endurance realm. And I think that’s where the excitement is for me. It’s like, if you’re not the fastest, like what are you capable of? What can you do? How can, how far can you go? And yeah, that’s kind of what led me to this triathlon and Ironman journey. And I don’t know, some people think I hit my head along the way, but the last two years where we’re pretty, pretty insane and happy to chat through that if you like. Yeah.

Jesse: [00:33:42] Yeah. I mean, so I guess […] this right away. One of the things I want to talk about, about the journey is just like the practical side of like how do you fund it? Because like we said, we, I think we need more dreamers, but people got to have food, all that kind of things. So I guess walk us through the journey. How did you logistically put it together physically, logistically, in terms of like, where am I sleeping at night? How am I training, where the facilities? Like, how does this get put together?

Connor: [00:34:21] Yeah. So I think like every everything starts with a dream for context. You know, I in 2018, after graduating, I joined Uber and was number 17 on Uber Eats helping scale that and then, you know, by 2020 I was like, I love my job, I love the opportunity. But had this itch to do the first race. And to me it was like I wanted to make it so special. I only thought it would be one Ironman one and done because it was a big kind of commitment, right?

[00:34:50] And so I decided, did some research, decided to go to New Zealand because that won the Gold Label Award for Best Ironman experience. And I knew I wanted to kind of experience that part of the world. So I left to move to New Zealand in 2020 and or end of 2019, and the first race was March 2020. So I had six months to train up to it and actually was able to transfer with Uber. Long story short, join a different department called Jump, which is the electric bikes and scooters.

[00:35:25] And it was kind of this because of a visa situation. I was like on this contract where ours were a bit wonky and I was working from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day because we had to assemble these scooters, get them out into the city before people would start work and kind of rinse and repeat over and over again. And I think like it was an incredible experience because I got to learn so much, but it made it really like I didn’t have time to go out late anymore, you know, I didn’t have time to kind of drink or socialize.

[00:35:59] And it was just this moment in my life where I was like, I’m working and then I’m training and I’m like, So just dialed in for six months and I’m like, “If I can do this for six months, I can do this.” this Ironman, right? And that’s kind of how it all started. And after I crossed the finish line in the Ironman, like I. Like, I just, like, felt right away this incredible sense of accomplishment and just, like, truly proud of going so far away. I didn’t know a single person in New Zealand and had this experience and it was like so hard for me because I’m a very social person to like not drink, not socialize, not party and like just train.

[00:36:40] So that’s where it all began. But ten days later, after that race, COVID hits and I’m stranded in New Zealand and then Canada is doing emergency flights back for people. So two, two months later, after trying to stick it out, come back. And I’m like, now what? Like, you know, now what do I do? I left my job there. I’m like twiddling my thumbs. And that’s where I came across this article of this Australian girl who ran a marathon in every or an ultramarathon on every continent.

[00:37:12] And I was like, “Wow, that is so cool.” Like, I wonder if anyone’s done that for the Ironman group and did some research and there was like five or six people in the world that have done it or have been recorded doing it. And the youngest was 32 and I was 23 at the time when I did my first race and my. It just kind of this light bulb moment came off. I was like, I don’t know how the heck I’m going to do this like the pandemic, but like, it’s just like I needed to do it.

[00:37:42] I needed to just focus and like, found myself being the best version of myself, showing up in training and having a goal. And like, that’s kind of what I tell my friends to is like, if you’re like trying to be the best person version of yourself, like have something on your calendar you’re working towards, even if it’s like a5k, if it’s, you know, a musical theater performance, like whatever it is, like just have something ten weeks out that you have like thinking about each day.

[00:38:12] And so, yeah, kind of this year, year and a half went by and for over a year and I didn’t do another race. I signed up for some, but they were like, canceled, postpone. And then, you know, September 26 rolls around. I was scheduled for Ironman Canada. I moved all the way to B.C. because it was a little bit more less restrictive. The pools were open and I could train. And this comes back to your question of like, logistically, how did you make it happen?

[00:38:43] I sought out the best environment for me to succeed. So I went to B.C., didn’t know another person there again, and it was just an environment where I could focus, like just show up and train. And then September 26 rolls around. It’s scheduled for Canada ten days prior. They cancel the race and I was just like, “Oh man”, but they offered us a transfer.

[00:39:03] And so I transferred to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I was like, okay, I guess this is this is going. And then did that and, and like just felt so alive again. I was like, wow, this was like, what I crave what I wanted and beat my previous time. And I was like, okay, like, we’re in it. We’re back to it. Like I had this goal and I wanted to do it. And then like, I was like, I don’t know what this window looks like before the world kind of goes back onto lockdown.

[00:39:38] So let me see. Like I felt good physically. I was like, Let me see what other races I can do. And then there was, you know, September 26th, there was a race in like three weeks in Mallorca, Spain. And I was like, okay, I got to go there for Europe.

[00:39:53] And then like September, October, November was Africa. And I was like, “Man, this is going to be like the tightest window of all time.” But like, I, like, I just felt like I needed to do it right and, and that like everything I had, like I lived on people’s couches and just like everything I saved from Uber, I was like, going to that I was leveraging credit cards.

[00:40:19] And like, you talk about financing, I was like, in hindsight, it wasn’t the smartest idea. And I think like may felt a little bit rushed, but at the same time it was like, if not now when, you know, like I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m the most motivated I’ve ever been. And, you know, I felt like I could always go back to this corporate world, but I could never take this, like, kind of dedicated time to pursue a dream.

[00:40:47] So I just, like, made it work. I used credit cards. I was like. Whatever I have to do, I’m going to do it. And I picked up jobs. Just work three odd jobs just to pay my rent or like pay friends to sublet off of their places. Like it was just like everything I had was going towards this goal. And that that kind of just like is how it unfolded for those first four. And I’m doing a lot of talking by chanting.

Jesse: [00:41:17] No, no, you’re fine. Keep going.

Connor: [00:41:19] Okay. 

Jesse: [00:41:20] You’re good. 

Connor: [00:41:20] If there’s anything. You want to be to lean in on or —

Jesse: [00:41:23] Yeah, I’ll interject if I — if there’s a particular question. But yeah, I just I guess with the — so I mean, we had different goals, but just like you hear this and again. Maybe it’s just that this is the path I chose so that I have the bias. But like young people should be pursuing their dreams. It can change the path of your life. I think for the better. I mean, I started this company because I was doing triathlon.

[00:42:07] And through all that swimming, I got a rash on my face because all the chlorine and started the swim line. And that led to more just like I wouldn’t have started this company had I not decided to do this stupid thing and try to get my pro card. Like know I wouldn’t have been spending hours upon hours in the pool. And, you know, I probably still have a good life, but it would be different. And so, like. It’s always nice to meet other people that have that realization. As a young person, I’m still relatively young. I’m only 33, but have that realization as a young person. Like we talked about, I don’t remember whether this is part of the recorded conversation or before we were recording, but just like I said, you got one shot through.

Connor: [00:42:54] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:42:55] You know, and things. This is my business mentor said this to me the other day when he was here helping me with some stuff because of our new baby. He’s like, things only get busier and more complicated as time goes on. So like, when you’re trying to take on a big goal, especially like this one. Do it when you’re young, like you’ve got more time to screw up. But it’s which isn’t to be admonishing to older people. Because if you want to do something, you should still do it. Maybe now you’ve got the resources to do it. You don’t have to put things on credit cards like Connor did.

[00:43:33] But just like. I don’t know. I feel like life is here to be lived. And sometimes we play it a little safe. Like, I don’t know, for fear of consequences that are not as big as they seem in our minds.

Connor: [00:43:52] Yeah. And man, like, don’t get me wrong, it was like. It was so hard. It was so hard for me because I didn’t know how I was going to fund the next trip. And then, you know, like, just things happen, right? So, for example, like fourth race going to Africa and like, everything is good, but on the way back, like I leave Johannesburg flight, it’s connecting flight to Amsterdam and then going back to Toronto where I was flying through in Canada and like tested negative, you know, do all that quarantine stuff.

[00:44:33] And then as I’m landing for the connecting flight in Amsterdam, they go on the PA and they’re like, there’s a new variant of COVID coming out. And I was like, all right, like, what does that mean? And then they’re like, we don’t have any information, but we’re going to put you on the tarmac 5 hours, we’re on this tarmac, and then they come back on the PA and say, we’re sorry to say, but like this plane has been contaminated and there’s people here that probably have the variant.

[00:45:05] They put us into bus busses into like an ostracized wing of the airport and test 600 passengers because there’s two planes coming from Africa. And sure enough, like 28 hours go by. It was a movie like, you know, they said they’re going to bring out beds for everyone because it was overnight. There was like families, you know, they brought like six sleeping bags for 600 passengers. And I’ve never seen the human race, like just so aggressive towards each other, you know, like there’s no food, there’s no water.

[00:45:34] And they’re like pulling sleeping bags from kids with their family and just like sleeping on their own. I was like, so it was so hostile, this environment. But the story was like 600 people. My brother and I were on this on this plane. 60 of us tested, tested positive for this new variance. And my brother and I actually tested positive. We get sent to this isolated hotel and they nicknamed it Hotel Omicron. And we were there for two weeks. Right.

[00:46:03] And like, this is just part of this story. I’m like, man, you go from feeling like you’re invincible, running an Ironman, and then the next day you’re like, testing positive for something that could potentially kill you and you don’t know, right? And it’s like we were guinea pigs. They literally injected needles into us, took our blood, tested us for 14 days straight, and luckily we were okay and recovered and all that jazz.

[00:46:28] But like, that was just one example of this was like a big scare. Like, let’s, let’s not continue, you know, maybe, maybe like, slow it down. But to me, I was like, so determined and maybe just like, bullishly determined to complete this thing that I was like, “When’s the next race?” So it was the only thing that was keeping me, like, excited and energetic about, like anything that was going on in the world. Because everyone I talk to is complaining. They’re like, you know, I’m just like, I can’t work. I can’t do this. It can’t do this.

[00:46:58] Like I’m not going to work because X, Y, Z. And I was just like, “Oh, like I can’t be around this.” Like, I need to, like, just, just train. So. Yeah. Then I signed up for the Philippines and I was actually scheduled for Taiwan, but the race got canceled and they transferred me to the Philippines. And this was March 6. So almost like a full year to the day or full two years to the day of my first race. And now we’re on number five. And it was like. It was actually the most stressful race I’ve ever had because as I was flying there, my bike didn’t arrive. It got sent to Korea when I was landing in Philippines on a connecting and there was I got rerouted back for some reason.

[00:47:45] So I arrived and I had 72 hours before the race and I was like, I just spent 17 hours flying here. I don’t have my bike. What am I going to do? The race starts in 72 hours and all these emotions go through your brain, right? Like, man, just call it a day. Like it’s just not meant to be X, Y, Z. So I was like, I can’t. I can’t like, I have to finish this race, Like, so I called every bike shop that was in the city to try and find a bike.

[00:48:17] And my partner back in Canada was like on the phones calling places. Like I called my mom and I was like, like, I don’t know who else to call. I don’t know what else to do. I was like in the local Starbucks she’s using her phone, like, “How do I get this bike?” I finally took a taxi to this random bike shop, and this is where just like things kind of connect when you’re just so bullish on making something happen as hard as it feels, you know, if you keep going, like more likely than not, something’s going to move into your favor eventually.

[00:48:50] And so went into this bike shop and this guy was like, “Hey, I don’t actually” — the owner of the store — is like, “I don’t actually have a bike your size”, but I have a friend who’s like, you know, an ex Filipino basketball player that could maybe fit your frame. And I was like, okay, sure. Otherwise, I was about to rent like a Bamboo City bike for the Ironman. I was like, whatever it takes.

[00:49:15] Anyways, long story short, he got his friend to let me borrow his bike. He gave me his helmet, his shoes, and it was like, you know, it was these acts of kindness. That is really what it was all about. It was highlighting the people that make this journey happen. And I think that these untold stories is really what fuels the adventure, right? Is like, if you knew it was going to be perfectly planned, it’s kind of like life. If you knew it’s going to be perfectly planned, perfectly executed.

[00:49:44] Like I’m not saying the extreme of like don’t have a plan, don’t have an interview, but leave some room for spontaneity, leave some room for adventure, and you’re going to meet some really cool people and yeah, forever grateful. But we stay in touch to this day, me and that bike shop owner and he connected me to like the National Filipino Tri team. And I got to meet all of them and meet the host of the Ironman group.

[00:50:12] And just like I wish I could share photos with you here because it was like, so, so cool. But it was the hardest race as well. It was, you know, for Celsius wise, it was like 40 degrees, which I don’t know, in Fahrenheit off the top of my head. But just like trying to do a race in a sauna.

Jesse: [00:50:33] It’s 104.

Connor: [00:50:34] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:50:35] Yeah so I was like, I know 40 is pretty far up there, but I didn’t know exactly where it was. Yeah.

Connor: [00:50:40] Yeah. So that was, that was the hardest race. I actually lost 10lbs during the race. They tried to pull me out and I went straight to the medic tents after the race and it was like, well, I’m there for like 6 hours. They’re putting IVs into me and it’s just like, felt like such a shell of a human. But definitely the most memorable out of the six as well.

Jesse: [00:51:05] Yeah, I don’t know how you feel about it because like, I ended up in the medical tent. I don’t know how many times now after my like 70.3s, the first one Eagleman which has like no shade on that course and I was just so out of it, which I learned afterwards. It was like the sports drink I was doing was wrong for me. Like I was basically taking in twice as many electrolytes as I needed, which is part of the reason why I came out with this multi strength electrolyte series. But try not to spend too much time talking about our products.

[00:51:45] But like several of them, I ended up in the medical tent and we were like my buddy and I raced Santa Cruz, which was that was the whole adventure we were staying with like a family friend of his that lived near Santa Cruz and like, they didn’t quite get the whole thing. Like, they’re just like, “Oh, you’re going to go do a triathlon thing.”

[00:52:09] And like, they didn’t. Really understand. So like, he and I, like, slept on the floor with a couple of nights like […] like they didn’t they like we would have just booked accommodations somewhere to have beds. But by that time, once we were like, it was too late. Everything’s booked and it was just like, what is — like what is happening right now? And then kind of Santa Cruz for me was such a challenge. I had a flat tire before the race even started. The bike mechanics lent me one of their like $1000 wheels to go on my set.

[00:52:45] I had this like, mismatched set. My food didn’t get I didn’t get my fuel set up on my bike properly so I didn’t have any transition right. So then I wasn’t fueled by the end of the run, I was like. I had tunnel, literally, my vision was going black. Never had that happen before. Just like willing myself to get across the finish line, end up in the medical tent and, you know, the good and bad things I took away from that was that number one, I felt more confident in myself. The like, and so I’m curious, but I’m sharing this because I’m curious about the lessons you took away from your experience on five.

[00:53:28] I felt more confident about myself, like. If I want something, I will will myself through it until I’m dead. Like would — But the other lesson is the same thing. If I want something enough, I’ll will myself through it until I’m dead, which is not necessarily a good thing. So it’s understanding — Part of it is just understanding my own nature and knowing that. Being more confident that I have that in me to do that, but also being cautious of that because that can lead you to trouble if you don’t do that, like preparation and planning. Like we talked about, like trying to be smart and knowing that that’s a double-edged sword. So I’m kind of curious if you have any takeaways like that from your experience on five.

Connor: [00:54:20] Yeah, So I mean, the biggest one, honestly, was like in that moment it made me realize like, I’m actually not doing this for myself. Like it’s bigger than myself. You know, at that point, I was hours off of like, my anticipated time, you know, and I was like, man, like, like nobody’s here. Nobody needs to know. Nobody knows. Like, I’m actually here. I was there by myself.

[00:54:45] So, like, why do I need to finish this? Like, I feel horrible. I know it’s not good for my body. Like, why? And it was like an hour, hour ten. I’m like 5K into this marathon. That’s like, I can’t even run anymore. You know? I’m, like, so depleted and it’s like. Everyone that is looking at you doing this is like once wants you to — was rooting for you you know like they’ve gone out of their way to support you to finish this dream and it’s like having to share dream just makes things so much more meaningful, so much more impactful.

[00:55:27] And to me it was like, I don’t know if I’m going to even cross this line, but I’m going to give it everything I have because, you know, I have friends back home that are watching this and people that I don’t know that are watching this. And I think like when you have a goal that’s bigger than yourself or a vision that’s bigger than yourself, then it makes you like infinitely more determined to accomplish it than if it’s just intrinsic motivation. And it’s like, why? Why do you need to do this? It’s just to prove to yourself, like, so what? You know, it’s like.

[00:56:05] I think the idea is like, if you can show yourself you can do it and lean on others. They’ll show themselves that they can do something as well. So just having this bigger kind of goal of or lessen of it wasn’t about me or it’s never been about me. And I think that’s after finishing the goal is what I’ve just kind of tried to highlight is like recognize all the people that sacrificed and believed in me.

[00:56:34] And for my final race, I got a big number six on the back of my jersey with 84 names of people that either contributed to my fundraiser, who jumped on the call, who helped me with sports nutrition, who helped me with training plan like a volunteer swim coach because I YouTube how to swim. And he was like seeing me show up in the pool every day. And he was part of the national swim team and he was like, “Man, what are you doing?” Like, I was like, “This is what I’m trying to do. But like, I’ve never formally trained. I’m just YouTubing.” And he was like, willing to give his time just to help me. And I was like, it’s all these people that make this goal come to life. So yeah, recognizing that and I think that makes any goal, you know, become bulletproof when you have an army around you.

Jesse: [00:57:24] Yeah. Connor, I’m sure we can keep going for a while, but we’re going to run down on time here soon. So as anyone listens to the show knows, I ask a singular question to all my guests for a particular season. This season’s question, which I’ll ask you now, is how do you celebrate your wins?

Connor: [00:57:46] Yeah, that’s a great question to me. Wow. Right now, it’s kind of like reflecting on them. And I’m not necessarily an author, but I’ve been trying to write about each experience and each memory. I figure, like, of a certain person or place that impacted me. I’ll reach back out to them and like jump on a call and just like, celebrate the kind of small moment that led to the bigger goal. So kind of looking back at all the steps helps me feel like this was this was a we-win and not an on and I-win.

Jesse: [00:58:27] Connor, I think you’ve got upcoming challenges and goals you’re chasing. So if people want to see what you’re up to, you get in touch. Is there a good way to do that?

Connor: [00:58:37] Yeah, I think Instagram is probably the easiest. It’s just @ConnorEmeny and I know you joked about it at the beginning of maybe completing a triathlon on the seventh continent, but that’s something that I’m working towards actually right now. So if people want to reach out or learn more or even just follow the journey, then I can always happy to answer any questions.

Jesse: [00:59:03] Awesome. Connor, thanks for hanging out with me today.

Connor: [00:59:06] I appreciate it, Jesse. It was awesome chat.

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