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Sunday Reflection: IRONMAN Edition

One week from today, Dylan is finally getting his chance to compete in the official Ironman Lake Placid Triathlon. We wanted to share this post from his experience last year and reflect on how far The Lefty Cycles Project, Inc. and its founder have come since the start of 2020. There will be many updates shared this week so get ready to ring your Lefty Cycles cow bell and cheer loudly for Dylan and his team. Comment below with your email address if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

This blog was originally published in July 2020.

“On July 26, 2020, athletes from around the world will descend on the alpine village of Lake Placid to test their limits in Ironman Lake Placid”; This statement was displayed on the official event website but as of early May, the date of the race was rescheduled to July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This highly anticipated event begins with the swimmers entering the water at 6:30am for a 2.5-mile swim across the pristine Mirror Lake, followed by an intensive 112-mile bike leg through the Adirondack Mountains, and finishes with a grueling full marathon. This specific course is known for its intense inclines and as one of the oldest Ironman routes in North America.

A recent New York Times article highlights how Ironman, the world’s leading endurance brand, is strategizing during the pandemic, especially being a business that heavily relies on live events. The races take place annually in over 50 countries, divided between full (140.6 miles) and half (70.3 miles) triathlons, and in 2019, over one million people registered for races organized by the Ironman Empire. Everything was put on hold starting in March and since then, over 100,000 athletes have signed up to complete Ironman events virtually as an alternative. All registered athletes planning on competing in the Lake Placid event this year were automatically scheduled for the 2021 projected date.

The global health crisis surrounding COVID-19 has really flipped the world of organized sports and their affiliated organizations upside down. As the uncertainties of the second half of 2020 continue to overflow, there are important stories of adversity and extreme determination that need to be recognized. Cue Dylan Howley of Connecticut, founder and CEO of Lefty Cycles LLC and amateur triathlete in the Ironman Circuit.

Howley grabbed a two-page spread in the Hartford Courant back in May when he completed his own 70.3-mile half Ironman, despite the “official race” being cancelled. Since the start of 2020, Dylan has gained momentum by staying loyal to a strict training plan in preparation for the July event. In January, he ran outside every single day of the month. In February, he created his own fitness challenge that encouraged participants on a daily basis. March consisted of scheduled bike races which were eventually cancelled as quarantine practices began early on in the month. April and May were spent re-designing a workout plan while being out of work for a few months due to the quarantine regulations. For the first time since he was 16, he had a lull in his crazy work schedule. Dylan went from training with double sessions four days per week, teaching spin classes, having access to indoor pools and gym modules, to being laid off, building chicken coops, and mapping out new trails in his neighborhood in a matter of weeks. How do you remain determined and focused on extreme triathlon training when the facilities shut down, it’s too cold to swim outside, your races get cancelled, and your routine is jumbled? By April, it was decided that he was going to plan out a half Ironman Triathlon in his hometown of Lebanon, CT and that he was keeping his Lake Placid reservations for the end of July. Maintaining the endurance was harder than ever, but he found ways to stay busy and creative. “As long as I don’t quit, it’s a success,” said Dylan when asked about his major doubts surrounding this upcoming event. “By using fear as a motivation, the only thing I’m afraid of is not trying, and that is not going to happen.” By sharing his experiences of adversity, he has expanded his vision for creating a movement around his trademark slogan: “No more bad days.” The positive-lifestyle company he started this year has emerged in good timing, pushing optimism fueled by hard work in a time where people need an extra reminder of “keeping perspective” in form of stickers, positivity packages, and newly minted Lefty Cycles merchandise.

In 2016, Dylan was inspired to train for a 100-mile bike ride in honor of a friend’s daughter who was battling cancer. From there, he was hooked on the idea of setting rigid goals above and beyond his comfort zone and working tirelessly until they were accomplished. In 2018, he completed the Hartford Marathon and by June of last year, he completed the Ironman 70.3 Connecticut, at Lake Middlebury.

Despite having to develop his own style of swimming, biking, and running due to a severe brachial-plexus injury that occurred 17 years ago, Howley works twice as hard to prevent his differently-abled approach from slowing him down. His right arm is paralyzed but that doesn’t define him. It lights a fire inside of him and that’s why he is preparing for an event that nobody else is. Ironman Lake Placid 2020 is cancelled, but this newly certified personal trainer is not letting that define his outcome. He is going to New York this weekend to finish what he started out to do four years ago when he rediscovered his love for riding a bike and adrenaline rushes. “Never let a bad moment ruin your day and never let a life-altering accident limit the size of your goals.” Along with his wife, daughter, and a few cousins operating as race support, Howley is driving up to Lake Placid as you read this ( Friday, 7/24) to prepare for race day on Sunday.

“In three days I will attempt something I’ve never tried before. I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen, but I get to see if all that training and discipline pays off,” stated Dyl. “This is a two year goal. I’ve wanted to complete an Ironman for over two years since learning how hard it was. The more I heard about it, the more I wanted it.”

This past month, Dylan was able to return to work, which is good news in terms of employment stability, but definitely not helpful for training purposes. Working 50 hours per week and finding the strength and motivation to run ten miles after work, or swim a mile at the local lake on the one morning a week you have off is almost impossible, but he’s done it. Aside from working six days per week, being a husband and father, training for one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world, AND starting a new company, Dylan is constantly finding ways to educate himself on many topics, including public speaking techniques, personal training, and life coaching. The main focus is Lake Placid, but the momentum is building for the Lefty Cycles Project and bigger challenges await him after he leaves New York on Tuesday.

“The four, five, sometimes six-hour workout days are behind me. I’m really excited. Lots of time, effort, and dedication have been put forth…tons of planning, support, and love have gone into this. I couldn’t do this without my friends and family along the way; Incredible mentors and athletes who’ve inspired and showed me that anything really is possible.” As the final week comes to a close, Dylan Howley shares his thoughts and reflections and explains the training technique to “taper” and reduce the training volume by 40-60% leading up to race day. He is following the Ironman official rules and will not listen to music and technically has to cross the finish line in less than 17 hours to certifiably finish the race.

One of the main ideas behind his brand and motivation to attempt a race that many couldn’t fathom signing up for, let alone attempt to complete solo, is by showcasing other people’s inspirational stories and giving back to the community. As Lefty Cycles begins to develop a constant and structured web presence, an online store with merchandise, weekly blogs and interviews, and continued exposure of Dylan’s journey, we ask you to think about a few things. This adventure of creating a brand that is founded on motivation, unwavering courage and intense mindfulness requires a group effort. The Lefty Cycles team has many opportunities for participants of all capabilities. So if you want to help, we ask you to stop and think about what inspires you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What is a goal you want to accomplish? Would you want to join the Lefty Cycles team and help make the world a better place? Let’s start with supporting Dylan all the way to Lake Placid this weekend.

Share your #NoMoreBadDays posts and think of him on Sunday at 5am. (And Monday when he’s in a bath of ice!) Never let a bad moment ruin your day. All we have is today so don’t lose sight of that. GO Dylan, we love you. Thanks for reading. "

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