Thursday, September 18, 2008

Triathlon Inspired Dave Raftis to Quit Smoking

Dave Raftis smoked for 20 years, the last 10 of which he spent desperately trying to quit. It was only once he immersed himself in the world of triathlon that he was finally able to say goodbye to cigarettes. "I smoked for 20 years and for the last ten I struggled to quit," Dave says, "Nothing seemed to work. I got this crazy idea that I wanted to do a triathlon again. I did some in the 80s and thought that starting up again would be a great diversion from smoking. Well, as some of you know I did just that and I have not had a single puff in 19 months."

Dave finds many parallels between triathlon and quitting. In triathlon, we make a daily, if not hourly, decision to keep training. We continually reaffirm that no matter how hard it gets, we will never give up. And in this process, we discover something wonderful about the sport, and about ourselves.

Dave says that it is this aspect of triathlon that epitomized his quitting process. He says, "I decided to quit and stay quit. It is sometimes a daily, if not hourly choice that I continue to affirm. As a result of my decision to quit and stay quit a spot inside has developed within myself that I can go to that lifts up my soul like nothing else.

"Triathloning means so much to me and to my wife. To me it is everything you said in your article and to my wife it is the gift that gave me back to her and my son. As you know, this sport takes a LOT of time, but she seems to manage because it freed me of the chains of smoking that I seemed unable to kick in hundreds of previous quits. The alternative is the unending madness that is the addiction to smoking."

Dave's outlook proves that triathlon is more than the swim-bike-run, that the experience of the sport is big enough to make irrevocable changes in those that participate. Dave has simultaneously dealt with the temptation to quit training, and the temptation to smoke again. But fighting the two battles at once has somehow made him strong enough to win both.

"I quit 11/30/05 and two months later started training for the Honolulu Triathlon with Team in Training. At five months after quit I did Honolulu and five more triathlons before season end 2006," Dave says, "I am again going full bore, and triathlon is a big reason why I did not relapse this time. I am chasing my dream this weekend to Ocean Shores, Washington for a "Trifreak" Weekend. Two weeks ago we went to Sunriver, Oregon again for a tri there. Next week brings me back home for a triathlon in Seattle."

Dave, you're an inspiration.

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