Father and Daughter Discover a Shared Passion and Complete a Half Ironman

By Jackie Wang


Father and Daughter crossing finish line

At Redmond, we constantly encourage people—team members, customers, friends, and strangers—to live their journey. Today we want to share a little bit of Jason’s and Erin’s fitness journeys.

Father and Daughter hiking

Jason is currently the president of Redmond Life. (He didn’t want us to write about him, yet here we are. 🙂) Erin, Jason’s daughter, is a member of our social media team. As with most real-life journeys, there aren’t amazing miracles or unbelievable rescues. But there are real people working hard, learning, pursuing what they love, and benefiting from human connection.

We don’t have the space to share the entire story. Our purpose in sharing a piece of it is two-fold: First, to highlight some of the wonderful people living on this planet (you, dear reader, are one of them) who also happen to work at Redmond. And second, to remind you to live your unique journey. As Queen Latifah teaches, “Be brave enough to be your true self.”

Once Upon a Time . . .

Jason’s fitness and health journey began like many others—he was married with a couple of kids, had a steady job, and noticed he didn’t feel great. He’d always been skinny, didn’t have obvious health problems, seemed to have a reasonably healthy diet, and looked healthy from the outside. But he was tired all the time, experienced brain fog, and just felt “off.”

Without any apparent problems, he wondered if he needed lifestyle changes, so he tried an experiment. He started being more mindful about what he ate, cut back on a few carbs, and decided to start exercising. The first time he jogged (walked) a half mile was pretty rough, but he kept at it. He added a mile, then a few more. With a better diet and regular exercise, it wasn’t too long before he was running half marathons and, later, a full marathon.

Jason had a neighbor who encouraged him to add biking and then swimming to his exercise routine. This neighbor helped Jason go from “hardly being able to swim” to what Jason modestly describes as an “average” swimmer who can swim longer distances. With his new swimming skills, he completed a few half Ironmans (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run) and then a full Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run) in 2016.

Erin’s Fitness Journey

Young Erin

Erin’s fitness and health journey had a different beginning. She had a good foundation growing up in a house with mindful eating and a dad who participated in marathons and triathlons. She admired her dad, but didn’t share his interest in running or exercise until around 7th grade when a few friends invited her to do CrossFit with them after school. It’s probably fair to say that this simple invitation changed Erin’s life. She discovered that CrossFit was a great way to get away from life, work off the stresses of junior high, and hang out with super supportive friends.

Jason was skeptical when Erin invited him to come to a CrossFit workout, but he went along because he wanted to be a supportive dad. He soon learned that CrossFit workouts are fun, infinitely scalable for any skill level, and a great way to exercise. CrossFit quickly became an avenue for Erin and Jason to discover and share something they loved.

Cross-fit Group Photo

Following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin expanded her CrossFit workouts into biking and swimming (with some informal swimming lessons from Jason). She completed her first half Ironman in May 2021. For Jason, seeing his 19-year-old daughter cross the finish line was an emotional experience because he knew the work and commitment required to train and complete the race. It was only a few months later that Erin suggested to Jason that they do a half Ironman together, and soon they were planning workouts to prepare for the Gulf Coast half Ironman in Florida.

Training for and completing a half Ironman is not for the faint of heart. It’s one thing to swim, bike, or run. It’s quite another to prepare your body to swim 1.2 miles, immediately jump on a bike and peddle for 56 miles, and then quickly change shoes to run 13.1 miles. Training for this type of event takes consistent commitment and a willingness to spend a few hours every day (with extra hours on weekends) pushing your body past its previous limits. And then you have to keep doing that for months. Erin and Jason were able to connect on a deeper level during months of training where they planned workouts, spent time together, encouraged each other, and shared their love of fitness.

Father and Daughter hugging after workout

Day Before the Race

Jason and Erin arrived in Panama City Beach the day before the race, a little nervous, but excited to attack the course. It would be Erin’s first time swimming in the open ocean and they planned to have a practice swim in the gulf, but when they arrived at the beach, mother nature had other ideas.

A powerful storm with tornado-force winds had descended on the gulf, throwing up waves so large and dangerous that the double red flags were flying and no one was allowed in the water. It seemed the angry ocean had devoured the excited, pre-race energy that usually fills the air at an event such as this and replaced it with a heavy sense of trepidation, bordering on dread.

Jason couldn’t sleep that night. He remembered panicking a little in the water and needing some help during his first half Ironman, and he worried about Erin. Simply watching the waves could cause panic. What would happen when they got in the water? Erin also had a hard time sleeping; she was already nervous about the open water swim in the cold ocean, and its display of power smashed whatever confidence she thought she had.

Day of the Race

The morning of the race was bright and calm, a complete turnaround from the day before. As Erin and Jason biked to the starting line in their wetsuits, someone yelled that the swim had been canceled. When they arrived at the registration desk, officials confirmed the cancellation—it was another double-red-flag day. Although the gulf looked happy on the outside, the water below the surface was still stirred up and incredibly dangerous from yesterday’s storm.

The cancellation was a disappointment, mixed with a pinch of relief. Jason and Erin wanted to complete all three events together and Erin wanted the opportunity to test herself swimming in the Gulf. At the same time, yesterday’s storm made everyone nervous about getting in the water and no one wanted to test the ocean’s hospitality on a double-red-flag day.

So the race started on a bike. Without a swim to spread out the participants, officials lined everyone up by their bib number and started them two at a time at five-second intervals. This meant Jason started about 20 seconds before Erin. She caught up quickly and, after speeding through the first dozen miles, they found their pace and settled in for the ride.

The race itself was fairly uneventful (ignoring the canceled swim, superhuman distances involved, and the fact that a father and daughter were competing together in a half Ironman). They experienced some dehydration from not drinking enough during the bike ride and fatigue as the sun became intense. There were times during the 13.1-mile run when their legs wanted to quit, but they pushed through.

Crossing the finish line hand in hand was nothing short of euphoric for the father-daughter duo. Months of training, working together, connecting, and supporting each other; knowing how hard they worked; seeing the commitment each had to the goal; enduring the anxiety, heat, and exhaustion together—the preparation, training, work, sweat, blisters, and connection all culminating in crossing the finish line.

Father and Daughter crossing finish line.

It’s particularly inspiring to hear Jason reflect on their journey and describe how amazing it has been for him to watch his daughter Erin grow from a somewhat scrawny 13-year-old when she first began CrossFit to the strong, confident, compassionate, committed, and fun-filled leader she is today.

Why Share Stories?

There is much more to the story that we might share one day, such as how Erin became the CrossFit coach for any Redmond employees (usually ten to twenty) who want to join her at the gym after work twice a week. But what lesson should you take from it?

One takeaway is that your life doesn’t have to be a movie to be inspiring and beautiful. So live YOUR journey, not some famous person’s journey or the journey other people think you should have. Live yours. Get out, explore, find your passion, and be you.

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