By Seth Daniel
As the morning sun beat down on Carson Beach in South Boston last Sunday, Charlestown’s Jack Kelly stood on the beach with hundreds of other participants getting amped up to begin the first leg – the swimming portion – of the Boston Triathlon, he had a panic moment.
Being more of a runner and biker than a swimmer, Kelly said he looked out on the Bay and saw the course that he was going to have to swim.
“Right before we started, they were going off in waves, so we were waiting on the beach and I looked out and saw the four buoys way out there that we had to swim around,” he said. “Swimming was my greatest challenge in this without a doubt. I looked out and kind of panicked and said, ‘I can’t do this.’ It was just so far out. I talked to a guy who was assured me that I could do it and he also told me how to conserve my energy…I got in and just set a goal of reaching one buoy at a time. It ended up being a very good strategy for me.”
That 0.9 mile swim was followed with a 21-mile bike ride and a six-mile run. Kelly finished in just over three hours, with an official time of 3:06.39.
Kelly said he has run the Boston Marathon two times, and he has done many half-marathons. A very outspoken advocate in the recovery community, he said he got into running during his recovery process. One of the charitable foundations at the Triathlon was the Greyken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center.
He said one thing that he took from his experience was how important activity and exercise is for those dealing with addiction and mental health issues.
“Something that was really clear to me during this Triathlon was how important activity and exercise and getting moving can be for those in recovery,” he said. “I realized how important setting a goal and following through on it can be for people who are dealing with these issues.”
Kelly said he trained very hard – biking over along the Charles River and up to the Middlesex trails. He ran all over Charlestown and the neighboring communities and he swam in the open water on Cape Cod and even in the pool at Doherty Park.
Training was a challenge, he said, because unlike the Marathon – there aren’t a lot of people to partner up with to do the specialized training required of the event. Next time, he said, he would likely approach his training differently.
Nevertheless, he finished and in good time.
“It was a bucket-list thing for me and something that was a great challenge,” he said. “Certainly, it was a challenge, but something I really enjoyed, too. It was just a very inspiring event. They did a great job.”