LACONIA — The path that someone takes to get to the starting line of an IRONMAN 70.3 race likely includes an astronomical amount of steps, pedals and swimming strokes. At what point does someone stop being a hopeful, and emerge a triathlete? It can come at an unexpected time, and for unpredictable reasons.

For Antonio Coates, 39, it came when he was listening to music while training, and a verse rang in his ears: “I just needed time alone with my own thoughts/Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault/My childlike creativity, purity and honesty/Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts.”

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