Race Report: Ironman Tremblant (Part 3 of 3)

Seven months ago, I did an Ironman.

After almost thirteen hours of swimming, biking, and running/walking, I turned the final corner and was in Tremblant village. The streets were lined with people. Everyone was cheering, clapping, and shouting. From somewhere else, I was given the energy to pick up my pace and my spirit. Right at the fork in the road where you either kick off to do another lap or you find yourself in the finishing stretch, there was my family. Laura was there jumping up and down. I saw my brother and sister, my mom, my brother-in-law. They had made it through the day and stuck it out for me.

Crossing the line itself, I’d like to say I remember it vividly. I’d like to say time slowed down and a wave of pride and jubilation washed over me, but to tell you truth, I remember it mostly from the picture.

IMG 9616

I raised my left hand and pumped my fist. Completion. Check it off the list.

After getting my medal, I searched the crowd for Laura. I wanted to hug her, I wanted to tell her I had done it. I wanted her to tell me she was proud of me. I wanted to hear those words from her lips. Doesn’t that always mean as much as crossing the line?

Looking back on the race day, I realize that crossing the line wasn’t everything. It is the days worth of swimming, biking and running in preparation. It is the hundreds of Honey Stinger Waffles (and their MUCH cheaper alternatives), the barrel of protein powder and the pools of water consumed. It’s the sweat. It all matters.

I missed my goal by almost fifty-three minutes. I made my secondary goal by six and half minutes. I felt/feel lousy about my run. But I was smiling. Because I did it.

When Laura did her first half-Ironman, I remember telling her, “I could see myself trying a half, one day, but a full Ironman, that’s just nuts.” Yet, the capacity to accomplish anything is only limited by your belief in yourself.

This wasn’t just about triathlon. It wasn’t about the disciplines. It was about discipline. It was a re-wiring of my brain to tell myself, anything can be accomplished if you do the work.

Cheering squad

This wasn’t just about triathlon. It was about challenging myself and being challenged and supported by others. I can’t thank Laura enough for supporting me when I was down by kicking me out the door for my run. I can’t thank Coach Patti enough for saying, “Have you ridden 180 yet?”  I can’t thank Ian enough for getting me out on the long rides in the early mornings. I can’t thank Shane and Coach Pinkney enough for taking the piss out of me. I can’t thank all my family enough who made the trip and trotted alongside me, and stayed positive for me the entire thirteen hours. I can’t thank the people along the course enough – who cheered, laughed and clanged pots and pans or the volunteers at every aid station or the transition tent. Getting through Ironman is not a one person effort.

I’m asked whether I’d do another one. I always reply, “Absolutely. I still have something to prove.”

After I had crossed the line, I went back to the condo with Laura, showered and napped. But just before midnight, we got back in the car and drove down to the finish line. We found a place along the barricades, mere meters from the finish line and that’s when I was truly inspired. Just before the seventeen hour cutoff time, racers crossed the finish line. They were young (the guy who I sat beside at the banquet who was 26), they were old (the original Ironman competitor), they were skinny, they were fat. They had started in the water at the same moment I had. They continued the journey of their Ironman for almost seventeen straight hours. With every ounce of energy I had left, I yelled and shouted, clapped and whistled.

I didn’t watch the first person cross the finish line in 8:40:48. But I doubt I would have been more inspired then by Ricardo Bofill who finished at 16:58:42. He personified what I tell my students. Anything is possible.

Each of the 2597 people who lined up at the start of the race and the 2097 who finished personified how I want to live my life…in constant pursuit.