Monday, November 03, 2008

Inspiring Stories of Ironman Friends

I am in complete awe of my Ironfriends who completed Ironman Florida this weekend. These incredible athletes continue to amaze me. Actually, I could go on and one about each of them. Each one has overcome amazing things to get to this finish line. But based on time, I'll just have to highlight two of them. Plus, the two I've chosen don't have blogs, and many of the others will write their own stories.

Iron Friends who did Ironman Florida this weekend included my swim coach Som, who crazily decided to do 6 Ironmans in a year, to celebrate his 60th birthday (no really he is 60, I know he looks 35, but it's true). Talk about an inspiration. Did I mention that he is about to be featured in AARP Magazine?! He is a local (and national) legend.
TRIgirl Kate O.
TRIgirl Kate G.
TRIgirl Shawn
TRIboy Fred
Granite Pool friend Chris Lyons
and of course the unforgettable butt-slapping TRIgirl Patty

I took a special joy in watching TRIgirl Sharon finish, because I remember one Sunday, about a year ago I was at work, and thinking of signing up for IMFL 2008 myself. I thought, who would I like to train with. No really, really like to train with, for hours upon hours of training. And Sharon was one of the first people who popped into my mind. I looked up her number, and called her when there was a brief lull at work and before I knew it the conversation was over and, she just said, we'll there's no time like the present and she had signed up. OK, to me, it seemed like a whim, but to her, perhaps she'd been pondering the leap for years. Who knows. But the look as she crossed the finish line Saturday night and her huge smile were priceless. A warm feeling ran all up and down my heart for her.

TRIgirl Charlotte is yet another amazing story. It seemed like injury after injury plagued Charlotte. But each time, she remained optimistic and hopeful. When I swam with her at her last TRIgirl swim practice, we talked about Ironman Florida for a minute. She said, with no doubt or sadness, that she did not know if she would finish in the time allotted. There was a complete calmness in her voice. Resignation that she'd done all the training she could do. And that her journey had come to an end. She seemed at complete peace with herself and with the fact that she had done all the training and perhaps would or perhaps would not finish. It was an uncomfortable moment for me. Thinking that someone who wanted this so bad, and someone who had worked so hard against all odds could achieve such a sense of peace in the acknowledgement that after all this, she still might fail. In that instant, I admired Charlotte so much for teaching me something, she certainly has an IronSpirit.
We both mentioned how in awe we were that the body could achieve this feat, when so often our own bodies resisted attempts to stay up late just to watch our friends finish And for her, like me, more often than not, we succumbed to sleep. Totally in awe of what we had not done that day, and yet our bodies resisted even efforts to stay awake.
So, when Charlotte actually did finish and with time to spare, you could see, on her face, all of that glory -- so well deserved, coming to the surface. And in that moment, I experienced complete joy for her.

Oh, and did I mention she has one of the most dedicated husbands in the world. Her husband Fred also did Ironman Florida. When I first met Charlotte and Fred, he was always with her to keep her company on each workout. After a while he started to trust us TRIgirls with his most precious posession, but you can just tell how much Fred loves Charlotte. And I LOVE that!


SusieQ said...

Fantastic post - I am completely choked up!

Lynn said...

It was amazing to be there in person and watch each and every TriGirl (and Boy) cross over the Ironman finish line... 17 hours of pain for a lifetime of pride!

Tri-ing Again said...

Great Post! Someday I would like to try an ironman distance tri. You may not remember me but we met briefly at Sandman. I had RTC shorts on. Take a look at my blog for my story.

PS: I also grew up in the UU church, the one on Blanton Ave.