A lot is written about the sacrifices and trials athletes endure to get to the starting line of an Ironman, but it truly takes a village to make an Ironman. There are the usual support suspects—coaches, teammates, physical therapists, podiatrists, massage therapists, great co-workers, friends, and of course, family.
Family usually sacrifices the most when their loved ones decide to take on the challenge of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. Their athlete usually spends a lot of time away from home training. But from an athlete’s perspective, you are truly blessed when your family becomes your team.
On September 22, I will wake up before sunrise to start the journey towards my third Ironman finish. September 22 is also my 6th wedding anniversary, which dictates that this year’s traditional gift be one made of Iron.
My husband has already given me the gift of iron many times over. Ask any of our friends—he is truly a one-of-a-kind Ironmate. When I have to wake up at 5 am for a long ride, he’s up before me, making breakfast. For a 2.4-mile swim workout, he’s ready in the kayak to guide me. When I am almost out of water on a 120-mile bike ride, he drives up next to me with fresh bottles. When I’ve passed out from training exhaustion, he quietly takes my bike out to wash it and when I wake, he has a home-cooked meal ready for me. When I need a swift kick in the behind to get a run in, he’s there to make sure I have zero excuses to get out the door.
I could write endlessly about the wonderful things he does that make it possible for me to chase my Ironman dreams to exhaustion. But what is most amazing is how my passion for triathlon has led him to pursue his own. You will find him taking professional-quality photos on race day of pros and age-groupers alike. (If you see him out on the course, be sure to give him a wave!) You may even see him volunteering. He’s done everything from body marking to medal distribution in the past—it’s almost always a surprise to me. (Rumor has it you’ll see him handing out finisher’s shirts!) But that is the beauty of marriage, growing as people and as a couple. We are truly an Iron Team!
So whether you are an athlete or a spect-athlete, remember to thank the volunteers, but also remember to thank the village that helped us all get to this day.
Best of luck to all my fellow racers who will also get the gift of Iron. I trust it will be a truly unforgettable present.
And to my Ironmate, thank you for this gift and the blessing of being your wife. Let’s do this together and I promise to do my best to be on time for our anniversary dinner reservation!