Many of you know how my Ironman 2012 day ends, and I can’t wait to get to my race report for that day, including some of the pictures my friends took that tell part of the story quite well. Before I move on to my next entry, many of you have asked me about the “Man behind the medal.” His name is Todd Hesse and you can follow him on his awesome blog at http://staggerforwardrejoicing.com. It’s a great read! If you read his previous posts leading up to race day, you might see how well the two stories come together.
On to the story…
I don’t remember how I learned about triathlon. But I distinctly remember adding it to my, “Things I intend to do no matter what my asthma or any doctor says I can or cannot do; so there!” list. I had, and still have, plenty of things on that list but triathlon kept coming back around for some reason. I didn’t know much about it except that it involved swimming, biking and running. I knew I could do one of those three quite well and the other two would be a monumental challenge. But there it was, tucked neatly into my subconscious, occasionally sneaking into my awareness whispering, “You know you wanna.”
I continued to volunteer for Ironman every year. After my volunteer duties were complete I’d head out on the course with my list of friends to follow, find random places on the course where they don’t expect to see spectators, and I’d cheer like they had just won the gold medal in the Olympics. It was fantastic.
In the meantime, I continued to train. The journey with each of these disciplines deserves their own posts and I’ll give them that attention but in a nutshell, my training moved forward. I celebrated each time I ran further without stopping, each length of the pool I could swim without resting, and I started putting miles on my bike. I really had no idea how to train. I followed several boxed training programs but pretty much did it on my own. My first 5k run was a Turkey Trot. I didn’t make it. I had an attack along the way and had to cut it short.
I don’t have a perfect explanation for the change in my condition that allows me to do what I’m doing now. I think it’s a combination of a measure of Divine healing and better medications, although I rarely take those unless I’m sick. Whatever it is, I’ll take it and continue to capitalize on the good days, which are far more abundant than not.
Valley Girl Triathlon was my first. It took me just under 19 minutes to swim a quarter of a mile. I had been struggling with swimming but I just wanted to finish. I look back on that now and can’t believe how far I have come. Crossing the finish line that morning was the beginning of something new for me. I had intended on completing it, celebrating the triumph, crossing it off my list, and moving on to the next item. But the whisper in my awareness evolved into a scream. “You KNOW you wanna do more!”
I worked up to Olympic and then 70.3 Half Ironman distance but again, thought that would be it for me. Full Ironman is crazy in my opinion and I had no intention of taking it that far, but I’ll enthusiastically cheer on those who do. The second time I completed the Boise 70.3 race, we had 28-30 mph head and cross winds. It was intense and I was so happy to barely finish before the deadline. At the end of that race, a friend and strong athlete congratulated me at the finish line and then told me that despite his three Ironman finishes, this was the hardest bike course he had ever encountered. “If you can do that Cathy, you can do Ironman.” That’s pretty much all it takes for me to consider a new challenge.
Two weeks later, I sent him a copy of my race registration confirmation for Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2011!!
That’s right. I attempted this race last year.
I was pulled out of the water with severe asthma and the first athlete in the medical tent.