Cannot believe it is only 10 days until I attempt my first (and probably last, well, the last one I will ever swim in Lake Michigan) Ironman 70.3. Twenty weeks ago, when I started my training program, race day, Sunday, July 15th seemed so far away.
Thanks to my dear friend RS, I have been reading 17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon by Mathias Muller. The book is a collection of seventeen compelling stories that allow readers to experience tremendous athleticism, unbelievable capacity for suffering, and true strength of character brought about during an Ironman journey. I started the book on June 28th, fittingly 17 days prior to race day. I am reading one inspirational chapter every night and will continue to do so until the eve before my race.
I am truly in awe of the personal stories of triathlon’s most inspirational athletes: Julie Moss, Mark Allen, Paula Newby-Fraser, Greg Welch, and Chrissie Wellington. And the stories get even better as I am reading about an out of shape secretary, with terrible health habits who takes up triathlon to lose weight; a nun who races triathlons to bring attention to her spiritual causes; and two men with a rivalry so intense that their disabilities fade into the shadows. Injury, unfortunate circumstances, and close finishes mark many of the stories.
In some of the stories, I am reading about Ironman champions. Other stories outline individuals who will overcome all odds just to finish. I will be in the category of just working to cross the finish line. Truly, this journey, and this book, have shown me that there is no limit on the possibilities of the human spirit.
A very special to thanks to all my wonderful family and friends who have supported me throughout this journey. And a very special thanks to those of you who will be there on race day at the finish line. I will be picturing your loving faces and strong arms the entire time I am on the course. I am truly blessed to have this incredible opportunity in my lifetime and will race for all those who cannot have this opportunity: Grandpa Gunther, Nicole, Kathy and Roseanne who all had a special impact on me or my family and who all were called home to Heaven over the past few months; Molly, Kara, Jen, Susie, and Mike who have battled cancer or continue to battle cancer at this time in their young lives; and for my dear friend, who roped me into this crazy thing, who battles MS. She will be a star in the next edition of Ironman’s most inspirational stories as she will also be crossing the finish line in 10 days. And I race for all the others I know who have loved ones that are experiencing health challenges at this time. All of you will be with me, in my mind and soul, on race day….just 10 short days from today.