Yesterday was the anniversary of my first Ironman. It was a day of celebration, inspiration and friendship.
I celebrated by biking 105 miles with over 6,100 ft of climbing. I was suppose to ride the day before however was under the weather. While I felt good enough to tackle a big ride the following day, I was not feeling 100%.
Just before the start of the ride, I heard a familiar voice asking my friends if they were training for Ironman Lake Tahoe. I turned around and it was my friend Jeff Schmidt getting ready to do his 100 mile ride too. A big hug from Jeff perked me right up. Jeff inspired me to sign up for my first Ironman after I watched him do a practice swim before he raced Ironman Canada two years ago. Jeff is preparing to race the Ironman World Championships in Kona as a challenged, amputee athlete. Thanks Jeff for popping into my life again at exactly the right moment to inspire me!
Here’s more about Jeff and why he inspires me:
I felt fatigued and had low energy, however made it through 105 miles with the support of two good friends, Ryan and Alex. Ryan had just raced a 2 mile open water swim and finish 3rd on the podium. Alex had already ridden over 100 miles the day before. Both are very athletic. Alex had qualified for and raced the Ironman World Champions in Kona a few times. Needless to say, both guys are stronger riders but they rode with me, encouraged me, and made me laugh all the way. I am very grateful for their friendship and support.
After the ride, I went home to watch 4 friends finish their Ironman, 3 at Ironman Canada Whistler, and 1 at Ironman Louisville, Kentucky. Each of these friends have supported my journey:
- Kelly, a cancer survivor, mom, friend and the woman who stood by my side to encourage me before the start of my first triathlon and my first Ironman.
- Ron, Team in Training’s Iron Team coach and friend who has also encouraged me along the way giving me a push both physically and mentally.
- Leah, the nutritionist consultant who I look forward to learning about endurance sports nutrition.
- Rick, one of my training partners and one of the kindest and thoughtful people I know. I wanted very much to travel to Whistler, Canada to watch Rick finish his first Ironman and to cheer on Kelly and Ron. However, while we were running together at track, he says “Pim, I’ve been thinking. You have a long bike ride scheduled on the weekend of my Ironman. I think you should stay at home and focus on your own training.” Thank you Rick for being so thoughtful and looking at my training schedule!
A big congratulations to all of you! I cheered for and watched all of you cross the finish line from afar.
While watching the live video steam of all my friends crossing the finish line last night, I chatted with a friend who told me that “in thinking about which one I might do someday, one of the deciding factors will be the people I’m doing it with … in seeing all the folks train, encourage and enjoy the experience together makes it even more special for all you guys. It’s all about the journey getting there!” I cannot agree more.
My advice to Rick and others competing in their first Ironman is to enjoy the journey, every step of the way. On race day, try to look up from your bike, take in all the scenery and smile back at all the people cheering for you. It will be a long day, but the last few yards, as you run down the chute, will go by too quickly. Take a mental snapshot so you can remember that you had one of the best times of your life.