I couldn’t help but smile – My journey to Ironman Wisconsin
by Dave J.
It’s been a couple weeks since I was standing on the helix looking out over a lake as smooth as glass thinking about what was about to happen. Still today I can’t help but smile.
In the pre-dawn darkness that was a whirlwind of preparations leading up to the actual start of the race, I stole a rare moment for myself to visualize what it was going to be like to join over 2000 of my closest friends in the swimming frenzy of flying feet and elbows that was awaiting me at the start of my very first full distance Ironman triathlon…and instead of the typical steely gaze of concentration and trepidation that I saw on countless other athletes faces…I couldn’t help but smile.
I was smiling because I knew something that only a precious other few already knew. I knew that I was about to experience one of the most remarkably physical and emotionally moving experiences in my 39 years on this planet…and I couldn’t help but smile.
As I made my way down to the swim start, a peaceful calm swept over me. Goggles check. Swim cap check. I was ready. In a few short minutes I was going to put into action a plan that we had been working on for the past 32 weeks with my world-class Coach Joe LoPresto, team nutritionist Laurie Schubert and my other Experience Triathlon teammates.
I reflected back to February when this amazing (read: crazy) adventure began. From that first meeting with Coach Joe, through the thousands of yards in the pool, hundreds of miles on the bike, and hours of early morning runs that were expertly prescribed and (usually) enthusiastically performed to get me to this point…I couldn’t help but smile.
I thought back to the four foot waves that greeted us on our first swim in Lake Monona on the first day of ET Summer Camp back in July. If this race is as challenging and spectacularly fun as that baptism by fire (er…crashing waves) then I knew it was all going to be worth it…and I was right.
The day I spent out on the Ironman Wisconsin race course was a (long) day I will never forget. With the enthusiastic support of my beautiful wife and kids, invaluable friends and inspirational ET teammates, I had the time of my life. Looking back through all of the race photos there is one thing I see in every picture. A smile on my face. I couldn’t help but smile through the entire day. I had the time of my life.
As I reflect on the accomplishment I’m struck by the fact that the hardest part about the entire experience wasn’t the months of training, or the once-in-a-lifetime battle through the swim, bike up Barlow Hill, or the half marathon turn around, or even keeping up with race day nutrition. Nope. The hardest part of the race was wiping the smile off of my face after crossing that finish line.
I am an Ironman. 🙂