Completing an Ironman may seem like a solo journey but that is far from the truth. I would have never been able to cross that finish line, especially in my ailing state, without the army of support that carried me throughout the day.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
(in no particular order)
1. The Volunteers
Without you, I wouldn't have finished. Simple as that. Especially to the amazing volunteers in T2 who wouldn't let me quit, even when I wanted to. And to the wonderful volunteers who caught me in the finishing chute as I sobbed into their embracing arms. Without such amazing, tireless, enthusiastic volunteers, there would be no Ironman races. Period.
2. The Spectators
You made me feel like a celebrity. You lied and told me I looked good when we all know I looked like death. You spent all day in the heat, wind, and fire yelling until your throat was hoarse, wearing ridiculous costumes and blasting the same Rocky song over and over without the promise of a medal at the end or any other reward. Pure selflessness. You gave me energy when my tank was empty. Your ridiculous antics and comedic routines and props (thanks to the girls with Stan the blow-up doll!!!) made me smile through and through in my darkest hour when I thought I would never feel joy again.
3. The Citizens of Penticton
You made me feel SO welcome in your hometown. I truly felt like a celebrity. Before I even got off the plane, Pentictonions were asking if they could help make me feel at home. "What's your number so I can cheer for you on Sunday?" "Do you need directions?" "Is there anything you need?" I was overwhelmed with genuine kindness. All the local stores and restaurants stayed open late and provided discounts to Ironman athletes. There was even an Ironman Street Fair on Friday night! Every hotel sign, church sign, and school sign said: "Good luck Ironman Athletes!" It was unbelievable.
4. My Fellow Bloggers
Your positive, warm thoughts and energy helped me accomplish what seemed like an impossible feat. I believe everyone's good wishes and prayers caused favorable vibrations to hum through the universe that day, making it possible for me to overcome the most difficult hurdle I've ever been faced with. Thank you for your undying support.
5. My Friends
I received countless e-mails, texts, and phone calls during the weeks leading up to the race from friends wide and far, old and new, triathlete fanatics and normal people too. Thank you so much for thinking of me! Thank you so much for supporting me and my crazy habit!
6. My Co-workers and Professor
Thank you for tirelessly listening to every detail of every workout! Thank you for all your support. Thank you looking the other way as I sneak off to lunchtime swim or late afternoon ride. Thank you for understanding. Thanks especially to Audrey (who is doing the 3-day Breast Cancer Walk in a few months), Karen, and Linda.
7. UCSD Masters Program (http://recreation.ucsd.edu/mstr)
Thanks especially to Sickie and Terry Martin (winner of 1994 Ironman Canada) for making me a better swimmer and triathlete overall. Thanks to Sickie for making workouts fun and something I look forward to! Thanks for knowing when to push me, when to piss me off, when to placate me, when to encourage me, and when to back off. You truly have a gift. Thanks to Terry for making the noon workouts notoriously wicked! Thanks for always knowing the right thing to say to build my confidence. Thanks for all the tips on the Ironman Canada course and giving me advice on how to train ("just do Palomar until it's easy").
8. Triathlon Club of San Diego (TCSD; www.triclubsandiego.org)
I cannot thank you enough. The resources, training opportunities, and motivation provided by this club are phenomenal. There is no other club in the world that compares. I've met so many of my friends, my triathlon "family", and the love of my life through this club. I've gleaned countless tips and training advice from club experts: Craig Zelent, Ironman Coach; Mark Kenny, trail running expert; Bob Rosen, Ironman Canada veteran; Rick Summers, triathlon veteran....If I continued, the list would run on for 9 pages. Thank you!
9. Alternative Saturday Bike Riders
You came out with me week after week on what you knew would be a hellacious ride. You trusted me to get you back to the start as we forged new bike routes. You learned not to believe me when I said the ride would be only "moderately hilly" (break out the triple), "rolling hills" (er, mountains), "not that hard" (bring money for a cab), or "not that long" (at least 100 miles). You showed up anyway, at the crack of dawn, smiling. Thank you for motivating me to get my long ride in every Saturday! Thank you for the camaraderie. You guys make it fun. I've met so many of my friends on these rides: Michelle, Mark, Mary (now in Ohio, sniff, sniff), Alex, Monica, Steve, TJ, Brad....I'm sorry I can't list everyone!!!
10. Julie's Sunday Running Group
You guys taught me how to run long when I thought a half marathon was a big deal. You guys made it fun and taught me there is so much more to running than speed. I've deepened my love for running and made some wonderful friends in the process. Thank you for motivating me to get up early every Sunday, legs dead from Saturday's long ride, and run. I look forward to my Sunday runs all week. I would have never made it this far without you. Thanks so much to Julie, Li, Ann, Beth, Joe, Lauren, Matt, and Greg!
11. B&L Bike Shop (http://www.blbikes.com)
Thanks for helping me with my bike every time I thought I heard a funny creak or felt an unusual, mysterious twinge in Torch. Thanks for expertly tuning up my bike whenever needed and convincing me not to when it didn't. You never oversold anything to me and actually talked me out of getting a new bike just because I felt like it. You guys are honest, expert bike mechanics, and always make me feel welcome. Thanks especially to the Matts and the BEST bike fitter in San Diego, hands-down, Dan-O Rock, one of the original Ironman.
12. Sabine Grossmann, massage therapist
I can't believe you're leaving me to move to Denver!!! I wouldn't have been able to recover so quickly from my crazy-hard workouts and stay injury-free without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! What am I going to do without you? Denver, you are a very lucky place.
13. Jennifer Janis, acupuncturist
Thank you for being such a gifted healer. I think with your skills, I will be just fine. Not only did you help calm my IBS, heal any pre-injuries, and soothe any aches and pains but you always inject me with an overwhelming amount of confidence and positive energy. I always leave your home feeling like a superstar!
14. Dr. John Martinez of Coastal Sports and Wellness (http://coastalsportsmedicine.com)
Dr. Martinez provides a full-service facility from sports medicine to physical therapy to super-hard, triathlon-specific spin classes. This is the first place I go when I have a strange ache or pain (or actual injury) that doesn't seem to be going away.
15. Dr. Jay Berenter, podiatrist (Scripps Health)
This guy is an expert at what he does and treats Olympic marathoners like Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi. In addition, he has great bedside manner. He has enabled me to run marathons and complete Ironmans pain- and injury-free, despite my imperfect biomechanics.
16. Pia Weber, yoga instructor (http://piaweber.com)
Thank you for helping me loosen my body, relax, and de-stress during lunchtime Yoga at Scripps. You are a very gifted teacher. I always left feeling calm, relaxed, and at peace. I always feel like I just had a massage!
17. Kim Mueller, sports nutritionist, (http://www.fuel-factor.com/founder.html)
The education and training I learned from Kim was invaluable. I will never forget these tools, which enabled me to finish 2 Ironmans. She knows her stuff!
18. My Family, mom, dad, and Erin
Thanks so much for all your support. I know you think I'm crazy but you love me anyway. Thank you for believing in me and loving me no matter what.
Thank you for being proud of me and making me feel strong. I can't tell you how proud I am of you when I see you do your triathlons. I'm so glad we can share our love for this sport. Thank you especially for finishing my final 20-mile run with me while doing your Yoda impressions and making me laugh. You are a very special little guy.
20. Babs & Taz
I love nothing more than cuddling up next to you after a long day and stroking your impossibly soft fur. You two are so special. Thank you for helping me relax and de-stress. Thank you for always looking at me with those soft, warm, brown, loving eyes.
Last but not least, the love of my life. I could not have done this without you. You supported me day in and day out, through the highs and lows of my training. Sometimes, I was too exhausted to do anything but eat, sleep, and train. You picked up the slack and never complained. You understood when I was gone for 8 hours on a long bike ride. You supported me when I got sick or injured. You put up with me during my taper and all the other times I became impossible and threw temper tantrums. I don't know how you do it. Finally, your undying support in Canada got me to the finish line when I was sure I wouldn't finish. You selflessly put me first all weekend. You cheered me on until you had no voice and were weak and dehydrated. You stayed out on the course with me all day. You believed in me even when I didn't. You always knew exactly what to say and exactly where to be, in an almost eerie way. You carried me through my lowest lows when I didn't have enough strength left in my body to keep going. You are amazing. Thank you. I love you.