If the weather moderates as is predicted here in Louiseville, with only shreds of rain versus sheets of it, the day might be quite good for racing after all.
We arrived on Thursday evening and have had ample time to get Sue registered, change her team affiliation to the right organization, check in her gear and bike and organize all the Special Needs bags. In between, we squeezed in an hour’s ride on part of the course.
She’s made it through work obligations leading up to this important week. Before that, she made it through four consecutive 100-mile+ weekend training rides and multiple long runs as well. Weekday mornings she’d rise at 4:00 am to do her prescribed training rides, swims and runs. She’s followed the instructions of her coach and learned a ton about the why as well as the how in the process of preparing for her second Ironman.
As we walked through the Ironman Village there were dozens more people like her. Fit women with shining thighs carved by miles of long training. There were hard-looking men as well, and also softer-looking versions of athletes whose journey to Ironman is likely tied to an interesting backstory.
It all plays out like an anime cartoon once the day begins at 7:30 in the morning. All those dark figures sleek and concentrated on the task ahead. Then the angular pros take their places at water’s edge and plunge feet first into the Ohio River, starting the day. Then all the competitors will swim upstream for 1300 meters and come swimming back under tall bridges with the current sliding past big yellow buoys. It’s all rather epic. I can see why Sue chose this race.
I’m aching a bit inside at the sight of all these prepared athletes. My left knee is still mightily sore from this past week’s likely cumulative MCL injury. Yesterday I scheduled an MRI two weeks from now. Then it will time to fix things and rehab. When I hear someone say that a particular athlete is “fast” it sends my pituitary gland into overdrive. A shot of adrenaline gets unleashed, and perhaps a dose of testosterone as well. I’m past my competitive prime by 30 years or
In the interim, being an athlete from the sidelines is tantalizing. When I hear someone remark that a particular athlete is “fast” it sends my pituitary gland into overdrive. A shot of adrenaline gets unleashed, and perhaps a dose of testosterone as well. I’m past my competitive prime by 30 years or more, and admittedly feeling the effects of all those years of hard racing and training. But somehow motivation still courses through my arteries and veins. It goes out bright red and comes back blue and in need of oxygen. This is life, always dependent on the next breath.
So there’s a bit of vicarious desire flowing through me as I consider what the 2400 athletes must feel going into the race tomorrow. To my Sherpa credit, I’ve done some good training with Sue all summer. Shared in some of those hard, hot, windy days that vexed us on long weekend rides and runs. I’ve seen her sweat and smelled the truth of her efforts when she’s headed to the shower.
So the Sherpa duty has been close and true. Now I look forward to cheering her on during what we hope will be a successful and fulfilling day. She’s done the training. Now it’s time to do the racing. When it’s all said and done, that’s all any of us can do.