Today was pretty much my Superbowl. This morning the Tour de France ended, and as I write this, a dozen of my Train-This teammates are running their way towards the finish line of Ironman Lake Placid. Michael and I had reserved a cabin near Lake Placid for the weekend, but I finally came to my senses and realized that I just can’t make the trip right now. I’m improving steadily, but I don’t need to do 5 hour car trips or try to schlepp my wheelchair-bound self into the middle of Ironman madness. So the cabin got passed to a teammate, and I settled into my lovely chocolate-brown Lazy Boy to cyber-stalk my Ironfriends and the Tour de France riders.
First, le Tour. One of the few good parts of being injured on July 4th was that the Tour coincided with the days I most needed diversion. In the hospital, I watched live coverage on Versus every morning, between vital sign checks, medication doses, and the dreaded x-rays. (I know x-rays don’t hurt, but MOVING in order to have them taken sure did.) Upon arriving at home, I sprung for the unlimited online coverage on Versus.com, and I daresay I got every penny’s worth. It’s taken me 6 years of following pro cycling to really dig into the strategies, tactics, and “peloton politics” involved, but this year it started to make sense. I loved watching Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador mark one another up the last days’ climbs and push one another to dig just a little deeper. I loved watching Mark Cavendish blow everyone else away to win today’s sprint finish. And as I’ve started participating in races myself, I’ve come to have a lot more respect for the guys who aren’t the stars, who are riding to take the wind for their team leader, to deliver water bottles, to push themselves to the limit at the front of the peloton and then drop off to roll in under the time cutoff. Each one of those riders has a story and is a vital part of making their team move, which is what makes the whole thing so fascinating.
By the time we were watching the finale of the Tour de France, my Lake Placid teammates had finished their 2.4 mile swim and were eating up miles on the bike course. We tracked everyone by their bib numbers, and I played tri-geek and made a spreadsheet to record everyone’s splits. I just re-checked the results, and 7 of them are in! I’m so proud of them and happy for them, and I can’t wait to read their race reports!
A year ago I’d never done a triathlon – heck, I’ve only done 1 at this point, although that would’ve been different had I not been injured. I’d never even considered that I could do something like an Ironman. Or even a half-iron. Really, I didn’t know if I could run a 5K without messing up my knees. But seeing these people train – and being able to train alongside them, albeit for shorter distances and at slower speeds – has shown me that it IS possible. Not easy, but possible. I learned at our Lake Placid training camp this year that just because I’m a decent cyclist doesn’t mean I’m ready for 112 miles on just any day. The people who have just finished IMLP worked for this moment, to build the habits and skills and fitness that got them through.
I have some distance to travel before an Ironman makes sense to me. Next season I’d like to be running well enough to complete a full 70.3 (half-iron) distance race (not just an aquabike), and from there, who knows? I just want to keep challenging myself, at whatever distance. For now, though, I am absolutely happy to be part of a team that has let me be part of their Ironman day, even from my Lazy Boy.