Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ironman Florida 2006: Prelude

I can’t live my entire life vicariously and neither can you. At some point knowledge must be gained through the sweat on your brow and the dirt under your nails. We don't receive wisdome; we must discover it four ourselves after a journey that no one can take for or spare us.

I stood on the steps leading to the beach and the Gulf of Mexico scanning the horizon. The water was a glistening emerald and alabaster waves lapped the shore. My bare feet were cool on the white sands of Panama City Beach. Finally, I stood where only my mind had been before today. Eerily it looked just as I had imagined and it felt nothing like I hoped. It hurt to breathe. It hurt more to cough. The respiratory infection that gripped me in Texas was squeezing harder in Florida. Cough or no cough, chills or no chills, I was going to do this race. That’s what I kept telling myself. My lungs weren’t the only thing burning, so was my desire, even as my body wilted.

Until I met them…

The first I met were Trimama, Iron Jenny, and the Soapinator. It didn’t take long for me to know I was in rare company. After months of reading Trimama's blog and a couple of short phone calls we finally met in person. I felt calmer when we walked along the beach. Soapinator and I tossed a beach ball to each other and it began to feel like a holiday.

Not long after that I met Kona Shelly and for a moment the world stopped. What a special lady and exceptional athlete she is.

After a restless night I headed to the beach for a practice swim. The first buoy was set 200 yards off of the beach. The water was cool but not cold and the winds steady. By the time I made it to the buoy my lugs were burning. The heart rate monitor read over 160 beats per minutes and I had hardly put out any effort. Not a good sign so I turned back to shore.

(Swim practice two days prior to Ironman Florida 2006. Don't let the smile deceive you. I felt like crud. But Kona Shelly snapped the pic and there's no way I couldn't smile when she was around.)



A little later in the day I set out for a run. Expecting a run to feel better than the swim was merely wishful thinking. After ten minutes at an easy pace my chest ached and I knew it was time to turn back and call it a day.


A short bike the next morning felt no different and for the first time I could see Ironman Florida slipping away.

I walked along the beach to the race start and thought about all of the people that supported me over the last 15 months. How could I let these people down? How could I not at least try? Cancer patients submit themselves to chemo, radiation, medications, experimental treatments, and physical therapy after surgery and here I am concerned about a common cold. How is it that I would ever call myself an ambassador for their cause? If I didn’t at least start I would be no more than a fraud. A new mantra repeated in my head: “Not to finish is more noble than not to start.”

Upon returning to my room I called the physician father of another competitor from Dallas there to watch his daughter race. Graciously he agreed to examine me. He determined that I was actually at the end point of an acute bronchitis but not in the best shape for the race. He recommended a race-morning decision and advised to drop out if I started to wheeze or feel lightheaded. Maybe it was a placebo effect but I began to feel a little better after the examination.

That evening I had a quiet dinner and a glass of wine. Sleep came easily.

The alarm buzzed at 4:00 AM and the wind howled as it blew between the condos. Soon I would live Ironman vicariously no more…

… or so I hoped.


Stay tuned...

16 comments:

Jill said...

You are giving me chills!! I can't wait to read the rest.

nancytoby said...

Go go go! You have me at the edge of my seat, even though I know how it turned out!!

Congratulations, anyway, IRONMAN!!

Comm's said...

awesome. another multi part race report. Now I can live through yours. anticipation....

RunBubbaRun said...

You are a true warrior. Can't wait to read the rest of it. Way to go "Iron Boomer".

jeanne said...

wow, on the edge of my seat!!! cannot wait to read this! fantastic!

Flatman said...

What an epic beginning...more, please!

LoneStarCrank said...

Don't stop now!!! Boomer, what incredible resolve and dedication to the cause.

Pixie said...

AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! You can't just leave it at that!!!!! Sigh.

Can't wait to hear the rest!

George "Geo" Cobb said...

I agree with everyone else. You dropping us in the middle of the story is like a season finale on TV!

WAY TO GO BOOMER!!!!!

Jeremy said...

Can't wait for this story!

Barb said...

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!!

TriSaraTops said...

Can't WAIT to hear more! Great pic, too! Looks like a beautiful day.

tri-mama said...

Good to hear your voice today, and thanks for the heads up on your post! Wow, what a challenge and and inspirational race. It's funny how your race exemplified the labor of the people you raced for-there is poetry in that. Well done, and I look forward to racing with you again next spring- hills be damned! :-)

Allez said...

You are an inspiration!

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

wow. you post big!

I can't wait to read the rest - and super congrats to you! You did it!

GingerStep said...

How do you look so good when you're so sick? You go!