I've been doing a bunch of radio and print interviews this week about the Ironman on Sunday.
2.4 mile swim - 112 mile bike - 26.2 mile run.
They always ask the same thing:
"Are you crazy?"
No, I'm lucky.
Let me explain. I grew up with a younger sister who was born with a rare handicap. In fact, I still don't understand it. Can't even pronounce it yet and I pronounce things for a living. Our blue-collar family vacations were spent taking her to the Mayo Clinic because we were desperate for help. She couldn't walk until she was almost 5. Did it finally with braces on her legs. Kids made fun of her for decades. Even now she has a limited use driver's license because her peripheral vision is bad. She still can't run.
I know people who I ran races with every year here who've had strokes, or found tumors, or something else that has sidelined them. It just kills them to have to watch. I've interviewed amputees who have to stop every five miles while running to dump out the blood that gathers in their prosthetic legs.
I'm lucky. I can do so many things that my sister and others cannot do. I will continue to race the Ironman, the Mini, and every wonderful athletic challenge I can get my hands on every chance I get, because the clock is running on my health too.
A reporter for the Voice-Tribune just asked me what my favorite part of the race is. I'm supposed to answer "the end." That's where a wild gauntlet of people wildly cheer us to and through the finish line at 4th Street Live after 140 miles of pain. It's an out-of-body experience.
But the more I think about it. The answer is "the start." The feeling I have as the sun peaks out on a beautiful summer morning, standing next to 3,000 people from all over the world, at the fittest and healthiest points of our lives, nervously awaiting the start. None of us knows what to expect. But we know what we've accomplished in the endless hours getting ready for this. The start of the Ironman is the happiest place, with the happiest people, I've ever seen. Happier than Disney World.
We're not crazy. We're lucky.