Ironman

“Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life”

SN2 and I headed to Louisville, KY last weekend as he was entered into The IRONMAN. It was plenty hot. 30% of the 3,000 athletes did not finish given the 95 degree heat and high humidity. It’s tough enough in ideal conditions

How did it all start? A discussion about ultimate endurance contests emerged among a group of Navy Seals in 1977. Did swimmers, bicyclists, or runners make the best athletes? John Collins, then a Navy Commander, brought up the idea of combining the all three major Hawaii sporting events, the Waikiki Rough Water Swim, Around Oahu Bike Race and the Honolulu Marathon. “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man.” The first contest had only twelve completing the race. Gordon Haller, a US Navy Specialist, became the first “Ironman”. The runner-up, Navy Seal John Dunbar, led after the second transition and had a chance to win but ran out of water during the marathon. His resourceful Navy support crew resorted to giving him beer which, while appreciated, was not helpful.

And it takes a lot of time. Professional athletes finish in over 8.5 hours and the event closes at 17 hours. Some TV viewers said that “watching the race is about as exciting as watching a lawn-growing contest”.  Not if your son is in it.

 Unknown to me, SN2 suffered heat stroke 1/3 of the way into the Marathon segment, stopping for 20 minutes and receiving limited medical attention. He could no longer breathe. Glad I didn’t know about that until the end. He soldiered on for a 14.05 finish- in the top half. I was very proud of the grit he demonstrated but also worried about what might have been a very serious situation. A policeman suggested we get him to the medical triage area outside the finish line where dozens of athletes were hooked up to IV’s laying on cots.  

 I could hear the announcers words fading as we hobbled forward:  “You  Are…An  Ironman!”

Live more than your neighbors.
Unleash yourself upon the world and go places, go now.
Giggle, no, laugh and bark at the moon like the wild dog that you are.
Understand that this is not a dress rehearsal; this is it, your life.
Face your fears and live your dreams.
Take it all in, yes, every chance you get, come close.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep.We only go around once. There’s really no time to be afraid. So stop. Try something you’ve never tried. Teach it. Do it. Risk it.  Jon “Blazeman” Blais

Still-  some people don’t quite get it…

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4 responses to “Ironman

  1. Congrats! you must be very proud!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks Scary. I am indeed. The culimination of a dream he’s pursued for a while. He was inspired by the great triathletes but also by people like Jon Blais.
      Have a look at the video link. It inspires me as well.

  2. Congratulations indeed! But hell, Wilko, didn’t you know or had you forgotten that we lived in Louisville 76-94 and still keep up & in touch. Had I known could have recommended some great places to eat, drink, and sight-see!

    (BTW, the closest this ex-athlete has ever come to Iron Man-level exertion was as a totally in-shape teenager going thru 2-a-day football practice in full pads in the heat of mid-Aug 58-61 with an old school coach who forbade water. Bataan Death March time–even as young and in-shape as I was–to do a Tri-Athalon at your age is really an accomplishment!)

    • I do remember you were one of the denizons of Louisville.No doubt there were barstools with your name engraved in numerous establishments. However, the weekend was all about preparation for the race with meetings, practices (even a charity underwear race) and the only time that was planned for dinner / beverages was after the Ironman. After it was over, no one felt like eating at all or drinking anything but water. It took until 10:45 p.m. before my son could make the six block walk to the hotel.

      Loved the countryside with horse farms, Ohio river in the background etc. The people were great.

      Back in the day I recall actually doing three a days in college but withholding water is just plain dumb and can be downright risky.
      Maybe that’s why you liked tennis better?

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