Recently, after much internal debate I decided that Lake Placid Ironman was going to be my first full distance triathlon. Why not shoot for the stars? Lake Placid is the longest running North American Ironman and a former Olympic venue. After doing the research on courses that would potentially suit my strengths I settled on Lake Placid. It checked off all my boxes. Double loop swim. Manageable bike course (if I fueled properly) in the Adirondack Mountains. The run, while not an easy affair (after all its Ironman) has great spectators support during the last miles of both loops. This journey ultimately began with a conversation with my son, Daniel in the winter of 2008.
However, tragedy would intervene and on April 28, 2009, the world I’d known completely fell apart. My 23-year-old son, Daniel died by suicide at our family cottage. Life stopped for me on that day in late spring and it would be several years before I connected to the world again.
Living beyond tragedy is about the slow, agonizing process towards acceptance. We are all dealt painful and often difficult life experiences. How we find our way through the pain shows us who we are. I think our scars reveal the true courage we are born with.
Time and grieving have allowed me to have a laser focus on what matters and to once again believe in my abilities. As a friend recently said “you are living at a different level than most people you know.”
My Unlikely Path to Ironman
In 2008 as a newbie triathlete I signed up to compete in a 70.3 Ironman race in Muskoka. A race and dream that I had first shared with my son. But it was not to be.
The act of putting one foot in front of the other eventually led me back to running and triathlon.
In 2015, my life would take a complete 180 degree turn when I finished that Ironman 70.3 race. Crossing the finish line set in motion a new path towards fulfillment and joy. Daniel and my entire family carried me across the finish line.
I finished the 70.3 Ironman Triathlon race that I had shared with my son many years earlier. And then I did another 70.3 and another. In seeking I had found a reservoir of strength that would allow me to move forward. I had found courage and grace in interesting places. I learned to trust the hard training. And to manage the anxiety and panic in open water. I had sought peace in having my mind and body work in harmony once again. I found purpose in training blocks, wattage and proper fueling. For a very long time the act of putting one foot in front of the other was a victory for me and some days will still be much tougher than others. I have spent many years reflecting on my other life-the life with all my children in it. And although I cannot change our reality I have found inspiration through accepting and understanding the woman I’ve become.
Through all of my experiences. The overwhelming sorrow in losing my son. My own health conditions, the things that kept coming back to me were about finding peace-finding purpose.
Swimming 3.8 kilometers, biking 180 kilometers and finishing with a 42.2 marathon is a grueling test onevery level. The difficulty of completing Lake Placid Ironman will be matched by an inner strength that has grown out of a very deep, personal grief.
When everything is lost, we start over.