So I know there’s a quote about falling down and picking yourself up to try again but I couldn’t remember the exact verbiage. Leave it to Google to find what you’re looking for…or not what you’re looking for…hence this little tidbit that found itself at the top of the search results:
“If at first you fall on your face, the only acceptable response is to pick yourself up, refluff your hair, and go on bigger and better than ever”
– Linda Francis Lee, The Devil in the Junior League
It’s certainly not an inspiring testament to athletic fortitude or a deep and meaningful parallel uttered by a philosopher of a distant time and place. Nonetheless, it brought a chuckle and it appeared as the first result in my search for a reason and it seemed an appropriate analogy to the smiles and tears that served as the path stones leading the way along my Ironman journey over the past 24 months.
As I started writing this report I realized that it was nearly one year ago to the day that I found myself opening my eyes to the concerned faces of my family after spending 36 hours in a drug-induced coma after doing just that; falling on my face. And ribs. And knees. And elbows. The ribs healed but the scars on my knees and the race bracelet that was cut off of my arm in the hospital that Carolyn still carries around in her purse serve as a constant reminder to that cold day in Madison last year. Well, that, and the Ironman Wisconsin 2006 finisher apparel that Mike, Chad, and Barry took great joy in wearing in my presence for the past year.
Unlike the scars, however, I’m happy to report that concerned faces of family and friends finally subsided this year in Madison as I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin 2007 to claim that medal that eluded me 12 months earlier as well as claim the peace of mind that had eluded my family for the past 12 months.
But let me rewind yet another year for a moment to help lay the groundwork for Operation Redemption. It’s a little known fact that the kick off for Ironman Wisconsin 2006, or at least the “sign on the dotted line and enter your credit card” part of it, came to pass in Mike Roberts’ living room. With a bloody mary in one hand and a computer mouse in the other on an early Monday morning in September of 2005, Mike, Chad, and I logged onto the Ironman Wisconsin website and registered for IM Wisconsin 2006. I’m still not clear as to whether a registration for an Ironman while under the influence is legally binding, not nonetheless 12 months later we found ourselves in a car making the drive to Madison for the big day.
Truth be told, the momentum for this journey can actually be traced all the way back to 2003. That was that year that I was planning a fundraising climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mike was registering for his own freshman Ironman in which he would compete in Florida in November of 2004. I distinctly remember telling him that he had to be nuts to do a triathlon that could last up to 17 hours. But in keeping with the sometimes idiotic nature of our two decade-long friendship that has included everything from backwoods skiing trips (that weren’t supposed to involve the “backwoods”) to scuba diving with a school of sharks, to adventure racing in conditions such as those which found us biking and trekking in the leading edge of what had been Hurricane Rita (Chad, I’m sad to report, had been pulled into our idiocy by this point in time), I went ahead and upped the ante by stating that if he would climb Kilimanjaro with me I would sign up for an Ironman despite the fact that I had yet to complete my first triathlon of any distance. I figured that it was a pretty safe bet, and as it turned out Mike managed to avoid the trip to Kili. His