Nine months ago I began training for the 2011 triathlon season. After four months, the training became Ironman specific. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours swimming, cycling and running in pursuit of the ultimate endurance challenge and one of the loftiest goals on my bucket list.
Ironically, though triathlon is an individual endeavor, I couldn’t have done it alone. Dave Griffin, in his column for the Times last Sunday, reflected on a quote from Juma Ikangaa, a Tanzanian runner and one of the best marathoners in the world: "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare."
I definitely have the will to prepare; I have it in spades. But will alone would not have seen me through this journey; I also had to have a way. And this way was paved with a village of people who have provided childcare, support and encouragement throughout this long and exhausting road.
My husband and I are both doing the Ironman, which has been a great experience for us as a couple, but has proven to be logistically challenging. Since my work schedule is flexible, I was able to do most of my weekly training during the day, while my husband had to squeeze in his training during the pre-dawn hours of morning and in the dark of night. But the longest training days were reserved for the weekends, during which we relied mostly on a teenaged babysitter in our neighborhood who was reliable and responsible and whom our girls adored. Without the support and commitment of this particular babysitter, I don’t know how we would have managed to log the required hours.
For the longer stretches, the weekends when we traveled and stayed overnight for races, my parents stepped in to help and our girls enjoyed spending quality time with their grandparents, who also will be caring for our girls while we are at the Ironman. Having the peace of mind that our children are happy and being well cared for while we are training and racing has given us the freedom to pursue this opportunity and chase our dream.
Our friends have provided an extra measure of support and encouragement, from understanding that we’ve been completely MIA during training, to performing rescue duties when I’ve been stranded on the side of the road with an irreparable flat. Some have served as running partners, cheerleaders, or simply lent an ear when I needed to vent, and the Ironman veterans in the group provided critical bits of insight on nutrition and gear.
Finally, there are the friends who have also provided indispensable professional guidance and assistance along the way, such as my swim instructor at the YMCA, and my acupuncturist and massage therapist who’ve helped me overcome and heal from various training injuries.
During this time of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to make this journey with my husband and for the many amazing people who’ve been there for us along the way.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village.”