Four years ago, on June 22, 2008, Jeanie, Robin, Erin, Malinda and I completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene. It’s an anniversary I celebrate again and again. It’s a anniversary I love even more than my birthday, though I do at times celebrate my birthday with an Ironman theme.
Yes, that was the best birthday cake ever. Thanks, Mom.
Every year around this time, I think about how 2008 felt. It was the perfect year. I had a job I adored working with a man I respected for an incredibly appreciative group of clients. I was training with a triathlon club that challenged me and made me laugh. I hired an image consultant to help me revamp my wardrobe, much of which I’d had since high school. I rewarded my Ironman success with a new triathlon bike. (Actually, Mom ended up buying the bike for me, which was an extra sweet deal for me!) I was running with my sister, who had recently discovered her love for running. I also celebrated my birthday that year with the amazing Ironman cake and a few dozen good friends and my family out at my parents’ place in Henly. I don’t see how that year could have been more perfect.
In 2009, so much changed. That year, I saw the vile reality of the character of someone I had once considered to be a friend. I left the job I loved because it became unbearable, almost overnight, for reasons I still don’t understand. After months of not feeling well, I had an unexpected surgery that helped me feel better but ended my goal of a 2009 Ironman. By the time my birthday came around, I didn’t feel I had much to celebrate, so I didn’t.
That’s life, I guess. Things go up and down. I cling to the ups and try to navigate the best I can through the downs. The really great thing about 2008 was that I knew how high an up it was even when I was in the thick of it. Sometimes I don’t know. Sometimes it takes change for me to know if something was good or bad. But in 2008, I knew it was good. I felt it. I lived it appreciating each day of its charm.
Ironman was an enormous part of that charm. That’s part of why I try to achieve it again and again. It’s an experience that changed me for the better. It lifts me up in a way that no one and nothing else can. I love that. I love it. And I love the girls who helped me achieve it the first time.
Thank you, Jeanie, Robin, Erin, and Malinda. You guys are forever woven into my most favorite, most encouraging, and most inspiring memory of all time. I will never forget the first time – no matter how many years or races pass.