This weekend, I went to Madison, Wisconsin, to sherpa for my friend Jeanie during Ironman Wisconsin. I’d never seen this race, but I’d heard about it. I heard about tough hills and awesome crowds and both proved to be true. The bike course is definitely hilly. There were no massive oh-no-it’s-too-steep-I’m-going-to-fall-over climbs, but the course rolls nearly the entire way. “Relentless” is the term Jeanie used to describe it. And the crowds? They were probably the best I’ve ever seen. I got to spectate part of the bike course and loved seeing people all along the roads. And much of the run is through downtown, which was lined with people the entire way. It was incredible. And did I mention that Jeanie kicked ass on this course? She did. I was blown away.
I’ve known this girl for about fifteen years. When we first met, I was training for a marathon, and she thought I was nuts. Then she joined in the fun and has been pulling me along ever since. She was there when I did my very first triathlon. When she did her first half Ironman distance in Conroe, Texas, I went with her and was so inspired that I signed up for the following year. When she decided to give the Ironman distance a try, she invited me along. It took quite a bit of coaxing on her part, but that first Ironman in 2008 was probably the best experience of my life. I’m so grateful to her for believing in me even though I’m much slower than she is. Jeanie is an awesome friend.
When Jeanie called me a couple of weeks ago to see if I might be able to sherpa for her, I was thrilled. Going to Wisconsin gave me the chance to see a new-to-me Ironman race, hang out with her for the weekend, and also see some of my other good friends race – people like Susan, my trail running coach, and Fred, who, with his wife MJ, has helped me get through some really long rides when I’ve needed them. It was a treat to be up there for all of them – Jeanie, Susan, Fred, Leary, Kenny, Tim, Kelly, and Mary. It was also a treat to get to spectate with MJ.
I’ve got some amazing friends. I love seeing my friends power through hard things and come out the other side with a smile. I love seeing their work produce incredible results. I’ll never forget watching each of them plug away at this course, more often than not with a smile. They, like my friend Sangita, make me want to do more.
Jeanie has been in great shape the entire time I’ve known her, but right now, I think she’s more fit than I’ve ever seen her. She’s incredibly lean. She’s healthy. She was more relaxed than I’ve ever seen her, which tells me she’s mentally well. She wasn’t arrogant, but I think she knew she’d done everything she could to prepare well for this race. She had a confidence about her that looked incredible on her. And even though the weekend was about her and her race, she talked to me about me and my training and what might be next. I walked away from the weekend amazed at her performance and inspired to focus myself.
Thank you, dear friend, for an awesome weekend. I hope you are continuing to bask in Ironman glory this week. When you get back, let’s talk. We’ve got some trail running to do!