Cross the finish line at an Ironman triathlon and you hear what most every triathlete wants to hear at least once in their racing career – “Joe Gagnon, you are an Ironman” six words - six simple words that mean so much more. Embedded in those words is a multi-layer story that is full of dedication, commitment, training, sacrifice, pain, and ultimately accomplishment. Today I found out, yet again, that just because you show up, hearing those six words is not a given. When you have 20+ mile an hour winds it can make swimming and biking even harder. And did I mention the hills? 10% grade again and again made the bike race of 112 makes it even harder. And running a marathon distance run after the long swim and long bike is just downright hard. It all adds up to the typical Ironman experience. On the positive side (today), the city of Madison was more supportive and enthusiastic than any I have personally experienced. The people support made the race downright fun (even if it was still painful). And then after 12 or so hours of heading down the finisher shoot with thousands cheering on is indeed a very special moment.
And so it is – today it all came together in yet another amazing experience on my THPL journey. Yes it hurt a lot, it still does, and yes it took a lot of training and time to get here. But the reward is big because I had to exercise my “will” skill a lot. It worked as I pressed through after the swim start to recoup the day that did not start as expected. And so I pressed hard and worked it all day and can say that it was fun to hear those six words.
PS - as it relates to THPL there are many other opportunities to embrace such a challenge. The Ironman is packaged for us but it does not mean it is the only way to test the limits of your heart, soul and life in general. There are many other great opportunities to do that – just challenge yourself and you might surprise yourself with what you find out.