It's fairly common knowledge that nobody completes an Ironman race on their own. Though designed to be completed by the individual, a great many others are affected by training, racing, and recovery. Those people deserve as much recognition as the person who covers the 140.6 mile race.
For me, I must first and foremost thank my family. My wife assumed more than her fair share of the parenting responsibility during my 10 months of training. And she assumed an even greater share during the final eight weeks. While I did everything possible to ease the burden, anyone with kids knows that an hour here and a week-end there only go so far when there are 15+ training hours each week. This journey would have been absolutely impossible without the approval, acceptance, and support of my wife.
Along with my wife, my kids put up with long hours with their dad away from home. Though they are younger and have less say, they were definitely affected. And the greatest joy I get is seeing my kids excited about races. And having my son want to run "the whole race" with me tugged at my heart strings. I'm truly blessed to have a family as supportive as I have.
Goofy as it might sound, there is one thank you that spans the course of several years. Kewl Nitrox was an avid reader of my original blog. When the idea of me completing my first triathlon came up, he was right there with helpful advice, always offered with a true servant attitude. His constant encouragement helped keep me thinking about what was possible.
I'm unsure if the next comment falls into the "thanks" category, or the blame category. In September of 2006, my plan was to complete a second year of triathlon in 2007, including one half-IM race. Then, Roman Mica wrote a post about the opportunity to "Train Like a Professional." The first step was to register for IM Wisconsin 2007. At that exact moment, I decided that it would be awesome to race with everyone from raceAthlete, regardless of whether I became a sponsored member of the team. So, I took my shot. And found myself extremely disappointed when the race closed out before I was registered. Never had I been more disappointed at being unable to do something I didn't intend on doing in the first place.
Even so, taking a shot at registering for the Madison race provided the impetus to try again when Louisville was announced. And to do more than try again. I would dedicate more resources to the attempt and ensure I succeeded.
Shortly after registering for IM Louisville, Coach Mike Ricci agreed to be my coach. I had already benefitted from Mike's input as he provided guidance aimed at improving my swim skills. Though demanding, his suggestions paid off immediately, and given the opportunity to have him provide the training program for my first Ironman, I jumped at the chance. Mike deserves a lot of credit for his abilities as a coach, and I would strongly suggest anyone looking for a personal coach consider talking with him. His style was an excellent fit for my needs, and he was a huge factor in the success I had in my first Ironman.
Another group of people that must be mentioned falls into the category of training partners. These are the bloggers with whom I trained and raced during this season. One of these is George Schweitzer. I originally found The George's (inside joke) website and appreciated his detailed race reports. Over time, I learned quite a bit from visiting his site. And when he stayed with us during the High Cliff Ironman, I was absolutely amazed. He shared as much as he could from his experiences, and I learned an awful lot in those few short days. And as we've gotten to know each other, George has been a major source of moral support. His presence, both on-line and at races, has been a huge benefit.
Two others who raced High Cliff and became important pieces of the Ironman journey are Rural Girl and Iron Wil. Rural Girl is one of raceAthlete's greatest cheerleaders. I believe that one trait that she and I share is that watching others succeed is just as, if not more important than our own accomplishments. It will be an absolute thrill to watch her achieve her Ironman goals, and I'll be cheering extra loud for her in Madison.
Iron Wil, in the midst of her own training, went so far above and beyond the call of "team" when she put together the 2007 Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure. She deserves an immense amount of credit and thanks for her efforts, as do all those who worked with her on the project. Many of us will or already have experienced greater success because of the opportunities that training event presented.
Finally, I have to thank everyone who came along on this journey. I have tried to respond to comments when I have an e-mail address. Please know two things. First, just because a name isn't mentioned specifically in this post doesn't mean a lack of gratitude. It is mostly an attempt to keep this post somewhere less than twice as long as a typical and ridiculously long Academy Award acceptance speech. Second, I appreciate each and every visitor and value all of the comments you have left. Every comment ever received via e-mail is in a folder because each has a value of its own. In time, I will get back to each and every one of you, whether it's through e-mail or blog comments.
Finishing this Ironman is not the end of a journey. It is simply the start of another journey. A layover between different portions of this adventure called life. I thank you for your support and look forward to continuing the journey with all of you.