A very bad haircut inspired the phrase business in the front, party in the back. It appropriately describes my Ironman Texas 2019 experience. Also true, miracles happen in the back. The miracle of pulling off 140.6 miles by water, bike, and leg engines with just enough training and fitness to get it done. Just enough. Knowing her careful and methodical training plan was only kinda followed by her client, my coach’s coaching of me in the hours leading to the start gun were:
‘Your goal is to finish. Your race, your pace, on your terms.’
I seem to have a panache for late day Ironman finishes (3) where the cut-off watch-dogs play cat and mouse with my finish line. Luckily I grabbed it before they did.
I owe my Texas finish to my sister, my team, my husband, my children, my niece, my coach, my purpose and Eduardo.
Between you, me and the fencepost, Eduardo is my angel who landed around mile 18 of the run and did not leave me until the finisher’s chute. He was part of a posse flanking his nephew who was just ahead of me. This tight-knit family collectively longed to hear the six words: “Eduardo’s nephew, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.” Eduardo’s nephew needed his tribe. And I needed one member. I didn’t even know it, yet.
A lot had happened before mile 18 of the run.
A 2.4 mile swim in a lake with moderate water quality and narrow canals. A 112-mile bike ride, 80 of which were on a closed expressway with a thigh pumping, breath stealing headwind for half of the 80 miles on hot, hot asphalt. And 18 miles of a 3 loop run course that was slowly sucking my soul.
And then my legs and my belief in my finish were restored when a nice man asked me if I was okay. I said yes. He said I looked like I could use a friend. Indeed.
I learned Eduardo was an ultra runner with an ultra heart. He had just completed a 50 mile trail run and before that a marathon with his beloved second wife. He blessed me with his presence and words and stories and encouragement along the long, long way of an Ironman day. In his mid-fifties I asked Eduardo if he had children. He giggled a ‘No’ with a twinkle in his eye and a confession that his most proud living came after age 40 and one wife. I realized I had crossed paths with a human saint with a real life. I kept encouraging Eduardo to go on with his family so he wouldn’t miss his nephew’s well deserved finish. He told me he enjoyed our ‘run’ and liked helping me. He said I inspired him. WHAT?? He was impressed the duration and heart of my effort and I told him I was honored to be his mirror. Indeed that was my reflection of Eduardo’s life story. At least the bit I knew. Eduardo told me I was going to do this and I knew he was right. At the beginning of the finisher’s chute, a smiling Eduardo told me to go get that medal. I wish Ironman announcer, Mike Reilly could have started the long awaited phrase ‘Clair Norman, you are an Ironman’ with “Because of Eduardo…”
Indeed the miracle of human connection can always be found in the back. Lots of other places too.
Like in the clink of a cold beer cheers on a Sunday morning after living a life in a day.
There are miracles everywhere.