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Love, Ironman Style

We pulled off a surprise around these parts, a celebration of Kent's dedication, hard work and achievement. I think we're still high from how far he traveled and how fast he flew. But beyond the sheer grit of completing a full Ironman, I'm most impressed with the joy he felt, the awe with which he watched his surroundings and listened to his interior dialogue, the beauty he experienced in the physical. 

For the past several years, he's been tapping away late in the night, logging details on Beginner Triathlete after workouts or races. I've read a few of his entries, but mostly they're filled with geek details about cadence and heart rate and splits and what not. His race report from Ironman Lake Placid, though, it reads like a richly-detailed, exciting, sometimes literary autobiography.  

The night before the race, I knew he'd be waking at 3:15 a.m. to calorie load before trying to go back to bed for more rest. I sent him a simple email: "Dig deep," I told him. On the day of the race, I kicked myself for not telling him more. I should have reminded him of the advice we got repeatedly before our wedding day, the admonition to savor the details, to take moments to appreciate what was happening, breathe and remember. 

"Damn, I should have said that," I thought. 

Days later, when he arrived home and started to share stories of dancing during the marathon, weeping at the one bagpiper atop a rock wall in the middle of nowhere and doing butterfly strokes from sheer happiness, I realized he didn't need anyone to remind him to enjoy the day. 

On any given day, there are countless things that bug me about my kids or my husband and certainly myself. Living as we do with one another, day in, day out, it's inevitable, right? And it's easy to get consumed by the negative and overlook the great depths that brought everyone together in the first place. 

A few weeks ago, I finished "Born to Run," a book I raved about to everyone and anyone who would listen. The joy the characters experienced through physical exertion gave me goosebumps, resonated with me in a way few stories ever have. I spoke to an ultra-runner at our local sports store about the book and told her how awesome the characters were. "That's not the normal reaction," she said. "Most people think they're freaks."

I suppose most people think Ironman athletes are freaks too. But not me. I understand precisely what Kent meant when he suggested he touched the divine in the water, on the mountains. I get it. He gets me. It's why we fell in love, and it's always good to be reminded of that. 

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