Sunday, October 12, 2008
Ironman 30th Anniversary
Can we talk for a moment about what inspires you? No, wait...let's talk about what inspires ME! This is MY Blog after all! I started watching the Ironman triathalon competition back in 1982. I was sitting in my mom's living room watching TV on a Sunday afternoon and caught Jim McKay's Wide World of Sports report on the Ironman broadcast from Hawaii! I watched as Julie Moss who had been in the lead at the end, crumble into a pile of knees and elbows. I saw that she had indeed "hit the wall" and that even her bowels had given up but the strength of her will and mind kicked in even when her body was failing. I felt tears as she was crawling the last few feet of the race and another runner came up from behind and passed her. Funny, the name of that gal escapes me....but I remember Julie Moss! Now some people saw this same event and spout off about how foolish it is to put your body through such an ordeal. Only crazies would try it! But me....I was inspired. It was memories of that race that later inspired me to sign up for and run the Honolulu Marathon. That is a whole other story, for another day, but today I just want to share some of the memories of yesterday's Ironman.
I worked the night before so didn't wake up as early as I had wanted to. But I got up and hit the sewing machine to start on my Ironman Finisher's Autograph Bag. I chose some athletic themed fabrics for the lining. One has bicyclists, the other for the large pocket and gusset is runners and wheelchair racers, and the third is a print with "26.2", running shoes, and stop watches" on it. The exterior is of course the blank canvas and I accented it with red piping and a red strap. I signed it in red sharpie ink and made sure that I didn't take a red pen with me for the athletes to use! So even with all the signatures/autographs, SASAKI stands out!
I went to town just about the time the finisher was coming into town. The press helicopters were hovering just over head as I made my way to Alii Drive. The town was "a-buzz". I chatted with a sweet gal named Pam for a bit as we cheered on the sidelines.
The eventual winner had a nice lead as he passed me by. I could tell you who the winners were, but you could read that on any sports page, and besides, for me, this race isn't about "the winners". It is about anyone who finishes. It isn't about time....just finish the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run in 17 hours! Piece of cake? Hardly! Infact last night the crowds were cheering the last 14 runners with only 30 minutes to go until cut off. All but one made it. The last one was a 60-something year old named Ida. She was cheered in 3 minutes after the cut off....Sorry Ida, no t-shirt! But you still are an I-R-O-N-M-A-N! And you inspire me.
But I am not talking about being inspired to "DO" Ironman. I don't think I ever will do that. These people inspire me to push myself further, to know that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. Last night I saw a 77 year old man RUN across the finish line even before the 18 year old girl who had the energy to SPRINT across at the end!
Ironman is also about the great people I meet. It is my chance to share a little ALOHA with these visitors. I love to pick a spot on the race course that has few volunteers to cheer the racers on. Tell them how strong they look, how they are almost there and to welcome them back into Kona after a long day. I remember those words of encouragement that I received when running in Honolulu....the faces I don't remember, but the words gave me the strength that I hope I passed on last night.
I took my "signature/autograph" bag to town with me and got hundreds of signatures. There were finishers who signed my bag who were from Monaco, Switzerland, Phillipines, Slovania, Australia, Austria, Korea, Japan, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, France, Northern Ireland, and of course USA! No one denied my request. And most seemed pleased and a bit surprised to be asked for their autograph. Several had their friends take their photo while they were "autographing" my bag!
Shortly after I had arrived near the bike to run transition area, I saw a small group with "Team Turner" or something similar on their shirts. Being a "Turner" (my maiden name)I had to go say "hi" and find out who they were rooting for. A proud father was watching for his son, Hart Turner to come down Palani. Also on Team Turner was Dorothy, a beautiful girl who I wish I could have chatted longer with.
Dorothy, if you read this, keep looking forward, girl. Believe that everything happens for a reason and don't try to second guess your choices. Trust yourself!
I was happy that on my way home last night I ran into Team Turner and was able to have Hart Turner sign the finisher's bag too!
So much of what we accomplish in life is because someone inspired us. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be someone's inspiration? You just may be and you don't even know it! Hey, Julie Moss, have you ever heard of Barb Sasaki? I would love to make you a handbag someday!