View from the sidelines: Part 2
Last week I experienced the Wausau 24 from a different view. Again this week, I was experiencing the 40th Woodson YMCA triathlon from the sidelines. However, this time it wasn’t my first time spectating this race.
In fact, the Woodson YMCA triathlon was the first triathlon I’d ever seen firsthand – and I’ll never forget the one simple thought in my head – this looks SO HARD. How can anyone swim, bike, and run this far, all in one day? It was intimidating.
I attended this race to watch a teammate compete in her first triathlon. I hadn’t even considered racing. Even though I had competed for years on the swim team, open water swimming seemed scary. Biking those hills looked very hard. And then running on rubber legs after all of that would be brutal.
Fast forward to when I worked up to competing. I ended up selling myself short previously, winning the short course on a 20 year old Schwinn bike I borrowed from my uncle. The next year I got more serious about triathlons, buying a triathlon bike from a guy by the name of Tim Buchholz (the current president of IRONBULL). We didn’t cross paths again for nearly a decade and I’ll save that part of the story for a different day, but it's ultimately why I’m racing again and with IRONBULL.
Now I’m back to being a spectator, but not for long. Next year, I’ll be co-race director with existing Woodson YMCA triathlon race director Shannon Ramsey where we will be shifting this race to an off-road triathlon.
As I stood once again on the sidelines, I had the opportunity to interact with several of the racers. During the course of the day I learned that everyone has a story:
Prior to the swim I talked to someone that was doing her first triathlon. Why? To learn how to swim!
During the course of the day I spotted a high school teammate. As we talked later after the race, I learned that he overcame adversity in recent years recovering from a car accident that left him in the ICU for four days with a fractured skull, broken vertebrate, and two broken ankles. Although running and biking will never quite be the same, he still went on to not just finish, but win, the long course.
And he wasn’t the only one coming back from a major accident. One man finished every single of the 40 Woodson YMCA triathlons, but this year just being able to stand at the start line was significant. After an accident that could have taken his life, requiring months of rehab he finally rode his bike again earlier this summer. Nonetheless, he crossed the finish line just as he did the past 40 years, but this time with his grandchildren.
I was introduced to one of the top triathletes in the region. When I asked how he got here today he shared how his grandfather inspired him. His grandfather was a man that never complained and worked until he was 93. The last thing he said to his grandfather was a promise - he would be the most he could be in his life. When not winning races or training, he is a teacher, so he can instill work ethic like his grandfather’s in the next generation.
What’s your story?