Here is something you can’t understand: The life of an Ironman.
The first competition of Sunday began at seven in the morning. I was in ol’ Madison, WI to cheer on Big Bro Namath, but would also be documenting the entire day and was hoping to get a quick Lauer-like Q & A before the first event. My sister and I tried desperately to find Dusty, but there were too many people with hand-made giant heads and such. Just before the beast attacked the water, we found DJH and were able to briefly connect before Ironman Wisconsin started. Paige and I looked at each other with confusion and excitement as we tried to process what was about to happen. I channeled Rob Schneider and busted out a “You can doooo it! You can do it all day long!”
The place was a madhouse. We had approximately one hour until Dusty would finish the swim, and Paige and I downloaded a phone application, IronTrac, that would let us track our sibling for the day. My Dad chatted with the families of other competitors, and I updated the Manolith Facebook page while in line for coffee with my sister. My thumb was exhausted.
By eight, some of the competitors sprinkled in to the transition area, and had their swimming gear stripped off by volunteers. This was amazing to watch as it happened so fast and with such force. A creepy gentleman near me chuckled and was a little too excited about the “wet t-shirt competition “ as he called it. My phone battery was already running low after shooting video like a poor man’s Terrence Malick, and I waited for Dusty as he expected to finish the swim in about 1 hour and 15-20 minutes. As the competitors flew by, my sister saw an older gentleman who had towed his disabled son for over 2 miles. Paige and I looked at each other and tears filled her eyes. At that moment I knew it would be a special day for all of us. A few minutes later Dusty approached and we cheered him on. Time: 1 hour, 18 minutes.
The biking leg would take at least five hours and I needed to re-charge my battery at the hotel. Paige hooked us up with a new checkout time at 1 PM, and took off in her granny bike to do some shopping. We had brought along three rides so we could follow Dusty during the marathon. Dad and gobbled down some breakfast at the Governor’s Club, and on the way back to the room Padre mio had a brief verbal exchange with a Siri-like voice in the elevator. Our elevator game was off the whole day as we randomly went up and down, and when we finally made the long journey from floor 12 to G (rather than 12 to 14), my Dad had a few choice words for the elevator voice which seemed to be mocking us. I reminded my co-creator that he was talking to an electronic voice, and we moved on from that awful experience.
I checked my phone to see how Dusty was doing, and turned on the television to watch NFL Game Day. Oh yeah, football! We caught a few plays of the Minnesota Vikings-Detroit Lions game before we left, and saw Adrian Peterson bust loose for a 78 yard touchdown on the first carry of his season. “Dusty is the Adrian Peterson of Ironman competitions”, I thought. Sure, this was my bro’s first Ironman, but I know the tenacity of his fire within. Paige returned from her granny-bike, shopping excursion and was bouncing off the walls with excitement. I like to call her agressive-looking bike the “GrannyTron 3000”. It has appeal if you’re the old woman from the beginning of The Wizard of Oz. We made our way down to the parking lot for the bicycles, and I asked my sister if her GrannyTron 3000 was the same ride that she crashed on the way back from a Bob Dylan concert in July. Indeed, it was! Paige was in good spirits and took my critique with a smile. My dad decided to walk on foot, but the sister and I decided to ride on like Sons of Anarchy (no?) and formulated a plan to track Dusty for the marathon.
We biked past the Capitol and set our sights on the lake. Packer jerseys were everywhere but I remained quiet because I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to talk trash to elderly women. Then I saw a little dog wearing a Packer jersey and lost my damn mind like my Dad in the elevator with Siri.
Paige decided to find a spot near the Capitol and catch Dusty a few miles in to the marathon. I drove around and looked for a good place to wait and record the competitors as they finished the 112 miles of biking. After some precision moves, and marking my territory with the bike, I found an open spot near the finish line. One by one, the competitors cruised by as their family members cheered them on. After 5 hours, 44 minutes and and 50 seconds, Dusty passed by with a smile on his face once again. In his first Ironman competition, he had finished 47th in the biking leg – not bad for a rookie! I sat in silence for a few minutes and thought about every stroke, pedal and footstep of Dusty. I couldn’t fully understand because it wasn’t my journey to understand.