I can’t think of a more perfect way to say goodbye to this wonderful city than spending the weekend surrounded by what I love most, at the biggest triathlon party of the year: Ironman Wisconsin.
Although living in Madison has made this extraordinary experience seem almost commonplace (throw a rock into a crowd anywhere in this town, and you’re bound to hit someone’s M-dot tattoo), this is a day when hundreds see their dreams come true.
Even locals who have zero interest in endurance sports know that it’s worth getting downtown to spend a little time watching the finish line for a healthy dose of motivation and raw emotion. There is nothing else like it.
Since this is my career and my passion, naturally I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. I was up before dawn (old habits die hard) to see the race start. I cheered, I volunteered, I watched the pros come through the finish in the early afternoon, and I lingered until the final finisher charged up the square just before midnight.
There were so many people out there who have shared pieces of their journey with me this year.
They were on their bikes at the studio before 5am on those sub-zero mornings in the dead of winter, grinding up every imaginary hill I threw their way, sometimes belting out Ke$ha lyrics all the way up.
They were in the pool at my Masters workouts, dutifully repeating 100s, and only occasionally scowling at those magic words “For Time.”
They were in my Open Water classes braving wind, waves, seaweed, and leaping fish.
They were in my triathlon classes and clinics, and we cheered each other on at all the local races throughout the summer.
These are the athletes I’ve watched progress and succeed and take on ever greater challenges. These are the individuals who inspire me with their commitment and perseverance, they are the reason I get up every morning. I’ve been rooting for them all year, and now, on my final day in Madison, I watched them all complete this chapter, some of them for the first time ever (although for many, far from the last!)
First Overall: Daniel Bretscher
Despite the fact that triathlon is an individual sport with potential to be very isolated and competitive, Ironman day is a day filled with camaraderie, generosity and goodwill. Hordes of volunteers bend over backwards to assist the athletes, local businesses and residents come out to cheer until their voices go hoarse, participants high five each other, and even at the finish line, Ironman Champion Daniel Bretscher spoke of his admiration for his fellow competitors.
First Female: Britta Martin
At the end of this exciting, dramatic day that presented all my favorite things about Madison and about the triathlon community, I felt gratitude, and also sadness.
I am so lucky to spend my days working with people who are driven, dedicated and enthusiastic about seeking the next challenge. I am lucky to be a part of a community that is supportive and positive, inspiring me to reach for my next challenges. I am grateful for all the friends and athletes, all the coaches and trainers I have worked alongside, and all the well wishes sent my way in my final days here.
Madison, Wisconsin will always have a special spot in my heart.
I’m really going to miss this place!