Monday, September 12, 2011

Thoughts on Ironman Wisconsin

I wrote this on Saturday the day before Ironman Wisconsin 2011.

For the last three years I have been in Madison, Wisconsin volunteering and cheering on my friends at Ironman Wisconsin. It is there, in 2008, I knew I had to lose my weight, so that someday I could hear the words, “Melissa Black, You are an Ironman.” I was supposed to be there this weekend. I was supposed to be checking in gear bags today, handing out water at a water station tomorrow, and writing down people’s times at the finish line. The most exciting part is that I was supposed to wake up early Monday and sign up so that I could do the race in 2012.

As you can tell by the title of my blog I am now doing Ironman Wisonsin in 2013. This time last year I was in and out of the hospital 5 times with a final diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. With medication, not being able to eat a lot of the healthy things I used to be able to eat and just getting comfortable I gained back 60 pounds. As hard as it was I decided that it was not in my best interest to do IMWI in 2012. I called my coach and we talked it over and he agreed. I needed to get my weight back down, learn what I need to do as an endurance athlete with Crohn’s, and get in the best shape of my life before attempting a full Ironman, so with a heavy heart I decided this was the best thing to do.

I will be doing a half Ironman in 2012 and then I will finally fulfill my dream of becoming an Ironman in 2013 with my family, my coach, and my friends by my side. They will either be cheering me on, racing with me, or volunteering and cheering me on while volunteering.

I was still planning on coming out to Wisconsin to cheer my friends on this weekend. I had a place all lined up to stay and had all my volunteer shifts all planned out. Things were all set, but originally the whole reason I was coming out and volunteering is so that I could sign up for next year. Volunteers get first dibs after athletes. Since I wasn’t going to sign up I had to decide whether or not I would make the trip.

This was a very hard decision as I have not missed a year of IMWI since 2008, but I also had another opportunity arise and I had to decide which opportunity to take. I could go to Madison, volunteer, and cheer my friends to the finish line, or in December I could run the Las Vegas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon, whose main charity is the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Keith said it would be easier for me to pick one or the other. Again, this was another tough decision. I knew that we could not afford for me to do both. I really wanted to be in Madison especially since this race would be on 9/11/11 and I have lots of friends doing it, but I also want to do what I can to help raise awareness and money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

I found out that Team Challenge Illinois is going to the race and lots of my fellow teammates, from the Napa race I raced in July, would be there. My coach, Bob Mitera, will be there running it, some of my triathlon friends will be there, and my friend, Sue, said she would come with me, to cheer me on. I still took a couple days to decide and in the end I decided to do the Las Vegas Half Marathon.

So this weekend has been filled with very mixed emotions. I should be at Ironman Wisconsin tomorrow and signing up on Monday, but I’m not. I have shed a few tears, but this weekend has remotivated me again to get my butt in gear to reach my goals.

Tomorrow I will be following 7 athletes in Wisconsin. Two of them I will be following closely. My friend, Bill Wangard. He will doing his 2nd Ironman tomorrow. I was there for him last year when he did his first and this will be his last Ironman distance. I’ll also be following Mike Wimmer. He has lost a lot of weight and has tried two other times to finish Ironman Wisconsin. I cannot wait to see him reach his Ironman dream. Good luck guys.

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