Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Last night I attended a holiday social for Team in Training for the Nation's Triathlon Team for 2009 and 2008. I was incredibly excited to see all my friends who had run the race in the last two years. Fun stuff!!
As I arrived at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants and watering hole, I noticed that my parents were sitting at one of the tables. My parents?? Here?? That's odd. Then my middle brother arrived. Hmmmm....something is up!!! Then my business partner, Rick and his girlfriend Lisa walked in. Now I KNOW something is up.
So we talked and caught up with all our triathlon addicts. We talked about the 2009 season and what was in store for 2010. People tip toed a bit around Ironman but finally started to ask about it and discuss it when they realized that I wasn't laid to waste by the DNF. Sure, I would love to be walking around with an M-dot necklace around my neck (I promised Mom I wouldn't get a tattoo), but...there are more adventures to be had on the way to this Ironman goal.
We ordered dinner and I was still perplexed...and then...it all became clear.
My very first Team in Training coach, Coach Clint Carbonneau, got up and proposed a toast to the entire team and wished us all a great holiday. He then asked me to come up to the front of the room where he pulled out a two page "speech". Yikes...what is this about??
And here some of the speech went:
"We gathered here because all of us feel you deserve to be noticed as someone with a huge heart and lots of Iron Effort. I think we were all online, or texting each other on Nov. 7th when you were off on your Ironman adventure. I believe all of our hearts dropped when we heard you were pulled at mile 110 on the bike. I know I received 3 text messages from 3 different people telling me of your DNF.
I believe I am speaking for all of us here when I say that we could care less if you received that IRonman medal or not. In our hearts and minds, you received that Ironman medal a long time ago. The Ironman medal is not large enough and does not encompass what you should receive. The efforts you put forth in training and more importantly helping others, is what all of us here see in you.
Melissa, there is nothing you can not do as we have all seen, if only half the people in the world had the heart and gave the efforts you do day in and day out, we would all be better off.
So we came up with this award we all wanted to share with you and the title really tells it all: The Iron Heart Award.
Thank you for sharing so much of your heart, your experiences and your friendship with all of us."
Inside a beautiful Purple Bag (of course it was purple..its Team in Training right??)...was a glass trophy...with a swimmer, biker and runner. It reads: Lifetime Iron Heart Award Presented to Melissa Daly 2009
To say I was stunned doesn't really cover it. I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach like I do right before the gun goes off in a race. My husband squeezed my hand. My father hugged me. My mother smiled and wiped away a tear. My brother gave me a highfive. My team stood and applauded.
And that 380lb woman who still lives in my head took a backseat for just a moment in time....and the triathlete, the volunteer, the fundraiser, the cancer fighter, the Ironman dreamer walked forward....just for a moment. So many emotions and so much positive energy: Wow. How do you describe the feeling of true caring? I am sitting here crying just writing it all down. What amazing people I have gotten to know in this journey of mine. How blessed could I be???
So the question was asked: Will you try a 3rd time? As my parents stared at me, my brother grabbed my shoulder. He knew. He knew I can't let a dream die. He told me a few days ago that, if Ironman was my heart's desire, then I better go get it done before its too late. "Don't let your shot pass you by."
So I explained to all of them that my top priority was to lose 40 pounds. If I could do that before May 8th, 2010, Hector and I would sit down and consider an Ironman run in 2010...but NO Ironman would be attempted again at this weight! They were all thrilled!! Some of them told me they were considering an Ironman in 2011..something they had never even dreamed of before Team in Training!! Isn't that a wonderful thing!!
As I set the trophy in my workout room, I gave it a cherished, special spot so I could see it from my treadmill. As I was walking out, I noticed the empty spot left on the wall. My walls are filled with photos, jerseys and medals from the last 10 years of this journey but there is one spot on one wall that remains blank...
It won't be blank forever...just for now...just a few more hurdles to overcome....