I was able to spectate a portion of the Ironman Lake Tahoe this year. The first year I learned about this event was in September of 2013. My family and I were vacationing at the lake, and we were seeing people get into the cold water to practice their swim the week before the event. I was recovering from surgery, and I thought there was no way I would jump into the cold waters of Lake Tahoe for a swim. The athletes looked so foreign to me too.
My surgery was to remove a rod from my leg. In 2003, I had a tib/fib fracture, and since then my physical activity diminish significantly. I was in pain most of the time, and when I was not in pain, I was too scared of the pain that I stopped trying things.
My life became very sedentary. I spent too much time sitting down in front of a computer, and not trying new physical things which made things worse for me. The lack of exercise did not improve my physical pain or self-esteem either.
Eventually, I found the right doctor to have my surgery, and went for it in August of 2013. Looking back, I never thought I would eventually run, bike and swim in a triathlon. In September of 2014, I participated in my first and only Triathlon so far, and was excited to see the athletes for the Tahoe Ironman, but the race was cancelled the day of the event, with the athletes in the water due to smoke from nearby forest fires. I could sympathize with the athlete’s frustration. I understood sacrificing and training for so long to have the event cancelled at the last possible minute.
So in 2015, third year of this event in Lake Tahoe, I was excited to watch at least a portion of one of the most difficult Ironmans in the world. I woke up somewhat early for a Sunday, and by the 8:30 I was riding my bike to watch the end of the swim, when I realized that there were people already biking. The 70.3 athletes started later and were still swimming, but I decided to cheer the bikers instead.
I talked to one of the volunteers, and she said that some of the members of her tri club were racing, so she decided to volunteer for the event. She and I cheered every athlete that went by, and each athlete seemed to appreciate our cheers.
If you ever get the chance to go out there and cheer, please do so. It feels great to be both in the receiving and the giving end of the cheers. There were athletes of all shapes and colors, and I recognized in all of them determination and appreciation for being there. I stayed for a couple of hours, and went back after lunch and they were still biking so we cheered more. By four o’clock, there were still bikers on the course.
That night, I went to the website, and checked to see the finish line. It was nine o’clock and athletes that woke up earlier than me, and swam, biked and ran that day were finally finishing the event. I saw one my neighbors from my town finish the event too.
The event did not have any pro athletes, and by the next morning it was announced that Ironman was not returning to Lake Tahoe. It may have been poor attendance, fear of event cancellation to this year’s fires, being one of toughest events in the circuit or all of the above. I’m glad I attended and took my son to cheer with me.
I was motivated and inspired by the athletes, but I do not have any desires to participate as an athlete in an Ironman event. And yes, I have swam in the cold waters of Lake Tahoe since my surgery.