I occasionally talk to myself and sing out loud during endurance events. Some of my fellow racers smile and I admit some just stare at me. At mile 136 of the Iron Man 140.6, I just didn’t care. The winding mountain roads of Lake Placid are a lonely place to run in the dark. I ran through the field of walking zombies because I did not want to finish after midnight.
My brother Jeff had coached me when I passed the MMRF tent, “Stay smooth and just keep moving. Like a metronome! Keep moving!” I had fatigue and pain all over my body, but nothing that felt like an injury. “Dig deep, David,” I repeated over and over in time with my short cadence.
I flashed back to the adversity of that morning. How they pulled many swimmers, including me, out of the lake due to lightning strikes. How I had to run barefoot in my wetsuit on rough asphalt for a quarter mile to the changing tent. How I rode the first 20 miles of the bike course in a driving rainstorm, and rode my wet brakes down long hills with my teeth chattering and a trash bag as a makeshift rain jacket.
I talked to myself quite a bit throughout the race, including “You signed up for this,” and “Remember why you are here.” I sang “Born to Be Wild” at the top of my lungs as I pedaled uphill. I stopped at every aid station in the last 4 miles, drinking warm chicken broth and doing leg stretches to prevent cramping. Every volunteer who shouted encouragement to me made a difference, and I kept moving forward.
I rounded the final corner and heard the announcer enthusiastically proclaim those famous words “David Goad… You… Are… An Ironman!” After I threw my hands in the air, I looked up to see my brother Jeff holding my medal for me. That hug, and that moment, was worth all the hard work, all the pain, and all the deep digging I did to finish.
I witnessed a lot of humans with a higher purpose on that course Sunday. I swam, pedaled and ran next to athletes who were disabled, injured or “way too old to be doing this,” but they never stopped moving forward. And I’m so thankful I did not stop digging before I got to that treasure at the finish line.
This will be my final word on my Ironman journey. Thank you for giving to the cause that is finding a cure for my brother. Anything is possible… and love is the most powerful force in the universe. I appreciate yours.