Iron Love

Some relationships are born in the fog of bars, only to be painfully exposed in the light of day. While the rest of the world seemed to chase those simple dreams, we turned off the lights and headed to bed; we had to get up early.

You said you wanted two rings - I asked you to be my companion; for 112 miles, and many more.

Annika Swenson, Driftless Living Photography

Annika Swenson, Driftless Living Photography

It came from a special House – a place we know as a home, from a wise and kind man whose sage advice guides our days. He would later prophecy that completing the race together would ensure our ongoing happiness.

What is a ring anyway, but a commitment?

Many mornings we rose before the sun and embarked on one adventure after another, together.

Sometimes I thought I had made a great sacrifice. I thought I had generously given you something so dear to me - I thought I had given you my season.

The first time, I took 14:11. The second, 13:06. Extrapolate the dots and some would say that my next step “should” be the coveted 12:00.

But in 2013, I knew I would watch the sun set on a new PR or a daylight finish, a rare chance that only comes around once a year. Every two years if you’re an odd man.

Photo by Art Saffran

Photo by Art Saffran

It was in that very darkness that I stumbled upon a deeper love, a new respect for your determination, adaptability, and generosity that I could not have seen from the sidelines. Isn’t it amazing how the most impressive strength doesn’t boast? Isn’t it amazing what’s in people’s hearts? Isn’t it amazing how the toughest times bring us the closest together?

I believe in triathlon. I believe it has transformative power, and I know that behind goals linked to the time of day are more important motives: it’s the expression of our best selves that make this day sacred.

It’s pretty easy to stand in a church for 20 minutes and say some words. It’s even pretty easy to stand in T1 for 31 minutes anxiously praying that you’ll emerge from the rough water, let out a sigh, and join me for a ride.

God blesses the choppy, windy, hilly, dark, painful journey that brings us close to the beautiful mastery of creation: our human body and our human spirit, and the communion of a narrow road to travel, mysteriously individually and together.

A tiny part of me yearned for a faster finish. But today a much bigger part of me hears the notable eruption of fans’ delight as we took hands and did a little turn at the 13.1-mile turnaround, and understands that in an individual sport residing in a little bubble within a greedy world, our racing together had a much bigger impact on my true desires: to demonstrate kindness, that my example might help people be nice to each other.

What some might consider “sacrifice” was little more than a digit on a portable clock, and in exchange I got a year-long training partner, a common goal to share and cherish, and a companion for some of the year’s darkest hours.

I began the day with a song from my heart. With our best friends and family gathered from near and far, while dressed in our finest uniforms, we made our way toward the photographers through the lines of onlookers shouting their support, down the long carpet and across the hallowed threshold, while a man whose proclamations hold the highest authority announced us to the world as “husband and wife.”

Dano & Dione finish Ironman Wisconsin 2013

No, puzzled family-member, we are not yet married in the eyes of the State; but perhaps by the authority vested in Mike Reilly, we are now married in the triathlon world! We learned so much about each other through the season together; we sealed those intentions with the celebration of the race. They say Ironman takes time off your life, and it does. It was worth every second.

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4 Responses to Iron Love

  1. Shay says:

    you two are wonderful and I’m glad I was there to witness your day…

    not gonna lie though, when Mike Reilly deemed you husband and wife, I did sort of think maybe I had missed something.

  2. Pingback: 50 Ironman Wisconsin Race Reports in One Place #IMWI | Crushing Iron

  3. Just stumbled across this. Very touching. Really, really lovely, thank you for sharing.

    Only a month after getting married my husband and I crossed the finish line of his first triathlon hand in hand. While I made the sacrifice on my personal race time it was worth every second to share that moment with him. And we plan to go volunteer together at Ironman Chattanooga next September and secure race slots for 2015.


  4. Pingback: How to make goals | Tri Therapy

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