Several years ago I sat down at a Team in Training pre-race motivational speech preparing for the triathlon in Philadelphia.  My coach, Ted Eastwick, stood up and drew on a flip chart "DFL > DNF >> DNS".  We all sat there, staring fairly blankly at the acronyms written on the chart, wondering what we were about to hear...

Ted explained (prepare yourself for expletives and skip as needed), "Dead Fucking Last is greater than Did Not Finish which is much much greater than Did Not Start."  We were winners because we had gotten to the starting line.  The rest was all a bonus.  

As I sit now on the other side of my very first DNF, Ted's speech continues to play in my head.  IMLP ended in a very different way than I visualized in my head.  In my head, I crossed the finish line with teams of people screaming and Mike Reilly shouting "Emily Lawless - You Are An Ironman!!"  When it came to be that the finish line wasn't going to happen for me last Sunday, I didn't have a game plan.  To my surprise, my reaction was not one of sadness, anger or disappointment.  I was full of joy.  A sense of happiness was in my heart that I could not understand.  From the moment that I blacked out on the course and was rescued by a fellow participant, to the care I received from volunteers in the ambulance and the med tent, to the concerned and loving hugs I received from my family and friends, I was full of a deep satisfaction that is hard to explain.  

In the moment when the finish I had planned on disappeared - what did I have left??  I was left with the seven months of character and relationship building training that I had dedicated myself to 100%, I was left with a race that I had taken seriously, prepared for and executed to my best abilities until my body crashed and I couldn't do anymore.  I was left with over $14,000 raised going back to finding a cure for blood cancers.  I had had SO MUCH FUN in the past seven months and literally had the time of my life for the 12 hours I got to enjoy Ironman Lake Placid - the finish line no longer meant that much to me.  Not going to lie - I still think about the finish line and will go get it in 7 weeks at Chesapeakeman - but it was no longer the only goal that had to be achieved.  I achieved my goal by signing up - and doing everything it took to get to the start line.

Never have I ever been moved in quite the way I was moved by the folks that went out of their way to wish me well after Ironman Lake Placid.  It brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart to have such dear friends and an overwhelmingly loving family.  God has blessed me so extensively, this entire experience has taught me how precious my relationships are and has made me feel totally alive.

So although I agreed with Ted three years ago, I now deeply understand what he was getting at.  I am so proud of myself for having the courage to start this journey and for giving it my all from day 1 of training thru mile 10 of that Ironman marathon.  This experience has forever changed me in the most positive way possible.  I am a true believer - Anything is Possible.

   ~ race report to follow ~


Sarah DeVoogd
08/02/2013 8:18pm

We are certainly proud of all your hard work and determination; your attitude is inspiring! So glad we could be part of your journey...Natalie's still talking about it, " aunt emmy!"


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