Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to cheer my brother on at the Ironman Wisconsin. My expectations were that the family and I would see Dave when he was in town (start of the swim, start of the bike, and the beginning, middle and end of the marathon) and then spend the rest of the day shopping in downtown Madison and grabbing a pint or two at a pub with a view of the run. In reality we were dashing about all day, racing from one spot to the next to cheer as loud as we could for about five seconds as he biked or ran past.
But what really impressed me was how Dave’s Ironman was a team effort between him and his amazing wife Melissa. The day of the Ironman was also her birthday, and exactly two weeks short of their first wedding anniversary. There was incredible sacrifice of time, energy and money on both of them this past year, but watching them throughout the day, you knew it was worth it.
Waiting for Dave to swim/bike/run by was so much more intense standing next to the person who loves him more than anything in the world. During the bike, Melissa could’ve grabbed a nap and followed him online, but instead she insisted on chasing him down in three different places, just so she could see him. It was a heartbreaking moment when she and I sprinted for about half a mile just to realize that we’d missed him.
|Couldn’t resist including this picture.|
When we finally did see Dave on his bike, he asked Melissa to run with him for a bit. At the top of the hill, he asked a group of spectators to sing “Happy Birthday” to her. After 60 miles on the bike (not to mention 2 and change in the water) he was all smiles.
These smiles didn’t diminish on the run. He admitted he didn’t feel 100% after about 14 miles, but still felt good enough to finish strong. Again he had Melissa jog along with him, updating her on his feeding plan. Between Miles 14 and 20, she was on the phone letting his coach know his status and got some recommendations for him.
|For 140.6 miles, these two only had eyes for each other.|
We finally sat down for dinner, getting most of the 11-man team together for a planning session (Team Murphy = Dave and my parents, Melissa’s parents, Melissa, her brother, her brother’s fiances, friends Sarah and Dylan from Chicago, Dave’s childhood friend Allison and me). The finish wasn’t until 8:45 pm of a day that started at 5 am (race started at 7 am). This is when I finally had a pint of some fine local microbrew. (Wisconsin, you do beer right. Thank you.) After catching Dave at the halfway, we split up until the finish.
|Waiting at the finish.|
Melissa and I found her parents and my mom near the finish line about 30 minutes before Dave came through. For his part, Dave did everything he could to not finish in a pack so that he would be able to hear them call his name. Mom, Melissa and I fought for a spot on the boards in front of the tightly packed bleachers. This is one of the most intense spots to be for any sport under the sun. The athletes have pushed themselves beyond what most of us consider possible. Tears, laughter, screaming, and high fives abound. When Dave came through at 13:45:56, he was the most pumped I have ever seen him. Then he zipped right through the medical staff and shook off his handler so that he could find Melissa and give her the best kiss that town has ever seen.
“We did it!”
Why include this day in a blog about soccer? Good question. I am looking to fall in love with a soccer team. I know I can’t expect anything close to what exists between my brother and his wife, but I consider them to have set the bar.