Wisconsin is known for having some pretty extreme weather conditions. I remember one summer night without air conditioning, when I tried to sleep snuggling a 7 pound bag of ice. Within 2 hours, there was nothing left but a hot puddle. The Polar Vortex of 2014 ushered in days so cold, you could throw a pot of boiling water into the air and it would instantly turn to snow.
But when I arrived in Madison a few days before the Wisconsin Milkman 70.3 Triathlon, I was greeted by the very best the city has to offer. In the mid 70's, with low humidity, it was the postcard version of the city, flowers blooming, lush green trees and breezy, sunny perfection.
I visited with friends, swam in the lake, biked through the Arboretum, lounged on the Union Terrace, and I realized how much I missed this fantastic town.
When Sunday race morning arrived, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for just being there on this most gorgeous of summer weekends, enjoying the fresh air and uncluttered roads. I felt lucky to participate in this inaugural race. Four years ago it was a dream that the Race Day Events team talked excitedly about, and now here it was, a dream come true. Finally, a 70.3 in Madison!
Race Day Events had assembled an army of volunteer support, and the course was peppered with familiar faces, old friends and former clients.
The race felt more like a celebration than a competition ... but it was still a competition. I was determined to prove (to myself mostly) that I could dig deeper than ever before. The line from Fitzgerald's book (How Bad Do You Want It?) that resonated the most with me was:
"There is no experience quite like that of driving yourself to the point of wanting to give up and then not giving up."
He went on to describe that this experience brings you to a unique place " ... revealing a part of you that is not seen except in moments of crisis. And when your answer is to keep pushing, you come away from the trial with the kind of self-knowledge and self-respect that can't be bought."
In addition to this mission of self-inflicted crisis (and hopefully, eventual triumph), there was also prize money on the line and a solid line-up of elite athletes. I had everything to be excited about.