Every year, by chance of the fates (or perhaps because God just knows it inspires me and hence puts a lil’ hint in my mind to turn on my television), I happen to catch some of the Kona Ironman race being televised. It always stalls me– I stop doing whatever I was doing, sit on the edge of the bed and just weep. I weep because of the miracle that is the human body and spirit. At how we can keep going despite all sorts of odds that feel stacked against us. The Ironman is an unbelievable event. It asks of its participants so much– 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, 26.2 miles of running to equal 140.6 miles of distance traversed in less than a day, but it also seems to give its participants so much.
I am a girl who knows what she is capable of and let me tell you what I am not capable of– an Ironman. But it has been my great joy this year to watch as one of my dear friends– who is capable of an Ironman and all sorts of other things– for real, she’s mad capable- undertook training for an Ironman race. MK and I go back almost a decade now, and she is just a breath of fresh air and a wonderful friend. Some of my favorite things that I have done I have done with MK, and when my dad was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and I decided that I just had to physically do something useful (outside of spending hours in the hospital with him), I had several friends come forward to volunteer to do a century ride (a 100+ mile bike ride) with me to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of my dad). Kristi, Jen, and– you guessed it– MK were those friends (thanks again Kristi, Jen, and MK).
Anyway, MK decided a year ago to tackle an Ironman, and her discipline has meant that my girl took on that challenge like it was her job– rain, shine, sickness, whatever, MK was a worldclass athlete in training. And hearing about it along the way has been so inspiring. Her race was last weekend, and Jen and I both scoured the internet as soon as we woke up on Sunday, looking for word on how MK did. Our girl, of course, finished, and not 24 hours later was at the tattoo parlor getting the souvenir of champions (that Ironman tattoo you see above). When we found her time, Jen emailed me to say, basically, “dang, MK added a marathon and a 2.4 mile swim to the century ride distance we all did together a few years ago in Arizona and only added 4 more hours to her time.” Yeah, that’s how much of a badass MK is (and perhaps how slow a link I am when riding with my friends!). She also sent a great recap email last week which included this lovely homage to her body:
To me this journey represented lots of hard work. It meant taking a person who isn’t particularly athletic and turning her into a member of an elite group of people who has completed the world’s most difficult endurance event. But, more than that, it showed me that my body, as imperfect as it is, is strong and determined and capable. And all the days that I hate how I look in my clothes or feel bad about how I look, I can look at my wrist and remember that how you look is so much less important that what you can do. I really feel like the tattoo represents something so much bigger than an Ironman for me… This journey has made me a lot more forgiving of my body and appreciative of what it can do.
To my dear sweet, Emme Bomba (that is what I call MK), thank you for being the body warrior and inspiration that you are to all of us. I hope you can look in the mirror and see what all of your loved ones see: a woman who is lit from within, an inspiration both as an athlete and a person, a woman who is perfect just the way she is, an undeniable beauty!