My husband of twenty-one years is a homeschooling dad who relishes educational adventures.
In the land of manta rays and muumuus, Wid, at age 45, faced a super-sized challenge on October 19. He competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and had to draw upon untapped physical and mental reserves to swim 2.4 miles in the choppy Pacific Ocean, bike 112 miles across windy lava fields, and run 26.2 miles in the heat and humidity to complete the race within the alloted 17 hours. He was joined in his quest by 1540 athletes, ages 19-80, from around the world and 49 states.
During the race, Ironman officials reported that more than 100,000 gallons of fluid replacement and 600 bottles of sunscreen were provided by the 7,000 enthusiastic volunteers that lined the 140.6 mile race course. In just under fifteen hours, Wid accomplished his goal. As he jubiliantly crossed the finish line in downtown Kona, I hung a lei of tropical flowers around his neck, and Wid III, our 17-year-old son who was working security for the event, bearhugged him. Wid had officially become an "Ironman." During the last quarter mile, the crowd was loud and supportive. I never had so many people cheer for me," he says of his final minutes running the marathon. The race course, however, proved to be as intimidiating as advertised. "Every stage was harder than I thought it was going to be. From the ten mile mark on, in the run, I was wondering how my body was going to do it."
But he - and 1,456 other entrants - survived the grueling day. Other finishers included 72-year-old Sister Madonna Buder, a nun from Washington state, Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Canadian Cynthia Craig, a homeschooling mom of three, who resides in Singapore.
This year over 20,000 triathletes vied to participate in the Hawaii Ironman. In order to enter the race, the majority of the competitors had to earn a qualifying spot in one of the 23 qualifier races held throughout the world. A lucky 150 Americans gained entrance via a lottery which gives amateur athletes an opportunity to compete with the pros. Wid won a spot through the lottery, but he still had to complete a half-ironman distance to validate his slot. He chose to enter the Half Vineman Triathlon in Sonoma County, California in August of this year.
My husband prepared for Kona for a long time - four years of training. He participated in the Greater Hartford Triathlon in Connecticut in 2000 and the Pigman Triathlon in Iowa in 2001. Right before the Ironman, he increased the intensity and duration of his workouts. Wid swam 7-8 miles per week, biked approximately 250 miles per week, and ran 30-35 miles per week. He often got through the long hours, as he says, "by faith" - by praying and listening to Christian music tapes. (Ironprayer?)
While Wid did most of his exercising in Massachusetts - where we live - he spent a month in Oklahoma City to work out in the hot and windy conditions that prevail there. Not until race week, however, did he actually swim in the ocean.
"It was hard to stay on course because of the currents, and other swimmers kept getting in my way," he says of the long dip. The choppy seas also caused several of the triathletes to drop out of the race after the swim due to seasickness. Wid wasn’t about to be slowed down by waves, winds, or triathletes who had stopped along the bike course to, um, retch, because setting and achieving long-term goals is second nature to the man. After earning a doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Massachusetts (where he also taught math), and operating a small, private high school for a decade, in 1999 Wid decided to fulfill another life-long dream: obtain his Commercial Driver’s License.
He began driving a big rig for Covenant Transport, but he has taken a hiatus from trucking to homeschool Wid III, our younger son, through his high school years.
Meantime, he has another goal involving an endurance race: He’s trying to convince his bookish wife to train for a half-ironman distance triathlon. To be successful, he will have to draw upon untapped powers of persuasion. Then again, Aloha Wid is a now an Ironman, so you never know.
For more information about the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, visit www.ironmanlive.com.
About the author:
Izzy Lyman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. A homeschooling mother who lives with her family in Massachusetts, Izzy is the author of the book Homeschooling Revolution. As a freelance writer and active ?blogger?, she publishes many articles both on the web and in traditional print newspapers and magazines. Visit her very interesting and newsworthy Blog online at: