July 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman Lake Placid 2021: Part 12

They were smiling and I had tears in my eyes.

There is always an emotional release when I see my wife and kids at the finish line. This race brings so many emotions to the surface for me. Every struggle. Every failure. Every regret. They creep into your mind at those moments when victory starts to look iffy.

Those feelings don’t disappear when victory becomes reality. They linger, waiting for their release. That’s why I start to cry when I see my wife and kids.

I had persevered when things got tough. Not because I got lucky, but because I created my own luck, by seizing the opportunities when I could. I had created my own magic.

It was now after 11:30 p.m, but there was still one more magic moment on this special night.

This was my seventh Ironman, and I have no intention of stopping. I started thinking about the next Ironman.

(Haven’t you previously claimed that you were retired?)

Yes … but no one believes that story any longer.

Even after all Ironman triathlons I have completed, my dad still worries about me. Maybe it’s because he is a retired physician, and he knows “too much” about how the human body works—or maybe, simply because he is my dad.

I mean, I’ve done this race before.

But in the 15 years that I have been running marathons and competing in triathlons, it’s only the Ironman triathlons that scare him.

In 2009, I told my wife, Janet, and my parents over Rosh Hashanah dinner that I was planning to do an Ironman the following year.

They responded, “No, please don’t. We don’t want you to die.”

I laughed … They were serious.

My dad even made me get a stress test.

During that test, electrodes were wired to my torso, and I was told to run on a treadmill.

The average person needs six minutes to get their heart rate up for this test.

After six minutes the nurses told the doctor, “He’s an athlete, we may be here a while.”

So, every time I do this race my dad tells me the same thing a week before we leave for the event:

“Listen, call me when you finish, no matter what time it is.”

This year I smiled and said back to him, “When you make me do this, you make me feel like I’m still your little guy.”

“You still are my little guy.”

I’m 53 years old, but it still makes me tear up. There’s something about being a son that no matter how old you get, your father’s love and respect are the coin of the realm. It’s a currency you can’t buy, but you can earn. Growing up the son of a doctor was difficult for me. I wanted to be just like my dad, but I’m dyslexic, so it became clear early on to me that I was not going to follow in my father’s footsteps and go into medicine.

It turns out that I didn’t need to. In time I found my own path. I figured out what I was good at and after 25 years in education, I’ve come to realize that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Like the chair by the roadside, I’ve always been right where I was supposed to be.

In time I saw that I didn’t need to become like my dad to gain his love and respect, because I had it. I always had it.

That is why I was so touched that he kept asking me to call him.

This year, I crossed the finish line and got hugs from my wife and kids.

Then we walked away from the noise of the crowd, and I called my parents on the house line.

Me: Mom, is Dad there?

Mom: I will tell him to pick up.

Me: Dad?

Dad: Yeah?

Mom: Did he pick up?

Me: Yes, Mom, he is on.

Dad: Did you make it?

Me: I did. It was hard, but you taught me not to quit. So, I stuck it out and I made it.

Dad: Congratulations. Now go to bed and get some rest.

Me: Dad?

Dad: Yeah?

Me: I love you.

Dad: I love you too buddy.

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.


He can be reached at [email protected]

 

By David Roher

 

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