February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024
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Ironman UK 2023: Part 11

My mom, in 1973, at the Trevi Fountain. (Credit: David Roher)

5 days until Ironman United Kingdom

The last thing I needed to do in Rome was walk in my mother’s footsteps. More specifically, sit where she had sat.

I was a child in the 1970s and I remember that my parents took two trips every year: One with us to see my grandparents in North Miami Beach, Florida, during the “Christmas break.”

One without us. Somehow many of the photos from the trips they took without us now live in a shoebox in my basement like Andy’s toys. Of all the trips they took, where my dad had long sideburns, wearing shirt patterns no one should ever witness, there was one that I had always been enamored by. It is a picture of my mom, then in her 40s, mother of three, sitting by a fountain.

What was she thinking? Was she missing us? Was she lonely? Was she happy?

Using Google Maps, I located that fountain … and I walked in my parents’ footsteps.


…stood with my wife where my father had taken my mother 50 years before.

4 days until Ironman United Kingdom

Being on vacation should have meant that I should have slept late.

(What is late for you?)

Standing where my mom sat. (Credit: David Roher)

My body will wake itself up by 7:30 a.m., but since we had a flight to catch…

(A flight? You just got to Rome 36 hours ago.)

I had a 10-day window of time between the end of the school year and the beginning of my summer school job.

(So, spend a week in Rome like a normal person.)

The plan was a day and a half in Rome, followed by a day in Venice.

(Who plans like this?)

You really need to ask?

(No, I can guess who thought up this whirlwind plan.)

The four of us set our alarms for a 5:50 a.m. wake up.

We had a 6:50 a.m. pick up.

We were downstairs with bags packed by 6:45 a.m. I stepped into the alley, but…

I won the airport security lottery. (Credit: David Roher)

(No driver?)

…no driver. I turned to my 17 year old,

“Eric, you wait, I go look.”

(He understands Tarzan speak, “Me Tarzan, you Jane?”)

I thought maybe the cab was waiting at the main road since our Airbnb was in a narrow alleyway where cars could not travel.

(I’m betting the travel agent who gave your airport driver yesterday the address that didn’t exist, gave this cab the same address.)

No driver at the corner either.

I walked back to the Airbnb and did the only thing I could do.

(You ordered breakfast?)

I led my family, luggage in toe, to the curb to catch a cab.

We had a flight to catch and I would not be deterred.

(But you didn’t have a ticket?)

I had an email from the travel agent with the flight number and time of departure. I was rolling the dice that the moment I scanned my passport that boarding tickets would be spit out.

Guess who got stopped by security?

(Ummm … you?)

Yup, and my son snapped a picture of me getting the pat down.

We made it onto the flight from Rome to Venice and my first thought was,

“This plane is so small that I hope they remembered to load our luggage.”

(You were riding on an Airbus 321, not a single engine Cessna.)

Happy Chanukah from David Roher.

I’ve had more legroom riding on the bus from Teaneck to the Port Authority.

I looked over at where the walls met the ceiling; steam was pouring out of the ceiling and cascading down the walls like dry ice.

(Where are they storing the bodies?)

That wasn’t the craziest part.

(Wait … what?)

As the plane began to taxi, I heard what sounded like a pencil being sharpened.

(Flaps? Landing gear?)

Well, it couldn’t be the landing gear retracting … we were still rolling.

As the plane started to pick up speed, it began to sway side to side.

“Oh man, I’m gonna be on the 5 o’clock news; plane crashes, killing triathlete without his bike.”

(Were you scared?)

I only fear three things, my parents, my God, my wife; and this was not one of those things.

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].

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