The power of the human body sometimes baffles me.  And the power of the mind astounds me even more.

Back at the beginning of June Dave put himself “in the arena” and competed in a half Ironman.

And that is not for the weak of heart.

I got to go with him and as I stood there on the sidelines at various spots throughout the course my heart just swelled up with wonder and awe.  There were many who didn’t make it.  We saw some cramp up and excuse themselves even right at the first swim.  Others were crying, others laughing, some were pale as ghosts willing themselves forward with all their might, and others looked like they were fresh as a new spring day.  They put one leg in front of the other even when the going got tougher than tough, and worked their guts out to push beyond their limits in ways I’m sure most never, ever had before.

It was incredibly moving to me and I’m so grateful I got to be in the thick of it all.

Dave trained every minute he could squeeze out…we heard his borrowed bike trainer whirring for hours late into the night and early in the morning.  He ran in the wee hours of the morning to beat the heat here in the desert, as well as in places like muggy China where he traveled on business.  He disappeared to swim whenever he could.  He battled with foot problems and jet lag and trying to balance out all he had on his plate and he came through with flying colors.

Our neighbor had lured him and another friend in.  This neighbor had shattered both his heels in a skiing accident a few years ago and has pushed to do a few of these crazy things (he’s on the right below):

…and this time he brought these others along on the journey.

Each of those three men has a beautiful story that made me appreciate all their efforts even more.  The other friend up there in the middle lost his daughter back in August.  I think in his heart he ran this race for her.  And he did it so gracefully.

Because I know their stories, it was that much more emotional to watch them push through.  Even now, typing here in my kitchen I’m teary thinking about it all.

So proud of each one and how they pushed their limits and did it so beautifully.

Let’s back up for a second here first though.

Us wives were pretty lucky we got to go to that beautiful place with those guys.  It was on the Big Island of Hawaii (yes, that same island where the volcano was making the news…but on the other side) and none of us were too sad to be in that place.  It is such a diverse island.

It was fun to see all the paraphernalia all set up and ready to go…fun to be in the midst of the hype, excitement filling up the air.  Wish I had a picture of the overall big-picture, but there were all kinds of things set up around check-in.

(totally copied Dave on the Turkey Trot “I am Thankful” wall but just with signatures.  Haha.)

They had these shirts in the Ironman shop…

…all the athlete’s names are in there…kind of cool, right?

They had all kinds of gadgets and “goo” flavors and equipment at the little temporary shop.  I personally felt that this helmet would have been great:

Yowzas, now that’s some equipment!

The guys took out their bikes to take one more ride and us wives made ourselves busy too 🙂

We were there the day before, so the night before the race my friend Julie found a pretty awesome opportunity to help the guys calm their nerves before the big race:

Worked like a charm 🙂

Of course, we had to go with them too…

I mean, someone needed to watch out for them!

We live in a beautiful world.

Then we turned in for a good nights sleep, Dave setting out all his gear and double checking his food and supplies.  Made my heart jump just to watch, I cannot imagine being in that position myself.  Butterflies on steroids.

I loved my role that day.  My friends and I had our own “job” to do as we scrambled around that whole day trying to find the best spots where we could cheer those husbands of ours on.

On the bus ride over to the swim/start line early Saturday morning Dave’s good friend from home sent him a text wishing him well (this friend has done a few full Ironman races), and for some reason that kindness and that understanding and something about being mixed up in all the anticipation of all those people, old and young, male and female, muscle-toned and not-looking-quite-so-ready, all mixed up together about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime made me so emotional. I loved that I got to be there on that island with Dave to support him in that excruciating thing that people pay to do.


I loved turning my attention over to that husband of mine and realizing how big this whole deal is.

Here’s the scene we found when we got off the bus:

Everyone working on their gear and their bikes, nerves bundled up, working to situate themselves for the journey of a lifetime.

Dave loaded me up with some of the stuff he didn’t need:

And then those guys took off.

(Mike was in the earlier group since he was in a different age group.)
I had never seen a swimming race like this before, and it was fascinating watching that crowd line up to begin.

Dave and Steve were in the blue-cap-guys category.  See Dave with his arms up below?

They just let a few out at a time to hop into the water and start swimming their guts out.

Here’s Dave taking off:

And then they just got in there and swam away.

I’m so not a swimmer so this was hard to even fathom.

But those guys came out after over a mile smiling:)

…and off to transition over to those bikes that were awaiting them.

There’s an app that helps you follow those in the Ironman, and Brynne, Julie and I watched our husbands little dots move with all our energy of heart.

We got so into watching them…imagining them giving each other high fives at the first transition where they crossed paths.

We found a great spot on the course to watch and cheer them on.  Here’s Mike:

And Steve:

…And David:

We ran back to catch the shuttle back to the hotel, (Julie with a broken flip-flop…ha!)…grabbed some breakfast while our eyes were glued to our husbands’ progress on that cool app, then got in position to welcome them to the “bike-to-run” transition area.

Here’s Dave coming in hot after 56 miles of biking:

Boy howdy.

(I’m also not a biker, so again, mind blown.)

Watching those guys (and everyone else) come through the transition areas (swim to bike, bike to run) was exhilarating and we were so excited to cheer them on.

We found another spot to watch the running on the golf course.

A lot of the race course wove around running actually on the grass through hills after hills…cannot be easy!  This is the part where Dave let us know it wasn’t really that fun 🙂  And this is the part where five of his toes gradually turned black.
(We were able to catch those guys three different times on the golf course loops.)
And then we scrambled to the finish line to cheer them on there.
The finish line was pretty emotional thinking of the stories behind these good husbands of ours who came across that line one by one.  So proud of them.
It’s amazing how the human body can will itself to a line beckoning to them on the horizon.  This lady who came in right before Dave was swaying and staggering a little.  She crossed that line and immediately slumped over…couldn’t get up.
See her up there on the left?
She was fine right after, so don’t worry.  But it just amazes me, and made me so proud of her for getting there.
I was so proud of everyone for crying out loud!  Man, there are some strong people in the world!  
My heart jumped when Dave came through, he was so happy to be done, wondering how in the world he willed himself to finish that.  

Can we just pause to digress and take a moment to admire how beautiful that finish line is?

I just couldn’t’ get over all that tropical beauty greeting each runner.

Loved hearing about the highs and lows.

Swimming = 1.2 miles
Biking = 56 miles
Running = 13.1

Done.  Finished.  Complete.  Dave did it in just a couple minutes over six hours.

These guys had a lot to catch up on.

It was a giant party at the finish line, food and drinks and music and dancing (not so much the athletes…most were not in the mood to dance I think.

We cleaned up and ate at this beautiful patio overlooking the sun sinking orange warm into the ocean, and talked about the race, and ideas, and more about the race.  And it was a good night.

On our last day we headed to the other side of the island. 

We had never been to the big island before and so far all we had seen were forlorn lava fields stretching out for as long as your eye could see, with a few lush landscapes carved out for hotels. 

So after church and checking out the Kona temple:

 (and touching it for the kids 🙂

…we took the hour and a half drive over to the other side of the island for a day of adventure seeking all the waterfalls and small hikes/walks (yes those men could luckily still walk) we could find on the other side of the island.

I’ll let the pictures tell that story.

We got caught in pouring rain at this waterfall.

It was awesome.

And this one was just right off the side of the freeway:

So grateful for opportunities to be filled up with gratitude for God’s creations: both in the human and nature forms.

Congratulations to these good men…and to all those athletes with their own uniquely beautiful stories to tell.  Stories that propelled them forward, and stretched them beyond their limits.


  1. Man…major props to him.

    I could never do it.

    My mom did an Ironman in Tempe, Arizona and she's got MS so she's my hero. She always has been but after that, even more so. It's amazing what people can do.

  2. Congratulations Dave! What a great accomplishment.
    On a side note I love your sunglasses and your skirt, please tell me where you got them 🙂
    Hawaii is so beautiful!

  3. I just hung onto every word! I watched a good friend cross the finish line once, and cried like a baby. For her, and every person I saw come through. It's SO emotional!! Their determination absolutely awe-inspiring!! Loved your stories!

  4. What a great post. My husband is also an IronMan. He completed his second last summer in Tremblant. The year before he was supposed to do Muskoka but he was in an accident 6 weeks before. He worked so hard all year to recover and made it back to the start line last summer. It is such an amazing experience for all! Congrats to your husband!!

  5. The Schillings! We love them! They were in our ward in Morgan Hill before moving to AZ. Also, we lived in WI with Steve and Kara and have stayed friends. It's always fun to see familiar faces pop up on your blog:)

  6. Wow, congratulations to all involved – the wives included, sonce without their support nothong would be possible 🙂
    Shauni, have you heard of this Mexican woman who won a marathon wearing traditional tribam sandals? You should google it, I was amazed!

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