Tammy and I met in 2003 after we both signed up for our first Ironman races. As you can imagine signing up for an Ironman is a serious commitment and training for one demands a lot of your personal time. To add a bit of purpose to my training I applied to be a part of a program called Iron Child. At the time it was a mentor/fund raising program that matches up first time Ironman athletes, with children dealing with chronic illness. Tammy, who at the time had I never met before, also applied to the program and both of us were accepted. That is where our friendship began.
|Tammy and I on a training ride the day we received our Iron Child race day clothing.
As it turned out Tammy didn't live too far from the school that I worked at and so we started doing some mid week training together. We rode inside and out, chatted, walked, and ran some too. Along the way our friendship became stronger and stronger. I listened as she talked about how she organized care for her children so she could be out training, and she listened to me talk about some of the challenges I was having with my class. Our friendship continue to grow.
|Me and my wonderful Iron Child ladies.
|Tammy and her wonderful Iron Child ladies
|Tammy and I post Ironman 2004 Iron Child celebration banquet.
In 2005 we took the year off from racing Ironman but continued to train together. I continued to see her regularly even though we had no big goals, except a half ironman race. In Aug 2005 together we signed up for our second Ironman race for the summer of 2006. Training began and we continued to train with one another when ever we could make it work. We completed a half ironman race together in early June. In mid June Tammy was helping out a friend who has interested in signing up for an Ironman but didn't yet know how to swim well. This friend asked Tammy if she'd do the swim portion of the race which in Tammy style she said, "sure".
The day before the race Tammy went out for a bike ride on her own. That was the day her life changed for ever. While riding, Tammy was hit by a car travelling at full speed. While I may not have the exact details correct I think she cracked her skull, fractured her neck, and shattered a leg. When rushed to the emergency in Victoria they were surprised she had survived the impact and tribute her survival to her incredible fitness at the time. Tammy is a fighter.
It was a few days before she was stable enough to be moved back to a trauma hospital in the Vancouver area. It was bad, really really bad and the saddest, hardest thing for me to see. Here was my very good friend Tammy, my training partner, my confidant, barely alive in a hospital bed.
At the time they doubted she'd ever be able to do another triathlon again. The damage was too severe and the goal was to get her functioning well enough to allow her to be independent again. Tammy had none of this nonsense though. From day one she was determined to race in another Ironman.
|A little extra motivation for Tammy standing next to the lead female vehicle a couple years later.
Along the way I watched Tammy learn how to walk again, how to read, how to handle light and sounds. I watched her do what ever she could to regain her brain, and body strength. Tammy had many set backs, but she continued to pick herself up deal with what needed to be dealt with. She stayed focussed and determined.
So why am I telling you this story?
On Sunday, Tammy will be completing her second Ironman. She HAS come back stronger than ever. I cry just typing that sentence because I know what she has gone through. She has taught me so much about determination and perseverance, something we all need to reach our goals.
|Rows, and rows of transition bags for Ironman athletes.
|Bikes in transition ready for the Ironman athletes to ride them.
On Sunday I hope Tammy will race happy, race strong, and enjoy every minute of her day! While I can't physically be at the race site with her - it's my nephew's bar mitzvah - I will be with her in spirit every swim stroke, bike pedal, and run. I could not be more proud!