Lucky Peak State Park
Last Saturday, under a cloudless sky south of Boise, Idaho, a group of guys all within five years of my age, stretched on our red neoprene swim caps and waded into the 66 degree water.
“Kind of warm,” they said.
I didn’t know if they meant the water on the outside of their wet suits, or on the inside.
The countdown started. With 30 seconds before the gun, I adjusted my goggles one last time and paddled a little closer to the crowd of over 50 swimmers near the starting line buoys. There were over a hundred swimmers chopping the calm water in the two groups ahead of us. About a thousand would follow us on a course marked by 15 yellow and orange buoys. Talk about surreal!
My second 70.3 mile Ironman event in just six weeks. The first was in St. George, Utah. These events consist of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a half marathon or 13.1 mile run.
It’s funny, after signing up for the St George event last February, I realized that I’d need to learn how to actually swim. Oh sure, I could dog paddle, float on my back and frog kick, but I mean really swim, moving myself forward in the water. And, be able to swim a distance longer than 21 football fields within 70 minutes.
There were, and are, skeptics who proclaim, “You can’t do that at your age.” Or, one of my favorites, “You’re a grandpa. Act like it.”
I tell them, “I am. Grandpas live life however they choose.”
Some of the skeptics are high school classmates who feel shackled and have lost their keys. Shackled to an unfulfilling life. A dead-end job. A relationship that is more misery than bliss. Health issues, etc.
They call me ‘lucky.’ Perhaps I am lucky. Lucky because the more accountability I take for my life, the ‘luckier’ I seem to be.
Back to the swimming: I made it, in both St George and Boise with over 15 minutes to spare.
At the finish line I’m exhausted, and, I’m feeling good! Feeling motivated to continue to take accountability and give myself ‘Permission to Live’ in all areas of my life. Feeling empowered, like, “I can do anything!”
And then, I became inspired! I watched 85 year-old Lew Hollander finish the Boise Ironman!
Lew is quoted in the Boise Statesman, “Life is: you either use it or lose it. I don’t want to lose it. So I use it. It’s that simple.” Click HERE for the Statesman story.
Hollander finished his fourth race in Boise in 8 hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds. But after thousands of races of varying lengths and 23 finishes at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii (a 140.6 mile event, twice that of the 70.3 mile Boise Ironman). Hollander said this October’s championship will be his last.
“It’s a long race and it takes a lot of preparation, and I’ve got other things to do,” Hollander said before adding he won’t give up shorter races like the ones in Boise. “And I’m getting slower, so it’s marginal. This will be my last full Ironman.”
“He says that every year,” whispers his daughter, Twin Falls resident Heather Shields, behind a homemade sign that proclaimed Hollander is “85 years young.”
Back when he was 12 years old, Lew Hollander gave himself “Permission to Live.” (Read more)
When did you?