Last year at Ironman Canada, I had the honor of hearing Karen Aydelott speak at the athlete welcome ceremony. I remember sitting on the lawn of the Whistler Olympic Plaza and listening to her story. Here was a woman who had every reason to become bitter over circumstances that left her with the decision to have one of her legs amputated, but instead, she embraced life and all of its challenges with courage and tenacity.
While I’ve never sat down and actually had a conversation with Karen, we did exchange a few words on the final climb of the bike course on race day. If you know anything about the Ironman Canada bike course, you know that the last 20(ish) miles are a steady climb from Pemberton back to Whister with few chances for reprieve. I remember looking at my Garmin in total disbelief when it showed that I had only ridden one mile from the last time I had looked at it. I was absolutely sure I had gone at least 5 miles. The miles were ticking by slowly, the road was continuing to pitch upwards, the temperature was rising and the negative thoughts were starting to creep in. And then on my left, came Karen Aydelott, pushing on her pedals with a look of concentration and determination. “Do you think the road will let up any,” I asked. Karen replied in the calmest of voices, “oh yeah, it looks like the crest is just up there.” I looked up the road but didn’t see anything but more climbing. I chuckled and told her that I was going to go along with her answer. As she pulled ahead, I was quickly reminded that I had two working legs and I had absolutely no reason to complain or start feeling sorry for myself. I pushed ahead through the final miles knowing that I could.