There are people that we came across in our lives that challenge us to be better. They challenge us to get uncomfortable, to leave our safe place and to realize our full potential. For me, my husband Walter Bergman has been one of those people in my life ~ with so much love, respect, thanks and appreciation; I share my Ironman victory with him.
Walter not only believed in me but he realized my potential and capabilities well before I even did. His constant encouragement and unfailing support is what lead me to join the twenty two hundred other swimmers on the beach of Lake Coeur d’Alene on June 25th. Three and a half months earlier, when I decided to do Ironman, I could not swim and I had never even done a triathlon… and from April 23rd on, I had been plagued with shin splints from overtraining, but…
There I stood, at 7a.m., June 25th. The 2.4 mile swim for me was terrifying. Within the first 10 minutes I panicked, and truly thought that it was all over before it had even begun. As I was just about to lose it, an old man calmly inching forward at a very slow paced breast stroke said to me, “It’s doable. It doesn’t seem like it but it is. Just keep your head down and keep moving forward. You’ll be fine”. So, I did; and at 8.38am, I exited the water. At that point, I was already a winner.
The 112 mile bike was…long…hot (100 degrees)…and grueling. The locals were out in full force cheering us on. For the first 50 miles, the encouragement was very much appreciated - until LUNCH! With the stroke of noon, came the BBQ’s, the tubs filled with ice cold beer, the hamburgers and steaks…the torture. As we were cheered on by onlookers with a beer in one hand and a burger or hot dog in the other, all I could think was you’re seriously kidding me! (Perhaps my thoughts were a little more colorful than that at the time.) But I know that they meant well. Eight hours and nineteen minutes later, I arrived back from my ride to start the 26.2 mile run. After learning that Walter had been unable to complete the ride, I was more determined than ever to reach that finish line for both of us.
I ran as much of the marathon as I could, while nursing shin splints and dealing with the crazy heat. The people that I met day we amazing; they each had incredible stories as to what had brought them there that day ~ not one the same. Many I spoke with were on their 3rd or 5th Ironman… some in their late 50’s even 60’s. How could I not finish??
As I neared the finish line I was greeted with so much love along with very loud cheers and yelling, the loudest of all from Walter. We walked together hand in hand for the last 200 yards, and in the background you could hear, “Angela Meakins from La Jolla, California….today you are an Ironman.” Without a doubt, it was one of the best days of my life. It may have taken me 16 hours and 48 minutes but I did it. I had pushed myself harder than I ever had before, both mentally and physically. The finish line was the reward of four months of training, sweat, pain, fun, lots of laughs and tears. Was it worth it? Every minute… YES.
What no one (other than myself and Walter) knew that day was this: Walter was not the only Bergman Ironman there with me that day crossing the finish line… We shared that moment with our 9 week old IRONMAN BABY. I believe that being pregnant that day is what kept me safe. I had promised Walter that I would take my time, that I would keep my body temperature down, that I would keep a close watch on my heart rate, and that I would do everything to ensure that both I and the baby remained safe. I did just that, and crossed the finish line knowing that I had kept my word to him and to myself.
By Angela Meakins