I can already see the eyes of the Fab Five as we enter the water, a symbolic beginning to the end of training. Five guys focused on the same goal for over 8 months – and it all comes down to this. Once the swim starts, I may not see them for the next 10 – 12 hours, but in many ways we’ll be connected as one.
Tonight, I am there. I hear the screams from hundreds perched on balconies overlooking the water. I hear the encouraging words of athletes floating around me. I hear the cannon explode, sending me into mystery.
I feel the water splashing in Lake Monona. . . the mass of humanity pounding me with no regard . . . the serenity of a place humans weren’t meant to go.
I feel the slippery shore as I exit the water . . . my bare feet slapping concrete as I climb the winding road to the top of the transition helix.
My ass hits the seat for the first of many times that day. My thighs burn as I roll through picturesque farmland. Cheering fans slap my back while they hug the narrow climb in Verona like a Tour de France.
The loop through Camp Randall stadium, home of my favorite football team, takes me back to players I idolized as a child. A gauntlet of familiar faces wave signs and give high fives as I recall college memories from State Street.
My ankles ache as I turn the final corner and feel the rush of the finish line. I glance at the majestic state capital, embrace the tunnel of fans, and culminate the biggest physical accomplishment of my life.
It’s in my bones and won’t release me.