Meet My Iron Woman

By: George V. Howe

As the great Ozzy Osbourne once said, “I am IRONMAN!”, or IRONWOMAN as it were! Last weekend my wife Tanis completed her second Ironman Triathlon 70.3 mile event. Impressive, yes, however it was her journey to this particular race in Lake Placid, New York that defines her best qualities. 

There are many words to describe Tanis. For those of you that have met her know she is beautiful, intelligent, funny, great Mom - we could dedicate an entire newsletter to what makes her great, but her determination and perseverance was, and has been, inspirational to me and our two young children. For the uninitiated, a 70.3 mile triathlon combines swimming (1.2 miles), biking (56 miles) and running (13.1 miles)…you know, because one sport isn’t tough enough! But the hundreds of hours of intense training, the injuries, the rehab and the grueling 6 hour contest pale in comparison to the reason she races: her Mom.

We lost her mother Peg a couple of years ago to cancer. Mrs. Raymond was a great lady in her own right; she was one tough cookie and a helluva fighter, as she battled cancer multiple times during her life. I really have a hate/hate relationship with cancer as it only seems to take the good people from us, and Peg was certainly gone too soon. I would much rather her here again so that she could see her grandchildren growing like weeds, or teaching Cali how to ride a horse or Nolan how to fish, or painting another memory onto a canvas frame or taking out a pesky rooster with a shotgun (yup, that happened!). But I can’t help but think how incredibly proud she would have been to watch her own daughter fighting through adversity to get to the finish line.

Oddly enough, the finish line wasn’t the problem…it was getting to the starting line that presented a massive challenge. The race was supposed to happen last year however Tanis had a serious bike accident in June 2017 that required reconstructive shoulder surgery. I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure of major shoulder surgery but the rehabilitation process is long and painful. But Tanis didn’t let that stop her; she never does, she just plowed right through it. It was not an easy year of training, at every turn there seemed to be another pothole! Besides the obvious shoulder pain, there was a knee injury, hip flexor, stiff neck and sore feet to name a few. Her massage therapist made a lot of money this year! So you can understand why just getting to the starting line was a major accomplishment. But she did it because that’s what she does; nothing gets in her way.

Oh, and then there was the race. Remember this is Lake Placid…that’s mountains to you and me. Most normal people go to Lake Placid to ski, not ride and run up and down roads that are more suitable for bobsledding! I do lots of things for 6 hours straight, it’s called golf and that’s not exactly taxing my heart rate. Although Mother Nature cooperated on race day, and for a while it looked like she was not going to be so kind, the course and elevation were brutal. Tanis jumped in the water at 7:10am when it was a brisk 34⁰ outside – thankfully the water temperature was slightly warmer. The bike and run were ruthless, starting at roughly 1,800 feet of elevation rising to 4,200 feet – a literal rollercoaster of a course. And throughout the race and at each of her transitions, Cali & Nolan were there yelling and screaming and ringing their little cow bells for Mommy. And after 6 ½ hours Tanis finished.

Because that’s what Tanis does. And because her Mom was there at the finish line in the form of a bouquet of sunflowers and a big smile. And Tanis knew it…..