Our friend, Benjamin Mufti, has always been great at talking me into doing races. I was very happy with my first half-marathon until Ben talked me into a marathon. Then, I was just great with my marathons until Ben decided we should do a half-ironman. When Ben wanted to try the ultimate challenge, the ironman, I finally put my foot down. I had just started as a teacher at the local high school, and I knew I didn't have the time or energy to train for such a long race. Ben didn't push too much but did bargain with me that if he signed up, I would have to take him and cheer him on. I definitely didn't fight it too much! I loved road trips with Ben. I always knew it was going to be a good time if he was there.
Last July, we took the looooong drive up to Lake Placid for Ben's Ironman. Brian couldn't go because he had to work. The trip was awesome. Lake Placid turned into "ironman city," and everything geared towards the Ironman. Between race check-in, athlete dinner, shopping for new gear, and all other race preparation, I decided that I needed to do this race as well. I even recruited Brian while I was still at Ben's race. I think that was part of Ben's plan. He didn't really like when I sat races out. He knew that deep down I'm just as competitive as him.
I joined Ben's parents as we watched on race day. We watched from afar as Ben crushed his swim. We held our breath as Ben finally passed us on his first bike loop. I tried to keep us all calm as we watched him come in much later than expected on the second bike loop. I held my breath while he did his first run loop, and when he stopped over to me asking for some extra encouragement, I took off sprinting to find more places where I could cheer him through the course. Ben crossed the finish line in a hair over 15 hours. I had never seen him so proud in my life! I must admit, I don't know who was more excited though, me or him. What an amazing accomplishment!
It only took one night before he decided that he would do another Ironman with me. We were already planning our Louisville Ironman 2012 on the way home from Lake Placid (even though he was so sore he could barely walk!). Brian and I signed up the day Louisville Ironman registration opened, and Ben joined us a few weeks later.
On October 19th, 2011, Benjamin Mufti passed away after a tragic accident. I'm still trying to piece together my life without my best friend. I've had to push myself to try to get back to "everyday" life. Ben was like a brother to Brian and me. As frustrated as I am about losing my best friend, I know that the best way to honor him would be to train for the ironman that we had signed up for together. In the past few days, we've recruited a few mutual friends who would also like to do the race in Ben's name. Joanna and Fabien will also be joining is in Louisville. Originally, the Ironman in 2012 was going to be a road trip with our good friend, Ben, a long challenging race, and a celebration. Now the race has much more meaning--this is our way of saying thank you for all the times you pushed us to be adventurous and competitive.
By the way, I've never been much of a writer. You may tune in from time to time and wonder if I'll ever have anything interesting to say. I may not, but Ben was a great writer and loved telling me about his training. Maybe somehow I'll channel his wit, his love of language, and his gift of story telling!!!