Do you remember the triumphant scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in which Charlie, our protagonist-full-of-wonder, unwraps his Wonka Bar and–against all odds–finds the fifth and final golden ticket?
The emotion in that scene approaches the feeling I experienced last year when I crossed the IRONMAN New York finish line, having secured my Golden Ticket–a qualification for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
My 2012 trip to Kona was every bit as magical as Charlie’s trip to the Chocolate Factory. I finished top 10 in my age group and tasted of a competition so sweet it left me craving more. Just check out the finish line leaps in the video below:
My only regret was that I couldn’t share that finish line joy with my parents. As I was fighting Kona winds and heat on one side of the Pacific, my father was fighting cancer on the other.
In 2012, my quest for the Golden Ticket consumed my thoughts and dreams in each training session and in each race plan. This season started much the same, until a trip home for Father’s Day changed my calculus.
Knowing that my father couldn’t make it to Kona again this year, my heart just wasn’t in another race on the Big Island. Better to spend the vacation days and cashflow, I reasoned, on Vegas 70.3 in September and IRONMAN Arizona in November, both driving distance for my parents and chemo-friendly for my dad.
So when I earned not one–but TWO–Kona slots (one as the MMRF‘s top fundraiser and one as an age group athlete) at IRONMAN Lake Placid, I felt at peace with my decision to let them roll down to the next deserving athletes.
At some point down the road, I hope to have another shot at Kona.
But I only get one shot at daughterhood.
Plus, I won the true Golden Ticket the day I was born to these two lovebirds.