Monday, April 11, 2011

My Support Crew

While buying new tires for my bike this week, the sales clerk asked what race I am preparing for (a frequent question for me these days).  When I mentioned the Coeur d'Alene Ironman, he immediately became excited.  He shared that he also competes in Ironman races and would like to qualify for Kona some day.  As he was selling me tires, he suggested that I buy new ones for my bike and keep an extra set on hand the day of the race with my support crew.

My support crew?  I started to laugh.  Amateurs like me don't have support crews.  People make assumptions that just because I'm doing an Ironman I'm some sort of accomplished athlete that stresses over mile splits and cadence, with a coach and physical therapist on hand at all times.  Nope, not this triathlete.  My best marathon time is a 4:20 and I have only done two triathlons in my entire life.  I am more concerned with the cut-off times of the race than what the professionals will be doing.  A support crew is hardly necessary for slower "athletes" like me.

Yet this concept of a support crew resonated with me.  Maybe I did have a support crew after all...

I think about the half Ironman I completed last June.  My "support crew" was there beside me every step of the way.  My dad made bright orange t-shirts for himself, my mom, and my in-laws to wear so that they could be easily seen while Dave and I completed the race.  As I treaded water waiting for my swim wave to start that day, I looked toward the shore and saw a big group of orange cheering me on.

These are the same people that have attended most of our other marathons and races.  My dad has actually attended all of the marathons I have completed.  They have always been there, with water, words of encouragement, and a GU-shot on hand.  They have never questioned my motivation or judged me for making these huge commitments to races, but rather stand proud of the woman I have become.

And then I thought of Dave, who has helped me throughout all of my training.  He has offered advice, motivation, and helped me refocus when I've needed it most.  He has completed almost all of my workouts with me, pushing me forward and helping me finish training sessions and races, even when I felt like giving up.

And Karen, my best friend since the age of five.  She is always ready to run any race with me, giving me  encouragement mile after mile.  I remember setting the goal of completing a marathon after having Stevens Johnson Syndrome.  She asked me which race I wanted to do and made it a priority to be there, in Las Vegas, with me and Dave throughout the entire race.  The three of us crossed the finish line together, arms raised, having shared a special accomplishment between us.

I think about the role these people played when I had Stevens Johnson Syndrome.  They sat in my room in the Burn Center, along with my sister, supporting me every step of the way.  Even though I was in a coma, their loving voices would enter my dreams.  When I went home from the hospital, they were there at our townhome helping me recover one day at a time.  Karen and I watched Anne of Green Gables curled up on the sofa, my mom and I would go on short walks together every morning, my dad would bring me much needed ice cream to sooth my blistered lips, and Dave would hold me nightly as I cried.

I think about what that sales clerk asked, about my support crew.  I absolutely have one for the day of the Ironman and a lifetime beyond.  I am so fortunate to have a group of people that care so deeply about me.

We all have support crews in our lives.  Are we fully aware of them?  Do we share with them our appreciation and thanks?  In what ways can we support them in return?

These are the questions that have stayed with me this week.  To my support crew during the Ironman, Stevens Johnson, and an entire life of ups and downs, thank you so much for holding me up every step of the way.

Some of the proceeds of this fund-raiser are going to help to the support crews of Stevens Johnsons Syndrome patients in the University of Colorado Burn Center.  Many of these support crews are from out of town, staying for multiple weeks, and without any family or resources in the Denver area.  Your donations will help to make sure that they are given assistance during this difficult time.

To donate to the Burn Center, go online to  In the designation field choose "Other and type "Burn Fund (Team Emilie)."

Or you could mail your check to "UCHF- Burn Fund (Team Emilie)" to UCHF 12401 East 17th Ave. Mail Stop F485 Aurora, CO 80045.


  1. Awesome post Em, you made this pregnant lady cry!

  2. Emilie, awesome post! You spoke straight to my heart and spoke straight from my soul!! Thank you!