On July 27, 2014, just before sunset, I finish the marathon portion of the Lake Placid Iron Man and jog around the Olympic Ice Skating Oval to the finish line. The oval is bare concrete during the Iron Man and lined with friends and family waiting to celebrate the finish of the racers they have come to see. I jog easily and smile when I hear Abby cheer “Go Dad!”
Since then I have returned to Lake Placid whenever I get the chance, sometimes to hike the high peaks but more recently to enjoy the winter weather and especially to skate around this oval, now covered with ice.
It is cold tonight and I have the rink to myself. Eric Heiden won five gold medals here during the 1980 Olympics and set the world record during the 10,000 meter race. As I circle the infield I remember when I first learned to skate ten years before those races on a man-made ice rink set up in the village where I grew up. Years later I would spend Wednesday afternoons watching Abby learn to skate in Baltimore and on winter Fridays we would leave from school and skate together at a temporary rink set up next to the Inner Harbor. We haven’t skated together in years and in a matter weeks she will graduate from college and move on to new and greater adventures.
Tonight I stay longer than I had planned and cross the finish line 28 times before leaving. Each time I do, I think of how proud I am of the person my daughter has become.