For Lori Anderson, known to her friends as Lori Lu, the decision to train for the 2011 Ford IronMan Wisconsin rested on one simple fact: race day would occur on 9/11/2011, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "I have the privilege of being part of a team of athletes that will honor this day and the lives lost," wrote Anderson. As a Detective with 11.5 years of service for the Madison Police Department, Anderson decided to participate in the service team. A seasoned triathlete, she had completed other half-IronMan distance events, but this would be her first attempt at the full IronMan.
For several other members of the Madison Police Department, 9/11/2011 was an occasion to mark as well. "There are 13 Madison Police Department officers (Patrol, Detectives, Investigators, Lieutenants, and Captain) on the service team," said Anderson. As colleagues juggling demanding schedules, some trained for the race together, but most trained independently. Although preparing for such an intense race throughout the season requires countless hours spent in solitude and sweat, Police Officer Linda Baehmann felt deeply positive about her training regime. Baehmann wrote, "My favorite things about training for an Ironman are being outside and enjoying our beautiful state, appreciating the opportunity to be physically active, meeting new athletes, and adhering to a motto I try to throughout my life is being better today than yesterday."
The World Triathlon Corporation reserved 150 registration slots for police, fire, and EMS athletes who will be participating in the 2011 Ford IronMan Wisconsin. Athletes in this category were offered priority during registration, low bib numbers (45-199), a specially designated transition area located next to the pro triathlete transition, and will wear specially designated royal blue bib numbers.
On a deeply emotionally significant anniversary of 9/11, Anderson summed up her thoughts: "I will be thinking of ALL of the families who lost loved ones, that day. They are still suffering, still coping, still surviving!"
For Baehmann, the dedication to fellow police officers serves as inspiration through the most difficult moments in training and competition. "The thing that keeps me going during an event, especially when things aren't going as planned, is the thought of my fellow police officers that I am responsible for training," wrote Baehmann. "I try to lead by example. I tell them to never quit, especially when we are talking about fighting for their lives, so how can I possibly quit something so 'easy' as a triathlon. They are my motivation."
On the Thursday prior to the race, the 13 members of the Madison Police Department IronMan Service Team gathered for group photos. Focal Flame Photographer Clint Thayer photographed them as the early evening sun reflected off the the Wisconsin State Capitol building. "It was such a pleasure and an honor to work with these athletes," said Thayer. "My stepfather was a police officer, so I have a lot of memories of the camaraderie and fellowship that develops among fellow cops."
An impromptu humorous moment developed during the photo session when a police officer on patrol who was not part of the team or the photo shoot happened to drive by the group. "I asked the Service Team athletes if there was any way we could ask the officer to bring the cruiser up so it could be included in the photo," said Thayer. The officers laughed, quickly motioned to their colleague, and explained the situation. "I saw her smile, nod, and then the next thing I knew she put the car into gear and popped the curb. Having the cruiser as a backdrop was utterly perfect. There were also a few laughs and Blues Brother movie references to 'cop shocks,'" said Thayer.
Anderson has kept a blog describing her IronMan Wisconsin training and is raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of her husband, a cancer survivor. In the last days before the race, her mind is filled with the encouragement of friends and family, many of whom have written testimonials on her blog. "I’m not terribly confident that I will finish, but I’m proud of what I have accomplished already and I’m looking forward to the event," wrote Anderson.