This year’s Florida Ironman was a bittersweet time for me and I would like to share it with my friends in hopes that something good will come out of this great loss. I started writing this entry on Saturday, the day before the race and wrote the trip report on Sunday.
Saturday night Orlando Florida - I am an emotional wreck, very lonely and thought that capturing my feeling by writing them down might help me in some way get it together for tomorrow. So thanks for being there and reading this. Last night (Friday night) Andrew called me with terrible news. Tyler Lorenzi had died earlier that day in a boating accident. (I have provided a link below to the story, but it is not very pretty.
Ty stayed behind to try and help the others and was one of the two out of 10 who perished.) Tyler and Andrew met at Northwestern in the pre-week before Freshman year and have been best friends ever since. They were roommates for four years (both were in a 5 year program in the engineering school), spent the winter in Vail, and climbed to the top of Cotopaxi in Ecuador 19,347 feet last summer. The Wien’s and the Lorenzi’s along with two other families (Matt’s and Mer’s) shared a house in Breckenridge for a great ski week-end this past February. This news was devastating to all of us.
Ihave been unable to concentrate on much of anything today and have spent a lot of time on my cell phone with family members trying to help coordinate plans. Nannette was on an airplane to Chicago for Brian’s annual fund raiser when we got the news. Since Ty’s parents live in California and Ty was living in Virginia, Andrew’s apartment (in Chicago)quickly became the gathering place for Chicago friends and family which provided great support. I should also mention that Matt, Andrew’s current roommate was also a part of the close friendship including roommate, Vail and skiing with the family. Nannette, Matt’s parents and my father were all at the apartment.
I have to admit that my tears have been dousing out a lot of my flame today. It has been so difficult as I sit here in Florida and try to have a phone conversationwith someone only to be interrupted by crying…from me or them.
Then Andrew called me at about 12:15 PM. He told me that he had planned on running a 10K this morning and with all the sadness, decided to run it anyway. Maybe as a way to refocus the pain. He prefaced his comments by asking me not to congratulate him. Then he told me he ran a 36:21 for a PR. He did not have to worry about me congratulating him. I was crying too hard to say anything.
Our children can be great teachers.
I am going to bed. It has been a long day. Tomorrow morning, I will get up and compete in the Florida Ironman 70.3. And my flame will be burning bright tomorrow ….for a wonderful young man, Ty Lorenzi who we will miss dearly. Now I just have to figure out how to keep the tears out of my swim goggles.
May the Lorenzi’s, their extended family and friends find peace in the fond memories.
Post Race Report – Sunday night - I woke up at 4:15 AM from a pretty good night sleep. Met the other Atlanta participants at 4:30 AM for a breakfast prepared by Jose, a very dedicated Holiday Inn Express employee. As we drove to the race site at 5:00 AM, we witnessed one of the most dramatic thunder storms I have ever seen. The kind where two lightning strikes occur at the same time and connect half way down to the ground. I won’t even attempt to interpret that greeting for you, but I will share with you the one word I was thinking at the time as the rest of the group was scared to death about the swim….IGNITION.
When we arrived at the check-in, the lightning had almost stopped but the rain continued. At 6:30 AM it appeared to me that the clouds parted and the sun came out. I now know what Moses must have felt like when the Red Sea parted. The race started at 6:45 AM, 15 minutes late and we never saw another bolt of lightning or a drop of rain.
I had a very strong swim, a strong bike and a motivated run. I have to admit, it was tough to stay focused. I wrestled with my emotions for the whole race. At times, I imagined Ty saying Go Mr. Wien or Go Mike with that big grin on his face as he had done at two Chicago Marathons and the Chicago Triathlon. Each time, that memory put a smile on my face and got me back in the game.
When I finally came across the finish, I had what can only be described as a total emotional meltdown. The tough competitive facade disappeared and I was standing in the finis
h area as an emotional disaster. It got the immediate attention of the medical personnel. It also got the attention of my friends, Kelly Ferrel who had come down to support my triathlon mentor, Fox and Jim Duguay, who was there to support Mary Duguay. They knew immediately the pain I was feeling could not be minimized with a visit to the medical tent for an IV or a trip to the massage table to work out the cramps. The pain I was feeling could best be softened with a couple hugs and the words…”you made Tyler proud” and that is exactly what they delivered.
As I think back on the week-end, I have two thoughts. First, the police have stated that it was a miracle that eight of the 10 people on the boat survived. The survivors told the family that Tyler and the man who is still missing took charge when the accident happened and did everything they could to made sure the group was safe. I hope Tyler knows that the people he was so concerned about are survivors because of his efforts. Second, while what happened should never have happened, we were all reminded that what we loved about Tyler was his love for living an exciting life. A memorial service was held today on a boat on Lake Michigan in Chicago andattracted about 80 people from all over the country that were friends and contemporaries of Ty’s. It was a fitting tribute for Ty and gave some closure to his friends. In the invitation Andrew sent out on Facebook, he included a favorite quote from Tyler, “"A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a best friend will be right next to you saying...damn, that was fun."
As for the outcome of my race, I finished in 5:05:32. The guy who took second in our age group finished in 5:20:38. About 1.5 miles behind me and a very safe distance from the flame that burned very bright today for Ty.
I would like to follow the example set by my son. No congratulations please. Please just send me a note of something positive you did because you read this blog. Or a better perspective or appreciation you gained on life through this story. It might be something so simple as calling your kids to tell them you love them. (I have done that one a bunch this week-end.) Your stories would be appreciated. I plan to share your thoughts with friends and family at the appropriate time.