*This* moment means everything.
Matt worked so long and so hard chasing a low-9-hour Ironman and a subsequent Kona slot, and he was right on track to make that happen. His training stats were ridiculous-- he was crushing it day after day, and it wasn't even hard. And then, 6.5 weeks before the race, that dream was derailed in a major way by a collision with an SUV while going 29+ mph on his bike.
Matt's coach suggested transferring to a later race to give him time to heal and then properly build up to the new race. But Matt wanted to race Texas because I was racing Texas, and sharing that with me was even more important to him than having a better shot at his personal goal. He worked hard to rehab and get back into training, spending the "peak weeks" in physical therapy rather than on the road. In fact, he only had *one* week of running before the race, thanks to the hematoma in his knee and compressed discs in his spine. It's a miracle he was even able to race.
Not knowing exactly what he'd be capable of now, Matt decided to stick to his previous goal paces and just see where that got him. Unfortunately, his body wasn't quite ready for that yet, and cramps plagued him in all three stages of the race. Afterward, his knee was clearly swollen and served as a visible reminder that his body has still not fully healed from the accident. And he still finished in 10:35!!! I mean, the man is superhuman to be able to do that under the circumstances. I am so incredibly proud of the way he kept his head up and pushed through the past 6.5 weeks, and especially those 10.5 Ironman hours. There will always be more races, and the third time will be the charm!
When I crossed the finish line, Matt was waiting on the other side with my medal. He placed it over my head and then just held me for a long time. He had done more than give me my medal -- he had given me his race. Matt chose that moment with me over one with a lei a few months later, and I still tear up thinking about the love and sacrifice involved in that gift. It meant everything to me to share this Ironman experience together, and I'll be forever grateful for that moment.