“World traveler, Ironman EXTRODINAIRE!” <— Best Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous voice. Down in aero position, giggling back and forth to ourselves, slight chill in the air…
Its November 2013 and I am cycling with my best friend through an Indian Reservation in the Arizona Desert. We had traveled all the way from Gulfport, MS to volunteer and sign up for Ironman Arizona. Trying to make the most out of the trip, we packed up our bikes and spent some time cycling around the desert with her mom’s cycling homies.
I really don’t even know why we had decided on Ironman Arizona… Because her mom lived there? Who knows? What I do know it was a big deal to me after training all year for the REV3 Iron distance race in Cedar Point, and the day we are supposed to start our road trip up to Ohio, I faint behind the wheel and ended up in the hospital. No worries, car didn’t crash, thank god my mom just happened to be in the car with me, but I was sick, very sick. Ended up not racing (duh), but did make the road trip up there with Lisa and my husband, though I thought I was going to die the entire way up there.
Honestly I am about 30 minutes to signing up for Ironman Texas, but I am not sure I want to. I mean I want to but Ive now trained for 3 Ironman Races (Didn’t do Cedar Point, but have done Ironman Couer D’Alene, and Ironman Arizona) and know the challenge just isn’t completing anymore, its the training that can suck the bone marrow out of you. Its all cool & merry to think of signing up for a race, then reality hits and you now have a part time/full time job of training for an Ironman. Shit is HARD work. Everyone that has ever done one can agree that the hard part wasn’t the race, you WELCOMED the race, it was all the LONG hours, all the LACK of sleep that was mentally & physically the most challenging part.
Seriously I am sitting on my stool at work, elbows on my knees, hands on my face, hat pulled over my eyes, “Ugh, Do I want to do this?”. I won’t have time to do much else.
Just recently I have come to the realization that it is ok to do new things. Sometimes I feel triathletes feel that they need to be a triathlete forever. Once one race is done, you sign up for another. You have to keep up with the cool kids in the triathlon clubs. Always training rides you need to show up to (or don’t, I am happily a trainer rider). The constant reply to “How is training going? What race is next?”, Um, who says I am doing another race? I decided to become a stripper for next season, you ok with that?
Im not really a stripper.
Or if its not about keeping up with the Jones’s, its about the the obsession of wanting to stay in TRIATHLETE shape, in particular IRONMAN shape (yes, there is a complete difference, unless you are a super athlete and just look like a bad ass all the time). Its addicting. You are lean, strong, you can go ALL DAY baby. But at the same time you pay the price for that shape, and come the end of your training cycle you are exhausted, hungry, and want to kick people in the shins, ALL THE TIME.
Mmm, but again, its OK TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. I actually have that written on a post-it that is on my laptop right now. I want time for paddle boarding (for those of you supporting my 100 mile race, it was canceled, total bummer I know), I just started Roller Derby (realized last night that there is no way you progress in that sport only skating 2 times a week, its going to take MORE TIME), and I am still signed up for the Yukon 1000 Kayak race in July of next year (only 2 months AFTER Ironman Texas).
My sister recently posted a picture of me crossing the finish line at IMCDA. I saw it and smiled. In the end there is nothing like completely an Ironman. That final stretch, the people screaming, you realizing “HOLY SHIT, THE FREAKING FINISH LINE!! FINALLY!!!”, with some unknown energy you are able to sprint to the end… You just want to stand there and talk to random strangers with your eyes half glazed over, you stink of body odor and maybe some pee, “I just did an Ironman…. I just did an Ironman…. I AM AN IRONMAN” <— You say all this in a zombie whisper batman voice, then you realize, some stranger in a volunteer shirt is gently guiding you through the crowd asking where your people are and all you can say is “I’m an Ironman. I just did an Ironman and I have to go to the bathroom…”
Just sitting here and smiling over the glory of it all, then flash back to reality and there is still so much I want to do… Will I have time? But I do what I want. If you want something bad enough, you will figure ways to make it work.
You’re probably wondering why Ironman Texas? Well as always, you promise a friend you would do it. I know this friend will be like “I didn’t realize it was stressing you so much. Don’t worry”, same time I know same friend is thinking “YOU PROMISED ME!!!”. LOL, oh man, I know she is excited, and I am too. There is nothing I want more to support her through this journey, even if it means that I get up at 2 am to do trainer rides with her via FaceTime. Again, same time I am bashing to my head into my desk, like “Ha ha! Ironmans are so cool.” <— Sarcastic eye rolling because sometimes people don’t understand the commitment it takes.
I know people who dont really believe that ANYONE can do an Ironman. I completely disagree, ANYONE can do an IRONMAN. Where people fudge up is when it comes to training. Im not going to say that its impossible for some people to get through Ironman training. What I am going to say is fact; Not everyone gets through Ironman training because its more mental than physically. Not everyone wants to sacrifice. Not everyone wants to clean up there diet. Not everyone wants to put the extra damn effort. Glory doesn’t come to EVERYONE because people quit. They didn’t just quit in the race, they quit weeks back when they didn’t put in the milage they should have because things got “HARD”. ANYONE can complete an IRONMAN, but not always EVERYONE can get through training for an IRONMAN.
The Ironman distance race is unforgiving. It doesn’t care that you wanted to skimp on workouts. It doesn’t give 2 shits that you have to wake up at 5 am for morning swims, or 2 am to get in long rides. Ironman doesn’t care. Ironman knows right away where you were lazy, where you didn’t push through the burn… Ironman is a sneaky SOB. “Oh you didn’t put the time in on the bike? How about I add some wind to those hills? Who’s an Ironman now?” (If Ironman was a dick and could talk).
When you get out there, you have to respect the race. You have to respect all the people around who have put their lives into that ONE day. You think you belong there next to them? Pssshh, and I am just not talking about the bad ass semi-pro athlete who of course is going to beat your ass. Do you think you belong next to the person that sacrificed family time, or that had to work 12 hour shifts but still made time to get to the gym? You may be a bad ass to family and friends who are around you 24/7, but the second your feet hit that cold ass sand, and you are walking through puddles of pee from ALL THE OTHER triathletes around you that have be doing ALL the same work (if not harder), you aren’t that special anymore. There is no lying about mileage. There is no skimping on swim yardage, because EVERYONE knows. Everyone has been there. You are admist 2400 people that are YOU. Of course we are all different, but its kinda like you are among people with the same soul… and you are going to know if you belong there or not.
I remember entering the waters of Lake Couer D’Alene. The water was turbulent from the swimmers in front of me, and from the damn wind that was creating the swells. Everyone in front of me looked like penguins jumping into the deep. I turned to my BF Lisa, we hugged, I had tears in my goggles, my earplugs were giving me a surreal feeling because chaos was happening in front of you but you could barely hear shit, but I knew in that moment “I belong here”. It all flashes at you, all the laps in the pool, all the hours on that damn bike, and constant patter of your feet. I put in the time, I DID the work. I BELONG HERE. The race was mine because I knew I DID the WORK to get there.
I feel I started this post as whiny little bitch, then had to slap myself around to remind myself why I do it. I do it because not everyone WANTS to do or or WILL do it. I do it because I am stronger than you. No excuses.
“Someday I want to do an Ironman”
“Then why don’t you do it?”
“Don’t have the time”
“Thats a bull shit excuse. You don’t have the WANT. Thats why you don’t do it.
“No, really I don’t have time”
“And you think I do?”
No one has the time… But how bad do you want it?