These insecurities are quickly pushed out of my mind and are replaced by empowered anticipation. YES, I am ready for this. I have trained and prepared for this. I had an awesome coach (Yay! Andy Lowe) and a plan and the plan brought me right to this point. I am an athlete.
I walked into the convention center and something felt different than at the other events I have been in. For the first time I truly felt like I had a right to be there. I was ready to be there. This was big and I was prepared to cross the finish line. I’m not a fraud. I am an athlete. No… I am a Triathlete.
Registration was smooth and we were strategically guided directly into the Ironman store. More tears at the sight of all the Ironman paraphernalia (Ah, the power of branding). I sat through the athlete briefing then headed out to become familiar with the course. I drove the bike course and walked down to the river to view the swimming venue then back to the hotel for dinner and rest.
I awoke early the next morning and headed out to the transition area. I took a quick 15 minute bike ride then a 15 minute run with my new triathlete friend Neil. Lastly, I jumped into the 3rd most toxic river in the country for a quick 10 minute swim just to get a feel for the current. I felt good. I felt confident.
My family arrived later that afternoon and we had a relaxing day checking out the race venue and getting an early dinner. In bed early, I was surprised at how easily I fell asleep.
The alarm went off at 4am. I had a bowl of oatmeal and tried to go back to sleep. That wasn’t happening. I got up, had multiple cups of coffee and took inventory of my gear and transition bag for at least the 5th time. Yes, it’s all there. I am prepared and ready to do this – both mentally and physically.
With my gear and transition bag dropped off, I head to the starting area. There is a special energy in the air as the athletes are all gathering, many with their families and friends nearby for that final encouragement. It’s time.
On your mark…
Excuse my language but there are some bad-ass 45+ year olds in my group. It made me so proud of our age group. When it was our turn on the dock, I quickly jumped into the water to get acclimated and most importantly to position myself up front. I wanted to avoid a foot in the face at all cost.
The swim, by far my best sport, was smooth and satisfying. Just 27 minutes in the water and I was running up the ramp to the transition area.
Transition was quick and easy. The beginning of the bike was great – it felt good to be on the road and on to the second leg of this race. About 10 miles into the ride I realized that my drive of the route did not prepare me for the grade of the terrain. Multiple 3-4 mile “gentle” climbs and I was reaching panic mode. I had set a pace in mind that I wanted to reach and it was now blown. I am used to training in North Hall where there are many hills but these long, steady climbs were a different animal. Finally, I became resolved to the fact that my pace cannot matter. I just need to keep peddling.
Transition 2 felt a good bit different than my previous stop. I sat down on the ground to change shoes and thought to myself “how in the heck am I going to stand back up let alone run 13.1 miles”. Well, I did stand up and I started moving. Quitting was simply not an option. Moving toward the finish was all that mattered.
Usually it takes about 2 miles for my legs to feel normal and to be able to settle into the run. Well, that did not happen this time. My running legs NEVER came. Then the cramps started. Fear set in. I may not finish this. I looked at my watch and calculated how long it would take walking at this pace. I’m done. I won’t make it. I see Pam and the boys. I was heartbroken. This is not how I wanted them to see me. Then, it hit me…Cramping? I need salt. Oh, I have a salt tablet! A mere 15 minutes later, I was feeling better and was able to begin to run. Mind you, my (run/walk) pace was abysmal and pushed me into the 7th hour, but I was proud that I was mentally tough enough to push through the pain and discomfort and not give up. I AM a finisher. I AM an Ironman (well, half of one for now).
Seeing my boys faces throughout the run gave me a surge of energy. Each time I passed them, I would stand up taller, push a little harder and smile a little bigger. I was doing this for them. I never let them see me walk. And every time I passed them their eyes looked more amazed. They were realizing the magnitude of what I had taken on. Now they knew why I wasn’t there when they got up so many mornings. Why I was rarely home on Sundays and when I did get home was totally spent. For the past 12 weeks they had to tuck themselves in because I was in bed at 8:00. This was the first time in their lives that we broke that night time ritual. This was their race too. They sacrificed for Ironman too.
While I trusted my “business coach” Andy, there were many times along this journey that I seriously questioned what Ironman had to do with business. In the last few weeks of training it all came clear. We start a business with hopes and dreams and starry eyed visions of success in the near future. We don’t anticipate the long days, the monotonous daily tasks that make us want to pull our hair out. We can’t imagine the difficult decisions we will have to make along the way. I have had to make many difficult decisions in my training and in my business. I am at the half way point in both.
Ironman 140.6 Florida is set for November 7, 2015 and
ECHO Wellness Center is set for big growth in 2015
The alarm goes off at 4am and I have a choice. I can go back to bed and live comfortably in mediocrity. Or, I can step out into the chilled morning air and swim/bike/run toward excellence.