Thursday, June 14, 2007
Its Coming Down to This.
"Those who are warriors can master anything, but first they must master themselves."
4 months I have been training, but the build-up has been happening for 7 years. in 1998 a few of my friends did Ironman and every year since, with the lone exception of 1999, someone I know has competed in an Ironman event, somewhere.
I run out of fingers and toes before I am finished counting all the times some of these folks have urged me to "go long," but the truth is we are the only ones who know, inside of ourselves, when the time is right. Its startling to many when a person is so steadfast about something, some think its fear and others laziness. But I knew, all these years, that I wasnt ready. Until 2006.
I have been training non-stop since the first weekend of February of this year, but I really count the 9 previous years of triathlon as integral training as well. Without that background in humility, triumph, and tradition in the sport of triathlon I would not have finally been ready to jump in to the big dance. Ironman Coeur D Alene 2007. So I signed up.
I havent really written about this occasion much until today, for reasons I cant wholly describe. Some people who actually have read this might think its not a big deal. That is absolutely the farthest thing from the truth. Mainly,I feel it is the intensity of the situation I have placed myself in doesnt leave much emotional energy left each day to write about it. Its a very difficult thing for me to place into words. I have been so focused on this, Ironman, that the idea of stopping to spill my emotions and thoughts about it here on this blog feels like a "leak" of some of that powerful emotion that I have been riding toward June 24th, race day. Some people might believe I am making too big of a deal out of this.
I have seen great and not-so-great Ironman days. The funny thing for me is, they all looked great. The miserable and the triumphant all are victory, as long as the finish line was crossed. I have trained for 4 months and taken thousands of dollars and hours for preparation and training. I am now a zen- master of my physiology at this point, with the exquisite ability to sense what my body is craving at a particular instant as well as how to suck every bit of energy from my starving muscles over the course of 12 hours. I believe that I owe all of the people I have counted on so heavily for this last 4 months to have a great day.
And, more importantly, I owe myself.
So I havent written because I did not want to "leak" any of the power and emotion I have been building up. And I see it as power. I do not see my emotional build up and focus as a "weird" thing or as dangerous, because I have kept it positive and constructive. I see this emotional build-up as one of the necessary ingredients to a successufl, maximized race day. I have not written, but the mental, physical and emotional journey has been relentless and incredible and wonderful. I feel on the brink of tears just thinking about the path I have traveled in 4 short months. To describe it would have taken the magic out of it, because you can not describe this sort of thing. You can not, absolutely can not, understand it fully until you experience it yourself. Period.
Surely it has been a balancing act; walking the tight-rope between training and overtraining. I became ill just after my biggest week of training, 2 weeks ago. Actually, I probably caught the virus DURING that week and it manifested the following week. I heeded the instructions of physicians, friends and heros and "took it easy for a week." I eased back into a sort of scaled-back training (we are less than 2 weeks out) trying to undo my sudden over-taper without killing my race day. The result is I feel better than ever today, 10 days before Ironman.
After the race I do not know what to expect. I cant even bring myself to think about post-race yet. It doesnt exist.
I do not even know what to expect when I stand in the water next to 1999 other freaked out, emotional, nervous wrecks waiting for the canon. But at that moment I know I will think back and remember seeing my beautiful wife in the swim lane next to me so many days, and think of her with me during so many bike rides of the worst weather I have ever ridden in. I could always look back and see that familiar cadence and that beautiful smile no matter how nasty the weather was, how many hours it took. Without complaint, without pause, she has been as relentless a training partner, coach and companion as she has a supporter and wife. She will be with me as I slip into the water beginning my day and I might feel a little sad that its coming to the end of the journey. I am more thankful than she will ever possibly know for the last four months we have had together. I know it wasnt easy to be with a wanna-be Ironman, and I love her for her constant effort and unselfish support.
Maybe I will think about all the times I have watched my best friend, Jeremy, going through this exact experience on his own race days. Even though I havent trainined with him this year, I feel closer to him than ever having gone through this. Now I have a little bit of insight into just how tough, how disciplined and how driven he is. He has always been a hero of mine, and now I feel, a little, like I understand him better: I am in awe.
So the countdown has begun. Its hard to think about anything else, really. I am nervous and excited and yet sad all at the same time. Jeremy described Ironman as like your birthday and christmas and at the same time the worst day ever all at once. Yikes. Awesome. Yikes. Awesome. I have certainly eaten enough for five families over the last few months, and I am looking forward to getting back to some normalcy, for sure. First I have an Ironman to do. I hope, I sinerely hope, I can stick to my plan well enough such that I can experience my day. I want to live it, not just get through it.
Thats it until sometime after.