This is a post from Susan Lacke. When we were first introduced to Susan, she had just run her first marathon, barely a year after resolving to run her first 5K. I was both shocked and inspired when she casually mentioned that she’d be doing her first Ironman triathlon in September.
Well, September is here, and that Ironman is tomorrow. Susan will be representing No Meat Athletes everywhere as a shining example of how quickly change can happen when you take charge of your diet and lifestyle. Wish her luck!
I’m doing a *&^%-ing Ironman. I am not okay with this.
For the past year, I’ve spent the last 20 percent of my time training for Ironman, 40 percent of my time ensuring I have adequate food, sleep and health for Ironman training, and 100 percent of my time praying to every god imaginable.
“Dear God, if you will calm the waves in this open-water swim, I promise I’ll donate my next paycheck to some needy third-world orphan.”
“Allah, help me get up this mountain. My legs are sick of pedaling. If you could send a nice tailwind, that’d be great.”
“Mother Nature, my alarm’s set for a 4 AM run, so if you could start a thunderstorm around 3:55 so I can sleep in, I would LOVE that.”
“Buddha, gotta ask you a favor…I’m sick of training. Can you arrange for me to get hit by a car so I have a reason not to do this damn race?”
I never got the calm waters. The tailwind never happened. I live in the desert, so a thunderstorm was too much to ask for, apparently. I did get hit by a car (Thanks, Buddha!) but apparently I wasn’t specific enough…the extent of my injuries only kept me out of training for one day. Dammit.
For the last year, I’ve said I’m going to do an Ironman. I’ve trained for this race. But I don’t know that I really believed it. It seemed so surreal, like some thing that was going to happen in some far-off day.
That day is almost here.
When I checked in for Ironman Wisconsin this week, it initially felt like any other race I’ve done. They smile, ask for your name, check your identification, make you sign your waiver, and give you a couple goody bags.
Then they put a blue wristband on you which identifies you as an athlete for the race.
A little plastic wristband, like you get at a carnival if you’ve been identified as tall enough to ride on the Gravitron, or after the bouncer checks your ID at a concert and determines you’re old enough to drink.
Minor. Cheap. Ordinary.
It doesn’t have superpowers or anything. It only means the person wearing it is going to do an Ironman this weekend.
They put one of those wristbands on me. ME.
OH-MY-GOSH-I-AM-DOING-A-*&^%ING-IRONMAN. I am not okay with this.
I was so not prepared for that moment.
The strangest club I’ve ever joined.
Since getting that wristband, I’ve been particularly sensitive to the color blue. As I venture through the race setup, grab a bite to eat at one of Madison’s restaurants, or even try to escape Ironman for a few minutes by doing some window shopping, I see that color on wrists everywhere. My gaze instinctively shoots from the wristband to the eyes of the person wearing it. Every time, they’re looking right at me, too.
With that look, we don’t need to exchange words. Our eyes say it all:
OH-MY-GOD-I-AM-DOING-A-*&^%ING-IRONMAN. I am not okay with this.
We’re part of this strange club, where members share the same feelings of excitement, fear, apprehension, and pride. Whether they’re Ironman newbies like me or veteran triathletes with multiple Ironman competitions under their race belts, there’s a definite buzz going through the air from pre-race jitters.
They’ve had the same prayers.
I shared my training experiences with some of my fellow athletes, and was relieved to know I wasn’t the only one with asinine prayers. We laughed nervously and silently admitted we still wished a car had hit us so we wouldn’t have do the damn race. In the backs of our heads, we still wonder what the hell we were thinking when we signed up for this race a year ago.
One fellow athlete, a native of Wisconsin, shared the same stories but had a different approach. Those choppy waters, those hard cycling climbs, the 4 AM runs, those workouts we didn’t want to do (but did anyway)…they weren’t obstacles to torture us. They were opportunities for us to become stronger triathletes. It was because of those difficult training events that we should know by now that we can and will finish the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile ride, and 26.2 mile run. We’ve done it before, and will do it again on race day.
You can, too.
Whatever your goal, quit thinking of it as something on the horizon and start treating it like something you can and will do. Quit complaining about your obstacles and start seeing them as opportunities.
I’ll be taking this approach on race day. If I have a slow swim, that’s okay; It just means I’ll have more energy for the bike. If I need to walk during the run, that’s fine; It’s an opportunity for me to slow down enough to take in some more calories to fuel my way to the finish.
Forget the obstacles. They don’t matter. Bring on the finish line.
Oh my gosh.
I’m doing an Ironman.
And I’m strangely okay with that.