Been an interesting couple of weeks for me on my road to the Ironman. I felt really good after our trip up to Chattanooga to preview the course (read more about that trip here). I rode that high for a while while dealing with some consequences of training hard and traveling a lot (read super cankles).
At the same time some new information has been released about the race that has caused some increased chatter and anxiety–this in addition to some posts in the Chattanooga facebook group have got me thinking a lot about why? why tri?
I saw something posted in the facebook group by a triathlon coach about where he expects his athletes to be this far out from a race and the subsequent tough advice he gives if the athlete has not hit those benchmarks in training yet. It stirred up some frenzied conversation in the group as people digested his post, applied the info to their own training, added their perspective/experience, or rebelled against the suggestion that someone might not be ready.
There is more than one reason to start a race and finishing might not be among them. Getting to the start line is half the battle. If it were easy to get to the start line, everyone would be there. Plus, what if you can actually finish?! If you never try, you will never know. In Leadville they have a saying coined by the race series founder Ken Chlouber, “You are better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” For most of us our mind is out limiter…our body will push harder and harder the more we become comfortable with the pain that it brings.
We all have personal hurdles to overcome to even get to the start line. We cheer very loudly at the finish line for those who’s hurdles are outwardly apparent–the para triathlete, the person racing down the chute to make it under 17 hours, the folks racing in full uniform or combat gear… By no means do I want to take away from those accomplishments, but there are many for whom their hurdles are not outwardly apparent. My heart really went out to the cancer survivor that was mocked in Self magazine for wearing a tutu as part of her superhero outfit in marathon she ran while she was going thru chemo (if you missed it, check it out here). This story came out right about the same time that I got back to running. Her struggle was not outwardly apparent as she crossed the finish line, but she did and she did it to help other people as she was raising money for Girls on the Run.
When I signed up for this race close to a year ago, I had no idea that the next 30 days would change the course of my life and in turn put my dreams and goals on the back burner. All I knew was that my training for Ironman Florida was going well and I wanted to do it all again. I’m not fast by any means, wasn’t before the surgery so I can’t completely blame my slowness on the stupid tumor, but I haven’t made the progress over the past year that I wound have expected to a year ago. Does the possibility of not being an official finisher because of only having around 16 hours to finish dissuade me from toeing the line? No, because the start line is as much a victory for me as the finish line will be. It was the dream of getting to race this very race that got me thru times like sitting in the hospital enduring the most pain I have ever had and out of bed and to physical therapy when I couldn’t even drive myself.
So with all that said and out of my head I leave you with the immortal words of Taylor Swift which shall accompany me thru the next 30 days…yes just 30 left…”I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off…”