A great many of the countless hours I have spent this past year alone with my thoughts during swim/bike/run are spent writing in my head. The words rarely make it to paper or screen because, let’s face it, I’m probably either sleeping or nodding off in my downtime.
As I approach Ironman Wisconsin in about a month (gulp), my first 140.6 mile journey, I have given more and more thought to my “why”, which I have written about before, but I have more clarity now. The early morning alarms, the grind of the two-a-day workouts, the ten months of saying “no” to friends, the cold, the snow, the rain, the heat, the hills (seriously–the HILLS), all make you question yourself, your decisions, your abilities, and your sanity over and over and over again.
I have realized my why is pretty broad and difficult to pinpoint. There are a hundred very personal reasons I’m traveling this road to Ironman, not the least of which is my daughters and the example I want to set for them, the reaching for something bigger than what you really believe you can do and following through. But as I consider all these reasons, there are two that stand out above and beyond the rest, and they are bigger than me. Then it occurred to me: if I don’t talk about these reasons they aren’t going to help or inspire anyone, and that’s completely missing the point.
I am going to now speak to two very specific groups of people, but even if you don’t fit into these groups, maybe you can see yourself relating somehow.
- Former Jehovah’s Witnesses or those looking to get OUT. I am doing this for you. I am doing this to prove that in spite of what we were told, “bodily training” is beneficial for a LOT! They told you if you left you would be a degenerate, that it would destroy your life (and they aren’t going to talk to you ever again just to make the point), that you would become a lowlife of society and that basically you are already dead. When I race on 9/11/2016, I will be respectfully calling bullshit on behalf of us all.
- Those suffering or recovering from an eating disorder. I know your pain. I have felt your pain. I spent a good portion of my 20’s lying in bed wasting away, and the rest of them and much of my 30’s I spent getting fat because after three rounds of hospitalization I was so afraid of being judged or scolded for not eating that I just ate anything to avoid that. My message to you is: be strong, not skinny. Be afraid and do it anyway. Let go, don’t control. Contrary to what I once believed about training to this level, Ironman is teaching me to be patient with my body and accept the changes that happen. Accept my thicker body; it is strong. Accept the hard days; they build my mind. So I say to you, find joy in the good days and celebrate. Listen to and respect your body. Hear it when it asks for nutrition, honor it. Honor it when it says stop eating too. Honor it when it asks for rest. Find something to love about yourself. Then find another thing. I’m doing this to show you that you can fight this and be bigger than the hold it has on you.
On race day anything can happen in those 140.6 miles, up to 17 hours, and so much of it is out of my control. So, I focus on the fact that this journey has been absolutely life-changing. There’s no stopping now.