In less than one week's time (3 days now to be exact), I will be lining up for my third attempt at the full ironman distance (swim- 2.4 miles, bike- 112 miles, and run- 26.2 miles). (Although, unfortunately due to horrible flooding and washed-out roads, Ironman has been forced to shorten the bike course to 94 miles. I was a little disappointed to hear this at first, but regardless of the distance, a race is a race, and I have been working very hard for this race and am ready to showcase that work in Texas).
While this is my third attempt at the full distance, I have actually only completed the distance once. My second attempt at Ironman Arizona in 2014, I DNF'ed (Did Not Finish) and it is still to this day my biggest regret when it comes to racing. I was having a decent day, but I started to really hurt on the run (something you can imagine happens to EVERYone. You are running a marathon after being on the bike for 112 miles after all) and I caved. I was having some other issues in addition to the physical pain (specifically GI issues which landed me more visits to a porta-potty than I'd like to recall), but nothing so bad that I couldn't have gotten myself to the finish line. When I look back on that race I am most disappointed with myself because I mentally gave up. Sure, physically I was hurting, but I had already made it to mile 22 of the run and I could have walked it in if I had needed to. But I chose not to do that and instead, walked off course. I gave up, plain and simple! Processing that decision was a hard pill to swallow. Since that race I have certainly had other races where the sh*t really started to hit the fan and I debated giving in, but I have always been able to tap into that feeling of regret, remembering how awful it felt and thus choosing to keep moving forward. I usually have such high expectations of myself that when things aren't going exactly as planned I allow the mental demons to fill my mind and I tank mentally.
I'm writing this blog more as therapy for myself I guess you could say. (So I guess if no one actually reads it, at least one person will get something out of it. Ha!) Knowing that I will be making an attempt at the full distance again makes me a little worried about how I will handle those low times in the race. I know a lot of people don't understand why endurance athletes do what they do, but there is a reason. We all probably have different reasons, but there is something within each of us that pushes us day in and day out to train for that finish line. Unfortunately, at low points in a race, it can become easy to forget those reasons and we too find ourselves saying "Why in the h*ll am I doing this?", which then leads to the "I could be sitting on the grass drinking a beer right now", or "I could be binge-watching Netflix in bed while consuming an entire box of donuts". While I do secretly sometimes dream of binge-eating an entire box of donuts (and that, I may just do AFTER the race), the key is tapping back into the real reasons I race and finding that determination and fight inside of me.
I have put in so much work over this Winter training for this race and have really worked on gaining back that self belief I used to have. But when I started to pack for the race last week, those pre-race jitters brought out a lot of fear and doubt. I started thinking about all of the things that could go wrong, instead of all of the things that could go right. In Ironman, you have to be prepared for things to go wrong. It's almost unheard of to have the perfect day, so you have to be ready with how you will deal with those challenges. However, last week, I had a few workouts not go as planned and I found myself in a low place thinking that maybe I wasn't as prepared as I should be. I think many of us do that. We have these last-minute panics where we start to doubt our preparations. It is normal to be nervous about a race. No matter how long one races I don't think that ever goes away. But sometimes the fear and the nerves can be paralyzing. Being paralyzed by fear is the reason so many of us never tap into that true potential we possess inside. It is the reason so many of us are not living the lives we were meant to be living. Because we CHOOSE to live a comfortable life instead of a daring and brave life. This all brought me back to the reasons I have made the life-changing decisions I have made over the last year. I am done living a life where fear rules me.
So, to all of this I say, "FUCK FEAR". I have put myself on a track to find happiness and success by choosing to not be overcome by fear. And I have come to find that I may not find success without a lot of failure along the way and for that I am ready. If I fall, I will get back up and try again. And in the end, I hope to look back with no regret.
And so here I am, writing this blog and vowing to not give in to the fear and the doubt and the self-deprecation. I may not have the best race of my life, BUT on Saturday May 14th I vow to line up on that start line and give it my all from start to finish. Sure, that morning I'll probably be nervous as hell with a bad case of race-day diarrhea, but this time, instead of being worried about the competition, the weather, the course, the conditions, or most importantly being worried about failing, I will look inside myself and remind myself that I am DARING, STRONG, and BRAVE!
Unless something goes horribly wrong that will prevent me from finishing (injury, accident, mechanical on the bike), I am putting it out into the universe that I will NOT give up. I know it will be a day full of challenges and struggles, but I will find that inner strength and push through it. And most importantly, I will remember to race for those who can't.
Hope to see you all on the "other side",