Nope. I ran an IronGirl 5k but the thought of an elite event like Ironman? Nope, not going to even think about trying to do that. Swimming, biking, and running all in one event. Swimming requires buoyancy. Pretty sure that sinking like a stone is a first clue that you are not meant for a triathlon. Biking just brings back 13 year old memories of falling off my bike and into a fire ant hill. (Subsequent silly ambulance ride was prompted by well-meaning passer-bys and my high blood pressure.) So – two out of three of those I stink at. Thus – the closest I get to being an Ironman – a pair of sunglasses that I didn’t know has the logo on them.
But I happen to know someone who is training for her first full Ironman. Actually Maria has four 1/2 Ironman events under her belt. This will not be the first time she’s swam, biked and run to a finish line. But this will be the first time she tackles 2.4 miles in the water, 112 miles on the bike, and end it all by running a full marathon (don’t forget the point 2 after the 26 miles). And all that in under 17 hours. If you come in at 17 hours and 1 second – they do not announce the famous, “Insert name here, You are an Ironman.” As you can tell – I’m pretty much in awe of Maria.
I only met Maria last week. She and I have run 11 miles or so together now in our Saturday group runs. Her reputation among the running group precedes her. Word out on the street is that if anyone can do it – Maria can. She’s a pretty inspiring woman. Not the fastest but certainly the most determined and focused and inspirational.
Which is why I felt bad to hear this morning that she was in the negative phase of her training for the Nov 6th event. Negative as in emotions. Maria was dragging mentally. Last week she about had me convinced to sign up for a marathon or even a tri – but this week she was at the point where she just about figured she wouldn’t finish in the time limit. Having already biked 100 miles this week (among other training days), she was not excited about the 15 miles she was to do this morning. And then 18 miles next Saturday.
I had to do 6.5 miles this morning (the others in our group did 5) – which does seem like nothing when you think about running 15 miles. But I managed to keep pace with Maria for about 2 or so miles before I turned back to my car and she kept going. I tried to keep up the banter, make her laugh, and make her reflect on what inspired her to try triathlons in the first place. To her credit, she neither smacked me or told me to go away. But I’m not sure I buoyed her mood any. (And about 10 min after I turned back and she kept going, the rain started which was sure to not help her mood.)
We all hit those points in our training…..the “why am I doing this”, the “I can’t possibly do this”, the “why did I sign up for this event”, the “everyone else is sleeping right now, why am I the crazy one out here”…. But for many of us, we can and do get past the worse of it. We find that inner strength to grit our teeth and continue. We figure out that lapping all the couch potatoes does mean something. We manage to dig deep and go, even if it’s a bit slower. We “Nike up” and just do it. Or in my case, we manage to get 7 miles or so in and then realize we can celebrate with a random gooey dessert in the middle of the afternoon! YUM!
I’m convinced Maria will get back there – to her happy place where she does tell herself she can and will do it. I know this because we’ve all been there – and will be back there again at some point. And when we’re at our lowest points, we need to remember the high points and the fact that all this moves in cycles and will come back around again soon. Hang in there, Maria…..we all know you can do it – and you know it too.