It’s exactly one month since Ironman. The black eye is gone, the tattoo is healed up, and my feet are starting to look normal again. Well, my pinky toes are permanently deformed, but my blisters and calloused have peeled off. One month ago today I was just starting the run. I was less than 26 miles from the end of my day, and from the end of my year-long journey.
I guess now that I’ve had some time to sit back and reflect on things, I can allow myself to be a little philosophical :) Ironman isn’t one day. It starts the day you sign up and doesn’t end until you cross the finish line a year later. It’s also not just about you. It’s about every single one of your friends and family members that is going to be making sacrifices right along with you. They say that the top two causes of arguments between married couples are sex and money. If you’re training for Ironman, add a third to that list.
I learned that I am much stronger than I ever thought I was. I’ll admit, I’ve always been the type who wanted and expected things to come easy. Ironman doesn’t come easy. I am so proud of myself for finishing that race, but I am even more proud of everything I did to get to that finish line. I was up by 5am EVERY SINGLE Saturday starting in January so that I could go for a long run. I cried during more workouts than I care to admit. I ran 14 miles during the worst thunderstorm of the year, and was disappointed in myself because it was supposed to have been a 20 miler. I ran on feet that were so badly blistered it hurt to even touch them. I learned how to put my cassette back together when it fell apart in the middle of nowhere and it was either figure it out, or carry my bike 15 miles back to my car. I rode 60 miles in heat that was so bad that I passed out under a tree as soon as I got off my bike. I carried my bike through a creek because the bridge was out and dammit, we were going to finish that ride. I beat a race that beat me the year before.
I didn’t WANT to do any of that. I didn’t WANT to get up early, or destroy my feet, or go home when everyone else was going out because I had an early run in the morning. Because all of that stuff sucks, and it’s hard, and it made me cry. But I wanted to be an Ironman, and I knew that I was going to love that finish line more than I hated everything I had to do to get to it. And I did. Every single thing I did to finish was absolutely worth it. And it made me realize that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. Anyone can. If you want it bad enough, and are willing to put in the time and the effort, anything is possible. Just like there is no crying in baseball, there are no excuses in Ironman. “I’m too tired, I’m too busy, I don’t feel like it” are not part of the vocabulary of an Ironman. You do the work before you even get to race day, the race is the fun part. That’s when you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. That’s when you get to say “suck it!” to all the people who gave you a raised eyebrow, or rolled their eyes, or told you how crazy you were when you talked about your training.
Crossing the finish line wasn’t emotional for me. I had thought it would be, but it wasn’t. I was exhausted and thrilled to be able to finally sit down. But now it is emotional. Now that I get to think about all that went into it, I can realize just how big of a deal it was. I went through the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs, and I can be proud of myself.