Last weekend, some friends and I road-tripped it to Madison, WI to cheer on our other friends who were competing in the Madison Ironman (IMWI) 2014.
A couple of months ago, I was simply trying to get the weekend off of work to go and support our friends. Once I knew I could go, I obviously wanted to volunteer at some point during the day. Over 4,000 volunteers were needed and I knew we couldn’t watch our friends 100% of the time, so why not help out while we were there? Plus, let’s just say I love cheering for people, a lot! So it was the best of both worlds.
Then somewhere between registering to volunteer and the weekend leading up to IMWI 2014, I started contemplating personally signing up for IMWI 2015. I literally can’t remember when I started thinking about it. I mean, sure, I’ve done a short course triathlon and several relay tris, but I learned my lesson on this summer’s bike tour not to underestimate the physical challenge of things I once looked at and said “anyone can do that.” And there was that one day my boss and I were talking about the time it would take to “just finish” an Ironman. I did the math in my head and realized it was doable. Then I promptly started my evening 5K run and decided it was no longer doable and that I was literally crazy for having entertained the idea.
But by the time we set off in the car to Madtown, I was about 80% sure I was going to sign up. Part of my hold back was the cost (it’s a financial investment in of itself!). And then it was my friend’s girlfriend telling me her boyfriend told her not to sign up because he didn’t want her doing an Ironman. And since he’s MY friend too, I started thinking maybe he wouldn’t want me to sign up either. But at the end of the day neither of those were the real reason I wasn’t sure I could actually sign up. There was something else.
Before going to bed the night before the race, I had to take advantage of the fact that we were in Madison, and that there were two huge lakes nearby. There’s just something about a big body of water. I always find God in it. Looking out over the moonlit water I realized my biggest hurdle to committing to the Ironman, and pretty much everything else in life: I don’t like to commit to something I knew I couldn’t be the best at. I didn’t really realize it until that moment, but I guess I just never really committed to anything that hinted at me not being the best. I mean, why do it if I’m not going to be the best? I know, there are those of you who can think of a million reasons why you would do something even if you weren’t the best. But honestly, I just don’t. I don’t even consider attaching my name to something that isn’t the best. (We can go into all the reasons why this is, but let’s just leave at this for now.) And I knew that if I signed up for the Ironman, there’s no way I was going to be the best. Obviously. I mean, I can hardly even run a 5K at the moment, and this meant a full marathon AFTER a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike.
So, for the next 24 hours, I wrestled with what I knew was not only a hurdle to get over to sign up for this bloody thing, but probably (okay, definitely) a hurdle in every other area of my life as well. When it came down to it, I knew that if I didn’t sign up for this race, I wouldn’t have anything to really challenge me next year. Yes, I could get better at sprint tris, but I knew I could already do them, and that just wasn’t challenge enough to actually push me this next year. There was only once real option.
After cheering for literally hours upon hours on Sunday and watching my friends, and thousands others finish one of the most challenging endurance races, my head hit the pillow a little after 11PM with my alarm set for 4:30AM. Monday morning, I waited in line for 2.5 hours and did what I never imagined I would do:
Here’s to a year of training. Only 360 days to go. Ready or not, here I come Ironman.