Yes this actually happened and no I am not just being dramatic.
So when I tell people that I am running (participating?) in an Ironman I usually get 1 of 3 responses.
A) Random stranger who is a real triathelte: Oh so what other Ironman’s have you done?
Them: Oh so which halves/Olympics/sprints have you done?
Me: I haven’t
Them: Ohhhhhh (with a look of concern on their face). Well Good Luck! (They I see them thinking things in their head about how miserable I will be or how stupid I was that I thought this was a good idea)
B) Person B: So you know that’s really far and hard right?
Me: Well I mean it’s for charity..
Them: You realize that doesn’t make it any easier?
Me: Ya I mean basically once you start you have no choice but to finish so it will be fine!
C) Person C: So what does that consist of?
Me: 2.4 swim, 116 miles on the bike, and a marathon.
Them: Over how many days?
Me: All in the same day
Them: Ya but like how does it work?
Me: You start in the morning and then you swim, bike, and run 140 miles collectively.
Them: I don’t understand….
You see up until yesterday I really didn’t think about what I would ACTUALLY be doing. I’m someone who if I see that I have to do something I do it. I don’t think about if I CAN, I figure if it’s being given to me I have no choice. This has worked very well for my running career. Oh I have to run 20 miles today? Okay (don’t want the piece of paper that its on to be mad at me). At the beginning of every marathon or race I say to myself “well the faster you go the quicker you can do x,y,z so just get it done and over with”. In fact at bootcamp if you tell me I have to do a task and I’ll be done I usually can come in 1st or 2nd, but tell me I will be here for 40 minutes whats the point?
Tomorrow will be six months until my race. This means Friday will start my ACTUAL training. You see up until this apparently I am “building a base” which my mind 100% translates as to “well everything you do is an added bonus no need to actually take it seriously you aren’t training yet”. While this mentality has kept me calm it also hasn’t really allowed me to think about what those 14 hours on the course will feel or be like. I have not put in a real effort or have just been on an upper from hearing my loved ones say “Oh that’s so cool, I’m so excited for you, you’ll do great”. (Yes it’s easier for people to say that from the comfort of their couch).
Yes it was all fun and games and new shiny toys until yesterday. Leaving the hospital I had 3273527 random life tasks that I needed to get done and was thinking about. Nothing major but just things that I wanted to check off my list just so they weren’t there anymore. I knew I needed to get a quick swim in so I told myself doing them an hour later would in no impact affect my life. I got to the pool and decided I would swim laps for 45 minutes. I felt great physically but kept thinking about everything I needed to do when I left the pool (god forbid I was ONE DAY LATE RETURNING MY LIBRARY BOOK). You can imagine with this mentality the swim went by very slowly not to mention I was making myself more anxious and realistically the only thing I wanted to do big picture wise was order takeout and go cuddle with Chloe on my couch.
It was about 30 minutes into my swim that this man got into a lane next to me and started swimming like a professional swimmer. He was so incredibly fast and to me at that point was training for the Olympics. At this point I had the thought of OH MY GOD EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE LIKE THIS at the race, everyone will know what they are doing, I am not prepared for this nor will I ever be. For the first time I even manged to get myself anxious over swimming in the open water and convinced myself that I was going to drown during the race (because there isn’t 1000 other people around). My heart started racing and I had to stop swimming. I tried swimming again, telling myself just one more lap, but I had such an overwhelming sense of fear and physically couldn’t catch my breath. At that moment I decided I was pulling out of the race, I was never running/biking/swimming again, and I was a complete failure.
A few hours later as I sat on my couch with my takeout, cuddling with Chloe, and doing some work I reflected on what had happened in the pool. For the first time in training I used the words I can’t and I won’t and my body believed them. I let self doubt and discomfort get to me and once I was in my head there was no turning back. Our mind-body connection is SUCH an important thing to remember and figuring out ways to get out of the self doubt talk during difficult times is something everyone needs to learn to do especially during races.
SPOILER: I didn’t give my bike away and will still be training/completing this Ironman. But next time I start to freak out and wonder what in the world I was thinking telling myself I could do this I will be ready with some responses (and will also remember to remember my why)!
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