Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Ironman Life

My first trip to the Big Island

For as much as we all bitch about it... most of us really do like it or we wouldn't be doing it. I think a man once said "If you're willing to sacrifice everything, you can have almost anything." What I think he was trying to get at, is that everything, and I mean everything, comes with a price.

When I think back on my life thus far (all 29 years of it!), I can see pivotal points where I made a decision to go down one path or another. I don't think it was that I analyzed each way so much and tried to make a "wise" decision (I would like to think this, but it probably just wouldn't be true). What I really think happened is that I had good parents and good people around me, not just for days or month, but for years. Sure, my parents divorced when I was two years old. Sure, I grew up with my mother as my primary care giver. Not only do I not think I was "scarred" by this, but in some ways, it was good for me. My mother was the very best parent she could be under the circumstances. While she was getting her PhD I got to spend time with my grandparents, which molded and shaped me even further. My father was in contact the best he could, seeing me for a month in the summer, and then ever other Christmas I would fly out to California for a couple weeks. I had coaches that became like father figures, and taught me about life, God, love, and sacrifice to make things happen. When the times to make decisions came, it was innate, I had good role models. That's what it's all about. It was somewhat nature, but definitely nurture that prevailed. Thank God for good parents, they make us who we are and we owe them more than we will ever repay...and that's the beauty of it.

Mom & I with her 10k trophy - Nice Hair Mom - Very Groovy :)

Roads diverge, and we are forced to choose constantly. Some decisions are bigger than others, but we do the best that we can.

Two years ago my husband and I were on the Big Island after I did a food show and had a few days for sightseeing in Kona. I remember driving along the miles of black lava rocks, white stones etching messages into the hearts of those who passed by. I stood at Kailua Bay and watched the waves come in, and I saw the sign in Kona for the Ironman World Championships. I looked over and said "I will be back here one day Kyle, and I will do this race." I had one triathlon to my name, and I was not afraid to dream, nor should you.

When I choose this road last November, it was like it was already chosen for me. Everything I did and prayed about seemed to fall into place. I started training slowly but surely. The Holidays came and went, and I did not get discouraged. I tried not to think to far ahead when I was on the trainer for Saturday after Saturday. We booked our flight to St. Croix, and on January 1st I made a note - St. Croix or Bust!

Through that race, and this season I learned so much. I've learned about myself, and about those I train with. I've become so close to my masters swimmers and my long ride buddies, often times I spent more time with them than I did with Kyle.

Some things I've learned, just to name a few:

- How to get stung by a bee in my shirt and keep riding
- How to burp and cough underwater (these are important!)
- How to use baggies for simply everything.. and I mean everything
- How to drop my cell phone from my jersey going 30 mph downhill (end of that one)
- That I can get ready in 5 minutes
- That I can out eat my husband in certain circumstances
- That I will cry after a certain point with no food
- That I can talk for hours upon end about absolutely nothing if left to do so, especially when training with men, they just listen.. God Bless them..

Ok.. in all honesty, I did learn those things.. but I learned a few others too.. like

- People you've never met (aka blogland) can be so supportive and lift you up through kind words - thank you!
- We are all so much alike, and want the same things
- No one is immune to being hurt, or scared or having any kind of issue - so support them in any way you can because soon it will be you
- Regardless of age, or anything else, there are such great people in my community that I would have never met if it wasn't for triathlon - they rock
- That I am strong, and I can handle way more than I thought I could
- That I will finish this thing, no matter what happens, I will finish!

Everything does come with a price, but you don't have to give everything else up for it. We shouldn't have to, and most of us don't. There are things that are far more important than triathlon, or racing, and I think even through the training, we learn that. The reality kind of shines though. We get so much more out of all of the experience than just crossing the finish line.

My husband, my friends, my family put up with a lot of tiredness, hunger, hurried phone calls, things being lost all the time, and bitchiness (sorry, but it's true), for me to get to this point, but I hope, to all of us, this experience will bring great joy.

I know it sounds trite, but I do love the Ironman life. Now let's see if I can actually go do one! Ha!

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