I’m not going to lie. By the end of 2008, I had given up. Not just on triathlon and Ironman, but on myself as well. It’s not something that is easy to admit, but it must be accepted. The months leading up to the race were difficult for me. There were too many conflicting interests, not enough time, and I felt my own willpower diminish every day. I did the miles, I made the time, and I completed the training program. But each workout was an effort. I wasn’t getting the right amount of sleep, I wasn’t resting, and I was emotionally drained.
I found it almost ironic that in spite of my best efforts, I entered each Ironman with a handicap. I started the 2005 and 2006 races one week after recovering from a cold. And while I was physically healthy for 2008, my mind and spirit were not. Without a strong mind and spirit, the body is just an empty shell, moving forward because that’s what it is being told to do. But without the fire from within, the body finds no reason to keep on moving once the pain begins.
The weeks after the race were difficult for me. I convinced myself that by completing the race, everything else in my life would fall into place again. Now I was faced with another DNF (did not finish) and my life was still out of alignment.
Those who were there understand and know what led to this collapse. For you others, let me just say to be careful with the energies you surround yourself with. Sometimes the ones that glow the brightest only do so because they are pulling energy from you. Lessons learned.
I began 2009 in a state of disarray; all that was familiar was suddenly gone. And while the prospect was frightening at first, I realized it was an opportunity to rebuild and grow once again. I got together with friends that first weekend of January and rode my bike. It wasn’t a training ride and there were no goals. I just rode my bike. And it was fun once again.
In April, I convinced two others to participate in a sprint Adventure Race to celebrate my birthday. It was intoxicating to be out on the course again. My brain was short, my body strong, and my spirit full of fire. Thoughts of triathlon returned, but was I ready. Was my mind ready to deal with what was up ahead?
I focused on building a base from March through May. I lifted weights, monitored my heart rate, changed my eating and sleeping habits, and trained. But even with a training plan, motivation is difficult when you have nothing to apply it to. At the adventure race, I took home a flyer announcing the Magic Man Triathlon in October. It was a half-Ironman, only 20 miles from home. But was I ready.
And then about a month ago I rode my bike to work. I rode fast, I rode hard. Every time I started feeling tired I told myself I would rest at the next stoplight. But I just kept pushing. I felt the fire within me burn brighter than I can ever remember. I set new records for myself in both directions. The endorphin rush was so strong that I couldn’t fall asleep that night. A few days later I went trail running and the same thing happened. Later that week I swam 1500 yards like it was a short swim.
Three weeks ago I rode 56 miles. I was tired. But I had fun. It was the same kind of joy I used to experience in high school when my friends and I would ride 40 miles with one water bottle in the middle of summer. We were explorers, adventures, pushing the limits of what others and we thought we were capable of.
And so after much reflection, I realized that I have grown since January. I have restored myself to the person I once knew. I was stronger inside and out. And I was no longer afraid. I mailed the check to Renegade Racing last week to secure a slot for the Magic Mountain Man triathlon on October 10th.
As for the Ironman, I have yet to decide. However, if October 10th goes extremely well, then maybe I’ll be driving out to Arizona in November to secure a slot for 2010.
Anyone care to join me on a road trip?
I know a place that has the best hot and sour soup this side of the Rockies.