In the Ironman circles, you will often hear stories from many about the “journey” of Ironman. They will tell you stories about overcoming obstacles and the many life changes that took place as a result of their training. And in the end, the race and finishing it is not only a reward, but a reminder that you really can accomplish anything. In that journey, there are days that help define you, not just as a triathlete, but as a person.
This week seems to be that kind of week for me.
Saturday’s bike ride was great. I have ridden two-thirds of the hills of the course and plan to finish the rest in the coming weeks. Sunday’s run was only 5 miles, but it puts me much closer to my goal of 10 before the event. I finished the weekend feeling good and enjoyed some social activities Sunday night.
However, some bad timing and decisions and I found myself eating dinner at 9pm. Anyone who knows me is well aware that a 9pm dinner for me is just a recipe for disaster. I didn’t get into bed until after 11pm and that led to a groggy Monday morning. And Monday night was a teaching night for me as well.
I started Tuesday morning tired but still jumped into the pool and swam my 2200 yards. My time was better than last week, but I already felt worn. I subconsciously took my time getting home and didn’t start my evening run until after 6:30pm.
The run was difficult at first, but after the first mile, I found my stride. I did not want to run last night, it was the last thing I wanted to do. But there I was, running, and running well at that. I made good time on my 3-mile course. But once again, I had a late dinner. I slept well, knowing full well that today was a 12-mile ride to work in the morning, and a 12-mile ride home afterwards.
The ride this morning went well. I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to but I was trying to keep my heart rate low. The streets were empty and there were few cars. It was a peaceful ride. I wish I could say the same about the journey home.
Like Tuesday night, I really didn’t want to ride my bike home. But in this case, I really didn’t have a choice. I left at 4pm as I normally do, but there were so many more cars and buses than the past few weeks. And the wind appeared in every direction. I was having trouble shifting and keeping a straight line. It was extremely clear that my mind was not focused and was tired. Today’s work involved a lot of problem solving and I think that wore me out.
The entire ride home was a struggle. I dodged several cars and intersections that seemed to have never seen me. Buses passed me closer than I liked. Every stoplight was red and I really had to use the bathroom and there was none in sight.
But like yesterday, I made it home. I did the distance, I completed the workout. There was nothing pretty or spectacular about it. Like the run and the swim, I just pressed forward, knowing full well that I have done it before and can do it again.
And perhaps that is the lesson learned in all of this. There is a reason I keep wanting to go back to the bike course for October’s race and climb the steep hills. I want to know that I can do so that when race day comes, I can use the knowledge and experience as power. It is those memories that we draw on when things aren’t going the way we want them to.