Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I have a friend who is an Ironman

In every sense of the word.

Two Ironman finishes already under his belt, and I know he's got more than that in him. Amazing.This friend trained diligently for months and put in an amazing, almost untouchable amount of volume in preparation for this race.

This friend shares knowledge and has already helped me out in my Ironman training immensely--and I'm sure will help me even more as the day gets closer. His sense of humor, realistic approach to training, and encouragement is something I really value.

This friend swims--swimming really isn't the best verb--GLIDES faster than anyone I've ever seen. The epitome of technique and power, he flies through the water and makes it look effortless. That's why this friend finished 18th out of 2000-odd swimmers in Saturday's Ironman at Couer d'Alene. Unbelievable--a feat and an ability that I can only dream of attaining.

After that, my friend had a blazing fast bike split, even despite slowing down a bit on his terms due to the almost 100 degree heat on the course. This friend hydrated and took as much sodium as he could. In T2, my friend had a bike split that I can only imagine on a downhill, tailwind style course.

But for some reason, my friend cramped up on the run.

It got so bad that my friend got violently ill and had a major decision to make. He decided that it wasn't worth risking his health as he got sicker and sicker.So he made the decision at Mile 16--and I can only imagine the frustration in this decision--that after 3 IV's in the medical tent, he had to do what's best for him and his body, and call it a day.I respect him so much for this--it takes a great deal of courage and maturity to know that finishing might be possible, but might hurt you long-term, and it's the more courageous thing to do to step back and say, "Not today."

I hope I have that kind of courage in me.

As I heard his story, I couldn't help think of my own personal IM-year quote:

"THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD, WHO STRIVES VALIANTLY, WHO ERRS AND COMES UP SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN, BECAUSE THERE IS NO EFFORT WITHOUT ERROR OR SHORTCOMING, BUT WHO KNOWS THE GREAT ENTHUSIASMS, THE GREAT DEVOTIONS, WHO SPENDS HIMSELF FOR A WORTHY CAUSE; WHO, AT BEST, KNOWS, IN THE END, THE TRIUMPH OF HIGH ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHO, AT THE WORST, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST HE FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY, SO THAT HIS PLACE SHALL NEVER BE WITH THOSE COLD AND TIMID SOULS WHO KNEW NEITHER VICTORY NOR DEFEAT." --Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

The more I hear and read, the more I realize that this is a very different kind of beast I'm taking on. This is, really, the first time in my life, that I am throwing my heart and soul into something that, despite that--despite all my hours and good intentions--I might not achieve.

There are so many factors beyond my control, that it amazes me that anyone completes this race. It scares the hell out of me. Ironman is not a warm, fuzzy teddy bear cheering you on. It is a beast to be reckoned with. It doesn't give a shit how hard you trained and planned or how nice of a person you are and all that stuff. Sometimes things get out of your control, and sometimes you can roll with it, and other times, if you have the courage, you step away and tell it you'll be back.

My friend is an Ironman. He displays the persistence, skill, and courage that it takes to bear that name. I hope and pray I can someday share that title with him. The fact that I don't know that I can keeps me going as, little by little, I do everything in my power to get to wear that badge.

He is in every sense of the word.

21 comments:

Flatman said...

Awesome post. That is my all time favorite quote. He is definitely and Ironman. And you will be too...

BuckeyeRunner said...

Hell yeah, he is. Great post TriSara. After reading about everyone's experiences with Ironman, and with training for IM, I can see that it is, in every sense of the word, wrestling with a demon. You can prepare 200% for what is coming, but if the demon decides to fight dirty, and if your kidney decides to pass a stone during the fight (remember Tim DeBoom?), the hardest decision must be made - harder than all the training hours expended during the year or more of training. Maybe that decision is the true test of the Ironman - to say "this isn't my day to complete Ironman...but by God, I will next year." All the training, all the heart, all the suffering, all the hard decisions...all of it makes an Ironman.

nancytoby said...

Great post!! Yeah, you have to finish the race on the day the Race Gods hand you - not on the day you planned for, hoped for, trained for. It's a roll of the dice and we all just have to be as prepared as we can be and then see what happens!!

qcmier said...

Nice post.

I worry about that gorilla too, but I can't wait to call you an Iron(wo)man in September.

Chris said...

Indeed, it's a different beast and the race will be like nothing that you've experienced in the past. But the good news is that I think as a first timer, the pressure is off so to speak?

Was your friend going for a Kona spot? From the splits and his effort, it sort of sounds like he was. Those guys kind of have to lay it all down on the line if they want to have a shot. There is less room for error and a far greater chance that they'll blow up on the way.

Mortals like you and I don't have those issues to contend with. If we see problems creeping up, we have more time to adjust. Not to say that we're exempt from anything DNF causing to happen, but we don't always have to push into the red where there is a higher risk of it happening if that makes sense?

In any case, get all that training done and the race will feel like it's flying by. The training is really the hardest part...

Michele said...

Great post.

Soon you too will be an ironman.

Cliff said...

Great post TriSaraTops.

Sometimes u gotta call it a day and that's that. It ain't over. Just not that day.

walchka said...

What a great post and quote TriSaraTops! Well for your part you are doing everything to make it to that starting line. The rest will play out as it should. Remember its all about the journey. :)

TryAthlete said...

You are inspiring.

Eric said...

Awesome post girl. Update your post with his blog address so people can send him some tri blog support.

http://reddytotri.blogspot.com/

ClareUK said...

Fantastic- almost brought tears to my eyes.

greyhound said...

OY, veh. It is competitors like that who make me wonder whether I am in the right sport or even the same remarkable species as they are. I hope he has the same attitude about a supreme effort as you have for him.

Chad Austin said...

Nice post. At least he didn't DNF at his first IM attempt. No pressure, Sara.

Just12Finish said...

One of my favorite quotes too. We all long to get into the arena, and we will. YOU WILL!

Rachel said...

That's so awesome. It's so hard to know when to quit. When to cut your losses. I can't imagine how that would feel like. At mile 16 of the last leg. He was so close. I hope he can feel like he accomplished a major feat. Yeah, he is an IM.

Scott said...

Unbelievably inspiring post! LOL, I just starting humming the song Climb Every Mountain from the Sound of Music...

rice said...

I love that quote, I forced myself to Memorize it years ago.

Cheers

Rice.

tri-mama said...

cool post

TriBoomer said...

T,

Love the post and love the quote. Have no doubt you too will wear the title Ironman.

Stay tuned...

Wil said...

That is totally one of my favorite quotes ever.

Whoooo girl, we're really going aren't we...at least it's together ;)

Joe said...

Awesome quote.