Saturday, December 16, 2006
Fall down seven times, stand up eight
The best advice I ever got for Ironman was to stay in the moment.
See, for those of you who have done one, you can relate to this probably quite a bit. For those who will do one soon, take note: Stay in the moment.
You have to. You really do. I am 110% convinced of this.
So much can go wrong in an Ironman, that, in my humble opinion, it's a wonder that anyone finishes at all. I mean, think about it: you have 140.6 miles to cover that are full of the potential for disaster to strike. Kicked in the face with a broken nose, get knocked off your bike at mile 1 and break your clavicle, flat tire, GI issues, sprained ankle disasters. Anytime. You are so vulnerable. So much of your Ironman is COMPLETELY out of your control.
"Don't picture yourself crossing the finish line when you're on the bike," this person told me. "That's the most dangerous thing you can do." Focus instead on the task at hand: heart rate, your calories, your stomach, the road. These are the important things to think about.
Not that your mind doesn't wander during an Ironman. I know mine certainly did...I mean, for 15 hours, it's bound to happen, you know?
But I really took that advice to heart. I really, really tried, as best I could, to focus on the moment. Think about what I needed to do. And really, my memories of Ironman are a collection of moments.
Ten minutes, beep, time to eat, take a few ecaps, am I eating enough?
Why am I peeing so much for cryin' out loud?
What can I do to stop this?
I feel great!
I feel tired.
But I am still going.
Go, go go....head down, aero, focus.
If I flat, I will probably miss the cutoff.
OK, self, then we're just not going to flat right now.
Focus...watch the road, stretch my arms a bit, breath, beep, ecaps again, drink drink drink...
There's the Capitol.
I'm gonna make it.
I'm gonna make it today.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about things. A lot of talking to friends--some of whom are triathletes, some of whom are not. I think it's been really good for me to do some thinking and reflecting and general leaning on all kinds of people for some support.
There are quite a few things outside of my control at the moment.
And I've been trying to figure out why I am having a rough time with this. I love adventures. I love to put a backpack over my shoulders, some boots on my feet, and take off on an unknown trail. I love to raft down whitecapped rivers, to go 140.6 miles, 26.2 miles, to go any miles, anywhere and at any time. To pick the hard piece to conquor on the piano, the hard class to teach, the challenging students that others don't want to be in the same room with.
I seemingly love adventure. I mean, seriously. It's the title of this record I'm writing here.
Why is this any different?
I've come to only one conclusion: this one is not my choice. It's out of my control.
That's gotta be it.
So, I'm going to need to really listen once again to the advice given to me.
Stay in the moment.
It's all you can do, really, when faced with a long, long stretch where so much can go wrong.
Because, as I realized on September 10, so much can go right.
I need to remember that. I need to focus on that.
My body's trying to show me that, too. I'm convinced of it. From feeling really strong in the pool lately, to more and more runs feeling strong and fast and like I could go forever...to a 60 degree day tomorrow where Arcaro will come off the trainer and take me down the road. 60 degrees in Northeastern Ohio on December 17? If that's not a sign from above I don't know what is.
I need to take every day, one day at a time. Make the most of that day. And focus on what's around me. The rest will fall into place.
Tuesday, I ran 5 miles comfortably at an 8:22 pace.
That may not sound like much, I know...but that is usually pretty close to my tempo pace.
And I felt like I could go forever.
I stopped at the end, saw my watch, and just smiled. I enjoyed it. I'm not going to expect that every day--but I enjoyed the moment and enjoyed what my body just did. Sometimes my body just does that and has a way of really impressing me, and it reminds me once again that some days are good, some days are bad, but all days are really a gift. There's something to take away in each and every one.
I'm getting ready to go to Hawaii here. The practical side of me is still wondering why we are doing this...."Why now?" it's saying. "This couldn't be a worse time financially for this...how can you do this? With so much up in the air? This is crazy...."
Finally, that voice is starting to be silenced a bit. As I'm reminded, day after day, that these plans have been in motion for 2 years now, that we've been excited to see our friend stationed out there for 2 years...that my Grandpa, who I lost when I was eight, only wanted to see two things in his life: The Grand Canyon and Hawaii. That's all he wanted to see. And he never got to see either of them. Because he was 58 years old when he died, which I finally understand now how young that is...it's something you don't understand when you're eight.
I'm going because sometimes you just need to take risks and live in the moment. You just have to trust that you'll land on your feet. And even if you don't, you just have to trust that you will get up anyway.
So that's what I'm going to do.