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.

24 comments:

Manitoba Guy said...

I find myself thinking about IMW during my long runs, still brings a smile to my face.

We have a fellow club member who did IMC this year and is signed up for next as well. He's always reminding the three of us who did an Ironman this year about the accomplishment. His excitement hasn't dwindled a bit since the fall and it's a great reminder. He spent an hour holding and staring at my finishers medal!

Habeela said...

You know, your posts are always so amazing! And they're always so helpful! Have fun in Hawaii!

Curly Su said...

yeah, it's all about staying in the moment...and also about constantly monitoring yourself and allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel...and understanding what your body and mind need at each and every moment...for me, that was what got me through ironman...and i think it's definitely helped me get through my life after im...

TryAthlete said...

Inspirational, as always. Great post. You rock!

RunBubbaRun said...

One thing I learned from IM besides "staying in the moment". Is never to give up, because it only takes one step at a time to get where we want to go. It being a race, a new adventure, or just life. One step at a time, that is all we can really do sometimes. Have fun in Hawaii.

RunBubbaRun said...

One thing I learned from IM besides "staying in the moment". Is never to give up, because it only takes one step at a time to get where we want to go. It being a race, a new adventure, or just life. One step at a time, that is all we can really do sometimes. Have fun in Hawaii.

RunBubbaRun said...

One thing I learned from IM besides "staying in the moment". Is never to give up, because it only takes one step at a time to get where we want to go. It being a race, a new adventure, or just life. One step at a time, that is all we can really do sometimes. Have fun in Hawaii.

RunBubbaRun said...

One thing I learned from IM besides "staying in the moment". Is never to give up, because it only takes one step at a time to get where we want to go. It being a race, a new adventure, or just life. One step at a time, that is all we can really do sometimes. Have fun in Hawaii.

Triteacher said...

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I know you're courageous and wise and will find the factors you can control in this situation. Then just let serenity happen... I believe in you!

Wes said...

Very good, Iron Sara. We don't take for granted the gifts that life throws in our path, and we don't cry and break down when adversity is written all over the cards we are dealt. Life is an ebb and a flow and when you insert yourself fully into the waters, the path is clear. You have a great time. Stay in the moment.

tri-mama said...

"Don't worry about tomorrow, today has enough worries of it's own...." I can't think of a better place to put life in perspective then Hawaii-there's a reason it's called paradise. Enjoy the time as it's been given to you, things will be just fine.

Wil said...

Tomorrow is just the result of what you do today... and you know you've got this.

Amy said...

Beautifully written Sara.

walchka said...

You have the best post Sara. Thanks for the inspiration. We can control so little, but that why do step up to the line in the first place to see what we are made of no matter what the situation is.

Enjoy Hawaii! You are going to love it and you'll probably kick yourself for ever think you shouldn't go. Just don't kick too hard. ;)

Siren said...

Stay in the moment is fabulous advice and I hope I can learn to do it as well as you have. I'm a huge worrier and can derail myself with the what-ifs instead of letting the good things happening carry me forward.

Have a great trip!

Eric said...

I wish I could put my thoughts down in type like you do. Thanks for reminding me about the gifts we are given and how to share them with others.

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Thanks for sharing your gift with us. I feel blessed to be your friend.

Rachel said...

Staying in the moment is valuable no only in racing but also life. I agree. Racing, training, it's all so mental.

Have a great time in Hawaii!

Joe said...

Tag, you're it!

Bolder said...

very yogic.

i try to be in the moment all the time. i rarely succeed.

at the Ironman, i was only too aware of the ramifications of not staying in the moment, i think that helped.

Spokane Al said...

Staying in the moment - I think those are words to remember concerning all the parts of our lives. Too many of us tend to miss the moment as we worry to much about what is coming or what has happened previously.

I was on a business trip one time and met a guy at the hotel. His first words were to give me the number of days until his retirement day. I thought that was very sad in that he was just marking time and loosing all those great moments adn memories in the process.

If nothing else triathlon, and your great post, helps remind us of the importance of staying in the moment.

Enjoy your moment in Hawaii.

Cliff said...

TriSaraTop...

What Hawaii? Am i missing something...

Thanks for sharing the focus on IM..focus in the momment..i have to start doing that..now.

Whatever you need to do..Bon Voyage....i too..often think.we shoudln't limit ourselves base by our own financial situation..

Samantha B said...

Great post Sara. I kinda, sorta have a tendency to float away to the future at times.

ALthough it's fun to daydreqam at times, I don't want to miss out on the current moments!

trifrog said...

You've learned a lot about yourself, life, others, and Who's in control of all of it.

There's something about not necessarily doing the 'right' thing when what it is feels so right to you - I think you have a great intuition and should follow it where it takes you.

Lana said...

Thanks for sharing that, Sara. I don't know if this helps very much, but it has been during the hard, uncertain times of my life that I have learned and grown the most as a person. And when I look back, I wouldn't trade them in for anything because of who they helped me become. Hang in, keep getting up, and have fun in Hawaii!

P.S. - Sub 4 with you, sista, sounds good to me!