Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No more numbers.

Friday morning--time for the Gatorade Swim.

I met Wil, TriThomps, Stu, and some Cleveland Peeps like IronJohnny and Coach Kara down at the swim. It was so good to see everyone! I was on Cloud 9 at this point. All smiles....no worries. I felt great.

We jumped in and Stu got some great pictures of us with his underwater digital camera! How cool is that? Mr. Wil took some pictures from the shore, too. As we waded by the ski lift, I recognized Manitoba Guy somehow! He joined us for a little swim as we just kind of got our bearings. I felt really strong and the weather was great--a little cloudy and some wind, but nice and warm. The water was a bit cold at first, but it felt great to swim in--much better than the 90 degree Y pool I was used to!

I registered and picked up all my stuff. It was bizarre...we stood in this really long line, and it was very well organized, but for some reason I just felt unsettled. I think it was just because I was missing Matt some more. I couldn't wait for him to get into town. So I stood in line, alone, for a while. I saw Stu and TriThomps, so that picked me up a bit.

I felt butterflies as I told the volunteers my number: "2198," I said. I felt my stomach somersaut a bit as they handed me my chip.

Wow. There it is.

"Let me just activate this thing...."


I shuffled along to the next station. We had to get weighed, which of course is for safety purposes. What happened next is interesting, but didn't surprise me...and at the same time, led to something good.

I got on the scale and the volunteer recorded the number.

It was 5 more than I thought it would be.

Now, mind you, I had just drank 2 Nalgenes of water...I was wearing clothes, blah blah blah. But there I was, in the midst of beginning my Ironman, and I saw that number and the floodgates of old feelings rushed in. Feelings that I have had before--when I was 7, 10, 13, 16, 22.....

Oh no! What happened? What can I do? I need to get that lower NOW!

This is stupid. And irrational. And idiotic. Here I am, on the eve of an Ironman, and I'm letting this bother me?! It made no sense. And I knew this, and it still threw me into a little 3 minute tailspin. I felt old doubts and fears creep in, from years and years of battling with issues relating to weight and my image of myself.

So for about three rotten minutes, I let it really bother me. I didn't think about the things I'd accomplished to get the honor of standing on that scale, on that day, in that city. I just saw a number, and it made me irrationally upset.

And it was at that moment, standing in the Monona Terrace alone, that I snapped out of it and changed my entire approach.

There would, from that point on, be no numbers in my Ironman.

The only number, I decided, that I was going to pay attention to, was my heart rate. I don't want splits, and I don't want time. I will still have my A, B, and C finishing goals, but I'm not going to worry about how I get there--I'm just going to get there. To one of those letters. Without any numbers or splits.

Because, see--I don't do so well with numbers.

And I knew I couldn't let the numbers do this to me on that day. I knew it might jeopardize everything I've worked for.

And suddenly, I felt a huge relief. Heart rate, and that's it. Whew.

Okay. I'm allright.

I went to grab some lunch alone. See, I think there are really two different kinds of people at Ironman--those that love to be around the buzz, and those that need to step away from the buzz. I am the latter. I deliberately stayed away from downtown as much as I could. I knew that my focus needed to be relaxed, and for me, that meant away from the action I deemed unecessary. So I ate alone, rested in my room alone, and waited until Matt arrived. He's much like me in that sense, and when he walked into the hotel lobby my heart soared. I missed him so much and was so glad to see him.

I was also so glad to be able to enjoy dinner at Stu's house with my friends, new and old, of Pharmie, XT4, Wil, TriThomps, Robby B, Chris, Michelle, Siren, and even Manitoba Guy came along! Pictures will come once I can get them up there. It was such a perfect night--we relaxed, ate some really good grub, and talked.

I didn't go to the athlete meeting. Some people left to go and Matt said, "Should you go?" Maybe. But I didn't want to. I needed to step away from the buzz and the action, and the people I was with were so knowledgeable and all had completed the course--so I stayed and we watched Ironman Videos. It was absolutely perfect, and I can't thank Stu enough for letting us into his home for such a perfect Friday night.

Saturday was a blur.

It hit me then, and it hit me hard. I can't really remember much, except that it was kind of like the day before my wedding--I felt like I had so much to do, and was trying so hard to stay relaxed, and failing miserably. I began freaking out a bit when I started to pack my bags. Just seeing all the gear and bags was overwhelming. I threw a few of my students' cards into my special needs bags, along with extra copies of the names of people I was racing in honor and memory of. I put in as much food as I could, and some enduralytes. The weather forecast was calling for 64 degrees with a 30% chance of rain.

On a whim, I told Matt, "Maybe I should get a vest--I probably won't need it, as that weather report looks good...but just in case it rains that way I can wear it for the first few miles on the bike until I warm up and then ditch it."

So, operation find a vest was in effect. We tried everything: WalMart, Kohls, the mall...my frustration grew as I couldn't find one that would actually keep the wind from getting through.

We finally found one at Dick's...but ugh. $65. I didn't want to spend that.

At that point, I had no choice. $65 it was. I was mad and frustrated. But--no worrying about the numbers. If I needed it, I thought, it will be worth $65.

Little did I know. Heh. I had no freaking idea what was about to happen.

That night, I enjoyed dinner with my college girls--some of the best and most supportive people in the universe, that came to share the day with me and cheer me on. My parents were there, too--I have the best parents in the world, just so you know.

And I was determined not to let the number of hours I slept bother me, either. I heard that it's really 2 nights before that matters, and I got 9 hours that night. So I set the alarm for 3:58am, arranged to drive up with Manitoba Guy, and layed in bed.

"I'm really going to do this, aren't I?" I asked Matt.

He squeezed my hand.


And then, I fell asleep. I think all the worrying all day about numbers--64, 30%, 65, 15....it drained me.

And I had 6 glorious hours of sleep.

And then--BUZZ---

My IronDay was here.


Laurie said...

I hear you on the numbers messing with your head. I enjoy my workouts more when I leave the watch at home. I am glad you are sharing every part of your Ironman weekend. I can't wait to hear the rest of your story.

Jennifer P said...

Hey, there's a guy from my tri team that was there....I wonder if that is your Manitoba buy?

Wes said...

Brilliant T! Simply brilliant! You made an adjustment and focused on what mattered. Very very valuable lessons for us new guys... Good for you on the foresight for the vest too. In the grand scheme of things, $65.00 became priceless, I'm sure.

Chris said...

Tell me you weighed in on scale #3. That lying bitch of a scale told me I was five pounds heavy too and it ruined my weigh in! :(

I'm very, VERY glad that you bought that vest! :)

Tri-Thomps said...

I gave my wife a vest to have at the run aid station around mile six "just in case" and boy was I glad it was there. My 9 year old daughter saw I was having a tough time and offered me the rain poncho she was wearing while volunteering. Her Mom told her later that she more than likely helped her Dad finish the race.

Looking forward to the rest of the story. Glad I had a chance to meet Matt at dinner on Friday.

Jodi said...

I have been looking forward to hearing this story since the first time I read your blog. You are such a great writer I feel like I get to live the Ironman experience through you!

Can't wait to hear the rest of it. I'm sure it was all it was billed to be: IM Adventure!



jbmmommy said...

Can't wait to hear the rest. I just recently found your blog and have a lot of catching up to do. I love your writing and look forward to how you become IronSara. Not that you needed to finish a race to earn that title, you had already done all the work.

21st Century Mom said...

The scale thing - ugh. If you walk into a room full of people and ask men how much they weigh they say a number. If you ask women they get mad. We're funny that way.

I hope you have the rest written because the suspense of reading about the actual race is killing me!

Lloyd said...

I'm sooo ready for (your) Ironman. Bring it on!

I'll get those Elliott Ness' on ice and ready...

Didn't Eric do the HR thing too?

21st Century Mom said...

You kind of lean in that new pic to be worried about what the scale said. I call double silly on your reaction to your pre-IM weight!

bunnygirl said...

Wow, good call on the $65 vest! Since it might've saved your IM, it was worth far more than that. Sometimes you really do have to listen to your instincts and just ignore the numbers, like you say.

Spokane Al said...

As always, you weave an excellent tale and I will be looking forward to the next chapter.

Cliff said...

TriSaraTop I love your new profile pic even more.

..... :O..so exciting....about the weight issue...my weight kinda went up by 5 lbs too before one of my half ironman..performance wise i see no difference..though...it is just a number.. :)

Glenn said...

I have enjoyed reading you blog, looking forward to reading about your IronDay!

TryAthlete said...

I probably shouldn't comment in between the sections of your story, but it's really interesting and I can't wait for the next bit!

Kate said...

Great post! I am almost relieved to see that people like you sometimes stress over the numbers too. I can't wait to read the rest- it's written s well I feel like I'm watching it all happen. And great new pic!

Pharmie said...

Great post! It was nice to finally meet Matt this weekend. I was a little heavier on the scale, too, and my body fat has apparrently gone up 3% in the last 4 years. Ugh. Well, I guess it actually did us some good :) We finished, didn't we?

PS - you rock my world!

Curly Su said...

wow--6 hours of sleep the night before? i got like 6 minutes. i'm impressed...

Eric said...

uhkbzldNo numbers. HR only. Exactly how I did my race. Free your mind, and the rest will follow.

Batman said...

I love this sport! What a great post. I can't wait to hear more!

Flatman said...

What a great race perspective you had. I can't wait to hear about the actual race!!!

You rock. Your no numbers theory worked for you perfectly!

jessie_tri_mn said...

Ugh, numbers. It's too easy to obsess over these things. They seem tangible and definite, but so much of life, and I'm sure, IM, is not.

A big congratulations to you on your IM finish!!! you rock! I look forward to hearing the rest of the story.

Lana said...

I love the no numbers approach! Sounds like it worked out great for you.
Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!!

Fe-lady said...

Love the new photo !!! You look so happy! Neat-o!

Tri-Geek Kahuna said...

trisaratops, congratulations! you totally ROCK. do you ever get tired of knowing you are now an Ironman?

Jeremy said...

Being a former college swimmer, I can definitely relate to having an obsession with numbers, and the insanity that it can cause! Great pre-race recap. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your journey.

Rae said...

LOVE the new profile pic!!! And I can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

Tri-John said...

IronSara, Awesome...I can't wait to hear the rest of your story.

Shelley said...

Way to go IronSara...sounds cool eh? Will you be posting a pic of your medal??

Michele said...

congrats Ironman!!!

Can't wait to hear the rest

tarheeltri said...

Haven't read the reports yet, but congrats! What an achievement!

IM Able said...


Great post and can't wait to hear more about your big day! Just saw an article here (http://www.transitiontimes.com/viewstory.cfm?ID=8669) about how topping of your glycogen can add the pounds on during rest. So likely your pre-race loading (and not the dreaded f-word) not only gave you the boost you needed, but also...er...fudged the numbers?

Ah, one day we ladies will learn to trust our bodies before the scale. Until then, blog on! Can't wait to hear the rest!

ClareUK said...

Can't wait to hear about the day. You have my full admiration. And not just getting away from the numbers OCD (which I so have, but mine are so merely decimals!)

Everyone who took part in the IM is a winner and to complete it is just awesome.

E-Speed said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new profile pic! When I get home from my marathon I am taking you out for a drink (or two or three!)

BuckeyeRunner said...

I love it! More!!!

a.maria said...

??? must be the hormones and "that time" of the month, cuz i'm already tearing up. i'm so excited to keep reading about your experience!!

no more numbers. what a fantastic idea!

Siren said...

I love that you went shopping! I swear no matter how carefully I (over)pack for a trip our first stop is always somewhere like a mall or WalMart because I need some sort of clothes I managed to not bring.

BTW... I've got some nice pix with you in them from Friday night. Shoot me an email (hitmystride at gmail dot com) and I'll send them to you.