I have been thinking a lot ..about the finish of my Ironman this year. Last year, I tried so hard to picture what it would look like, how I would feel, what would cross my mind. Every time I tried to picture my finish last year, I cried. And, I remember at mile 24, I started to get emotional, thinking "wow, i'm *really* going to finish this!" and then, I stopped myself because I realized even with two miles left, anything could happen.. But I took the time to slap hands coming into the finishing shoot, I was so excited! And....I was so....so tired and I saw Dave and I saw my family and all those silly emotional moments, I didn't even have!!! Well, I guess I did, it was in the form of happiness, not in the form of "sappy...wahh, I finished," kind of emotion.
I'm doing the same thing this time. I think when I want something really badly, I cry. I don't even know what I want this time, and I think that's the funny thing. Last year I just wanted to finish, and obviously, I have that same desire this year--but it's different, I decided earlier this year that this is my last Ironman.....for a while...for real this time (I know, I said that last time)...but I've got some other things I want to focus on so Ironman training will have to be put on back burner for a while til I feel like giving up some long weekends again!
I have a very good friend of mine who is hopefully on the verge of getting published one of these days because she is a witty, smart, brilliant writer. She said to me she just couldn't imagine training all those hours and putting it on the line for one day. I laughed and said "I can't imagine writing all those hours and having someone tell me, no, I don't like your story, start over!" There is a hint of truth in both of those--it is hours that we give up for a goal that we want to achieve, whether it's graduate school, or working hard at a job, or even raising children---that I hear is immeasurable---but you give up some sleep (don't you moms!?) =0. You give up certain little things for a greater goal and you hope that it's all worth it.
I think back to why I even got into triathlon...Dave was deployed to Iraq, we had only lived in San Diego for about four months, I was in my first semester of graduate school and desperate to keep busy. I had a friend get me to sign up for the Mission Bay sprint in October of 2004. Since then, triathlon has kept me busy through a transition period in my life where I found myself looking for some serious structure. Structure I got. I first pulled training plans out of a book and then I got serious and realized that I wanted to push myself and see how far I could go....that's when I found my coach, Amanda and honestly, i'm *so* lucky....she is patient and supportive when I need it and she kicks my butt when I deserve it. Not many people have that, we have a great relationship both for training, and in friendship...and I know that is incredibly rare.
Triathlon kept me busy through graduate school, two deployments, training in Colorado with my sisters, my brother in law introduced us all to it at Boulder Peak in 2004, and this year, both of my sisters and I competed in the Boulder Long Course...all together. I have had far many more FUN times in triathlon than times ones that I wasn't happy with. I've been lucky to have not been injured and i've stayed relatively healthy.
I do this sport because I love it and because, like many others out there with a hobby, "it's mine," --I have developed good friendships with other triathlete's, but the thing that really keeps me going---is that I love to race. I love competing, I love seeing my times improve and when I don't, I love making plans to figure out how to fix something for next time. It is a lot to give up for one day.....when I say hours...I mean hours...as in, there were times this year, I probably worked as much as I trained (ok, that doesn't say much for my work ethic)....but, I needed to know I went into Ironman Arizona with absolutely no doubts that I worked as hard as I could. Maybe it's because I know this is my last Ironman for quite a while that I know there isn't a "next time," there will be plenty of other RACES for sure!!! But, Ironman, I gotta hang up the shoes for a bit!!
It's funny, I STILL hate the training for Ironman.....and I read all my posts from last year and they say the same thing...I hate Ironman training.....but I do love the race and I learned that last year--and that.....was a true surprise in Florida. I expected to hurt, I expected to want the day over, I expected to wish the porto potty was sooner.....but, I never, ever expected to love it as much as I did......and I know Arizona will be the same way--regardless of what type of day I have, I will learn something from it.