Ironman is just Silly

“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life”
Marcus Aurelius

Yes when I think about it, it kinda makes me chuckle, how serious we take it using words like determined, challenge, goals, focus, grit, guts, tough, pain, perseverence, and on and on.  How about silly?!

We train and train and set goals and plan as if setting off to a real war, of course this is not a war.   On this fine day in Arizona looking at a brilliant sunrise over the water with bridges lined with people and twinkle lights, people are serious, focused, worried, scared, many eager and emotional and happy thank goodness.  Then we go and thrash and mash, in fact I was more smashed and mashed so people could “beat” me or “beat” their best, than any IM I’ve done so far.  I too was getting frustrated and annoyed and didn’t let many giggles enter my heart for those 2.4 miles. My ambition for a best time let serious seep in and hide the silliness of the whole reality of the scene maybe if I had felt a little more goofy I would have found holes to swim through and swim the speed I wanted, but I didn’t and so I didn’t.

Climbing out of the never ending swim for our lives, I slipped and smashed my toe on the stairs, of course I did.  Why not, Ironman is a silly trickster after all right?!  I didn’t realize it was broken until the med tent later this fine day.  It hurt but it should when you do smash it and put bike shoes right on.  It is not life and death, it is a hurt toe. A hurt toe in a silly race I now get to ride 112 miles on my bike in.

Windward Fun I’ve been ‘determined’ to have an incredible bike, this year after training at some altitude and mountains, the bike course was going to be ‘dominated’ by me.  Again how silly of me to think this way.  The winds did not wait until mid morning. they started in earnest on lap one, headwind up to 30-40mph gusts all the way out to the turnaround.  We all hunkered down in our little lines and tried to pass people in our quest to be super fast lol… How funny I bet it looks from above, all this effort, discomfort. But boy what scary fun it was coming back with a tailwind and slight downhill!  In case you were starting to have too much fun here, the crosswind gusts would play with you, threaten to dump you on your rear and did completely topple and injure and end the day of many cyclists. I think you had to embrace the wind, play and dance with it or you totally did not have a fun silly Ironman experience. So as much as I was slower than on my previous less windy attempt, I came in off the bike in 10th place in my age group. A perfect spot for me with a marathon to go.

My transitions were WAY faster than last time with my serious focus on getting outta there… 6 min total  T1/T2 time improvement.  No way was I going to dilly dally in this silly Ironman sitting on a chair, NOT going towards the finish line!  I set about to run my run all day pace, one that would put me near or below 4 hr pace.  For some reason though I wasn’t as smiley as I usually am, I had a goal of doing well so I had to focus!  I did hi five a line of little kids, that was about the extent of exuberance I could muster.  Hamstring/sciatic was getting tighter by the step, of course I knew it would, silly of me to thing otherwise lol.

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Mile 4 Running toward my friends Tunnel

I was NOT going to let it get the best of me though.  So I ran and ran. until I had to throw up.  Right as I was entering mile 15, and a mile long section of fans who were trying to support me with all the silliness they could manage, the lump in my throat and stomach knotted up.  All I could think was don’t throw up on the people. Not here, not now!  Then our fans, my friends and husband, ok REALLY not now!! I don’t think I even smiled? I just tried to keep it in, and run to an empty spot on the trail. Commence dry heaves.  This is where you really think how comical this all is.  I mean seriously.  Training is never like this.  Training is rainbows and butterflies for real for me. I LOVE TRAINING!  This race is just SILLY!

At that point I hear I am in 7th place- What?! so I have to try.  I cannot do my usual run/walk. That just wouldn’t do, to miss a kona spot because I got wimpy after all this ridiculousness.  So I only ran.  Unless I was stopped lol. I stopped for porta potty for the tummy, I stopped to gag, nothing in my stomach to release, just blech.  Surely some girls passed me then, if I had seen them would I have kept going?  They wear their totally ridiculous calf sleeves that cover their age group so I had no idea if I should catch em.  But silly me I should try anyway right?! My mouth is white with tums.. I probably ate 30 during the race… My lips parched and cracking, I even thought about Patrick’s trick of using ear wax, ew!!!  In Arizona, you run in the dark after 9-10 hr mark I think. So It was dark by now, goal of breaking 11 hrs gone.  I ran by the Go Mitch Go tent near the finish, and they yelled I could still PR.  NO I Can’t I yelled back.  I was already at the time, would be a few minutes over.  But I still didn’t know where I was overall so I ran and it hurt, I couldn’t run too hard because you just really don’t want to throw up in the finish chute.  Like REALLY don’t want to do that and I was very much there still.

Finish line is typical wonderful, no pain zone, a why didn’t I run like this all the way zone. But when I came across, boy was I DONE.  Like no other time before.  I was woozy dizzy and just not well.  I got to go to the med tent where my bp was 80/50, so happy day I got to get fluids!  This is the goal of every Ironman racer lol.  Fluids equal faster recovery!  Faster time to be able to eat mounds of food. and sleep well and on and on.  So I am grateful to the staff who took care of my pale low BP self. This is where I saw THE TOE.  I asked to take a peek, cuz it felt like I had a scrape or bad blister all day. Well it was bent and swollen and purple.  Thank goodness it wasn’t a more useful toe. Now patrick can make fun of my toes even more:-)  In the end I was 11th in my age group, Improved by 6 places over 2 years ago with much more drama to deal with. So I’ll take it, kinda have to:)

Silly thing is, we ALL were having silly ridiculous days out there. I had so many friends there who had spent an entire year training and fundraising for Go Mitch Go, most doing their first IM, having their own wonderfully awful days…The day of days they had waited for, I so wanted to chat with each one and see how it was compared to their visions, better worse, etc.  I could easily have picked a few and just stayed with em till the end, so magical is the first finish!

I was not the only one with gut issues, foot issues, hamstring issues and way way worse.  But for some reason we all keep going on as if we really have to. Really we don’t ha. Still not sure why I do these.  I love the training.  I love suffering race day and seeing if I can out suffer myself and some of my competitors.  I don’t have to prove anything, especially after the first one.  I know Ironman is something anyone can do. If you can tolerate all the silliness the day brings.  I guess I do it now to see if I can perfect it. Find that balance of happy and fun and focus and effort.  To show others there are things out there that look so hard that are so in your grasp, to not be afraid.

Go Mitch GO!!

The Go Mitch Go Team from Austin and OKC Raised $200,000!

So many brave tough adventurers out there.  I see people at the top of menacing mountains, because they climbed in the snow with their skis on their backs just to fly down and be done.  That amazes me, but not enough to want to do it.  I see people so strong and limber and brave they free climb cliffs and dangle, or ride mountain bikes at insane speeds down wild trails and obstacles.  They prove to me there is so much so so much to do if you want it. And all of it is silly,  these things we can do for a thrill, to enjoy and maximize our life experience.  All of us wee people on this magnificent earth seeking and pushing limits just fascinate me. How cool it is to have ANY opportunity we want to see what is possible. Ironman is not the pinnacle of that by any means, just one of the many options in our pretty humorous human experience.  I say we should all do something brave, silly, hard, fun, courageous, scary…  It is our job to give God a good show.

Ironman Readiness

“There are two things we should always be 1. raw and 2. ready. When you are raw, you are always ready and when you are ready you usually realize that you are raw. Waiting for perfection is not an answer, one cannot say “I will be ready when I am perfect” because then you will never be ready, rather one must say “I am raw and I am ready just like this right now, how and who I am.”
―C.JoyBell C.

I am 11 days from Ironman #5.

11 days from testing my readiness.

11 days from experiencing a true and complete exhaustion, exhileration and relief.

Every single Ironman I have trained for has had it’s own unique challenges, each I have felt a different level of readiness, and in fact come into them a different person than I come in now.

Number 1, the first, the only first you get, the magnificent glory of doing the work and following a plan with the total unknowing if it was going to work!  The mystery and awe of the day filled me with so much emotion for months, inspired me to start this blog.  The day was full of portapotty time and a wee bit o misery.  But it never crossed my mind I couldn’t/wouldn’t finished once I started that day.  Not losing my ability to hi-five volunteers and chuckle at what I had done to myself by even entering helped me cross the line.  Finishing it was the victory, as it should be for the first.

Number 2, was a year later on my home turf, with friends and familiar roads and paths, was a quiet preparation, the knowing was there, confidence and comfort and fun with dozens of friends along side was truly special.  It was a real struggle also, almost a full marathon walked after coming in off the bike in 2nd place… breathing and nausea issues would give me new lessons for future races.

Number 3 was 8 weeks later, big hopes because of the walkathon I had just experienced, and it was on familiar ground, familiar because it was Tempe AZ where I had gone to college.  Had a solid race, free of any significant issue and a PR, but still much more walking than I wanted.  It is definitely a course to do very well on if you get your act together:-)

Number 4 was 6 weeks after a dear friend and training partner in our group of 5 was killed on his bike on one of our training 100milers.  To say we were “ready” for this race… well, not sure any of us were ready… Mentally or physically. Things changed, our hearts changed.  We had a new reason to do this Ironman once we knew we were going ahead with it.   Gone were goals and worries about the perfect taper etc. Perspective shift big time.  Tahoe will always be special, an emotional roller coaster that I never wish on anyone, but one that is a huge part of my soul.

Number 5 is coming,  IMAZ again.  First time to do a course twice.  This time, after a major family life change, moving to a training mecca outdoor wonderland in Bend Oregon.  Once the settling in and rhythm was set this summer, training was the best I think I have ever had, overall at least.  Improvements mostly bike related, run has had issues with back and sciatic entire time but I believe has made me stronger. Calm and focused on having a breakthrough race.

I look back on all the races, mostly a blur, they are done and I’ve moved on, I think.  But I realize I carry little expectations for the next one with me each time.  Like NEXT time I will Look as fit as I feel. NEXT time I will lose that extra 10lbs that I didn’t have in my first one, NEXT time I will swim a ton more, NEXT time I will hit every interval and session with intent and dedication, do more this and that.  It annoys me that I get annoyed at the extra layer of “fuel” I have over my body lol. Especially now, we live in an amazing place for food and enjoying a fine glass of wine, and I should not regret the indulgences that don’t align with my picture of myself as an athlete.  They are in fact part of the rest of me, the family, friend, wife me.  Just wanted to share that, because I know many of us struggle with it on some level. And it is absurd that should ever cross my mind, but yep it does.

I am not perfect, but I am ready…. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly ready.  I am stronger than I have ever been, at times I feel like a machine, and I think for this phase of the game that means I am ready.  I am ready to be raw on race day… To be all that I have wanted to be in the 4 races before, to be all that I was in the 4 races before, and to be ME on race day.

Really believing…

“Get away from what is realistic and consider the seemingly impossible possiblities.  Stop asking what a good goal would be and start asking God what your most magnificent goal should and could be.”

Tommy Newberry

Do I think God believes my most magnificent goal should be qualifying for Kona?  No, but I do think it is one of the goals I should accomplish on the way to seeing the bigger goals He has in store for me that I have yet to be totally clear on.  I don’t think we have just ONE ultimate goal. More

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