“There are two separate halfs to your fitness self. There is the training self, and the racing self. The training self does all the hard work. He gets up at 3 am. He runs in the dark, in the rain, in the heat, and in the snow. The training self ignores the snooze button, the fatigue, and the pain. The training self gives your racing self the gifts of fitness and endurence. The training self does all of the hard work. The racing self only has to show up a few times a year, and it only has one job.
He has to honor your training self.
He has to make all of your training self’s hard work and sacrifices worthwhile.
No matter what you do on race day, never let your training self down.”
-Coach Rick-Endurance Nation
Ironman is about pain. It is about adversity. It is about pushing beyond your limitations and your expectations. It is about how the human spirit faces adversity and overcomes it…
I limped into T2. As I reached the dismount line, I stepped off my bike and my knees buckled. The volunteers had to catch me and my bike. The bike was quickly carted away as another volunteer supported me and escorted me into the changing room. This guy was bursting with energy and enthusiasm. He was my new best friend and cheerleader, and he was giving me a pretty good back massage as we walked. He brought me to a chair and sat me down as another volunteer brought me some water and a third brought me my run gear bag (these transitions are amazing!)
Despite all of this, I was in the pit of despair. I had to run a marathon. I could not even walk without help. How could I ever do this? The thought was overwhelming. I wanted to quit. Except, deep down, I knew that I didn’t. I had dreamed of this day for almost 3 years, and have trained so hard for it during the last 30 weeks. This was my one shot at this. I would not be back. The weather was perfect. I was healthy and had avoided injury. Many others never made it this far. I saw several crashes on the bike course. Some never made it out of the water. I still had my timing chip on my ankle, so I was still in the game. I was hurting and weak. I was painted into a corner. But, I wasn’t out yet…
I had 26.2 miles left…a distance that is painful on it’s own. What did I have?
I had over 7 1/2 hours. So I had a lot of extra time…but not enough time to just walk the whole thing. I could use that time wisely. I had a chair, an endless water supply, and an air conditioned transition out of the sun. My legs were cramping (from the dehydration) but were otherwise fine. I also had a massage therapist walking around transition giving athletes free treatments (did I mention that I love IM Wisconsin transition?)
So, actually, I had a lot.
My biggest problem was that I was dehydrated and my stomach was shut down and not absorbing fluids. How do I fix this? Simple: rest. Let my heart and lung slow down. Relax my leg muscles. Then my body could shunt blood flow back to my stomach and get it functional again.
So, I deliberately took my time in transition. I drank a lot of water. I slowly changed into my run gear. I got a leg massage (that was amazing)!
And, it was working. The stomach started accepting water. I had a salted nut roll and took a bite (then spat it out). Baby steps. I tried the Gatorade. Stomach didn’t like it, but I desperately needed the calories.
Then, finally, I got my head out of my ass.
I worked too hard to get here. I knew that Ironman would be damn hard. I knew that it would be a test of my ability, and endurence, and passion. I had been crumbling at the first sign of adversity. This had to end…right now.
The pity party was over.
I had 26.2 miles and 7 1/2 hours to get it done. I could piece it together if I wanted it bad enough. I just had to want it, be smart about it and never ever stop moving forward.
In order to do that I had to get started.
One foot in front of the other, I slowly shuffled out of T2, and onto the run course.
T2 Split: 14:03.
Total Elapsed Time: 9:32:36.
Time Remaining: 7:27:24.