Last night I had a discussion with a friend who is training for Ironman and having a terrible time with running because of an injury. It is one of those situations where she really believes a marathon could cause permanent damage. Is it worth the risk?
It got me thinking about the reason I did Ironman in the first place. Why did I REALLY do it? I came up with three:
1. Tackling a challenge beyond the scope of my belief.
2. To prove to myself, my friends, and family, I could finish the unthinkable.
3. To shock my system.
The latter may have been the biggest force. I craved disruption of my life patterns, and Ironman rocked my world. Slowly but surely I was waking up at 5 or 6 am, swimming in a lake, riding on Natchez Trace, or running through the park. A major departure and the adrenaline of it all kept me on track. Which leads me to a hidden reason . . . I was afraid to fail.
I couldn’t sleep half the nights because I was thinking about how it would feel in that water before the race. Or I was wondering how on earth I would run a marathon I had never come close to attempting, and do it after a 112 mile bike ride?
As I hit certain milestones, my confidence grew, but fear drove me the entire way. Every piddly injury messed with my head. A hint of exhaustion freaked me out. Skipping workouts poured on the guilt. But in the end, I was so consumed with finishing Ironman, my subconscious willed me to the finish line.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been in more pain than I was for that run at Wisconsin. For 26 miles I was in agony, but something kept me going. The brain out-willed the body.
I faced a similar pain at New Orleans 70.3 two weeks ago and started walking. A lot. I couldn’t dig up a reason to push through the pain.
Last year, we trained outlandish amounts and never came close to doing 140.6 miles in one day. I knew I’d better have my mind right when I got in the water or Ironman would eat me alive. Thankfully I was ready. I had my reasons. Rising to the challenge, not wanting to let myself, friends or family down, and an overwhelming desire shake up my life.
Why are you racing Ironman?