October 28, 2005

It's Go Time

I hate redeyes. It's a masochists flight. It's not because I can't sleep on planes - which I can't, by the way - it's because it destroys your life. Am I being a bit melodramatic here, you ask? No, I'm not, so stop asking.

People say they don't want to fly across country during the day because they lose a day in travel, but I say better to lose a day in travel than lose your mind. And the redeye is a one-way ticket to mind mush. After getting the best-case-scenario of 4 hours of sleep on the flight (which, statistically, is the most you can possibly get on a cross country flight between the take off, the landing, the announcements, and the annoying old lady next to you with the bladder problem), you step off in a city where everybody else is bright and shiny and expects you to be bright and shiny when all you really want to do is shove in a set of ear plugs so you don't hear their bright and shiny jibber jabber all in your face, start swinging a billy club to beat the bright and shiny right out of them, and find the closest pillow to fall asleep on and promise yourself you'll never take a redeye again. As Denis Leary says, put all the shiny happy people on one side of the bus, and all the gun-toting, meat eating people on the other side. Guess who's the one that took the redeye.

So you can probably imagine how happy Catherine and I were at 5:10am Monday morning when we landed from our redeye flight out of Kona. If you're going to end a perfectly wonderful vacation, you might as well do it in the most annoying way possible. I like going out in style. I'm good like that.

It was a big week planned at work. A big busy week that included three very large, important presentations with three very large, important clients, which could bring millions of dollars of business into the Company. Naah, not too much pressure. As you can imagine, I hit the ground running. Or at least crawling quickly.

I stumble into the office as early as possible on Monday, with my mind-mush and all, assemble the team to see what they'd done while I'd been away and start changing everything they've been working on. I'm moving around frantically, telling this person to do that, and that person to do this, doing everything in my power to not fall flat on my face with exhaustion. Meanwhile, five hundred unanswered e-mails are downloading onto my computer and my tension keeps building everytime I glance over to watch them come in. Each e-mail that hits my inbox raises my levels of stress and anxiety. I'm close to red-lining at this point, but they keep storming in, one by one. It's a digital tsunami of information flooding my Outlook and I feel like all I have to bail me out is a plastic spork. The stress level continues to rise. I'm reviewing documents, moving, pacing, stressing and trying not to be overly annoying to all my co-workers, when suddenly I see it, out of the corner of my eye. One e-mail among hundreds.

"Congratulations, Jeff, you are confirmed as a participant in Ironman USA..."

I stop mid-breathe.
I sit down in my chair.

In the background, like Kenny G in the dentist's office, I hear the sounds of the others in the room. "Are you okay?" "What is it? What's wrong?!" "Oh my God, I think he's catatonic. Are you catatonic?". But they mean nothing to me. I am lost amidst the fury, lost in the realization that I am really going to race Ironman USA. There is no turning back now. A wave of excitement envelopes my body. Rapidly followed by a wave of nausea, which seems to be a bit stronger than the previous wave, and has a more lasting affect. The taste in my mouth quickly pops me out of the trance. I realize I need to focus, let it go. The Ironman dreams temporarily subside as I jump back into the flow of work.

A few hours later I have a few seconds to breathe and can feel the Ironman enthusiasm building in my body. I drop Cat a note to excitedly let her know that I'm confirmed. It's on. She sends a two word response. Two words that elevate the exhiliration and send a new wave of excitement rushing back into my life:

"Me too," she says

This time the excitement doesn't leave. It's still here. The nausea is here too, but I think I've already started getting used to that feeling. It's on. We're both committed. We're in.

It's Go time.