August 14, 2006

From The Annals of Be Careful What You Wish For

I've said in the past that I wanted to remember every emotion from my first Ironman experience. It was such a special event in my life for so many reasons, I don't want to forget the feelings. Of course, here I am saying this just 3 weeks after the race. A bit pre-maturely sentimental perhaps. Maybe I should actually wait a couple of months before I look back and memorialize the damn thing as if it were the most momentous event this side of Jesus pulling a Houdini three days after he died.

The thing is, though, I can't help but think about the different feelings I had throughout that Ironman day. Every once in awhile I'll be sitting about doing a lot of nothing, when I just start thinking about the second loop of the swim, or the climb on the bike at mile 100, or....

My Ironmind is at it's most active when I'm out exercising. I guess it all makes sense. I mean, as I'm pedaling on my bike it's only obvious that I would think about my Ironman bike ride. Maybe it's the honey wheat pretzel guy, or seeing Catherine for the first time - or maybe just those few blocks through downtown Lake Placid where the throngs of people were screaming for me as if I were actually a superstar - as if I were even within 3 hours of the leader. I wasn't. But it still feels good.

And that's the thing I realized, is that I keep remembering those good feelings. The feelings of achievement, of the crowd yelling my name - the excitement of being a first time Ironman. And these are the emotions I was talking about up there in the first paragraph. They are the ones I want to hold on too as tightly as I can, to grab them and bear hug them with all of my might until they are firmly Crazy Glued to my heart.

Those are the emotions that get me excited to exercise again. Biking and swimming have been fine since the race - almost enjoyable. No pain, no tiredness (no schedule and no heart rate monitor.) Running, on the other hand, has been a chock full o' fatigue. I can barely get through three miles without my legs pleading for an Ottoman - and I ain't talkin' about no Empire.

I went for a run this morning. As usual, my legs were pretty darn tired when I started and didn't seem to get better throughout the 4 mile shuffle. Around mile 3 I was struggling up a very shallow climb with such effort it had surpassed the point of near embarrassment and slammed right into the wall of pitiful. I could see the final turn a few blocks ahead of me, knowing that if I could just make it to that street it'd be downhill all the way home. But my legs... ah, the legs. They just didn't want to move. Then the ever-so-slight twinges of pain started creeping into the hamstrings. And the stomach started growling.

Here I was, an Ironman, and I didn't know how I'd make it through my 4 mile run.

And then it hit me like an Acme Anvil on the head of Wile E. Coyote. This is EXACTLY what it felt like at Mile 14 of the Ironman marathon. This pain, the agony, the utter sense of defeat. This was it.

The thing is, it's not a good feeling. In fact, it's a pretty crappy one. But it's part of my experience, whether I like it or not.

And so I guess no matter how much I try to push all of these painful memories under the rug, I can't ignore them. Eventually I'll just end up tripping over the damn feelings and bashing my face right into them.

I suppose that the pain and challenge just makes me stronger. I'm sure if the adage is correct, I must've built up all sorts of character I never had before. But seriously folks, when I said I wanted to remember all of the emotions from my first Ironman experience, I thought we all kind of assumed that I was just talking about the good ones.


triathlonmom said...

just found your blog through Nancy Toby. Great. I'm adding it to my favorites. Surprised you don't have more comments. it is well writen and funny and insightful.
ps Congratulations Ironman!