April 12, 2008

Eat The Hot Dog

Ironman Arizona is tomorrow. Wow.
I can't help but wonder, as I sit in my hotel room, how the heck I got here. It seemed like the decision to race Arizona was so sudden and thoughtless. As if somebody asked me, would you like a hot dog for lunch? And at that moment in time, a nice warm hot dog actually sounded like a great idea.

Now here I am, six months later, and it's time to eat the hot dog. Truth be told, I might be just as happy with a turkey sandwich. However, apparently I already ordered this hot dog and prepared all the fixings for the hot dog and now I've got to eat this hot dog and there's really no way to change the fact that the hot dog is tomorrow.

Last night I reached the pre-Ironman stage of restlessness, anxiety and doubt (RAD, for short). I know it's going to eventually merge into serenity and powerlessness (SAP), I just hope that happens sooner rather than later.

I've been reading a variety of articles about racing tips to make sure my plan is solid - and then convincing myself that, despite what I've read in the articles, my plan is solid. I've also been re-reading some of my old posts of the Ironman advice I've given to others and realized that it might be time to take some of my own medicine. So what I'm going to do is segue into a revised post from awhile back about this feeling I'm feeling right now. This over-whelming palpitation of fear and excitement. The ferocious rumbling of anticipation and dread. I remember this sensation in the pit of my stomach, wondering whether it is butterflies of amazement or tremblings of disaster. Oh, if there were even a way to know the difference.

I know that later today I will be solemn. When I walk through the Ironman village I will still wonder how I got here. Whether I did enough. Whether I am prepared.

I did.
I am.

Ironman is a fantastic voyage. It is the defining crossroads where your biggest dreams meet your darkest nightmares. It is the one day where everything that is good and everything that is bad square off in the ultimate challenge. The classic battle of good and evil. White Spy vs Black Spy.

I have traveled down that road. I remember how it feels.

And when I wake up on race morning, I will prepare myself like I've done time and time before at all those triathlons in my past. There will be anticipation in the air, but it will be more relaxed than I think.

And when I stand on the beach amidst the thousands of participants, the thousands of spectators, the hundreds of volunteers, the National Anthem being sung over the loudspeaker, I will look out into the waters before me and realize, once again, I am standing on the precipice of my future. My new life hangs before me.

The starting gun will go off. And it will be surreal.
And then I will begin to race my race, the race I've been preparing for all of these months. And I will do it right - I will race my race the way I want to race. I will do it. Because that's what I've been preparing for. And that's what I'm ready for.

The hard part is done. I may not believe that now, but I will when I am standing on the other side of the finish line. The Ironman is a celebration of what I've already done. It is a celebration of who I've become.

So I've tried to remind myself of the 28 pieces of Ironman advice that has helped me in the past. First, there are 14 random things I'd tell first time Ironman racers. And then there are 11 things Ironman racers will tell you before your first race all of which seem true now that I've been down this road before.

But all of this boils down to what are arguably the three most important things that got me through my first Ironman and will get me through my next. These are them...

1. SLOW and EASY.
Go slower than you think you should. Lots of people will pass you in the first 125 miles of the race. But if you take it slow and steady, maintain a consistent pace, you will be smiling through the last 15 miles and feeling strong while those others are cramped, tired and struggling to walk as they stand crying by the side of the road.

2. EAT and DRINK
You've done the work already. Your body is ready; you are in shape. The only thing standing between you and the finish line is consistent nutrition. Know how much you need to consume each hour, and do it. Nutrition will be your best friend or your worst enemy. It's your choice. Make it your friend.

This is arguably the most important of the three. You will go through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout race day. Through it all, stay positive. In the worst of times, stay positive. When your body is tired, your legs unable to move another step, don't give up. When you get to mile 130 and every atom in your body wants to stop. Don't. Let your mind take you to the finish line. Stay positive and you will get there. The mind controls the body, don't let your body control your mind. Stay positive, and you will be an Ironman with a smile.

One more day. One more race. One more adventure.
It's time to eat the hot dog.

See you on the other side,


Paul a.k.a. Ironhead said...

Best of luck, mate. Can't wait to read the race summary in a few days. I'll be thinking about you tomorrow, in a totally "fellow-athlete-non-gay-slap-each-other-on-the-back" way.



Tri+Umph said...

Go eat that hot dog (metaphorically speaking. I'd stay away from hot dogs during the race).

Best of luck tomorrow!

Vertical Man said...

Sounds like you're ready! Have a great race!

Melissa said...

I look forward to the race report. I was supposed to be there cheering everyone on, but due to the "friedly" skies, I was bumped from my flight and registering for 09 will have to wait until November. I know by reading throughout your journey that you had an amazing race. Kudos to you.