Get a little fire under yer ass

There are some days when I feel defeated, useless, sore, tired and otherwise just plain shitty. It doesn’t matter if you’re a triathlete or not, days like this just happen, and sometimes you just need some perspective, inspiration and a little fire under your ass.
Cue, the Ironman Kona broadcast, an hour long inspire-the-world-one-story-at-a-time feature presentation.
I was a child the last time I watched Kona, yet the familiar narrative voice of Al Trautwig triggers a rush of memories of me sitting in front of the television. Even with the fleeting attention span of a child who struggled to sit still, I was glued to the screen, mesmerized, and in awe of these super heroes who were living out their dreams in one of the toughest races in the world. Each athlete had their own story and it was those stories that made me feel connected to their journey, and to every part of their own failures and triumphs. Stories like these, are exactly what I need tonight. Stories that light that fire, and remind me to pull up my big girl panties and stop pouting. If I can’t do that, then I should probably quite while I’m behind.
Ironman is a beast of a triathlon.  It is an extremely physically challenging endurance test, and even more so a test on your mental limitations. How do you run a marathon after swimming 3.8 kilometres and grinding out 180k on your bike? How do you silence all the voices in your head telling you to stop, quit, give up, or surrender? How do you come to terms with failure when your body shuts down and quitting is no longer a decision but your only option? These are things I do not know yet. These are things most people do not know until they are faced with them. I think this is why I have always loved watching this broadcast, and why I have made it my mission to conquer the race myself. Ironman allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and it is a testament to the results of commitment, extreme determination and an unwavering desire to conquer the impossible. For some, it may be hard to comprehend why anyone would want to take on such a feat, but when you see these athletes finally cross the finish line, and you see the jubilation on their faces, you understand. As six-time world champion Ironman, Mark Allen said, “Until you face your fears, you don’t move to the other side, where you find the power.” It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. So here I sit, feeling a bit more inflated, inspired and rejuvenated, and thinking about the day when I get to share my story, and feel pretty damn bad ass about it.

Rage against the bicycle

It’s the middle of November and for the first time since mid-October there is bright, glorious sun, and I am dying to get in a rare off season outdoor ride. Mere moments ago I was excited at the thought of bundling up to brave the chilly air, and to bask in the glory of a sunny Sunday afternoon, yet now with a black film of grease caked onto my hands, sweat dripping from my brow and profanity flying from my mouth, I am feeling disappointed, angry and frustrated. After taking my rear wheel off and swapping my indoor trainer tire for my road tire, I am struggling to get it back into place. A task that should be simple and routine, yet I have made it quite complicated; typical. By the time I have the wheel back in, the brakes seem to have magically shifted and now I’m fiddling with screws that connect to components which are foreign to my pea sized brain’s understanding of bicycle mechanics. At this point, I have made too much of a mess, and I worry that by fiddling with unknown parts, I have increased my odds of mechanical failure on what was supposed to be a lovely Sunday ride. With the bike shops closed today, I am left with the decision to degrease my hands and pout.
I have said it so many times before, and I will say it again and again, there is so much to learn. The mechanics and maintenance of my bike is something I really struggle to understand. I remember as a kid that if my chain came off I walked that bike back to wherever I came from, because I simply did not know what to do.
When I first started this sport, I didn’t even know how to change a tire or grease a chain, and I really still struggle with both. Today’s rage against the bicycle episode, and there have been a few, really highlights the need to truly understand all aspects of this sport, including the equipment.
So it’s off to the bookstore with my dirty, greased up hands for a much need self-help book and then to the spin bike for a much deserved stare-at-the-wall-and-pedal sweat fest. I am overjoyed.

The next step

It was just over a year ago that I made the decision to commit myself to completing an Ironman. At the time I barely knew how to swim the front crawl, run without walking breaks or balance on a road bike. Yet this is usually how I approach things in life, jumping in with both feet and never really looking to see where I’m landing. I’m stubborn, impulsive, determined and reckless, and while these attributes often result in trouble, I honestly believe they are the attributes that will help develop me into the Ironman I so desperately want to become.
Over this year, I have stuck with my commitment, and while I still have so far to go in my journey I no longer feel impulsive and reckless.  I know I am making the right decisions with my training and I’m approaching each level of the sport with reason and careful planning. That being said, while I submitted my registration form for the half-distance 2014 Challenge Penticton race it felt like a leap. No matter how prepared I am, it’s still hard to believe I can actually do it. The scary part about realizing your dreams is when they suddenly become reality. Nonetheless, my calendar is already mapped out and the training schedule is planned. So I may as well continue jumping in with both feet, because so far it seems to be working out for me.