December has begun which means training programs have been assigned and it’s time to get back to work. That extra weight that seemed to magically pop up on my hips overnight needs to go and my heart, lungs and muscles need to feel the burn again. Last week, I went through my fitness test, which gives coach my baseline for the start of the season, or as I like to call it, the test of how lazy I got over the last few months. But the real start to the season, the real start to the road to Ironman kicked off with a 6am swim on Monday morning.
The night before it was chilly and at only 5:00pm, it was already dark. The thought of getting into a pool at 6 in the morning sent shivers of goosebumps up my arms, or maybe it was goosebumps of anticipation. For the first time since August, I was packing my swim bag preparing for a group workout. My bathing suit has been hanging in lonely solitude on the back of my bathroom door handle for months and as I grabbed it to throw in my bag, I caught the wafting scent of chlorine. It was a scent that I’ve missed. For me, it was like taking your first sip of coffee in morning – rush and calmness at the same time that fire you into some sort of get up and go momentum. It was enough for me to forget about the cold and get out the door.
As soon as I stepped onto the pool deck, I remembered my first group swim from last year. I was so nervous and so afraid of being out of place that I thought I might forget how to swim and simply drown. That fear was intensified when my coach told me to tie my feet together with a thick rubber band. Looking back on it now, I laugh. As I brought myself back to the present moment on the deck, I suddenly started to have those some apprehensions. What if I got so out of shape I couldn’t swim 50 metres? What if I drowned with my feet tied together because I forgot how to swim? But as with all irrational thoughts they were soon dispelled as I hopped in the cool blue water and just kept swimming lap after lap like a fish with no rhyme, reason or direction. In fact, I think the extra weight in my ass totally helped negate any possibly of sinking.
Getting back into the routine of training this week was magical. There really isn’t any other word for it. When you find your passion, this is what it feels like. It might sound hokey or a little too gung-ho, but it just is what it is. Embarking on one of the toughest roads I’ve set out to conquer leaves me full of anticipation, nerves, worry, fears, joy and excitement. There almost isn’t a word that won’t describe all the emotions and thoughts that go into preparing for an Ironman. Every time I tell someone about my training I always get the same raised eyebrow looks and the same “oh you’re crazy,” responses, which sometimes makes me second guess my ambitious goal. Am I really going to do this? I remember writing on my bucket list years ago that I was going to complete an Ironman and a marathon. At the time, I thought, yea right. I figured I was more likely to succeed at ticking off more practical goals, like riding a bull, swimming with sharks or flying a blimp. Honestly though, I’m here to tell you, having big dreams and seemingly outlandish ideas of doing what others deem impossible is a hell of a motivator and entirely possible.
Here’s to the first week of my road to that dream and all the challenges that come with it. I’m feeling pretty pumped.