In six days, I will be competing in my first half Ironman – a goal almost one year past its expiry date. My first half iron event was originally scheduled for Penticton in August last year, but the universe had different plans for me. So here I am for round number two still trying to get myself to that start line.
Looking back on the past two years, I see a journey that has been fuelled by a colourful array of emotions – sometimes good and sometimes bad. It has not been an easy road. With a goal as demanding as Ironman I expected challenges, I expected detours, bumps and bruises and maybe some aches and pains, but I was never expecting some of the hoops thrown my way. I suppose that is the fine line of life – it could go one way or another in a heartbeat.
After missing my first big race, I wallowed for a little bit in disappointment, but with time I would put it behind me and move on to the next challenge with a brighter and more spirited outlook. By December I was back into training with my sights set on completing the half Ironman in Victoria – my hometown. For the past six months, I have once again poured my heart and soul into the training plan, conquering new challenges, setting new personal bests, and feeling more resilient and more determined. These kinds of bumps in the road are always a difficult pill to swallow but it’s incredible how much stronger we can come back after being pushed down. Unfortunately though, I have continued to face tough obstacles. Even in the past week, I have encountered new injuries that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. It has almost become comical as I scramble to make last minute chiro and massage appointments – even my bike is broken and checked in for a fix-up. What else could possibly happen to threaten me from getting to that start line? It’s like riding your bike along a long, smooth, unknown highway – you have no idea how long it will last or if, just beyond the horizon, the road is full of pot holes or long stretches of gravel and, boom, down you go. I suppose, among many other things, it has taught me to enjoy the smooth ride while the smooth ride lasts. If the potholes come, brace yourself, and hope for a soft landing.
There have certainly been times when I thought maybe racing long distance triathlons was just not meant to be and that maybe I was better suited for knitting or water aerobics. At some point you have to wonder. But I’m also too stubborn, too proud and even times too stupid to give up. That all being said, I have also had too much fun. For the most part, I train six days a week, twice a day, and sometimes in the freezing cold, the burning hot, and from 6 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon non-stop. I have toes so black they fall off, I have aches so sore that I often hobble, I have blisters that sting, I constantly smell like sweat or chlorine, and I barely have time to eat, sleep or otherwise fit in a social afternoon with friends. To many people, this is nuts. But I love it. I love every waking moment of it and even with the potholes or long stretches of gravelly road, I know things eventually smooth themselves out again. Looking back on these past two years, I see a life teeming with fulfillment, challenge, passion, determination and grit. The injuries and illnesses have played a huge role in my journey, but they do not define it.
With just a few days until race day, I plan to bubble wrap myself and sit on my hands – there is no more room in this journey for any more hiccups. Race day is happening, whether my body wants to take part or not. I know my mind is up for the challenge, so I guess we shall see who prevails. Within my heart, I know if I just hang in there and get it done, there will be much celebration, much to be proud of, and there will be much to look back on and say, “I did it! What’s next??” Here’s to the final days to that half Ironman start line and crossing that finish line with my arms in the air and a smile on my face.