Then everything short circuited…

One week ago you could say I was mentally and physically all over the place, I think some probably even thought I was dreading race day. The truth is I was just a jumbled ball of energy dying to get to that start line – I was ready and I knew it – then everything short circuited.
My mind is foggy, my head aches, I have numbness in my legs, and the strength I had just a short week ago is gone. I’m struggling to understand how I got here, and I’m struggling to understand why this happened. All I know is that race day will come and go without me this year. All the athletes who have been working relentlessly to get to this moment will take to the start line and see their dreams realized this Sunday, while I will have to watch from afar. For eight months I have poured my heart and soul into this sport. I worked with a dedication I’ve never seen from myself, and a determination to be better and stronger with every challenge I faced. I ate, breathed, slept, drank and dreamed of this sport, and perhaps even obsessed over it. August 24th was supposed to be my dream and my test this year yet within a matter of hours it was taken from me this past Thursday night when I was admitted into hospital with an eventual diagnosis of Meningitis. Severe head pain amongst other delightful accompanying symptoms crippled me in a rigid hospital bed for four days. It’s been one of those things that just kind of hits you up the side of the head, and you’re like, “where the hell did that come from??” Life is funny like that and so is timing. Out of all the things that I hate the most right now it’s not the fact that I’m missing the race, my trip to Vegas to celebrate the end of the season and my 30th, or even the fact that I’m barely able to sit up or walk stairs. It’s missing my brother’s wedding this past Saturday – that one hurts like a punch to the gut. That’s a one time shot (hopefully) and it’s not like races where you just make up for it next year. This is family and it meant so much to be there, to see him marry the woman he loves, the woman who makes him happy. I was fortunate enough to squint through a live feed of the ceremony before succumbing back to the pain and torture of a swelling cranium. And now all my memories from that day are etched into photos taken from the guests who were there. It makes me feel so absent and distant from such an important moment in my brother’s life. But it looked like an amazing day and so did the newlywed couple, and really in the end that’s all that matters.
Over the last week I’ve had a lot of time to think, although sometimes it hurts, and despite the shittiness of the situation, I feel so grateful. Grateful for the love and support from friends and family, grateful that because of my overall health I will heal and probably very well, and grateful for the past eight months, because with or without that race, it certainly wasn’t all for nothing. Almost every single day I was doing things I thought impossible and it made me feel alive and proud. Feelings that have been kind of absent for me in the past. The changes I’ve seen in my physical self as well as my mental self are incredible and I can honestly say this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my adult life. This sport has changed me for the better. Every ounce of energy ever bottled up inside of me had an outlet and training made me feel free from myself. I also spent a significant amount of my time with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, people who I admire both as friends and as triathletes. This journey has been incredible and every journey has it’s bumps in the road, so I’ll take this one this year, and be that much more ready to do it all again next year. I have feeling I’m going to come out of this stronger and more focused than ever before.

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.