July 24th is “D-Day” for me this year. I’ll toe the line (or kick and thrash the water? Whichever.) in Lake Placid for my 2nd full Ironman. Thinking about the 140.6 miles I’ll (hopefully) complete that day gives me butterflies every time.
I was thinking the other day as I found my Ironman Arizona finisher’s shirt about my experience there in 2012.
I remember the start at like it was yesterday. As I entered the cool water of Tempe Town Lake with my wetsuit, my bright pink cap, my goggles which I adjusted no less than 4,671 times so they wouldn’t leak or fog (too bad they did both…), I found a spot on the cement wall lining the lake, several feet back from the start.
I remember looking up behind me and on the bridge above the start to see thousands of spectators, signs of encouragement and cow bells. Always need more cow bells. I also recall looking at the mass of swimmers in front of me, wondering how I would navigate the waters and not get kicked, punched, run over, poked in the eye, etc. Oh, the fun of a mass swim start.
I remember the music playing and the PA announcer saying a bunch of things I could not understand due to the noise, and also due to my focus and sheer panic. I was in the zone, trying to steady my trembling hands, slow down my sky-rocketing heart rate and catch my breath. Tears kept fogging up my goggles so I eventually gave in and just took them off, knowing I would have to re-adjust for a 4,672nd time before the start.
I remember feeling so overwhelmed with how far I had come to get to that start “line”. The training days that seemed impossible, getting back in the pool when it was the last thing I wanted to do. Going for a long run when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and eat potato chips. Endless hours on my bike, hunched over in the aero position, cranking out mile after mile while trying not to fall asleep from boredom.
I remember the song “Titanium” playing on the PA system right before they sent us off. If you’re not sure which song it is, here’s a link to the video, it’s by David Guetta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRfuAukYTKg
I remember the horn/gun going off, putting my goggles back on (and praying they stayed there…they did thankfully!), and letting out a scream. I’m not sure if the scream was sheer panic, excitement or both, but off I went on my 12 hour and 19 minute journey. The flood of emotion returns every time I think back to it, and actually sometimes I feel it even when I’m putting my goggles on for just a basic swim.
As I am facing week 8 of my training this time around, so much has changed for me, but my focus remains the same:
The days are challenging, there’s no doubt. And I haven’t even come close to hitting the hardest part of training yet. This week I have 5 runs, 3 bikes and 3 swims, including the longest brick workout I’ve done since Arizona.
Am I a little terrified? Yes.
Am I a little intimidated and wondering how I’ll handle it all? Absolutely.
Can I do it? Hell yes I can.
I thank you for coming on this journey with me. There will be times when this blog is a release for me, but I hope most of it will be sharing my experiences with you all. Just knowing I have a virtual support system behind me makes me smile.
So I’m already staying focused on the prize, and have half of it already down.
Now to figure out the “FINISH” part…