ironman

Why Would You Do That?

“Happiness comes only when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable.”
-Leo Rosten 

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I have stopped telling people I’m training for a half ironman.  In fact, I have stopped mentioning to people that I want to do tri’s at all.  Why?  Well, frankly, I am tired of people asking “why would you do that?”  The first question in itself is not too bothersome, but the barrage that follows is: “don’t you have to swim?” “isn’t swimming hard?” “aren’t you worried about the swim?” “do you have any experience at that?” “don’t you think you should start with something shorter?” “you know I heard that course was hard”… It goes on and on.

ImageWhile I appreciate the genuine concern, sometimes it makes me want to scream.  OF COURSE I know the course is hard!  It’s a half ironman! That is the whole point!  Why would I expect it to be easy?  Also, I am well aware there is swimming involved; but last time I checked, it was not impossible to learn to swim as an adult.  As far as having experience, if we all waited to have experience at triathlons before ever doing one, I suppose none of us ever would, would we?  Besides, I am an endurance athlete.  My favorite race distance is 13.1 miles.  I ride my bike for hours at a time.  Why on earth would I want to do anything with the word “sprint” in it?  The race would be over before I ever hit my groove.  Plus, I just don’t move that fast.  It’s not my thing, end of story.

People don’t understand this though when you try to explain it, so I’ve stopped trying.  I know they don’t mean to rain on my parade, but I’m still tired of the negativity.  I don’t want to be told I can’t or shouldn’t do something when my heart is already set on it; and I especially don’t want to hear how unhealthy my endurance training lifestyle is from people who drink, smoke, and over eat.  I feel like there is something a little backwards when people chastise me for running long distances, but pat each other on the back for binge drinking and hooking up with random strangers.  

What these people don’t understand, and there is no hope in explaining to them, is the deeper why: The is a reason I push my Imageself through grueling endurance events that goes beyond a new record or shiny bling.  It’s about building inner strength and reminding myself what I’m made of.  I try to pick at least one race a year that is way outside my comfort zone because I don’t ever want to stop challenging myself or pushing my limits.  I want to keep finding things that look impossible and prove to myself they aren’t.  Every event is an opportunity to look fear and doubt in the face and then leave them in the dust.  These events have helped mold my identity and make me feel good about myself.

For me, it’s also a reminder that all pain ends eventually.  Not just on the race course, but in life.  It’s a conditioning exercise in dealing with bad times and crisis.  Anyone can handle life when things are going well, but doing these events gives me that extra faith in myself that I’ll be able to handle whatever else life throws at me as well.  

When I was with my abuser, he made it a point to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough.  He pointed out that I couldn’t handle “any little thing” and regularly pointed out everything he thought was wrong with me.  He truly believed that I was Imageweak and couldn’t handle life.  Doing a half ironman (especially after selling my rings to buy a bike) will be my way of saying “hey pal, you couldn’t have been more wrong about me.”  Even more than that, it addresses those little twinges of doubt that linger even years after the abuse.  That little voice that creeps up and tells you that he may have been right...there’s no better way to silence it than prove it wrong.

At the end of the day, when I am out there in the midst of a race hating life and wanting to quit- that is when I am learning who I am and growing.  That is when I feel most alive. I’m not out there to break any records or compete with anyone else.  I am out there for me.  It’s an investment in becoming the best possible version of myself.  I don’t need cheerleaders at the sidelines or pats on the back, I just need me and the course.

I am ok if people don’t understand the why or think I’m strange.  I’ve never been one to follow the crowd anyhow.  The bottom line is I don’t know how to do anything half assed.  Anything I am going to spend energy on- from my job to my life- I am going to give 100%.  Therefore, if I am going to sign up for an event, it’s going to be the toughest one I can handle.  In this case, it’s a half ironman. After that who knows… maybe a full ironman, and no I probably won’t share that I’m training for it. 😉 

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An Epic Week!

“There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.”  

~Mark Burnett

Haha Story of my life!!! 🙂

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I’m BAAACCKKK!!!!  And no, I was not away on a honeymoon (Boo I wish!)… Instead I have been working my ass off; now I’m here to tell you all about it!  The past few months I have been basically spending every spare second cramming for my recertification exam (the PANRE).  Prepping for this exam basically involved having to relearn everything from medical school that I don’t use on a regular basis (which is A LOT given that I work in a specialized field).  I was taking it a year early so that if I didn’t pass for any reason I would have time to try again; however this did absolutely nothing to make me feel better.  By the time I actually took the test, I had not slept in over a week- despite taking ambien on a nightly basis.  The exam itself sucked as badly as the initial certifying exam, causing me to leave the testing center with a pit in my stomach.  I didn’t feel confident about the majority of my answer choices (it’s really more of “selective the least awful answer” than “select the best answer choice”).  However, I just got my email confirmation this week that I PASSED!!!!!! That means no more cramming for another 11 years!!!   I can’t even begin to explain the sense of relief.  That was first awesome thing that happened this week.  😀

ImageBut wait! It gets better!  Saturday I took my mountain bike out for a nice long 26+ mile ride which brought me well over my goal of 100 miles biked this summer!  Beyond just being stoked about achieving my goal, I was thrilled that I managed the ride solo.  It was my first long one without Adam AND I did it on a hilly route with lots of busy streets and intersections!  This is HUGE for me!  The first bike ride I took with Adam, I couldn’t even do the downhills.  I was too scared.  Our second bike ride was completely flat and, I was still in a panic and hyperventilating.  Now,  I’m riding difficult routes in trafficwithout freaking out!

Instead, every time I get on that bike I feel strong and empowered.  Even Adam admitted he was impressed with the hills I plow up on my regular rides to the gym.  I can’t believe how far I have come in the past few weeks.  I truly feel like I have conquered a HUGE FEAR, and I am ready to take it to the next level!

Since I reached my 100 mile mark, Adam and I went bike shopping this week.  It turns out I am super short even by bike standards, so we had a hard time finding a shop with any bikes in my size to test ride.  It also turns out we hit the season at a bad time.  All the 2013 models are basically sold out, and the 2014s won’t be available for another few weeks.  This is clearly a huge bummer if you happen to be vertically challenged and looking for a bike sooner rather than later.  After 3 bike shops and several phone calls, I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

The first bike shop had nothing in my size.  The second shop was super helpful and had a few I could test ride, but would have to order the bike I wanted in a paint job I didn’t care for.  The third shop had crummy service and wanted to sell me the 2012 version with a better paint scheme for almost the same price as the newer models.  Luckily, REI had the bike I originally fell in love with in my size.  Unluckily, they don’t have a store that they will ship it to in our state. So there I was, stuck with the dilemma of whether it was really worth paying a little extra to get the paint job I really wanted AND have to drive to another state to get it… not to mention pay another shop to have it fitted properly.

While I anguished over the decision, Adam went ahead and ordered me the one I fell Imagein love with.  He said he didn’t want me to settle.  He was afraid if I went with a different bike that I would be disappointed at some point that I didn’t splurge on the one I really wanted.  I can’t help but think of how lucky I am to have him helping me through this process. Despite having to work that night, he shuttled me from bike shop to bike shop and was never anything but supportive about it.  I’m not sure I could have been as patient as he was if the situation was reversed!  He is definitely a keeper!

As far as financing this whole process, that leads me to my last big news.  For the past  several years I have had my first engagement ring and wedding band on consignment.  I put them in a store that belongs to a family friend because I wasn’t sure what to do with them, and I didn’t want to get ripped off.  To be honest, I never liked my original ring set.  In fact, I thought the engagement ring was hideous.  It was everything I said I didn’t want in a ring, but, of course, my ex thought he knew better than me and didn’t care what I liked or wanted.  Up until now, I had never had a good idea of what to do with the money if I sold the rings.  I did know it would have to be for something special.  When I was trying to figure out how to afford a road bike, it just suddenly clicked.

ImageThe reason I took on cycling was to get into triathlons- and the reason for getting into triathlons is to ultimately (someday) do an Ironman.  I could not think of a more fitting way to spend the money than purchase a vehicle to do the impossible.  My ex made it a point to regularly tell me how I never wanted to do anything and couldn’t “handle any little thing”.  I’m sure he would just die if he knew what I was doing with the money from his ring… or he would insist I was just doing it to spite him and take credit. lol  More likely the latter.

The truth is, I am always looking for a new way to challenge myself- physically and mentally.  Ever since I started hearing about the Ironman, it’s been one of those “maybe someday” goals.  Now that I am getting a road bike, that “someday” goal has morphed more into a plan.  Right now, I am focusing on getting comfortable on the bike.  I know I need to ride a lot faster and longer, but I am confident I can get there.  That will be my project for this fall.  In addition, I am working on keeping my running mileage up.  In fact, I did a 15+ mile run to celebrate my 26 mile bike ride on Sunday… at least that’s how far I made it before my groin acted up and I had to call Adam to rescue me from the 7 miles separating me and my car…  In retrospect a 20 mile run may have been ambitious following the bike ride, but I digress…

I know what you are wondering, what about the swimming?  Well, that will be the realImage challenge because I never learned to swim properly- like the whole front crawl face-in-the-water style.  I do, however, happen to know a very good swimmer and trainer who is willing to give me some lessons, so now I have my winter goal set as well: tackle swimming.

Finally, conveniently, this spring their will be a REV 3 Half Ironman just a few hours from our house… SOOOOOO if I accomplish my biking and swimming goals (and manage to stay injury free), I plan on being there.  With all Adam’s talk about family planning and baby making I feel like this is my one shot before I will have to put it off for God knows how long.  THEN, should the heavens smile upon me, and I accomplish this monumental task, we will see about a full Ironman.   Aside from the swimming, I think it’s TOTALLY doable…  lol

So that is my epic week so far.  What makes it even better is I am still on vacation AND Adam and I are going away for the weekend to the Berkshires for some hiking and relaxation!

More than anything, I am so happy to feel like I am on the right path to something.  The amount I got for the rings was exactly the amount I needed for the bike and shoes.  Somehow, I just don’t feel like that’s a coincidence.  If I can come from where I started both mentally and physically and even take on just the Half Ironman, I think it will be a huge accomplishment AND speak volumes to what victims of violence can accomplish when they decide to embrace life and challenge themselves.  The fact that the start of my journey to the Ironman coincides with getting rid of the very last piece of my past is purely poetic to me.

I feel like this song was made for me and thivers everywhere. 🙂