A little number that got my stomach churning, tears flowing, and shaking of my head. No, no, no - how can Kona only be 32 days away? (yes, I realize that as of today that number is actually 29!!)
It was an innocent question posed to me at the end of season pool party on Monday. I was laying on a chair licking my wounds from a HUGE weekend of training (more on that later) when an innocent bystander (friendly neighbor) asked me...how are you? how's training? how many days now? Don't get me wrong, I know it's close. I mean, it's September. Kona is in October. But lately I have let myself get a bit "foggy" on the exact details. Like how many days left to the Big Dance. So I got out my trusty smart phone, logged onto the Ironman site and right there.......the daily countdown. 32 it said. And the 2011 athlete guide is out too. Instantly, I had butterflies dancing in my tummy. My legs felt weak (OK, they were already weak due to the big training weekend). And tears filled my eyes. It's here. There's no way to stop the train......hold on cuz we're going to Hawaii!
Of course, I clicked on the athlete guide even though it's the same guide year in/year out, they just change the dates. And then I got really overwhelmed. Athlete check-in. Athlete dinner. Ironman village. Bike check-in. Gulp. I turned off my phone and took a deep breath. And gained some inner calm. Training has been going very, very well. This weekend included a 2.4 mile swim at Boulder Rez, a couple of long bikes and lots and lots of "crazy" laps at IM effort, a couple of run-offs. A BIG weekend! Yes, it was exhausting but I embraced the week. I embraced the miles and miles on the bike. The long runs. And my last week in the outdoor pool (pools close way too early here - silly Labor Day "rule").
The process of training for an Ironman is a long one. It takes physical prep and mental prep. You have face your demons on long rides when all you want is to be off your bike. You have to keep getting in the pool and looking at your "friend" named Black Line. You just keep running. And you do it even when you are tired. You do it when you want nothing more than to get back in your bed. You do it even on a Saturday and you miss seeing your kids all day. But you keep at it because the task at hand demands it. I know that at some point on Ironman day it's going to get really HARD, but I know that I can handle it. It's been really hard countless times in training. I have bonked and come back, my legs have flipped me the middle finger (interesting visual) but I have coaxed an effort out of them, I've been bored, tired, hot, energized, sweaty, cold, upset, happy, sad, angry, disappointed - and sometimes in just 1 day......you name it I have more than likely been through it this year. I have put all those experiences in a box, put a pretty little bow on it and deposited it in my training bank. I will be making a big withdrawal soon......
The number of really hard training days have whittled down and I can now count them on one hand. In 20-some days, I'll be in Hawaii. I started this countdown in the 300s after qualifying in Arizona. Last November. It's crazy that those days have passed and Kona is right around the corner. It's been a slow building process this year but momentum is gaining and I'm starting to feel.......ready.