What a long post. I apologize in advance. I have a lot of catching up to do.
…SO this is not my first rodeo.
And by rodeo, I mean the circus that is an iron distance race which is happening in–oh who is counting–four days. And because this is not my first rodeo, you must imagine my surprise when I went to the lake to swim yesterday morning …and had a minor panic attack in the open water.
Granted the panic was not quite as righteous as the spectacle that happened in April of 2011.
But it was a panic nonetheless.
I was having really terrible thoughts the whole drive to the lake.
Mostly about dead bodies in the water. Don’t ask.
[Okay, fine. I’ll tell. Last year during training for Ironman CDA, my friend Columbus told me about when he and his friend went out in the frigid water at Mary Alice Park – the lake where we always swim. A few hours later, he learned that a body… a BODY…. a no-longer-living-person… had washed up on the beach at Mary Alice… Right where they were swimming. Just a few hours later. Swim swim swim. Body body body.
Omg. I am scared of two things in this world–killer whales and dead bodies. (Which actually go hand in hand, when you think about it.) But seriously. I don’t do funerals or viewings. I usually freak out and feel like I am going to pass out when I see caskets. It’s a thing, and a stupid thing. My dad always says, “Be scared of the living, not the dead.” But really, I think he’s scared that I won’t attend his funeral. (I will, Dad. I promise.) But if I attend a funeral, then you know I really (really) love you or your family. ]
So yesterday, I started thinking about the body that washed up on the shore last year.
And I was at the lake yesterday, alone. Please don’t lecture me about swimming alone. Or being in a weird place where bodies wash up alone. I can hear my dad now, “You’re lucky missy that YOUR body wasn’t the one washing up.” I know, I know.
I really did think that somebody would be there swimming.
And I was: a) only swimming for 20-30 minutes; b) swimming with my Keifer swim buoy; c) swimming only in chest-high water and d) there was a duck. ^^^that duck, to be exact.
Still. Alone at the lake. My mind was churning and churning. I had a new wetsuit too. I’m not sure why I thought my trusty Orca suit needed to go away. But I was in a new one.
Five seconds in the water, and I knew it was gonna be a rough one. The constriction of the wetsuit–this one was way high in the neck and too loose or something–either way, not good. Then the water was cold. Not too cold (I have swam in colder), but enough to knock the breath out of me. Plus, I just wasn’t in a good place—dead body dead body TREE LIMB dead body dead body DUCK dead body dead body LEAVES dead body dead body F*HHHHHHCK!!!!!
Lots of bad things (and words) going through my head.
I wrapped it up (quickly) and got in the car. THIS IS NOT MY FIRST RODEO, I screamed through the windshield at the duck staring at me from the grass.
Woozily, I procured a warm Starbucks coffee and called the Expert. Told him I was quitting the race on Saturday—and the sport, for that matter. He said, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” Except this damn race, I screamed at him.
Next, I texted the two other important tri-taper-crazy-related people in my life.
First, Coach Brett.
Second, my wise tri friend Yoda.
I heard back from Yoda first. Her text went something like, “What in the hell is wrong with you?” (Actually, I think that is verbatim).
Followed by lots of emojis. She is racing the full 140.6 this weekend.
The next texts came in a loud “voice” from Coach Brett. Like I could see him almost standing in front of me screaming.
Which I think, coupled with Yoda’s emoji-splat, is what I needed. Because of all the laundry list of issues that I have inside my head, the biggest one is that I do not like disappointing people. And Coach B was disappointed in me–disappointed that after all the hard work that I (and he, through coaching and analyzing me) had put in…that I even thought about not showing up at the race.
Reason I wanted to quit? Because of a dumb swim with a dumb duck.
At the same time, I was getting texts from Yoda with very wise series of text-talk (a/k/a pep talks via text)…
These two people really yanked a knot in me, and I slowly came out of the funky fog that had descended over me yesterday. Slowly. But there’s more…
A member of our Army, Lesley reached out via email and essentially said, “Let’s go back to the lake and kick its ass.” Something maybe a little less profanity-driven, but I was kind of on a roll with the language yesterday anyway.
Long story short—we agreed to meet at the lake this morning. And kick its ass. [In no uncertain terms.]
But first, I put on my boots with the fur, dropped the kids at school, and headed to the lake for this episode of Triathlon Meets “Flashdance.”
Met Lesley and went to a new part of the lake. We got in our suits. We chatted a little. Water felt about 65-67 degrees.
We swam and stopped and swam some more, and finished up a great, strong and smooth half mile swim… then ran for the warm cars.
And that was that. We did it.
I was back in my Orca suit with my swimmer mind-set and feeling just fine. So the big crisis was averted, and I was ready to kick the race’s old butt again. Sort of.
Here’s the thing. This post, this story is only about 85% true.
I have another thing that is seriously bugging me. And it’s my own insecurity. My own blindness. My own issue in my own head.
So here goes.
A few days ago, I posted this photo on Instagram.
I had posted the following:
“So…I tried to lose forty pounds again over the last few months. I did not succeed. A hard admittance in this sport–to admit that I have failed #racingweight nirvana, yet again. I did not try as hard as I could have. But I did try. And that’s okay. It’s a mental battle and a lifelong journey to recover from some really old scars, a lifelong series of eating disorders and emotional hang-ups. Could I be thinner? Yep. Could I be faster? Yep. But going into this iron distance race next week, I am only sure of two things: I worked hard and also had some fun. As I turn 35 next month, I am also turning my eyes to finding the good in myself…turning my back on the self-loathing and focusing instead on being the best ME I can be. Right now. In the body I have… With all the junk I have in my real and proverbial trunk. Because no matter what… There’s still a strong and tough and fierce and #badass athlete here… under a fine layer of #fluff.”
The post received lots of encouraging comments (thank you), and I felt okay writing it. And I was kind of proud, like, “Hey, I am coming to terms with myself.. isn’t it great?”
But the thing is… I wrote it because I wanted to believe those words. Because I know those words are right.
That I AM an athlete. That I am strong. That I am (sometimes) badass. Even in a pumpkin patch with my suburbanite mom-cup of Starbucks.
So I lost 15 pounds in Ironman training this year. Then I gained back 14. Lost 4. Gained back 6.
So I have a net gain of who knows how much.
I have a net gain… a net gain of a million things to be thankful for. A net gain of some really great meals and fond memories and slices of cake with my kids.
I wrote and posted that Instagram photo because sometimes it helps me sort out all the feelings and emotions–to post stuff like that. Sometimes when I write, I figure out all these things… and just sometimes, I start to believe it.
And I realized over the last few days, that while I wish I had lost weight… I haven’t lost ANYTHING–and to be honest, how, how HOW wonderful and amazing is that? I have a net gain of life? And experience? And strength?
And yesterday, here WAS the truth (I’m sorry it’s taking me so long to get there today)…
Truth: I felt (feel) way fat and way yucky this week, and I almost QUIT the whole race yesterday because of how much extra gut I have acquired over the last month. I don’t like the way I am feeling and looking in stretchy fabrics this week. I didn’t want to go out running and jiggling and trying to do a sub-fourteen hour 140.6. It seemed insane.
Trivial. Shallow. Insane. Ungrateful. Bad.
That’s more like it. Yep. All of those things. I get it. And guess what?
I am not perfect. Duh. And I have serious issues.
Serious things going on.
I have bad demons and skeletons and all sorts of crazy things that make ME up.
And this week, it just seemed that all the demons and skeletons showed up at Dunkin Donuts with a bottle of Cuervo and there was a party of sorts, blueberry munchkins and shots flying everywhere, and I was the birthday girl wearing the hot pink birthday crown. All the crazy came out. And I was right in the middle of all of it.
But in the middle of crazy …sometimes comes clarity.
And today? Today I am okay.
Tomorrow is a mystery, but for today I am okay.
Because the clarity is that I am immeasurably blessed and lucky and breathing and alive. I have a husband and family who loves me. I climbed the Big Sister about fifteen times this last training cycle. I have ridden three centuries and run 17 miles without really stopping, and I am ready to go.
So I am going to toe the line of the race on Saturday, as me. Just me. Me with all the weight I have carried around for virtually the last 10 years… all of me… is going to show up and race hard and strong, because you know what?
I have earned the right to have a good race. In spite of myself.
Now just time for me to get out of my own way.
Before Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I posted a time chart of my projected times/ scenarios
|A Perfect Day||1:20:00||0:05:00||7:00:00||0:04:00||5:30:00||14:05:00|
|A Great Day||1:30:00||0:08:00||7:30:00||0:07:00||6:00:00||15:13:00|
|All Hell Breaks Loose||1:45:00||0:10:00||8:06:00||0:10:00||6:47:00||16:59:00|
I ended up with a 16:44 finish time, so technically, I fell under “all hell breaks loose”–even though I had an AMAZING race.
So because that was so much fun, I thought I’d do it again here. Here’s my scenarios for the race on Saturday. If I had an expectation of a final race time (barring mechanicals and other tragedies) I think we can put me somewhere between A Great Day …and All Hell Breaks Loose. 🙂
|A Perfect Day||1:00:00||0:10:00||6:00:00||0:10:00||5:30:00||12:50:00|
|A Great Day||1:10:00||0:10:00||6:30:00||0:10:00||6:00:00||14:00:00|
|All Hell Breaks Loose||1:30:00||0:10:00||7:00:00||0:10:00||7:00:00||15:50:00|
As always, thank you for letting me be a part of your internet reads. Although after this post, I may no longer be. 🙂
The Expert is racing the half as well, so super good luck to him. He’s battled an Achilles injury this season, but he’s very excited to be back in training–this will be the first time he has completed two half irons in one year, so it’s a great day for him too.
And with four days left, and thirteen years of marriage locked down… it seems as if we have survived another iron distance race training. Although you’d have to ask him, I guess to know for sure. 🙂
Good luck to all the Army and friends racing Beach 2 Battleship this weekend… see ya’ll there!