Lessons Learned from a Grueling IRONMAN

Greetings fellow citizens – it is Friday, Friday the 13th actually –a welcome relief from the week for sure.

It has been 3.5 months since IRONMAN Canada. One hundred-something days which has given me time to come to peace with the terms of what transpired… In a nutshell – I got smoked, pummeled, and eaten alive! It wasn’t a great race; really, I don’t know if it could be even considered a mediocre race. The best part was literally the first 56.9 minutes. I absolutely demolished my previous 2.4 mile swim record by almost 45 seconds. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the swimming world, that’s significant. And thus ended my good, PR setting day. It was all uphill from there… Wayyyyy up hill!

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Thoughtful things:

  • Plans are only as good as the trash can they end up in
  • Control the controllables – the uncontrollable will always go different than you expect
  • Quitting for the right reasons is OK – but only for the right reasons (read: medical)
  • You learn more from your failures more than from your successes
  • Porta-potties are your friend and your enemy… I got more than enough face time with several
  • At the end of the day, I had lost sight that finishing was actual my goal – the rest was just a nice to have

I was disappointed, slightly devastated, and swore to never ride my bike again, evidenced that it’s still in the freaking travel case and hasn’t been unpacked since. I settled into a diffident state of mind that made it incredibly difficult to do anything fun. That, and 2014 had left a quasi-permanent, repugnant taste in my mouth with the cancellation of IRONMAN Lake Tahoe. Obviously, the feelings (at the time) were legitimate but given enough recovery time, wouldn’t really hold water or describe how I truly felt about the sport. Everyone has bad days, and more often than not, our days may even just be OK, not stellar or wonderful. But in and of itself, that is what makes those phenomenal days spectacular – they’re a wonderful change of pace!

What is often forgotten is that when things don’t go according to our plan, it doesn’t mean that our experiences are a failure. My overarching goal for the year was to get married – SUCCESS! All of the rest will just have to fall where it may. In hindsight, my long day at Canada was more about the trip. Great time with friends and family, memories of gorgeous mountains peeking out of the sea, all-you-can-eat-buffets, and stormy skies that scream out the wondrous power and majesty of nature. Sure, that Sunday was miserable for myself and my loyal cheerleaders, who actually had a worse day than I did, but we all made it and have a shared experience to boot… that, and we got epic, mind-blowingly awesome cookie cake dessert! SO WELL EARNED!

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My greatest lesson learned from that day is to persevere. Not everything will be easy, go as planned, or even be enjoyable, but keeping those close that are dear to you is worth far more than success at some race, your career, or other hobbies . If people matter enough, they will lift you up during the downers, and help you to soar even higher during the ups. The good news is that 2016 awaits as a clean and empty canvas, waiting to be painted and filled in with new hopes and dreams, and the cost of that artistic fulfillment is minimal. Make the plans and follow through, but also let things just take their course… wherever that may lead. I learned my lesson in trying to control what I could not, and life is too short to waste on such a pursuit. Here’s to a fresh 365 days as well as the end of 2015. A new IRONMAN awaits and so do 12 months packed with adventures, fun photographs, and memories to be cherished for a lifetime. That, and I have to continue to work at having a successful marriage ;-)

My goal is to unpack my wheels before Thanksgiving and get a few rides in. It’s a happy, healthy relationship that I miss and that I’m ready to reinvest in. So I’m going to make that happen… I still have many adjustments to work on – shockingly, both triathlon and marriage require 100% dedication and commitment to continue forward on a healthy path :-) Sure, I have new responsibilities that absorb my time, but I’ve also got my favorite person on the planet cheering me on. That is hard to compete with!

Happy Friday AND HOORAY FOR THE WEEKEND!

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5 Comments

  1. Agreed on your picking of the right lifetime cheerleader. Also note that Ironman Registration Team did what so many others have done—switched your last and first name—cuz your bib says “Russell”.

    Enjoy that first of the season bike ride; hopefully soon.

    Dad

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