I gave this little “gift” to myself for my 30th birthday.
I’m not a strong runner, but I am even less adept at swimming and biking.
My strongest skill when I signed on for this was believing in myself.
Or maybe it was blissful ignorance.
I had only done two sprint distance triathlons before the IronMan but I figured, hey, I’ve done two marathons already and the running is the hardest part, right?
An IronMan is all hard, and all consuming. There are no two ways about it. I put it on life’s to-do list and it has been firmly crossed off. Done. Check. Next.
I did this before I had my daughter. When an entire Saturday could be spent doing anything your heart desired. My life is much richer with her in it, but I no longer have the luxury of spending eight hours training and then the rest of the day recovering in the fetal position.
Here I am after the 2.4 mile swim. And also, here’s a random spectator doing his stretches.
Here I am on the 112-mile bike course, contemplating life, the candy bar I just dropped on the ground, and the next hill.
The year I did this race was the event’s inaugural year and there were a few kinks that needed worked out.
Like the weather.
The race director had no idea it would be so windy out on these open roads. We faced 35 mph head- and side-winds all day. Add to that the fact that each leg of a triathlon has a time limit. If you don’t make it, you’re disqualified.
I burst into tears about 10 miles from the bike finish, and cried the entire way in.
I also had to pee. BAD. But how could I stop? I was barely going to make it in as it was.
So, I peed my pants.
And I crossed the bike finish line with one minute to spare. 60. Little. Seconds.
I gave an exhausted “Thank You” to my trusty little bike. The Engine That Could.
Here I am on the marathon portion of the race.
Can’t see anything? Me neither. The organizers didn’t take into account how long people would be out on the course, and what that would mean for visibility.
As a desperate measure, they started setting up some of those portable flood-lights every few miles for the runners, but all this did was blind us as we approached and left us seeing floaty spots in front of us for the next few miles.
Vision impairment be damned! I had a race to finish.
Here I am, crying to my mom. The same lady who changed my wet diapers as a baby. And my wet bike shorts as a 30-year-old.
When I look back sometimes, I still can’t believe that this novice runner, fearful swimmer, and timid biker had enough courage and respect for herself to DO IT.