The Storm Before the Calm

You have a million things to do, and no time to get them all done! Pack your bags, stop the mail, take the pets to boarding, out of office notifications, chargers for electronics, maps and directions, mow the lawn, pack your snacks and nutrition, don’t forget the bike and wetsuit….

Wait, what?

Welcome to Ironman race week, where even the simplest things can set off a wave of emotions like you’ve never felt. Going over times to arrive so you don’t miss mandatory bike checkin, did you pack enough gels to get through the bike, where’s my helmet? Coupled with “can I really do this?” Makes for a perfect storm of emotions that won’t end until the cannon goes off and you’re in the race.

Because suddenly, that is all that matters. And not the race as a whole, just that part. Swim hard, follow your training, avoid trouble, sight the buoy, focus. There is this calm that envelops you. You realize “I’m doing it!” and it’s a wonderful feeling.

You’ll get on the bike. You’ll struggle in parts, and fly through others. You’ve done the work, and you’ll get through it now. You’ll eat when you’re supposed to, and you’ll start to encourage others as you pass, just as they will encourage you. Before you know it, the bike is done and you’re headed out for a run. Only 26.2 miles to go!

You’ll look around, soaking in every detail so it’s burned into your memory. You’ll have tough spots, but a week from now when you look back, they won’t seem so bad. You’ll thank the volunteers at the water stops, and at nightfall the chicken broth will taste almost heavenly. And you’ll keep moving.

Then suddenly, you hear a voice on the PA system. He’s excited, but you can’t quite make out what he’s saying. But like a sirens song, it compels you to follow it. You get closer, and now you know it’s “The Voice of Ironman” Mike Reilly calling athletes home. You hear it over and over “You. Are. An. Ironman!”, and soon you’ll hear it too.

You’ll see the banner, and the crowds cheering you on are massive and incredible. Suddenly you touch the M-Dot carpet and you know it’s only a few more yards until you change your life forever. Mike is hollering out your name, and then you cross that beautiful line.

And the calm stays, and the world grows silent for a moment. Just you….and the Universe, in a cocooned moment in time. She tells you “Well done my child, I am pleased”, and then as it fades reality comes into view.

“Congratulations! Your amazing! Here’s your medal, what size shirt do you need? Don’t forget your finishers hat, you earned it!, We need a photo. Are you hungry? First aid is there if you need it., You did great!, Someone is waving for you . . . ”

And the storm begins again.

I’m off to Lake Placid for Ironman #3. I’ll see you on the other side of the storm, and the calm, with a race report.

Live healthy, be happy!