Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Impossible Question

Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready?  Are you ready?

I love every single question I get about the Ironman. I'm grateful that anyone has even the slightest interest in this fandango, and the support I feel is humbling and immeasurably precious.

But this question. Oh, this question. I don't know how to answer it. Yes! Hell no! I don't know! GAH! NO!!! Yes. 

I'm ready to stop thinking about it. I'm so ready for a week's vacation that I would do an Ironman just to get a few days off. I'm not tired of training. I don't want to be over. I'm not looking forward to the discomfort. I am looking forward to the thrill. Physically, I have no idea. I know I'm behind where I was last year. I also kind of don't give a shit. It's deeply disconcerting. I'm worried that I'm only remembering the best parts of last year, forgetting how horrible the pain. 

"Of course you've forgotten!" laughed my mom and Aunt Sue, who between them have birthed 5 babies and raised six. "You'd never do it again if you remembered the pain!"

Last night a friend asked what I was most excited about. 

Taking a few days off of work. Hitting the road all by myself. Unplugging. Having lunch with a friend in Burlington, taking that cool little ferry across the lake to Essex. Buying new bras at Victoria's Secret. A hotel room all to myself, jumping on the bed, clean sheets and bathtub and everything so tidy, and the TV that I'll turn on the first night and see what it's like, and then never turn on again for the rest of the stay. Reading a book. Finding a giant flat rock in the middle of a river and taking off all my clothes in the sun. Making new friends. Flirting. The giant spandex man party. 

And oh yeah, the race itself. The spectacle of 3000 athletes, and tens of thousands of spectators. Digging deep, pushing through the pain, finding the fun that's there even when my body hurts. Figuring out what my body can do. Finding out what my mind can do. High-fiving the little kids, dancing with the rock bands, smiling for the photographers. Reveling in the party. Keeping everything moving. Staying warm, staying cool, eating enough food, drinking enough drink. The joy, the exhilaration, the adrenaline.

The attention. Cheering and waving back at the people cheering and waving for me. Making people laugh. Hearing thousands of strangers yell my name. Spending 14 or 15 hours immersed in a world of people at their best. This race is challenging for every single person who participates. It's hard for everyone, no matter what their story. There are so many kinds of victories happening on this day. A fair share of heartache, too. It's raw and huge, and it blasts my heart wide open.

As I dedicate my race primarily to my friend Kelly, who is having breast cancer surgery the following day, I wish that by voluntarily taking on some discomfort, I could relieve the suffering of someone else. I don't think it quite works that way, but I view this race as my offering.

What happens inside this crazy bubble is a glimpse of humanity at its best. People supporting, encouraging, cheering, helping, cooperating, wishing each other the best. A world of love disguised as sport.

Oh hell yes.  I'm ready. 

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