Happy and Calm

One week out, nothing about the experience is striking me as fun. I'm under-trained and over-worried. I'm consumed by dread. Every once in a while, the idea of just not doing it flickers in my mind, extinguished only by the fact that however bad the race might end up being, living a lifetime knowing I wimped out would be far worse.

There’s a long way to go, and descent into the pathetic crisis of confidence that engulfed me and led me to write that one week before IMCDA 2008 might lurk way out there on the unseeable horizon. But I’m starting to doubt that. So far, I’m just happy and loving this stuff. And I think I know why.

Start with the newly minted knowledge—received while I was spinning for 60 minutes today, per the plan—that physically, Ironman isn’t that hard. It’s not easy; it’s a stupid long day. Yet, it occurs to me that if you understand your fitness and race to that fitness, any reasonably conditioned athlete can meet with Ironman success. If you know you are going to be locked in a brutal battle to get it done before they disassemble the finish chute and turn out the lights, well then you also know you can dog-paddle the swim in more than two hours, take several restful breaks on the bike and get to T2 around the 10 1/2-hour mark, and then practically walk your way to a 6 1/2-hour marathon. Go even that slowly and you still get to hear the guy shout, at the end, “You are an Ironman!”

But you must understand the race you are capable of doing, whether it's merely finishing or earning a Kona slot, which isn't easy if you've never gone long before. And then you must have the courage and discipline to do that race, not more, not less. Which brings me to the image atop this post; it proclaims IMCDA a qualifier for the Ironman World Championships, and notes: "Anything Is Possible." Well, no, sorry, I'm here to tell you anything isn't possible. What is possible is knowing what you can do and then going out and doing it, whether that means hitting it harder than what's comfortable, or holding back. You just have to know. You gotta be honest.

My goal this year is to beat 12 hours. By a second, by 30 minutes—well, I won't say it doesn’t matter. The faster I go, the happier I’ll be. Winning, though, is about 11:59:59. And right now, I’m pretty damn sure I will get to sub-12 fitness. Thus, happiness and calm prevails. Whether I will remain happy and calm until June 21, that will come down to whether I continue to believe my fitness will allow me to go sub-12. It’s a pretty good motivator: Get fit, stay happy.

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