Monday, June 25, 2007

What Lies Ahead

For the love of Cheez-It’s and other Ironman-induced cravings for salty snacks, what have I done.

I went and signed up for Ironman.

Maybe it’s still too far away, maybe it’s still too fresh. But I keep reminding myself that come October I am doing Ironman. Despite the sass from the better half of my brain that was pleading with rationality, sanity, logic in the form of once was enough, last Sunday sure enough the check was signed and now there’s a yellow slip in my hand.

Actually, there are two. Because I took my husband’s away from him. For safekeeping because I knew he would lose it. Confirmation of this came last week when he spent about 3 hours looking for a receipt, further confirmation came on Sunday when he had to cancel his lost credit card, and daily confirmation comes from the fact that I find his socks all over the place. So there are two yellow slips in my hand.

That Sunday night after the race, Chris lay in bed with his eyes wide with giddiness. The first time you qualify for Kona you are a like a child waiting restlessly the night before Christmas. Except your Christmas is one long day in early October. Everyday until then is a Christmas Eve of sorts filled with the anticipation and excitement of what lies ahead. You lay in bed at night thinking about it. Instead of making of list of what you want, you make a list of what you will need, eat, do every step of the way. Each mile of the race is like a present under the tree that you cannot wait to unwrap. So much that you want to tear a little paper off and peek. The morning of the race you are ready to tackle the Christmas tree to find out what lies beneath. And when you get permission from a parent in the form of a start gun, you tear right in. And like a child, you know at the end of the day you will lie exhausted in a mess of wrapping paper, new toys, emotionally crashed from the build up, the arrival, and come down of the day.

It is so much excitement, waiting, and thoughts of what lies ahead that you almost can’t sleep for weeks. You can’t believe you are doing an Ironman. You’ve swam, biked, and run thousands of miles but for some reason, this set of 140.6 miles is different. This one gets you thinking. Gets you excited, gets you even a little scared.

And like I’ve said before, people treat these miles different than the other thousands of miles you’ve done to get to this point. You could swim, bike, run yourself 140.6 miles on any given day. But do it in an Ironman and that’s different. Anything else – you idiot why are you wasting your time riding, swimming, running. Ho hum. But Ironman? Brilliant, the best choice you’ve ever made.

Not only are you all of a sudden brilliant, but also a celebrity. Note: first time Ironman status only. Second time – you are back to being an idiot – didn’t get enough? Just had to do it again?

But the first time is different. And I think Chris had a taste of this on Tuesday night. We were sitting in the hot tub after swim practice. Other swimmers swarmed around him. The first time Ironman instant rockstar status. He talked with so much excitement in his voice about the race he qualified at, the race ahead. He was all smiles.

But we haven’t started training for IM yet. Give it a few weeks. I’ll see if he’s smiling then. Give your crotch a few hundred miles in the saddle, give your feet a lot of pounding, turn your shoulders over and over again, listen to your stomach growl, find yourself sleeping during lunch, or worse, at your desk. And that’s just July. Wait ‘til August.

Qualifying for Kona is the easy part. It’s what follows that will make or break even the strongest of athletes. And I’m not talking about the training. It’s coordinating flights, lodging, cars, time off of work, two bikes, two people, and countless other details that is the hardest part. The race – well, that’s easy. That’s already planned.

I’ve spent the better part of this week trying to find lodging in Kona. This is not easy. Unless you are willing to give your right arm and leg in exchange for a condo overlooking the ocean. And I might need that arm and leg. There are about one million condos to rent in Kona. Right now there are about six left available, and about two I can afford. And every time I find one I can afford, it seems like just last night somebody rented it. Finally today I found one, it was available, and I wrote a check. Done.

The flights – I put Chris on that one. I can’t carry the weight of two people across the ocean. The lodging was time-consuming enough. He pulled through and found free flights with our mileage plus program. Only catch was that we had to get out there on Sunday. I told him we would go stir crazy. Arriving on Sunday and watching the week slowly go by while you just chomp at the salty bit waiting for race day to arrive. More days in Hawaii? I know, I know, sounds dreamy. But when you can’t do anything too crazy (hike, kayak, drink yourself silly, run around the beach in a coconut bra – Chris, not me) for fear of illness or injury, you just sit and wait, sweat, and wait for Saturday. Wait, and sweat, and wait some more.

Flight – check. Room – check. Now all that’s left is…….to train. Right, we actually have to train for this thing. Trust me, it’s much more fun to talk about than to train for it. But I’m looking forward to it this year. I know the worst of what’s ahead – the rockbottom moments where you find yourself crying on the path clutching your knees wondering how the hell you are going to run 5 minutes back to the car, or the long rides in stifling heat where you head is pounding from dehydration and the advertised 85 mile ride turns out to be 95, laying in bed soaking the sheets all night because your metabolism is so jacked up from riding 6 hours that day. Ah, the good old times.

I’ve tried to give Chris bits and pieces of what lies ahead. He’s already asked a lot of questions and I try to give the best answers. But I’m not saying too much. Part of the fun is to experience it and figure it out on your own. It’s the journey and the discovery that is the most rewarding, not the race itself. I did give him a fair warning that he would never look at a baggie or plastic container the same again. And that he would need to buy a Bento box – a big one, really, really big one.

He said he already bought two – a big one and a small one. Just in case.

So it sounds like he’s on his way to becoming well-prepared for Ironman training. And we’ll get into the training soon enough. And October will arrive soon enough. The century rides, the 22 mile runs, the 90 minute swims. They will all arrive soon enough and I’ll find myself sitting outside Lava Java sipping hot coffee in the hot Hawaii sun with the ocean just steps away. With my husband right next to me.

Does it get any better than that? (ps – don’t even think it would get better with iced coffee….no way)

1 comment:

Alicia Parr said...

Well, well, well...aren't WE being the drama queen about the long course training! :)

Personally, I love me some mountain centuries and have several on the schedule. And night sweats? Why do you think these races keep giving us more t-shirts? Wake up, put on a dry one, go back to sleep. No problemo. As for me, I can't wait to get past this annoying SHORT course training.

But no IM distance for me! I've signed up for Woodlands 101. Yippee!