I am not allowed to watch Ironman anymore.
I am not allowed to follow it on Ironmanlive or have wireless updates sent to my phone. I am not allowed to call anyone spectating at Ironman or in the days leading up to the race follow their blogs. I am not allowed to send e-mails to anyone asking for Ironman results or predict the winner with friends. I am not allowed to track athletes, calculate splits, or cheer for someone doing Ironman over 1500 miles away. I am not allowed to refresh a website a thousand times for the latest race coverage. I am not allowed to search the age group results or wonder how I would have done if I was there.
Because all of this – all of this Ironman blah blah blah in the form of websites, text messages, phone calls, and talk got me thinking the one question I thought I would never think again….
……what if I did Ironman again?
(oh no she didn’t)
Yes she did. I did.
Recall three weeks ago a certain photo in which a certain someone showed Sherpa Thomas their “no more Ironman” face, asking him to capture it on film, make it public on the blog as proof I was 100 percent confident, sure, never would I do an Ironman again.
Well, more like 99.9999repeating percent sure. Give or take.
As I sat there today watching Ironman Florida unfold on the website site and periodically on my phone, I realized that inside, deep inside my gut somewhere in the remnants of my battered toenails and sunburned skin was an itch – yes, another itch – that one day, again, I would like to do Ironman just to see (code for "try to go faster next time").
Because you never know. You could go 30 minutes faster, slower, you could never make it to the starting line at all but there is something – dammit something – about Ironman that says I am willing to take that risk.
Mind you I have already put together my race schedule for next year. And it most certainly does not include an Ironman. Oh no. No room. Coach and I have been talking, er plotting, about a full schedule of 70.3’s and I am excited to take them on with force.
But even with all that planning and plotting and dreaming and talking I found myself sitting at my computer today thinking what if? What if I did an Ironman? Maybe two? What if I did one in the early season and again late? Would I get better? Would I recover faster? Would I make it to the second one at all?
This is the siren song of Ironman. It is a deceptive lure that you follow, arrive on the shore and then find nothing beautiful at all. Because there is no beauty in pain. And sadly your ears do not empty of from siren song until about 3 hours into the marathon when your ears become filled with a new song with one word - ouch.
Despite this, as I sat there watching today I got an itch. Ironman gets under your skin. It makes you itchy. And then I finally realize – this has been the itch. Remember the itch I was talking about a week ago? The one I confused with itch to get back to training again? Turns out it was post-Ironman itch. The itch that won’t be scratched until you do it again.
Looks like I’m going to need more Calamine. And about ten bags of cotton balls.
Of course, I talk like it’s an easy thing to do. Like the only thing you have to do for another Ironman is show up on the line. I start recalling the days, weeks, heck months of long training, endless hunger, and fatigue. The gels, the bars, the salt tabs, the drink. The long runs. The repeat 400’s with paddles in the pool. The 142 mile ride. The…..gasp…..Dairyland Dare.
Despite the memories of torture in the form of training for most of the summer, I still think to myself, sure, I could use more. I could do it again. It is like a siren song. There is a man, maybe a woman, singing the song of Ironman to me somewhere on an Ironman Florida shore.
And then it hits me. Maybe it’s my coach. She’s down there watching her husband finish the race. Maybe she is thinking or singing to herself that Elizabeth should do an Ironman next year.....why? The best reason of all - just 'cuz.
Or maybe it’s just my own head. Or the idea of Ironman. It’s romantic side. The side that makes you feel like when you are there, you belong. You are part of something real. It makes you feel real. It makes you feel alive.
After you do an Ironman, watching another Ironman is never the same. Because you know. You know what it feels like – how exciting it is at the start, how gratifying it is to finish. You know the stages of Ironman in your mind throughout the day. The highs and lows. And the fact that no matter how low you go all you seem to remember is the highs. And you almost recapture that when you watch the race. You want to be there. You want to feel that high. When you see people cross the line, either online or at the line, you get chills. You get tears. You know where they are at. And you think to yourself one day I have to get back there again.
But, in writing my thoughts, I realize this need-to-do-more-Ironman might just be a side effect of the post-Ironman high. When I finished the race, someone warned me that I should not make any major decisions for quite some time. A list including, but not limited to, having a child, acquiring a pet, buying a car, or….signing up for another Ironman. And I will take that advice for now. Give it time. Another month. See how a six hour ride on the trainer sounds. Or a two hour run in the snow. Or a monster swim for time.
On second thought, scratch those thoughts. In fact, scratch that itch because I’m not ready to think about Ironman, no, no more.
And to whom ever is singing that siren song….zip it. Because I’m not going to listen for awhile.
(or least another few weeks)