I've posted 345 blogs since starting this journey last November, with at least three-dozen categories. I've probably analyzed -- over-analyzed, actually -- every detail of my Ironman journey more than most. And yet I'm having a very hard time encapsulating the past year for my last post of the year. I set big goals and went out and accomplished them, with a lot of hard work. Stephanie and I resurrected a broken relationship, for the final time. None of this journey would have been quite as special had I not restored that healthy foundation. That alone made 2010 a total success. The completed races, personal-best times, and finishing the Ironman truly fail to come close in comparison. Make no mistake, I would have been an Ironman without Stephanie. But I would have thought of her at the finish, every day leading up to that moment, and every day after it. I would have chased a ghost the rest of my life, the worst kind too. The "What If?" spectre.
I hate that ghost. I hate "What If?" So I destroyed it. And couldn't be happier.
I remember when I started the year though, skeptical whether Fortius Coaching could mold me into a better athlete. Uncertain of my own psyche following a devastating breakup. I remember Coach Gerardo telling me I wouldn't even recognize myself physically, emotionally and mentally following Ironman.
Now a year later, I know what he meant, though I'm not sure even he thought my transformation would be this profound. I truly do feel like a different person. Perhaps this year was the biggest growth year of my life, which is saying a lot since I spent several months backpacking through Europe both with a buddy and by myself to start the 21st Century. That trip was a deep transformational experience in a different way. In Europe at that time, pre-Euro currency, pre-"smart" cell phones and everywhere Internet, I was alone. I had to learn to rely on myself. I built a foundation for adventure and extended my personal comfort zones way beyond my sheltered suburban upbringing. I built the foundation for this Ironman journey too, a far more spiritual and metaphorical trip.
I wonder if my 2010 Ironman would have happened if it weren't for my 2001 adventure serving as the stepping stone.
A lot had happened in my life between my 2001 backpacker's walkabout and this year's odyssey. During that span, I had many adventures, literally all over the world. While I may have nudged my comfort zones ever further out professionally, and personally, I hadn't really ventured off the grid (in my mind, at least) into the Great Unknown since quitting my job prior to September 11. That spring I quit work, quit my apartment, quit my car payments, and donned a small bag filled with all the contents I would need to live.
50 cities, 12 countries, 90 days. A different kind of triathlon.
And yet my preparation for and completion of Ironman surpasses even that epoch. I NEVER expected my journey to Ironman to rebuild what had become an eroded sense of self-confidence, rekindle my passion for writing, stabilize my emotions and provide me with such a supportive group of friends and teammates, not to mention some of you readers out there.
My 2001 odyssey was an escape. My 2010 odyssey was a gift to myself.
I hope 2011 brings more gifts, but most of all, I hope that if you haven't already you'll reward yourself with such a gift. We all deserve it. We deserve abolishing that "What If?" ghost, even if it's only for once in our lives. To stand at the finish line, real or metaphorical, arms raised, screaming from a primal place, nothing can surpass that feeling. The feeling of personal victory. It doesn't have to be an Ironman either. It can be going for a promotion at work, or starting a new career venture, taking a chance with that cute friend you always liked but haven't had the courage to ask out. It can be ANYTHING.
Make the most of 2011. Pick your Ironman and FINISH IT.
Wipe "What If?" from your vocabulary.
I'd say good luck, but you won't need it.
Enjoy your New Year's Eve celebration! I'll be back on January 2, fresh from spending the holiday with future wife.
175 days and counting.
PS: For those wondering about my legs, it appears that I've got a problem with the tendons in my hips connecting my glutes and IT bands. The acronym for that part of the body is TFL, which some of you (Robyn?) may be familiar with. My ART specialist said it's hard to say for sure though because of all my other structural issues, but based on the pain there in today's therapy session, I'm guessing it's a root cause. We'll keep at the recovery, and I'll keep you posted on the progress.