Before I get started, I hope you've had a chance to read my latest Lava Magazine Online column, "Race for a Reason." It just came out yesterday so it's still relatively hot off the digital press.
Back to the blog at hand!
I drove 6.25 hours to my third Ironman today and was strangely calm. I almost got nervous because of how calm I actually felt. Where were the butterflies? The nervous energy? The excitement?! You'd think it would have hit me after driving through the Arizona gorges that precede the Utah border on I-15, with their ominous towering vertical faces staring down in intimidating fashion, but it didn't.
Instead I thought, "Nah, you don't scare me. Bring it on."
I've been here before.
The small host city of St. George is decked out and ready to celebrate the 1,500 brave athletes coming into town to tackle this 140.6-mile odyssey for the last time. Almost every street has a welcome banner outside a restaurant or hotel. Almost every street light has a lamp banner hanging from it. I can't help but feel a little like a pro athlete seeing the hoopla here because on a miniscule level, it's for me.
Maybe that's when it started to get to me. And by "it," of course I mean the butterflies. The nervous energy. Inevitably, it always starts when I see other triathletes and their beautiful bikes. Only this time, I remembered my recent California IM 70.3 feelings and have been able to simply recognize them for what they are -- "little guy complex" and something that will be here with me for every race. That's just a part of who I am. I worry about how I stack up to others because everyone else around me looks like they were cast in the movie 300, while I look like I was an extra in a lesser version called "100" or something!
But at least I know it's all hooey. I can hang with these folks, and if IM Cali 70.3 didn't teach me that then I'll never get it.
On to dinner. More studly triathletes eating and celebrating with each other. I'm here alone for the time being, as Steph won't fly in until Friday night. This is probably for the best anyway, as I tend to get a bit jumpy and irritable about now. I've been pretty clipped in my conversations with her the past day. Being in St. George by myself until Friday night will help me focus on what I need to do here, remain on my own schedule and avoid other nervous nellies.
As I head to bed on night one of four here, I find myself incredibly immersed in the present. Funnily enough, I mean "present" in two senses of the word. First, in that I am totally in the moment. I'm not thinking about past performances or how Saturday might go. I'm enjoying this feeling right now. Knowing how fast the next few days come. Knowing how fast Saturday will fly by. Knowing how before I know it, Sunday will be here. Been there, done that. I'm almost basking in the nervous anticipation right now. It's delicious. I wish I could be more like this every day. Neither looking ahead or behind. Just within. Just like my yoga instructors try to teach.
Second though, I mean present in the fact that I recognize with Ironman 3 more than the first two how much of a gift this opportunity is. Two months ago, I had no intentions of being here. Work schedules wouldn't allow it. But things changed, Steph was understanding and supportive, and now I'm fulfilling a bucket-list item to tackle one of the hardest Ironman courses in the world before it gets shelved. Even though there will always be an asterisk for some because the run course has been adjusted, I'm still thrilled I can say I was one of the few who conquered Ironman St. George. I'm grateful I'm healthy. I'm grateful I have the time to commit to this sport. I'm grateful for VERY understanding friends and family (and co-workers). And of course, I'm beyond grateful to everyone who has supported my Ironman Starlight Challenge fundraising effort. This Ironman isn't about me as much as it is about how my drive, commitment and passion can help others.
That's all I've got for tonight. More tomorrow, I hope.