Tonight, I heard a rumor from more than one source that Cal-Tech employees were sent home to prepare for a massive earthquake in Southern California. The proverbial Big One. If you want to get anyone's attention who has ever spent a reasonable amount of time in the greater Los Angeles area, tell them you know something about The Big One and where and when it might occur. If LA were a person, the Big One is our Achilles heel. We are brought to our collective knees worrying about it and obsessing over it.
Of course, being the gullible person that I am, I tended to believe said rumor. Partially because two of the most credible people I know -- my father and my buddy John -- had been told the same thing by people they trusted.
Hours later, the Los Angeles Times and rumor debunking website Snopes.com rebuffed the rampant rumor, which spread on Twitter faster than a brush fire ignites on a windy, hot LA day.
As I sit down on my couch before bedtime to type, I realized this earthquake rumor and my Ironman training -- my other Big One -- are similar in one regard. During the past several months, I've heard all sorts of stories about people bonking at Ironman, crashing days before the big event, or experiencing some grave misfortune after nearly a year of hard work and sacrifice. Like an earthquake, these episodes are unpredictable, happen quickly, and the results can be shockingly painful. Numbing.
And like rumors, I've yet to meet someone who experienced an Ironman "Big One" on race day. While the going certainly gets tough, the folks I've spoken with all finished. Some have finished multiple Ironman events without experiencing a personal tremor.
I hope I can be so lucky. Then again, maybe it's not luck at all, but preparation. Like what I did this evening before learning that this rumor was a false one. I used my triathlon transition bag to pack extra water, Clif Bars and Hammer gels. Not to mention clothes, because navigating the streets of a chaotic and disoriented Los Angeles naked would really be a bad call. I also checked over my emergency prep kit to actually see what's inside.
If I continue to prepare for Ironman in the same manner I prepared tonight for a massive earthquake that may never come, then hopefully the only Big One I experience will be the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and pride when I achieve my goal time in Arizona of between 11:30 and 13 hours.
Then, the only quake you'd see is the "Ryan Shake." And for the few people who actually get that inside joke, you know exactly what I'm talkin' 'bout.
Now, I'm going to get some rest. Hopefully without any interruption.
226 days and counting.