Ryan in Wonderland

I attended a screening of "Alice in Wonderland" tonight at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. What a trip!

Curious and curiouser still, all I could think about while watching the movie were the parallels between the book/film and my Ironman training.

Beyond the obvious "mad" reference, of course.

First, there's the notion of  accepting the challenge of attempting an Ironman.  It's a bit like falling down the rabbit hole.  You have no idea how far down it goes once you start in this sport.  You think the journey is one thing -- purely a physical test -- and then you realize the trip is something completely different.  Ironman training is really a mental odyssey that twists and turns in ways you cannot begin to imagine at the start.  You laugh initially when people tell you to expect the impossible, for example.  In my case, that came in the form of Coach Gerardo telling me I wouldn't recognize myself physically and mentally in a year.  I scoffed. I know damn well who I am, thank you very much.  After 35 years, I should.  Or, like Alice, I thought I did. Now, it's not been four months and I'm thinking of six impossible things before breakfast... while generally doing them.

However, also like Alice, some days you grow, and some days you shrink.  Your body, along with your capacity to increase your endurance and speed, ebbs and flows. Fatigue, like Alice waking up from a dream, is the determining factor.  One day you feel 10-feet tall.  And on the other, well, you just wish that Cheshire Cat would eat you and get it over with already.

Of course, there is the purely physical side too.  Instead of hanging out with a rabbit obsessed with time, now I chase "rabbits" in a race, picking off that next pesky person in front of me to shave just a few seconds off a personal best time.  And heaven forbid slowing down!  My inner-monologue might as well scream, "I"m late!  I'm late!  For a very important date!"

Curious and curiouser indeed.

In the film, Alice realizes that fantasy can be just as vivid and true as reality.  I recall day-dreaming about Ironman as a kid watching Wide World of Sports on TV.  Now, 25 years later, I'm still pinching myself about what I can accomplish despite having asthma, two flat feet and scoliosis.

Anything is possible.

Go read the book.  See the movie. Think of what's impossible in your life.  And pick each item off the list one by one, like racing to catch a rabbit in a battle against time.

267 days and counting.