Sunday, April 13, 2008

The morning of the Ironman that wasn't...

I can't sleep.

Currently, it's 2:56 am here, central standard Florida time (the Panhandle of Florida is on CST, just FYI. Very odd, I know - then again, we are in the Panhandle. Lower Alabama, and such. So - no East Coast Time. Central time. Yeah.)

Oops, I misspoke - it's 3:03 am. Sorry.

I woke up about 15 minutes ago, to butterflies in my stomach. The first thought to cross my mind was, "I wonder if I packed everything in my Swim-to-Bike and Bike-to-Run bags....?"

And then I remembered. Everything.

There are odd moments like that, where I forget that I'm injured, and I'll say something, or find myself dreaming about my next run or race.

And then my reality hits.

My sadness is mostly gone, but the odd twinge here or there is a stark reminder of my limited physical ability. Current limited physical ability. Ameh. (Very important to get that sraight!)

Because while I'm currently limited with what I can do, the important thing to remember is that it's very temporary. A small bump in my ultimate road to becoming and Ironman.

And while the title of "Ironman" and hearing Mike Reilley say, "You are an Ironman!" makes it official, in my heart of hearts, it's a place that I know I want to be - a journey of my life unfulfilled.

I have so much respect of the distance, of the race, of the individuals who have trained and completed the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run - that leading up to the race, I refused to wear anything with the M-Dot logo. No visors, no shirts, nothing. Because I wanted to earn it. I wanted to go the distance, to cross the line, to hear Mike Reilley yell, "Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach, you are an Ironman!" - because the race means so much more than just that.

But in this journey, I have realized that what other people say that I am, means little or nothing if I don't believe it internally. IF I don't feel it in my heart, believe it in my mind, then what others say matters very little.

And I believe that one day, I will be a true Ironman. Just not yet.

For now, I'll just have to cope with something along the lines of "I did all the training except the taper and race..."

But I never started the race.

And though its a bit sad, and at moments like this I feel a bit more contemplative, this is all part of the experience of Ironman itslef. We can't control what happens in the race. The logo of Ironman itself is, "Anything is possible!" And just with Ironman, that's true to life.

Anything IS possible.

So, no race for me today. But an Ironman IS in my future, will be part of my path and journey. And I'm no less of a person, no less of a triathlete for not doing it today - I just had a bump in the road. Bump in the butt that put me out of commission. So I'll have a neat scar to show, a bit of road rash on my elbow, and a wonderful story to tell about my return and recovery from the event.

And while I am a little sad about not racing today, I have so many things to be thankful and grateful for:

I have wonderful family, friends, doctors, random strangers, internet friends, blogger friends - an entire support system that believe is me. And I am so grateful.

I am expected to make a full recovery... back and nerve function!

I have a fat grey cat who adores me (had to throw that in)

I get to spend wonderful time with my family - Nathaniel, my Mom - that I won't otherwise get to do while training the way I train.

I have the support of the best sponsors ever!

I found that I love the sport, and miss it fiercly when I'm "away".

So, while it would be easy to be blue and glum about the situation - I still feel incredibly lucky. It could have been worse, yes. But everything since the accident has, well, gone right! And that inspires a lot of confidence...makes me grateful and happy.

I don't think that sad is the right word to describe myself right now. Simply, IM Arizona was the "Ironman that wasn't". I don't feel any less of a person for not doing the race, for not "going the distance." Like I mentioned before - I have plans to return in 2009 and make it my "year of the Ironman". Perhaps "temporarily on hold" is a better way to describe it.

That being said, I wouldn't change the pre-race jitters and nerves for anything. I can't image the emotions and stress before a race like this.... I get nervous enough before races, as is. And if I was racing, I would either be 1)laying awake in bed, unable to sleep 2) Pacing the room, unable to sleep or 3) Cruising the internet, unable to sleep. Quite frankly, I think I've got it a bit better right now.

Until the cannon goes off, and the compeditors start the final leg of their very own Ironman Journey. Then, they get to spend an entire day doing something they love. That in and of itself, makes me happy.

Yesterday I spoke with Leslie Curley, my Ironman-Soul-Sister from Camp HTFU. She sounded a bit nervous, but ready in her heart. She didn't want to throw away her favorite water bottles from South Carolina - and I couldn't help but laugh! If that was her biggest concern, the I knew she would be just fine. I'll be thinking of her all day - and the several other friends and people racing who have send me an email or well-wishes.

I am so proud of EVERYONE racing - Leslie especially. This is not easy, not something that "just anyone" would do. But the individuals toeing the line in Tempe choose to make the commitment....choose to do the training, put in the time - and I'm sure there were times for them (as there were plenty for me) that it wasn't easy nor fun. The early mornings, the painful saddle, the long runs of solitude. All part of what it takes to become and Ironman. Part of the journey.

Good luck to everyone in Arizona today. I'll be with you in spirit, in my heart.

Don't be sad for me, as this time just wasn't my time. My journey is not yet complete...Ironman interrupted, if you may. But I don't think that Interrupted is really the right word for it. Ironman on-hold - or something of the sorts. Because with this accident, with this crash, I have discovered more about myself that I would have, had I never fallen off my bike. And for that I am also grateful.

So this year, I heal. This year, I race in August or Septmeber, or whenever my body is ready. My heart is willing, my mind is determined, and all that I'm waiting on is for my sacrum to heal. Then I get to return to doing the sport that I love.

And for 2009? Well, I think that Idaho looks pretty good...

To everyone in Arizona: Safe race, and enjoy the journey! Much love from Pensacola, Florida is heading your way! Be positive, be grateful, push past the pain. And relish each and every moment - you are living your dream! Hooray!


Anonymous said...

I thought of you this morning as I woke up and headed to my computer to get updates on IM AZ. I can only imagine what you were feeling this morning.

Crossing the finish line at Ironman is going to be even more sweet now. I can't wait to follow your continued journey.

Beth said...

I've been thinking about you all day Marit! (and when I was talking on the phone with my mom just now she asked about you too... :)

I'm sure today is a bit "rough" but we all know (you included!!) that your day to shine will come! I just think - watch out for that next IM you do train for and race!!! You will be amazing!

Kellye Mills said...

You know... maybe Heather and the other big girls just weren't ready to deal with your Ironman-ness yet!! You're right, this wasn't your race, so keep dreaming because your next go at it is going to be even that much more amazing!!

Marni said...

Aww...what a great post. I'm sure there are many people out there doing it with you in mind!! keep cheering via computer..I'm sure it helps! :)

Jennifer Cunnane said...

I am amazed by your tenacity and fighting spirit. Not only do you reflect it in your stellar performance racing so far but also you determination to make a comeback - and kick some ass! Way to go keeping things in positive perspective, we can all learn lots from your zest for life!

Alicia Parr said...

The heck with "ironman". By the time you cross that line you'll be like tempered steel, honed and shaped like a fine Sumarai sword. You'll be Samurai Sword Woman, which is way more impressive.

Cy said...

Once again Marit, your great attitude shines brighly!

Sarah said...


I listened to an interesting commentary over the weekend that talked about what a Buddha is - a Buddha is somebody who is completely 'awakened;' every part of them is awake to everything that is happening and going on.

It sounds like this experience has awakened so many parts of you that you never even realized before.

You will be back in those races before you know it, but even stronger in mind and spirit. Full speed ahead!

BreeWee said...

I love this post... Ironman is a journey. For some it is a life changing journey. It has ups & downs and you are always learning more and more about who you are.
I know you would have appreciated your journey had you raced yesterday. I know you would have loved and respected and been happy with the journey... BUT your's is going to be so much more. A really good friend of mine told me before my race, "Bree why are you racing? Bree if you don't know & don't have that answer it will be a hell of long day." The he said, "Bree, you have to know. That way when you are out in the lava, mind games in your head, tired, and maybe even scared you can have that reason to take one more step". I never really had my reason or thought about it until he told me that. Then I had to find my answer quick... ANYWAYS, the point is, your day, when you do IM, you will have some many reasons for it. You can be running and know this accident you overcame and be even stronger for it!
Sorry I am rambling- you are amazing, your day will come. Have you chosen a new race yet???

Anonymous said...

I've been following your story from South Africa - and I've just returned home from my first Ironman journey.

Your post has made me cry with empathy for you - My Ironman South Africa has been the most fabulous, inspiring and amazing day - and I am wishing and willing a speedy and awesome recovery to you.

My new T Shirt says:
"Anything is Possible"
and I belive it!
Good Luck!