I just finished reading a book this morning, one that was given to my husband as a gift and one I found to be a gift to me during some times of forced rest this season. It’s the story of 6 weekend warriors who get inspired (the seal of fate), sign up (first huge step), train (major sacrifice for months) and complete Ironman Arizona 2009 (sheer bliss – the finish, not the race). It’s in the last chapter where their individual finishes are recounted and each of their stories brought me back to my 2 prior finishes in Coeur d’Alene and Lake Placid. I can recall those finishes just like I can recall the how the sun felt on my cheek and my feet in the sand when I was getting married. And just like that perfect day on the beach in Kauai I experienced feelings of pure joy as I crossed those finish lines. I’m not going to lie, I’m in the depths of week #17 otherwise known as the Ironman training trenches. I can no longer see the beginning of my journey and I certainly can’t see the end. Right now there is little light in the tunnel, just workouts. One after the other, 7 days a week and a knowing that I won’t be sustainably rested until August.
In a post earlier this week I touched upon why I train for Ironman and I stand by what I said regarding the love that I feel on race day being my inspiration. But I also wanted to share something else I’ve heard in my yoga circles. A possibility that I train for and complete this insane distance because of a deep feeling of unworthiness. An unconscious need to suffer day after day and most of all, on race day so that I can cross the line with the hopes of being good enough. I’m not sure I’m going to argue with that since in my most quiet and intense moments of my meditation practice, I’ve been shown feelings of not being good enough, not deserving to be loved and not feeling worthy. Now, a few years ago, my ego most certainly would have defended my honor with fierce denial of those claims but I’m more open to an understanding of where I’ve been and who I’m unveiling from deep within.
She is a being not afraid to love or be loved, she is worthy just the way she is right now and her need for perfection is steadily falling away. She is, no doubt, on her journey and for right now, that includes a 140.6 mile race in July. So although I feel a shift in my landscape I haven’t quite discerned if its a permanent shift or just week #17. Regardless, I’m sticking with it, finding my grace on the days where I am challenged, which are often these days, and accepting that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
So in hopes of sharing some inspiration and refueling my tank for today’s tabata bike set and hill repeat run I pulled out the recaps of my previous 2 finishes. From time to time I return to these and like the surf that crashed behind me as I said “I do” so many years ago I can hear the crowds again. The cheers are deafening, smiles so huge they hurt and elation so pure that I feel no other option than to pursue yet another finish.
Ironman Couer d’Alene Finish 2008
Finishing this race was becoming reality and yes, it is truly amazing how far away you can hear Mike Reilly’s voice. The enthusiasm for my outfit and number only grew amongst the crowd and I was getting a lot of attention out on the run course. I was thriving on every cheer, words of encouragement and support. The final miles were in the dark but I was far from alone.
I started to get close, made a left onto Sherman Ave. and downhill to the finish line. The street is packed and everyone is cheering. It’s an experience that could only yield feelings of sheer joy for the one running down the center of it.
‘Soak it up Jessica’, ‘you’re going to be an Ironman girl’, ‘way to finish strong’, ‘you look great’, ‘yeah pink dress lady’, ‘party like its 1999’, ‘congratulations’, ‘nice work’, ‘you’re my hero’……
I saw the stands, saw the carpet, I saw the clock, I heard my name and I busted into the final moves of the day. I’m not sure what I did but I danced the whole way to the finish line. I do know there was a Pat Benetar shimmy in there somewhere and definitely way too much jumping. I grabbed the finish tape and crossed the line along with my buddies – accomplishment, pride and joy in 14hr 38mi 50 sec.
Those final moments are like none other I have experienced.
Ironman Lake Placid Finish 2012
I passed so many people that I remember passed me on the first climb of the bike. They were walking, I was running, I never saw them again. At mile 20 I rewarded myself with coke at each aid station and stayed true to my nutrition plan to the end.
The final climb back into town was intense but there was no way I was going to stop running. I saw BJ at the hot corner just before mile 25 – he was so excited to see me, so proud of me. I headed out to the final turn around on Mirror Lake Drive then back into the thick of the crowd. I slapped the hands that were offered to me, I looked into the eyes of the people cheering me on and could feel that my smile was as big as they were saying it was.
I turned right at the bottom of the hill and left into the Olympic oval for my finish. I could feel the overflow of emotion, I looked up at the Legends of the Oval and soaked up the elite history of my surroundings. I made the final turn and was blinded by the screams, lights and cheers of the people in the stands, I was in the finish chute. I cruised under the arch and to my 2nd Ironman finish in a very patient 14 hours 36 minutes and 52 seconds.