The In Between Spaces

A week ago, I completed my training for Ironman Florida.

It's about time.

It’s about time.

At that point, there was really nothing more I could do to prepare for the race PHYSICALLY, except to not get sick. As I got in my truck to go home, I started crying. It was a release, it was part sadness, it was part relief. As I cried my way home, my mind was like a rolodex of memories of the past year, flash cards of experiences over the summer. The finish line is essential to this journey, but the journey is really what it’s all about. This past week, I thought about so many things that I’ve done (or made myself do) that I would not have done otherwise, and I realized how thankful I was to have this experience. As I prepare to head south to Florida this week, I am nervous, I’m a little scared, but most of all, I’m confident that I can handle whatever the day brings.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

So what are these “in-between” spaces? Well, they’re not the number of miles I biked, or how fast I was able to get my 800 repeats done, or my power meter (if I had one) readings, the type of tires I have on my bike, how “aero” my helmet is (it isn’t), or how much faster I could swim a mile than two months ago (I can’t – I’m the same speed). I don’t know how many miles I’ve bike and run and swam. Because it doesn’t matter. I did it. I lived it. And it meant something to me.  It was more about the people I met, the multitude of sunrises I saw, the convenience store we frequented on our bike rides, the dumb dogs that chased us, the big, stupid jellyfish that assaulted me slid by and scared the crap out of me, swimming in my wetsuit in my pool, my husband and I finishing the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 as a team, the caterpillars making their way across the highway as we passed, and the butterflies the flitted by every. single. day. we. rode.

Some of the best ladies I've met! Of course, I don't have pics of the gents I've met along the way.

Some of the best ladies I’ve met! Of course, I don’t have pics of the gents I’ve met along the way.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay. Technically, the pool WAS wetsuit mandatory 🙂

It was the way my kids understood what I was doing, the way my husband easily took a lot of burden off me, never making me feel guilty (I was good at that on my own) about the time I spent away or the money I have spent. It was the exhaustion I’ve felt, the naps I’ve taken, the way I yelled at those cars “because they think they’re so cool” as I biked that one Sunday during my meltdown, the laughter as I thought about silly things along the way (like when I peed my pants on purpose to “test” if I could pee on my bike),

Yup. Even though they're black pants, there's pee.

the reaction from people when I say I’m training for an Ironman, the way my friends reacted when I said “HELL NO I WILL NOT SWIM TODAY” because I was scared of sharks and jellyfish stings. It was swimming in the ocean while the sun rose.  It was riding 102 miles in the hills of North Carolina, not knowing how much I would truly enjoy the experience.

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

It was understanding why people put themselves through this, the beauty of it all, when you step back, take the training out of the experience, and just experience the experience. You see the in between spaces, the stuff people miss when they’re just training, when they’re getting through it instead of living it. The in between spaces is the meat of it, the bulk of an experience, the REAL-ness of it all, when you’re training for hours and hours in a week to cross a finish line to become an Ironman. It’s what IT is all about. It’s life. It’s real, and I love it. THOSE are the in between spaces.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim. I’m on the left.


My mom asked me what one thing I’ve learned from training for an Ironman. I couldn’t come up with one. I gave her and my sister three things that I’ve learned about training for an Ironman.

  1. I have the best husband ever. Hands down, no questions asked. I just do.
  2. The finish line is essential to the journey, but the journey is definitely what it’s all about.
  3. I’m thankful God gave me a body that will allow me to do this and a spirit that wants the challenge.

And my final one I’m adding, is this:

4) I appreciate the in between spaces and thankful for them all, both good and bad.

I’m thankful, I’m lucky, I GET to do this.

No matter if the swim is cancelled for an algae bloom, if it’s windy, cold, hot, humid, whatever, I know I can get through it. I’ll remember the in between spaces and know that I can get through anything to get my finish line.



Categories: anything is possible, being epic, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “The In Between Spaces

  1. This is really beautifully written Kelli, as you share from your heart. The 3 things shared about what you learned about training for an Ironman are all so wonderful. I love #3.

    All the best in Florida. You have trained so hard, and will be GREAT. 🙂


  2. When I completed my journey last year, I came to recognize that it was about the journey. It was overwhelming thinking about everything beyond my control (and, knowing that I have done everything I could…but that it may not be enough, or that I didn’t have what it takes to finish the journey). The revelation to me came that the victory was in crossing the STARTING LINE. All the hard work culminating in knowing that you BELONG THERE and that you have paid for this opportunity in sweat, fatigue and pain. Once you cross the starting line, the rest of the day (no matter what that looks like…and there will be highs and lows) is a CELEBRATION of your journey. Enjoy the day, and be proud of your accomplishment…

  3. It is definitely about the journey and all of the in between spaces that make crossing the finish line so rewarding! I am so proud of you and can’t wait to watch you crush it next week! Celebrate your journey and remember to smile throughout the whole day…even when things go downhill, they will turn around, so have fun 🙂

    • My goal is to try my hardest and have fun along the way 🙂 I can’t imagine doing anything else but smiling during the race (yeah, I know, there WILL be hard parts) because I GET to do it and I WILL be doing it! You can smile while you grit your teeth! Anyway, remember when I told you a year ago today that I signed up for this thing? Can’t believe it’s here!! Thanks for your help and encouragement along the way!

      • I do remember when you signed up and was so excited!! Time flies when you’re having fun 😉

  4. A powerful tribute to the journey, that it’s all about… those in-between spaces are the memories we associate with our experiences, not just crossing the finish line at the end! you have a lot to think of to accompany you during your event. 🙂 Good luck and hope it’s a wonderful experience!

  5. I’m so excited for you! I can’t tell you how many times your mantra of “I GET to do this” has helped me in the past year or how many times it’s brought a smile to my face. You’re amazing!

  6. Kelli, I love ding you messag s.Best of luck on your Ironman this Keene!

  7. Would, I hues I HD better proofread before sending!

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