A week ago, I completed my training for Ironman Florida.
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.
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.
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),
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.
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.
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.
- I have the best husband ever. Hands down, no questions asked. I just do.
- The finish line is essential to the journey, but the journey is definitely what it’s all about.
- 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.