I should be nervous, shouldn't I? I'm not. It's very strange, especially for me (control freak, remember?) Maybe this is a sign that I'm changing, and letting go of my need to control a little more. After all, these are the facts: I've trained hard, I've paid for entry to the race and for my hotel room, and I have no control of the day itself (weather, road conditions, injury etc.) So why worry? In effect, I am ready. All I have to do is pack my stuff and drive the three hour drive to Michigan Saturday morning. If I stick to the facts, it takes the guesswork and control out of it.
The swim comes first. A 1.2 mile swim in Lake Michigan. Then the bike, a 56 mile, hilly ride through the Michigan countryside. Then finally, the run. 13.1 hilly miles. But after all of that comes the finish chute and the Ironman finish line! Crossing that line will be like nothing else I've done before. I know regardless of any pain or tiredness I might feel, I will be smiling. Even if I'm crawling or someone is dragging me.
But that won't happen! (I think dragging is against the rules.) I'm going in with a very positive attitude and no fear (yet). I have confidence in my training, and in the nutrition guidelines I've followed. I'm ready. After that, I just have to let go. And hydrate.
This is a big step for me. I tend to be a worrier. About everything. It has always been part of me. In childhood I had a worry stone that I always kept with me. I rubbed it so much it became smooth and shiny. But today I can choose to be worried, or I can choose to be confident. I have choices. I am attempting to make better choices in my life. And today I'm choosing to not be debilitated by worry.
I am going to the race alone. My family has other obligations over the weekend. When I tell people this, the reaction is usually a gasp and "Oh No! I can't believe no one will be going with you for support!!"
Before I started writing this morning, I was feeling a little sad. I'll be honest. I was feeling "poor me, no one is going to my big race with me." But in writing this out, I feel stronger. I'm okay with me, I'm confident and I'm alright being alone. In the end, nobody can cross that finish line for me. I will be crossing the finish line by myself on my own two feet with only a smile. And that is OK!
Part of being in fear for so many years was never going it alone. I always had to have someone there to lean on. I lacked the confidence to do anything by myself. Going out of town, staying at a hotel, facing a big race....these are things that I NEVER would have done alone before. Never would have even thought of attempting this long endurance race, and (gasp) go without a hand to hold. But today....I'm going in with strength. It's another challenge for me to face and conquer. I'm looking at it as a time for reflection. Another opportunity to grow.
I will have friends who will be in Benton Harbor for the race, don't get me wrong. I certainly will not be by myself on race day! Good friends, fun friends. I have plans to meet some of the gang on Saturday to go to the Expo and to the athlete meeting. We will most likely have dinner together Saturday night. We will probably find a space in transition together on Sunday. The wonderful thing about this sport is, I've gotten to meet so many fantastic people. Training partners and friends I share a common bond with. We are definitely a community.
You know what? From this point forward I don't think "alone" is an appropriate word for me. It's too sad. I'm replacing it with "solo". There's strength in that little word.
After the race and after crossing the finish line solo, I will find my friends, and I know they will be ready to celebrate our accomplishment!
Steelhead, here I come.