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Iron Mind Warp and the Modern Woman
By: Iron Wil
I don't know that I was ever in it "to win" it so much as I was in it to "get over" it, you know? I mean, some people go to counseling when they have trauma in their lives, some people choose the path of lesser righteousness, and some of us just do Ironman. That's how I broke into the game anyway -- chasing devils down old country roads, speeding like I had a spaceship instead of a carbon fiber frame (and very little else between the tar/chip and me). I'm proud to say I found all those devils eventually, the last few in the fall of 2007 on the streets of Madison and Verona, Wisconsin, with the people I love the most surrounding me, and I will never forget that day.
But, that's the first chapter of this journey of mine. The next one -- life after settling the score, normal life as the mom of two elementary schoolers / teacher / writer / coach / domestic goddess of the universe / *insert 30 other things working moms do here* -- is proving to be a whole lot more than what I bargained for.
Regularly, I ask myself how I EVER trained for Ironman once, let alone twice. There's simply not enough time in the day to schedule a private thought, let alone a 60-mile ride. My husband is just as supportive, so that hasn't changed, yet it boggles my mind how there can possibly be the same number of hours in the day as there were just three years ago.
Even if I hadn't had two car accidents this summer to completely obliterate my training endeavors, I don't know how I'd have managed to shuttle kids, teach summer school, keep a house, plan for the upcoming school year as the new department chair and senior AP English teacher (translation of the latter two: a significantly increased work load), and get upwards of 15 hours training in each week. Back in the day, I'd get up at 3:30-4:00 a.m. to hammer out brick workouts, but let me tell you what, the combination of hitting 35-36 years old and having Ironman in your rearview mirror doesn't do much to inspire urgency in training.
In fact, I was just talking with Sister Sara, Trisaratops to her adoring public, about how Ironman has warped our minds. The races aren't "scary" anymore, because we've been there, done that; and although we know all too well how a half-Ironman can hit us with a big metal bucket of humble if we get cocky, our "Ironman" mindset -- the ones we built out there riding through freezing rain and running through everything from hailstorms to 110 in the shade grade heat -- won't let us fear or panic, but fear and panic are EXACTLY what we need. Lose respect for the distance, and it will remind you of your manners post haste.
I know this, but I also know I have school starting in a week, kids to get ready, lesson plans to pull together, 25 teachers to manage, a curriculum to oversee, two cracked ribs (courtesy of my two car accidents this summer), plantar fasciitis (thanks to an old achilles injury), and oh yeah, FIVE WEEKS until the Rev3 half-Ironman, for which I've been able to train exactly three weeks... back in May/June.
I should be having some kind of grand mal meltdown right now. But I'm not.
I should be freaking out to the point that I drag my sorry butt out of bed at 4:30 in the morning (because let's face it, 3:30 was just nuts), go run six miles to the YMCA, hit the pool for 2,000 yards, then turn around and run six miles home. Oh, but dear reader, I'm soooooo not.
Instead, this little voice inside pipes up all the time lately to say, "You know, you're kind of an idiot. This race is going to hurt like road rash times childbirth. You should probably hop on the trainer, then go do that aqua-jogging Sweet recommended."
And I know this, too. But I suddenly have this 87-year-old body over here where stuff doesn't work without all kinds of pain, and besides that, 14-zillion other things to do all right now, so it just hasn't been happening. I know what's coming down the pipe. I know how much 70.3 miles can hurt on a good day when nothing is cracked or plantar fasciitised, and I've been training four-five months solidly. Seriously people, I hope you're getting your seats and popcorn ready now because this is going to be heinous!
But I'm an Ironman. I'm an Iron mom, Iron teacher, Iron all that stuff... and I know I'll get through it, no matter what "it" is. From the moment I took my first step in the direction of 140.6 miles, that's all I ever wanted to learn how to do. I know what I'm made of, where I've been, and how far down I can reach before I hit bottom, and let me tell you, it's a pretty long way.
So, I pumped up my tires, excavated my cycling shoes from the bottom of my closet, packed a bottle of Tylenol, and tomorrow, will see if my old stomping grounds in Amish country are how I left them. I know it won't be easy, but neither is this balancing act I do everyday... and I get that done rather well, if I do say so myself.
The forecast (mercifully) calls for sun, no wind and no rain; I should have just enough time for 30 miles before we head out for a movie, time at the park, and ice cream. And tell you what, afterwards, since I'll probably be able to out cowboy John Wayne in the walking department after eight weeks sans training, I do believe the lesson plans and laundry can wait.