Ironman has been done and over for a week now. It was a wonderful experience for me with lots of highlights. I shaved time off my swim and transitions and took nearly an hour off my bike from last year, allowing me to finish comfortably in under 17 hours a la the plan, even after I was reduced to a walking-only regimen a bit after the halfway point of the marathon. I smiled literally all day. Aside from the technical stuff of the details of the kick, pedal, and stride are the personal connections through the day - seeing people you know cheering you on, people you don't know calling your name (it's on your bib, but it takes a while to figure out why all these people know you), and people doing hysterically funny things that keep you going. I find myself living for one connection, one person to the next and that is what got me through the day in the high spirits I finished with. I had a blast, enjoyed (almost) every minute.
Eclipsing all of that is knowing that Mike was unable to achieve his goal for that day. He can tell his own story, it's not mine to tell. It's ironic in hindsight that everyone's encouragement and attention to saying "You'll do it this time" were directed at just me most of the time prior to race day. It was a given that Mike was going to get there and be comfortably ahead of me, I was the one who would be racing the stopping of the clock. After all, he is stronger than me, faster than me, can go longer, harder, and endure more suffering than me before breaking. I wish we had had that day instead. Had the tables been turned, it would have been easy for me to concede and support because that was the performance that was expected of me really. I can see that every mention, every picture, every "atta girl" someone sends, crushes his spirit and sends him to dark places. I am not able to experience the joys that come with the achievement because the mere mention feels like rubbing it in Mike's face and I watch him become more and more hurt and distant with each word and picture. I hesitate even to post a race report as I know talking about my own wonderful day will feel like a kick in the teeth for him. I know he is a bigger person than what I am seeing right now, but I can empathize in knowing he is still licking some fairly large wounds.
And so, with no further ado, today opens the next chapter. I am done talking about Ironman until Mike is ready to move forward. The pictures will be archived, thoughts of the tattoo put on hold, the scrapbook mementos and Finisher stickers tucked away for later, and the conversation geared once again to what is on the horizon not what happened in the past. It would be great to celebrate and relive it over and over, but it is not worth the emotional costs at this point in time.
So what's next?
On the short term, I want to continue to work on my weight and lose that last few pounds that seem to be permanently affixed to my ass. Operation Eat Whole begins again today and will hopefully be a giant success without the concurrent pressure of trying to peak my endurance training.
I've also done zero activity for the last week, unless sofa surfing counts. So tonight, weather-permitting, I will try a short run and see where that goes. We'll take it from there, but I am intent on maintaining fitness through the winter. And taking my pup for nice long walks. And finding joy in life every day, because that is what it really is all about.
Brought to you by the letter J-Wim
Fortitudine Vincimus! (Through endurance we conquer!)