Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dear world this is about more than my ego

About two weeks ago, I was at the dentist’s office. Now it is no secret that I am a HUGE wimp when it comes to making the trip to see the dentist. I think bad experiences that I had as a kid, coupled with visions of scenes from The Little Shop of Horrors have scared me for most of my childhood and early adult life! However, I like every responsible, albeit reluctant adult, had to go. I had to get work done and I found if I brought my black berry, with my Bose noise canceling headphones, I could get lost in that horrible chair.

On this particular day, I had come off a workout and was really in the mood to look at Ironman videos. I have watched those videos a million times I can assure you! I can probably recite the introduction to every NBC Kona Ironman broadcast from 2004 to the present…ok, not really, but I digress…. Anyway I was sitting there while the dentist was getting ready to do whatever they do to poor, innocent patients! The assistant asked what I was looking at and I said the Ironman. I explained that I am training for one to raise money for an orphanage. Of course she asked what the Ironman was! At about that moment the dentist reaches inside my mouth and I was rendered speechless!

He said “It’s a swim, bike, run; a triathlon. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon. The follow-up question from the assistant was one we have all heard… “Why would someone do that?” And the dentist’s response?????

“So they can say they did an Ironman.”

That’s it? To say I did it? Is that why I train 15 to 20 hours a week? Ride a bike for as long as some people’s workdays? And run with legs that are on fire long before I ever even take the first step?! To say I did an Ironman?

People jump out of planes to say they did it. (I did by the way)

People bungee jump to say they did it… (never did that)

People visit New York, Paris, London to say they did it… (did that too)

You ride the tallest rollercoaster in the world to say you did it. (nope, not interested in doing that)

People don’t subject themselves the reality of the Ironman for up to 17 hours just to say, “I did it” !!!

But then maybe there is some truth to his statement. Maybe there are some people that do an Ironman just to say I did it. But I think there is something more that they (we) want… something bigger than just an ego boost, as the dentist seemed to be saying. Something inside us that wants to, as John Collins the founder of the Ironman stated, “find what we are made of”. It is often stated that if you can do an Ironman you can do anything. Maybe there is uncomfortable uncertainty inside us that wants to know the truth about ourselves. Whatever it is that drives us, I will argue that it is bigger than an ego boost.

I bet he has never watched an Ironman finish. I bet he has never seen people cross the finish line and collapse. Not because they physically couldn’t go any further, but because it is difficult to cry uncontrollably, while standing up, after traveling 140.6 miles. I have watched hours of Ironman finishes via and I don’t see egos when people cross the line. I saw the answers to questions.

One question in particular. Can I? That is the toughest question anyone can ask themselves. It is a scary question because it requires a lot of honesty. One I myself am sometimes afraid to ask. The Ironman tri-athlete asks themselves this question all the way to the finish. The finish; the place where all the questions are answered. Can I finish my degree? Can I be a good husband, or father, or mother? Can I really do anything I set my mind to? Can I really be sober…for the rest of my life? The Ironman is impossible. So if you can do the impossible, anything IS possible! A logical fallacy??? I don’t think so!

I am not an Ironman, yet, but I draw from my half ironman experience and the interactions I have had with so many Ironman tri-athletes. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be an Ironman. I will let you know November 28, 2010 just before midnight.

I just hope when people see Ironman tri-athletes, they see more than an ego. I hope they see the truth in what these athletes have accomplished!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

85 mile ride and 14 mile run

This week has been an eye-opener. First there was suppose to be an 85 mile ride then the next day would be a 14 mile run. Well…it didn’t work out that way. The 85 mile ride was on my usual course that seems to go up hill the entire time. The down hills aren’t as forgiving as the up hills are painful. I suffer through this hoping it will make me stronger on the flats in Cozumel.

I, again, used Gatorade for the 85mile ride and realized Gatorade and eating on the bike is just too much to think about. I am going to make the move back to Perpetuem. At the end of this 85 mile ride, I didn’t feel as bad as I did at the end of the 80 miler. I think this is for several reasons. The first being I honestly think I put half the bottle of chamois butter (lubricates the cycling padding as it moves/rubs against the skin while cycling) inside the shorts which minimized the chaffing issue I had on the last ride. The second is I rode this route about 10 minutes slower than I did the last time. At the end of the ride I felt like I still had running legs which was motivating. The final reason was that it wasn’t the first time my body had to deal with this distance.

I did have aches along the way. My traps were sore, and my upper and lower back were also sore. I think it’s time to take my bike to be re-fit…ugh! $75 bucks! Between the aches and starting to slow down this ride was tapping into my spirit. Those demons were digging deep today. “You are too slow” “If you are going this slow on the bike, you won’t make the cut off”, “You did 80 miles two weeks ago, you don’t need to do this 85 today! It’s only 5 more miles.” I know this was my enemy feeding me lies.

That is what the enemy does; waits for your weakest moment and that is when the attacks come. There are no rules of engagement. There is no Geneva Convention. There are no war crimes. I was weak and I wasn’t sure how to fight back this time. I just kept pedaling and realized that is exactly how to fight back. Turning my pedals slowly and steadily. I was too weak to even pray. God knew what I needed though. He was right there with me.

John Collins, founder of the Ironman, said the Ironman is every man (person) finding out what they are made off. I am nothing without God, so maybe instead of testing me, it is testing my faith. Is that what scares me?

Finally I hit 85 miles. I was starting to develop a blister on my right foot. That’s a first for me! Never had issues cycling without socks before! I will likely use Bodyglide (lubricant) on my feet before the bike ride this week. Blisters are not welcome here. Having said that, I opted to pass on the 20 min brick run that followed the ride. The next day was the 14 mile run. I was honestly afraid of that distance. I have never run more than ten miles continuously. My last 12 mile run had some walking in it between 6 and 9 miles. So 14 seemed scary to me.

Tuesday, after a long day at work, I went home to take a nap for an hour and get up and run. I got up at 6:00 am as my alarm went off to get up for work. Ok, I have to do it tonight! Except, I got off waaaay too late to run. I opted to do my swim workout instead. The next day there were no excuses. I had to run this 14 miles if it was the last thing I did!

The day before I prepared for this run using a new tactic: MUSIC. I haven’t run with music in a long time. I was a huge advocate of training how you fight. I won’t run with music in the Ironman so I won’t run with music in training. In the Ironman there will be other things to keep my mind off of the run. These training runs get really lonely! Being out there alone with nothing to listen to for 2 and a half plus hours. Music it is!

This is where I became aware of how God works in people’s lives. I am telling you if you are willing to open your eyes to God you will see it too! I don’t have an Ipod because every spare dime I have goes to training or buying something I need for training or triathlon. I have been using my Blackberry instead to listen to music. Over the last few weeks my Blackberry (bb) has been having issues reading the memory card which means no music.

I finally had to take the bb in to be looked at if I was going to have music for my run. I signed in at Verizon and I waited for my name to be called. I heard a voice from behind me that said, “Hi, I’m Jerome and I will be assisting you.” I turned around and I didn’t see what I expected to see; which is someone standing. There was a black male, who even in a wheelchair, still looked pretty fit. I am convinced he was who God sent to put me back on track!

As I spoke with J, it was clear he wasn’t always in the chair. He talked about how he considered becoming a police officer when he got out of school; an indicator he wasn’t always a paraplegic. He was a really nice guy too! The best customer service I ever experienced. I know that because he was so nice that if he had said, “Piss off and eat (expletive)” I would have considered it! And STILL given him a good review! And in the review, praise and thank him for being concerned with my nutrition.

While talking with J, I hit the realization that I am blessed to be able-bodied. So many people are and they let the gift go to waste. At least I can try and I better try harder. What would J do just to have my legs? What would a blind man do for my eyes? What would the faithless do to have my faith?

I started off the run and immediately became lost in my music. Of course it was all contemporary Christian music. If you wrap yourself in light, the darkness can never enter. I listened for hours about God’s love as I ran. I decided early to be smart on this run. Not like the last 12 miles I did. That was brutal. I was drinking one fuel belt bottle every 2 miles. Following this hydration plan has worked for me in the past and tonight would be no different. I carry bottles which means I can run for about 8 miles then I would need to return home, which was used as an aid station, and finish up the rest of the run.

I'll be glad to pay for the re-fit.

I hate planning! I don’t like to say “this is what I am going to do today.” I think that is why I enjoy being an officer. I never know what I am going to do at work. So today I decided to have a freestyle run and explore a little. I found a pretty good seven mile loop! The first seven miles went by and I was feeling really good. Except toward the end I could feel myself needing a GasX strip (what is up with the late runs and gas? Geesh!). I made it to my front door right at 7 miles; halfway. I took out the old fuel bottles and put in new ones that I kept in the fridge (sweet! Cold Gatorade to start the run). I ate a banana, used the restroom, took a GasX, and I was out the door. I treated this as if it was a transition maybe a 2-3 minute stop and I was off.

Miles 7-11 were…fun… I guess. At 8.5 miles in, my foot hit uneven pavement…again! The first time it happened on my 12 miler and it was my right foot. Today it was my left foot. I hit the uneven sidewalk so hard it forced me to fall over! From that point on I decided I am not running at night unless I have a headlamp to see the sidewalk. I had to stop a bit to tend to my foot because it was hurting pretty bad (don’t forget I wear Vibrams so I hit the uneven pavement essentially with my barefoot). But I hadn’t come that far to stop for a minor injury. I was having a good run and I needed this! I needed to finish this run to know that I can do it when the Ironman comes.

I decided I didn’t break anything and kept on moving. My left foot was a little tender but I forgot all about it…when, 2 miles later, I hit my right foot! What the…?! I was fussing. I decided I was going to pay better attention even though I thought I already was. I didn’t have any other major issues with hitting my foot. Mostly because the pavement was even for the rest of the run.

Mile 10.5 to 12 was all up hill. That was a challenge and I laughed thinking if I had planned this route I would have never put an uphill run at mile 10.5 :) I knew that once I made it to mile 12 it would be a little easier because the road would start to go downhill a bit. I ran part of this route about 4 years ago when I was training for my first half marathon. I hit mile 13 and took my mind to Cozumel. I could almost smell the salt in the air. The end of mile 14 was awesome because I now know I can do it! Sometimes that’s all we need… just to know we can do it!