To post or not to post… That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since IM Louisville. By all accounts I should not have been anywhere near an Ironman course this past August. Not me… not the tired, 256 pound mom that started on this journey in late May of 2011…. the reasons are really too many to list… but trust me…. at the start of all this I got winded climbing one flight of stairs and I didn’t know what a triathlon was. Fast forward 3 years and with the help and support of some amazing friends and family… there I was, freaking out in my hotel room on the eve of my very first Ironman. I don’t know if it was the taper or nerves or both… but I was climbing the walls and decided to go for a walk so as not to bother the other people on the team. I just headed away from the hotel, toward the river and kept walking and thinking… trying to settle down, one of my favorite scriptures kept running through my mind like a little island of calm. Eventually I ended up on the benches overlooking the bikes, I took some pictures, posted on Facebook and just tried to calm down. One of the security guards came over to the fence near where I was sitting and we struck up a conversation. I asked him about the bikes… “How much do you think they are worth?” “Are the guards here all night?”… then I sort of spilled my guts. Telling the poor guy that this was my first race, I was nervous, worried, hoping that I’d live up to all of the training that I’d poured in this…
For me it wasn’t just a race, it was a statement… “I am different now, stronger, free of the chains that I felt trapped by 3 years ago. This is only the beginning.” I desperately needed to cross that finish line, one more step in a race I’d started months and months ago. I wanted to be better, a better mom, a better friend, a good example. He listened patiently… then he looked at me and said something that I will never forget…. “God gave you a spirit NOT of fear, but of power, love and self control.” I froze, my mind spinning and grappling for traction, he had just recited back to me, the very same scripture that had been running through my head as I walked toward the river that night. He said it like it was just part of the conversation – casual and unrehearsed… I said “2 Timothy 1:7, right?” He said it was, that he just felt like that’s what he should say… we talked a little more, he told me he does prison missions… I headed back toward the hotel. Between the river and the hotel my friend Shelley sent me a text to wish me well the next day… not unusual, except that Shelley is the person who originally brought that verse to my attention. The nervousness was gone… replaced by a sure knowledge that whatever happened the next day… it was worth it.
Somehow, somewhere in the early mornings, freezing cold runs, windy bike rides and crushing fatigue I had learned to hope, learned to fight. Right from the start my coach told me, over and over. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it – and he was right. The next day unfolded like a gift… it was hot, but everyone on the team was ready. We all finished… 6 of us for the first time! Alan finished his second and our coach, Todd, realized his dream and qualified for Kona. I did not finish as fast as I’d hoped, but it was ok… I stopped and hugged a lot of people, gave high fives and thanked the volunteers. When I finally crossed the finish line it didn’t feel like an ending… it felt like a beginning, a confirmation and assurance that with hard work, anything is possible.