I have registered for the 2014 Ironman.
For most of us, I believe that the Ironman is much more of an event then it is a race. As individual age groupers, we are not racing one another. We are not racing the pros nor are we racing to finish #1. We are pursuing the best result possible on the given day of the race that we can. Our goal is to do it within a set time limit. We will start at 7:00 AM and we will strive to finish before midnight. Any and all who accomplish this will be a winner. To swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in one day or in less than 17 hours will fulfill our dream of being named an Ironman.
My dream, my goal is to finish the Ironman. There are many stories of dreams and goals and each person who participates has their own to tell. No two are anywhere close to being the same. Each story is near and dear to the individual. The start of an Ironman race is as awesome as any sporting event start that you can witness. What is truly amazing is that there are so many different kinds, types and appearances of the participants. Some like the pros are obviously the most talented and gifted athletes that you could imagine. Some are long time athletes who came from running, swimming, biking, track or other sport discipline to participate and achieve yet another successful sporting goal. Most, however, are everyday people who have worked hard over a long period of time and have put themselves in a position to be “there”. Their reward is to be called an “Ironman”. You actually question whether or not some actually have the physical ability to compete. Some look way out of shape. Some look too old. Some have a look on their face that speaks volumes of “what do I think I am doing” or “what in the hell did I get myself into this time”. The one thing that all competitors have and that you do not question is whether they have the “heart”. Each and every one of those waiting for the cannon to sound feels that down deep they can do this.
There are always the special stories that you hear and read about at an Ironman race. These are told by the people who are at the starting line in spite of having a specific heart condition. An obvious disability. Some even participate knowing that they have a life threatening disease that may be cancer. There are those who have had heart transplants. Athletes are there that have lost an arm, a leg or both, and still are there to become one known as an Ironman. People all around are in awe and ask themselves why do they do it? How can it be done? What drives a person like this to want to withstand the pure hell that is called the Ironman. We assume that the people with these disabilities know that they do not have to do this. Know that the competitors that I am talking about have dealt with all these questions and doubt. They do not necessarily have the answers or reasons that make sense of it all. I would be willing to bet that not one among them considers themselves disabled. What they do have is the same “heart” that all 2,000-3,000 or so athletes have who are about to start a long day of competition. They carry the same dream and goal.
I will begin my training as one of the people who will start the Ironman with a special story. I have written about the physical conditions that I have experienced. I have tried to explain the medical procedures that I have had to undergo and the time it has taken to solve any and all physical limitations that would usually keep a person from wanting to even think that the Ironman is possible. After being under anesthesia 14 times in 2012 alone, people I know ask the questions and make the statements I mentioned above. I know that what I want to do does not make good sense. I know that the Ironman is something that I do not HAVE to do. I know that given all the stories one can tell about their Ironman experience, that there is likely no other that compares to mine. A total of 10 hip procedures, 6 of them being total hip replacements, 5 in one leg and 7 of them in the last year alone make for a lot of speculation to say the least. I have been told that you can’t, that you shouldn’t. I have heard that it’s one of the craziest things that I could do. I have been simply asked the question why? All of the answers and reason are out there. It’s down deep in the heart that counts. I know that my wife, Gail, my family and close friends know this. I know that they support the effort it is going to take. I know that some very good doctors have been watching what I am trying to do and they know that I am looking back at them. These thoughts are always a part of what I think about. I deal with these thoughts as I work on the base/prep training that is getting me close to starting the next level of training. The best laid plans are currently in the works to put me at the finish line.
I do not pray that I finish the Ironman. Instead, I pray that I maintain the health that I have and that I will continue to build the strength that I will need in order to be able to compete in the Ironman. I thank the man upstairs for the support that I have from Gail and my family. They are putting in as much time as I am in getting prepared for this event. I have friends that I swim and bike with. They are ones who enjoy cycling or swimming for the fun of it. They too are getting me ready for the race as well as I ride in their group or swim in the next lane to them. There are the club members that Gail and I have gotten to know that show and give support in ways that you cannot imagine. Many of these people have been there and done that. They do not question. They are the first ones to say that you can do this. The actual Ironman event is for me to start, endure and finish as an individual. I could not do it without the team as I mentioned at the beginning of this writing. Besides myself, I do not want to let these people down.
I will be a participant in the 2014 Ironman.