Monday, October 13, 2008

Hawaii Ironman 
2008 11:11

It felt hard from the start.  I struggled in the swim, I was tired on the bike and I didn't even consider the run until the bike was over.  I guess I knew at the end of the bike that I would need to make a decision if I wasn't going to run.  I guess I also knew that I couldn't really make that decision, so I did it.  I clocked my longest ever Ironman time and I raced home against the sunset.

It was a tough day on the bike and I had to look hard for good moments.  We were being battered by the wind and I was gripping my handle bars trying to think "low thoughts" so as not to be blown over the rainbow.  I decided to mix some happy thoughts amongst my low ones.  I looked along the coastline and out at the blue ocean, I imagined a time when I would have new bikinis and be frolicking in the ocean like any other sensible holiday maker.  Just then I caught up to Belinda Harrison, another female athlete from Australia we swapped stories of pain and suddenly I was laughing.  It would have been nice to battle back to town together but the laws of drafting have the unpleasant side effect of making the event a bit antisocial.  Ah, well, I thought, maybe she'll catch me in the run.

I battled the headwind into town feeling really tired and attaching my focus to one happy thought, sitting down in the transition tent.  All I knew was I was going to get to that chair and I was going to enjoy it.  I didn't think about the marathon, only the chair.

When I finally got there, I spent less than a minute in my chair.  I was happy but overwhelmed.  I'd made it and yet....there was something more to do.  A set of tears started to well, I grabbed my hat, my sunglasses and I left.  I ran or shuffled or somethinged out of transition. 

I didn't run well but I kept going.  The kilometer marks were never really on my side and I realised that's because it's a marathon. It's always going to be longer than you want it to be.  I would walk if I had to but not until the last 8km.  I couldn't imagine walking more than 8km.  It would take forever!  I thought of my favourite placard held up by a specator at Wisconsin Ironman "If it was easy, I would be doing it." 

I needed to generate some positives from this experience.  I started looking for my happy thoughts again.  I thought about some of the lovely people I'd met here in Kona, the positive energies around the friends I have in this sport and how much I like certain things about certain people.  People I look to for inspiration.  Then I thought to myself, "that's all good prue, but you've got to think what's good about you."  It felt strange to be racing badly thinking good things about myself but it seemed to work. I started to feel a little lighter in the legs, a little prouder in my not so fast run andmost importantly, I was kind of amused.

I took the learning with me to the finish line. The cheering was unbelievable. From all directions "good job, well done, you're amazing," smiles, the biggest ever. Americans are such incredibly enthusiastic people.  At first I thought I didn't deserve it, I haven't done this as well as I should but that's not what it's about.  I got to finish and I got my experience and the next day I frolicked in the water in my new non sensible bathers like any other sensible holiday maker.