While I am incredibly proud of the accomplishment, it is my nature to wonder if I could have done things different, better. My one wish for the day would have been to keep running instead of walking at mile 13. I know it doesn't really matter and I don't feel badly about it, I just wonder what would have happened if I had kept running. Then I think about those final minutes, coming down the chute at the finish and I know that it doesn't matter. Crossing that finish line may be the best moment of my life.
The Ironman is such a metaphor for life. I lived a lifetime in those 16 hours and 26 minutes. I learned so many lessons during those 140.6 miles. If I can face my life the same way I faced that day, I'll be okay.
You start off with a plan, apprehensive of how things will go. If you have done the work, put in the time to be prepared for the journey ahead, you will do well. There is only so far you can go on natural born ability and luck. Preparation will carry you the rest of the way. There were certainly people who were better swimmers, bikers, runners than me, who did not finish because they hadn't prepared.
So, you follow your plan and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You can either dwell upon that or you can adjust and keep moving. Those who keep moving are the ones who finish.
There are peaks and valleys. It gets hard, it gets easier, it gets hard. You can lose focus. You can get bogged down in the pain, you can feel sorry for yourself and ask "why". Or, you can smile, you can push through, you can want to do better...want to be better. You can suck it up, stand up straight and keep moving.
There are literally thousands of people out there helping you. There are kayakers and boaters on the water, people there to help you out of your wetsuit and into your bike gear. There are people to put sunscreen on you, There are people at aid stations every 10 miles on the bike, volunteers at the special needs station - they get your bag and dig through it for you, helping you hold your bike and sort through your goodies. There are volunteers who help you get into transition, they take your bike from you. Others who get your run bag and help you get out on the road again. Every mile of the run, there are aid stations, volunteers, with anything you could need. Spectators, other participants...everyone is cheering you on. They are all out there for YOU. Just for you.
I thought about how awesome it would be if every day life were like this. If we all had people there to cheer us on, to pick us up, to tell us how great we are and how proud they are of us. What if we had all the support we needed to keep moving forward. How possible would all the other things we want and need to do be?
At the end of each portion of the event, you realize that the end is really just the beginning. The end of the swim is the beginning of the bike and the end of the bike is the beginning of the run. The end of the run is the beginning of your life as an Ironman. It doesn't end there.
Someone told me that less than .2% of the population even START an Ironman triathlon. That is a pretty elite group. And I am now a part of that. As I said, it changes thing. Now there are no excuses, everything is possible. It has opened my eyes. It has made me believe in myself more than ever before. It has humbled me, but at the same time given me a bit of arrogance. It has allowed me to feel proud of myself and who I have become.
If I can start things I am scared of, keep moving, not get bogged down when it gets hard, smile through the pain, have confidence in myself, thank those who support me, support others who I may not even know and realize that every step is closer to the goal...no matter what the goal is in my life, I'll achieve it.
And so it is with you. Live your life like the Ironman.