As the clock is ticking downward to start time is literally 16 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes and 5 seconds at this very second.
The journey began as a personal challenge that has grown to change my life and imagine that, I have not made it to the start line yet. July 7th was the profound day that which I was reminded of while printing off all the information I would need to carry along on this trip of a lifetime. The day was when I registered for the Ironman 70.3 San Juan. The vivid memory and immediate nausea I felt upon receiving, the congratulatory and needless to say computer-generated message that I had successfully completed my entry and was no a proud participant, caused me to immediately be filled with an emotion I cannot adequately describe. I phoned the people who needed to know immediately and proceeded to fight back the urge to vomit, literally.
Vomit? Yes vomit. Here are a few facts that must be placed on the table, they follow:
1) I was a beginner swimmer, very beginner.
2) I did not have a bike.
3) I had and still have not done a triathlon at all.
4) Did I say I could not swim?
For those who are unsure, let me inform you what an half-ironman distance triathlon is. First it's a 1.2 mile swim in the ocean, followed immediately by a 56 mile bike ride, and topped off by a 13.1 mile run, yes all in one day and in a matter of hours.
I knew I had a lot of work cut out for me, I mean come on, I'm no idiot. There's also one more thing that I am not and that is scared of hard work.
I am a firm believer that with a little, ok a lot of determination, discipline and dedication anything can be accomplished as long as working hard is not a problem. Thus began this incredible journey that has lasted mere months but along the way my entire life has forever been changed.
I have come to believe in myself, unfaltering. In the throws of training, I have learned who my greatest supporters, biggest cheerleaders and mentors are. I have learned not necessarily through the training but through the sense of awareness, who true friends are. New friends have been made, those who started as some people that I knew from the pool, gym or just out on the road running, have developed into full-fledged friends. Friends that I know that I could call anytime day or night, the kinds of friends that change you for the better by knowing them.
I have learned that in the midst of being so tired, pass the point of exhaustion, there is still much in the reserve tank, waiting to be used up. I just have to be willing to reach down and grab it.
I have learned that I can overcome any fear. My swim coach has been patient and from her I have learned many things. She shares my excitement even way back when I really was barely able to swim a 25 yards length of the pool. Now with consistency and determination and an awesome coach, I can swim for days. I conquered my fear of the water. When she says, "Good job today, Kiddo," I smile for the rest of the day. Unbeknownst to her she has become somewhat of a mother figure to me. I am truly grateful to have her in my life.
Then there are the Howells, Greg has become my informal coach for running and cycling. They have set up mock transistion areas, work out schedules, and REST days. They have both been willing to do long sessions on the bike, including double spin classes when the days were shorter. Laura was responsible for getting me in with my swim coach. Funny how things just fall into place, coincidence, I don't think so.
Last but not least is the President of the Pam Gainey fan club, my personal cheerleader and my body guard, of course that would be Nik. For countless hours he has listened to me complain, talk his ears off about training, waited patiently for me to finish running, swimming biking, even tagged along on some things jujst to sit and wait patiently. He has followed me in the car with gatorade held out the window while I would run 20 plus miles in one clip because he didn't want me to be out on the road alone. He's waited at many finish lines even in the rain and snow to video my finish, with a Coke in hand. I'm lucky to have him. He has also been the shoulder that I cry on and the ear that listens to me whine during taper weeks. I am not a good rester!
Then there are my kids who think that their mom is crazy but one day they will understand. Whether they are chasing the Ironman dream, a career that most people would just shake their heads at or whatever causes them to examine themselves inside and out, one day they will remember that their mom always pursued whatever she wanted to do even when it seemed impossible.
Last but not least Cindy who has been crazy enough also to tag along on many extended workout sessions. Who has herself done more things in a few months that a lot of us would even attempt, she decided to start a new career and run her first half-marathon.
To all the clients who have lovingly listened and become part of my family I would like to extend a big thanks. Believing in me means a huge deal to me and your support, words cannot express how much it means to me.
Let the countdown begin...