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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sight set on Kansas

As you may or may not remember from one of my earlier posts, I made mention of what some may call an out of this world goal: completing a half ironman.  This race, meant for crazy folks, consists of a 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, and 13.1 mi run – each event being completed one after the other.  When I think of such as race, a few words come to mind: exciting, scary, challenging, and life-changing (we can count this as one word). 
I was first introduced to the ironman back in 2008, shortly after the wife and I got married.  I remember tuning in to NBC one Saturday afternoon and running across a broadcast of the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI.  Immediately, I was hooked.  The physical and mental strength of the competitors was inspiring and to be honest, made the wife and I feel pretty lazy.  So much so that I immediately followed up the telecast with an inspired gym session.  At the time, I felt as if I had no choice but to do so.
Before pressing forward, let’s back track a bit.  (I promise this will all make sense in a minute).  When I first began this journey to inspiration a few weeks back, my big goal was to complete a 50K by the end of 2011.  With time and dedication this is a goal I feel is attainable.  In order to meet this goal I put a fairly logical plan in place: over the next year or so progressively work my way up the proverbial “race ladder.”  With a good base in place (two 5Ks, an 8K, and a 10K) I would set my sights on completing a few traditional half-marathons (done two so far) followed by some trail races (North Face Endurance Challenge Half-Marathon, 10-miler in northern VA, etc.).  With some half-marathons under my belt, I would then move on to something more ambitious: a 25K or 30K – I am currently signed up for a 25K in WA next Feb.  To this day I am happy with this plan and still hope to complete a 50K at some point down the road. 
Well, something funny happened along the way.  I became a big fan of half-marathons.  Both Rock n Rolls, VA Beach and Philly, were great experiences that I would not trade for anything.  One of the best parts was being able to share the experience with Meg.  Her dedication and perseverance was inspiring on both occasions – despite “hitting the wall,” she finished both.  She even managed to shave 16-minutes off her first half-marathon time – go Meg!  On a personal note, I was able to achieve my goal of running the entire Philly half.  Going after a 50K means passing up future opportunities to run half-marathons with the wife, which is not high on my radar.  After running 13.1 twice, I must say it just feels right. 
This brings me to my point (finally).  Instead of pursuing a 50K, I am realizing a goal that previously I felt I wasn’t worthy/capable of pursuing.  On June 12, 2011, approximately 8 months from now, I am going to take part in the KSwiss Ironman 70.3 in Kansas!  Yes, what you read is accurate.  I will always remember these words from Meg when I asked her to let me do this/believe that I can do this:

“I have no doubt that you can train for and complete a half-ironman and I support you if that is what you want to do.”

If you know my family, this is something they would NEVER say.

Clearly, I lacked enthusiasm in my response:

YEAAA!!!  I am SO excited that you believe in me!  Thank you!  I initially looked at Lake Stevens and Boise, the only catch is they are two of the harder ones.  The course profiles make them two of the tougher half ironmans in the US, with finish times averaging in the 6 hr range.  If Kansas is sold out though (I don't think it is), I will pick that one.  Heck, I won't say no to an extra month to prepare.  Thanks for believing I can do it!  I don't know what to say.  My family is not good for self confidence (you know how mom and D are), so your words mean the world.  Just bringing up Lake Stevens shows you are genuine.

Here are some thoughts for those who want me to justify why I am doing this.  I love running the 13.1 distance (a component of the ironman), especially with the wife.  Setting my sights on this half ironman means we get to continue this journey together (why mess with a good thing?).  As I said, I never thought I was capable on taking on such a feat.  However, after seeing Meg push through the pain barrier each time, why can't it be my goal?  Why can't I push myself that hard?  She does.  Overall, I feel my best running 13.1 and enjoy biking.  With some work on swimming, I will do it.  This is not spur of the moment; instead, it is something I have considered for a while.  As I said to Meg on the drive back from Philly, our half-marathons together have helped my self esteem and shown me I can push myself. 

So there it is.  I am imagining a dream that I never had the confidence to pursue.  While a 50K is great, I am selling myself short by making it my BIG goal.  With a supportive wife, a manageable training plan, and a positive attitude I will pursue this goal with all my heart.  There will be ups and down, high and lows, but one thing is for sure – come June 12, 2011, I will be suited up and ready to give it my all.    

I will end it on this – some words to live by.  While in Philly for the Rock n Roll Half-Marathon this past weekend, my wife saw someone with an interesting sign that she would later tell me about, it read: “You were a winner as soon as you took your first step.”     

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