Late last December my family and I shared a fabulous evening with our dear friends, the Reeder-Riechels. As we were leaving, I noticed a colorful flyer taped to their kitchen wall. The message at the top simply said, “Take what you need in the new year,” and at the bottom it had strips of paper to rip off, like you’d normally see for a lost cat or an item for sale. Instead of a phone number to call, however, it had words like Patience, Determination, Creativity, and Compassion.
I chose Courage.
I knew courage is what I would need most as I took on my Ironman journey this year.
This word has been taped to my mirror since I started training, and I look at it every morning when I wake up.
Before I even launched my official Ironman training I had to dig for some courage to believe that I could, and should, chase after this dream; then even more to take the next step and hit the registration button for Arizona. In fact, I hovered over that button for a good long time before I finally took a deep breath and hit SUBMIT. You’ve all been there too, I’m sure, so you’ll understand the tingles of excitement that flooded my body while simultaneous waves of disbelief washed over me: “Holy #&%! did I really just do that? Ok, I guess I’m really doing this. Here we go!”
“What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.” ~Goethe
I also had to build up my courage to ask Mike Swan if he’d coach me. He coaches many top-notch athletes in our town so I had visions of him telling me I wasn’t ready for an Ironman. Instead, he was more than positive and said, “I think Ironman is absolutely doable for you.”
The other thing I knew would take courage is to ask people to donate to my Smile Train fundraising, as asking people for moolah is one of my least favorite things. Even though it has gotten off to a good start, I still find this challenging. Knowing that I’m helping vulnerable kiddos who have very few resources though, gives me the courage to keep asking, even if it’s uncomfortable. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to those of you who have already donated! You are making a big difference!
Of course, every person has his or her own idea of what courage means, as it comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of believing in yourself. Sometimes it’s being open to possibility and making the decision to say yes to new things when the easier thing is to say no. Other times it’s believing in the work and the process so there’s no room for fear or “what ifs.” And of course, it’s being afraid and taking the plunge anyway.
“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
That’s what I’m going to keep in mind as I shake off last week’s fatigue and start afresh with this week’s schedule. Here’s what’s on tap:
Monday: Swim 2200y followed by bike for 90 minutes
Tuesday: Run 60 minutes, then a strength & stretch class. Sadly, The Lab has rescheduled Kate’s class (BIG boo hoo). Thankfully, Kristine, one of my super favorite instructors at the Y, had a class I could take and kicked my butt (and abs and back).
Wednesday: Swim 2300y followed by a 1-hour indoor cycle spin class
Thursday: Rest and possibly Kristine’s Pilates class again
Friday: Mini tri–long aerobic day…Swim 1200y, Bike 3.5 hours, Run 30 minutes
Saturday: Run 90 minutes
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” ~T.S. Elliot
Highlight this week: Watching the sunrise while doing a swim workout with Coach Whitney at Cathedral Oaks. Whitney has such a great approach to coaching, and makes me think about a lot of little details I never would have paid attention to on my own. She’s positive and no-nonsense, and swims like poetry in motion. I’m hoping her graceful technique rubs off on me! Even though I still have a loooong way to go, I’m making progress and 2.4 miles is starting to seem more and more doable.
Inspiration: A few weeks back my friend Jenni Miller pointed me to a Facebook group called Women Who Tri. This group has over 13,000 members all around the world and it’s one of the most positive, helpful groups you’ll ever find. I’ll admit I spend way too much time trolling through the feed, but I’ve learned a lot and have been inspired by all these fierce ladies in ways I never imagined. It reminds me once again that courage is contagious. When you see that somebody else had the courage to dream and take the steps to get there, you suddenly think, “If she can do it, I can do it too.”
This group is for newbies to long-time veterans doing their umpteenth Ironman. No question is too dumb or too personal, and it’s filled with great technical advice about gear, nutrition, training, race day preparation and more. Yep, there are even questions about sore hoohaws, menopause, bra choices, and how not to feel guilty when leaving your family for hours to train. I also found comfort knowing that numerous other people are having the same damn battle I’m having finding goggles that work for my face.
Gratitude: Thank you black double-wide, triple-long truck for not taking me out on Cabrillo Blvd. last week when your driver flung his door open without looking. Thank you red Porsche in Summerland for not taking me out when your driver did an illegal U-Turn in front of me without looking or signaling. Thank you beige Jaguar for not taking me out when your driver pulled out from parking space at Butterfly Beach without a thought about what might be coming. Thank you white Mercedes for not taking me out when your driver slammed on the brakes in front of the Biltmore for no apparent reason. Perhaps the yappy dog on her lap distracted her.
Because I’ve experienced so many clueless drivers in SB lately, I’m being forced to master my bike handling skills, becoming both more aggressive and defensive, and unclipping like a Ninja. And because none of you succeeded in taking me out, I got to enjoy this spectacular ride down past the Rincon on the new bike path along the 101. How could one not feel extreme gratitude living in a place like this where this is what February looks like?
A few pictures from last Sunday’s long run…
Once I dragged my tired butt out of bed, I ended up having a solid run. It started out nice and warm and sunny at my house, so I was surprised when it looked like Land of the Lost as I reached Hendry’s Beach. I half expected to see Will and Holly or the Sleestaks (if you don’t understand this dorky 1970s TV reference, be thankful you’re too young).
And OMG…this was hugely exciting news to me, which local SB people will appreciate…brand new bathrooms at Hendry’s Beach!!! When did this happen? No more skanky bathrooms. Woot! And the water bottle refill center. Yay! It’s the little things…
Smile Train Update: We are 30% of the way to our goal of raising funds for 20 kiddos, thanks to a matching contribution from Cisco (you are awesome Kevin!!!), which is great, but I’m hoping we can get to 7 kids this week.
For a little inspiration, I’m giving away my copy of a super inspiring book called Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This book is the epitome of COURAGE.
Anybody who makes a donation this week will be entered into a drawing for this book. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, February 23rd. I will announce the winner in my next blog post on the 25th. Also, don’t forget, anybody who makes a donation of $250 (which will fund one child’s surgery), will also be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card (1 in 15 chance to win). And anybody who donates $100 will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card (also a 1 in 15 chance to win). I like to reward and celebrate your generosity in multiple ways.
Here’s the link to my fundraising page: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN PAGE. Thanks for considering, and thanks for your continued support!!!
In case you are wondering, some of the emails and comments I’ve received from you lately have really lifted me up through some challenging training days. Thanks for letting me know you’re out there rooting for me. It really does make a difference!
Also, if you missed any of my previous posts about how this big Ironman adventure started, you can click on the links below:
Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake