Saturday, October 13, 2012

A New Journey Begins....

It is funny to me how this blog started off in 2009 as a journal of the training and experiences that would lead me to my first 70.3 distance triathlon, and four years later it is about to change to a journal of the training and experiences that will lead me to my first, and likely only, full Ironman distance race.

I have questioned whether to journal this journey or leave it to play out in the memories of my aging mind, but I decided that as it likely will be a life changing experience however it turns out, it is worthwhile to record it as already my memory is foggy at best. Who knows? Maybe this will develop into the best-selling book I have always wanted to write. Or maybe it will just be another piece to the puzzle in discovering just who I am and what makes me tick. Or maybe it will just end up a training diary that someday my children may enjoy reading. However it turns out my experiences and feelings, fears, and weaknesses are going to be out there exposed to the public for better or for worse. This has been one of my biggest deliberations. To blog or not to blog.

I will openly acknowledge that my greatest weaknesses are mental fortitude and lack of confidence. I put way to much pressure on myself to "perform" to what I feel are other's expectations of me. I feel the pressure of not wanting to disappoint my coach, teammates, blog followers, family, and friends.   As silly as it may seem, as I neared my first 70.3 I actually was afraid that my potential failure would in some way impact my readers' opinions of me. Some would call that "ego-centric". I am going to go ahead and own that fear now, at the beginning of this process, and accept that as much as I can pretend that people are that interested in what I do ~ in all actuality you all really will get over whatever my outcome is on November 2, 2013 without much of a second thought. I am sure that you genuinely wish for my success, as do I, but you will accept me no matter what my outcome. I also am going to go ahead and let go of the need to pre-write the perfect ending to hopefully a great story. Of course I'd love to be able to write a great final race report filled with the ups and downs and a final push to the finish line resulting in an official Ironman declaration of "Janie Pearson, you ARE an IRONMAN!". However, since that ending has yet to play out, I will accept that you my support crew, those visible and invisible, will wish me well when I leave for my race and then will go on with your lives and not be pulled into my ego-centric view of life. Good or bad, success or failure, it is the journey of self-discovery that I am after. I hope that it ultimately leads me to success, but no matter the outcome, I know I will learn something in the process.

So to begin this new journey, I guess I should explain how I came to the decision to attack this distance. I'll be honest. It has been a very tough decision. I am not one of those athletes who set out undeterred to race an Ironman. Yes, it has always been a distant fantasy, one that stemmed from childhood viewings of athletes pushing themselves to the threshold of their endurance, but the reality of pursuing this fantasy is recent. I have done a lot of soul searching over the past few months and have had to really look at the reasons I was considering doing this race. Was it my goal or someone else's goal for me? Was I trying to prove something to myself or others, and if so, what? Why couldn't a 70.3 distance be enough? Would an Ironman distance be enough or would I keep looking for more when that was completed? Am I trying to fill a void?

I have many friends train for this distance race, and I know it will be a long sufferfest of training...and for me it will last longer than it would for most athletes due to the physical state I am starting at. I needed to understand why I feel the need to do this, to make sure it is something that I really want to tackle. There is a lot to consider in coming to this decision ~ family, work, and a new business. Everyone around me will be affected and have to make sacrifices. I have to figure out how to balance everything in my life and not let training become obsessive. I am going into this overweight, out-of-shape, and with a genetic predisposition for endurance sports not on my side. I know that training will push me harder than anything I have done to date. Will I be up for it? I have to come to terms with the fact that this training will require commitment and focus. I will have to learn to be self-sufficient and internally motivated. There will be a lot of long solo runs and rides, a lot of sitting for hours on my trainer during rainy days when my other friends are at the movies, a lot of running in the heat of the summer, a lot of long brick workouts where I will likely end up puking on the side of the road. Do I really want to take this on? If so, why?

The answer is yes. I decided I have nothing to lose by trying, and so much to gain. Ultimately the best reason I can come up with for why I want to do a full Ironman distance race is... to see if I can. I want to know just how far I can push myself mentally and physically. I want to really know what my limits are. I want to know what it feels like to leave it all out there on the course. I want to know what it feels like to do something so ridiculously taxing, so challenging, so seemingly impossible... and to succeed at it. I want to experience crossing that finish line and know that I completed something I never dreamed possible just five years ago. I want to be able to set an example for my kids that with lots of hard work and perseverance all things are possible - and everything you attempt in life is worth your best effort even if you don't reach your goal.

This is going to be an extended journey - a full year of training rather than six months of it. It begins with reclaiming my base fitness.  I am a middle aged woman, 25 pounds overweight, deconditioned, with three young kids, two jobs, a husband, an aging parent, and I have dreams of becoming the best I can be. I dream of becoming an Ironman.

Welcome to my journey.

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