An Average Jane Contemplates the Ironman
I never used to be a sentimental person. In fact, I’ve always been uncomfortable around people who cry at the drop of a hat. But something shifted inside me when I became a mother, and now I find myself choking up at things I never thought I would have before; just get me in the same room as something inspirational or sentimental, and wait for the waterworks to start.
Which is why yesterday afternoon I found myself choking up watching coverage of the Ironman Kona on NBC. It’s not the Chrissie Wellingtons or the Craig Alexanders that move me (they both won this year), but the “everyman” characters they always feature on TV…The guy who’s racing to raise money to feed kids, or the woman who may be terminally ill with cancer but wants to finish an Ironman before she dies. Then the stream of average-joes and janes, who look just like me except they just pushed themselves through 15 or 16 grueling hours of swimming, biking and running to cross the finish line of what I consider to be one of the greatest athletic challenges an everyday person could hope to participate in.
It just got me thinking, as I slogged through my run this morning…A year ago, I had just finished my first 5K, and wasn’t sure I could ever swim the distance required for the sprint triathlon I was hoping to do the following summer. Running more than 4 miles seemed inconceivable to me then, as inconceivable as doing an Ironman does now. But alas, I finished my sprint triathlon, and the next one after that, and I’m reasonably sure that my goal of an Olympic tri is attainable for the upcoming summer. Baby steps have brought me to the point that running 5 or 6 miles is no big deal, 7 or 8 is doable, and hey, when that half-marathon rolls around in February, I should be ready for it. Which just goes to show, baby steps can take you a lot further than you ever thought possible.
Will I ever do an Ironman? My answer to that question hasn’t changed from the first time I was asked it, and it won’t change right up until the point I cross that finish line: “Never in a million years.” The level of training required, the time commitment, and the amount of sacrifice I would have to ask my family to make are just too daunting to consider right now. But if you had asked me a year ago if I would be where I am today, I would have said “no.” So who really knows where I might be next year, or the year after? Crying my own sentimental finish-line tears, maybe? You never know, but for now I’ll grab a box of Kleenex and settle in front of the TV to live vicariously through some other average, everyday Ironmen and women.