So as excited as I am to take on the whole 140.6 miles in Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 23, 2013, I’m also concerned. While the distance of the day has me a wee bit worried, I know, with the proper training and attitude, I can definitely survive the day.
What I’m not sure I can survive is the training.
My body is as drawn to injury as I am to peppermint ice cream this time of year. I think about my IT band, and it tightens up. I lie on my pillow wrong, and my neck aches for days. I stretch out my tight hamstring, and the arch of my foot feels paralyzed on my next run.
Last Wednesday, I felt like I had total body arthritis. Seriously, I could not name a joint that wasn’t angry. (O.K., maybe my pinky knuckles, but I was so consumed with how much my back, shoulders, hips, and knees ached, I couldn’t pay attention.) As is my typical response, I freaked. How am I supposed to do an Ironman when I can’t even move today? What was I on when I signed up? Who do I think I am kidding?
After I shed some tears, I decided I would not do my designated swim that morning, and instead would only go to Pilates. Pilates, with its intense focus and realignment abilities, has been a savior for me over the past three years, but I’ve slacked off recently; my stringent two times a week downsized to once a week, and sometimes none at all if I am traveling.
When I got to class, I told Ann, an empathetic teacher I adore, of my IM ambitions and how much I hurt. I asked her to please keep an extra eye on me in class today and moving forward; anything I could do better, I wanted her to mention.
She talked me off my ledge and then said something so true and crushing, it hurt to hear. “You force things, Dimity,” she said, gently, “You don’t allow them to happen.” In my body, that means I thrust my shoulders back and down when I “stand up straight”; it means I forget to breathe when I’m trying a tough move; it means my muscles are either super engaged, or they’re hanging out; it means I clinch and get rigid and contort my body to get to the correct position, even if I how I get there is wrong.
(Or put a much simpler way, it means this: I’m a control freak, even when it comes to my own body I already inherently control.)
But here’s the thing: I can’t force 140.6 miles. I can’t forget to breathe through 140.6 miles. I can’t be rigid or clinch through 140.6 miles. And I know I can’t handle the training for 140.6 miles if I don’t chill and do my best to let there be grey in my black-and-white body.
I feel ridiculous typing that I have to allow myself to get to Coeur d’Alene, one of the hardest things I’ll ever do physically, because I feel like I have to sweat and strive to get there. Then again, I’m one of those people who is awful at directions. If I’m behind the wheel and think I should take a left, the place I’m looking for is, 99.9% of the time, to the right. If I think I have to grit out my training, I really need to allow it.
I left Ann’s class standing at least an inch taller, and mentally miles better.
I woke up on Thursday morning, and was a new woman physically. I had a great run with just a few minor aches. As I ran along, I told myself, how you feel one day doesn’t mean you’re going to feel that way tomorrow. Stop with the drama, in other words, because you’re only going to wear yourself out prematurely. Allow this journey to unfold as it naturally will.
I decided that I needed to remind myself of that daily, so I’ve made two notes that I hoped would hang on my bathroom mirror with my favorite magnets ever. They don’t stick there–and I wasn’t going to force the issue with duct tape–but they do on the light fixtures next to the mirrors. As I get up and stuff my body into my workout clothes every morning, I’ll be reminded of the way I’ll get to Idaho.
Do you have a message to yourself taped or stuck in an important place? Care to share?