life is back to normal.
it's back and I'm not sure how I feel.
there is this elation, this feeling of I did that? the pride that comes with the mDot necklace, coffee mug, and keychain. the bragging [I tried to come up with a more polite word, but let's call it what it is] to everyone from defense attorneys to family members. there are the photos on facebook - the ones from my camera, my sister's. there are the professional photos that I paid $11 to download. there is the telling and re-telling of race day.
and then, there is this.. empty feeling. this feeling of loss and what now and what next? this feeling of if I'm not training what am I doing and if I'm not on the road to Ironman where am I? there is no more looking at my palm and seeing swim 3200M/ run 70 min for thursday. I don't just thrive on a schedule I need one to function. and then: no more anticipation. the countdown started at more than a year out. then we were 365 days from race day. then 6 months, 5, 3. then 60 days out. 45. 30! 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 12 days, 7 days, then: tomorrow. then: today. then: yesterday.
the race itself was amazing but the process is what got me to the start line. and if you can't get to the start line healthy - mentally and physically - and ready and excited then you can't get to the finish line. I really like this> to get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping [chinese proverb].
the race is long but the year[s] leading up to it are longer. True Ironmen are not made at the finisher's chute; it's easy to run, smile, soar when the music is blasting and people are cheering and there is a finish line in sight and someone is getting ready to call you an Ironman over a loud speaker. Ironmen are made at the 4000th meter of a 4500M swim, at mile 80 of a 100 mile bike ride, at mile 12 of an 18 mile run. Ironmen are made when no one is looking. They are made on trainers while watching Kona reruns and Thursday night comedies and Spinverals and DVR'd episodes of The Biggest Loser. They are made in hot humid days when saner folk are soaking in a/c. They are made in cold days - days where running requires gloves and three layers and maybe a face mask. They are made by what they don't do: stay out late, drink a lot, happy hour. They are made with friends because misery does love company and four hour trainer rides go by much faster with pre-made PBJ sammies, gatorade, and oreos, and a chick flick. They are made on drives to the Eastern Shore to ride and swims in the chesapeake bay.
the glory is the finish line, but the hours in the water, in the running shoes, on the bike are what get you there. and while I will never forget the feelings of pure joy turning the corner and grinning like a fool, laughing, running toward the finish line, I'll also cherish the memories that got me there. the proverbial rose colored glasses are beautiful indeed: some days were rough and some were really rough. but it. was. all. worth. it.
it was all so worth it.