Ironman is a war and don’t be fooled by the joy and smiles at the finish line of the competitors. They are smiling because they won the biggest civil war anybody will ever be a part of. Civil War? Yes, it is a Civil War. You versus your mind. You versus your body. Ironman is not about beating the guy next to you because you will never know how he or she feels but you will certainly know how you feel.
Today during my run I thought about the war that will rage within me on November 18th and I wrote a letter/story about it and here it is:
To Those About To Race Ironman:
When you pull down your swim cap and place your goggles over your eyes you have just announced that the fight is about to begin.
You swim into the masses and some people think that the person to their left and the person to their right is their competition, but their competition is the person within themselves. There will be questions that you ask yourself and you better have an answer prepared.
The cannon goes off and signals the first shot in the fight. The blood surges and the masses move but again you are not waging war against the competition. You are about to engage in hand to hand combat with yourself.
With each swim stroke comes another body blow and another announcement that your victory lies 140.6 miles away and you will do what it takes to get there. That first buoy seems to be days away but when you get there you have just planted your flag into the landscape and are ready to take on the next battle in this war.
After each buoy know that you have made a major move on the board and are gaining ground on victory. The exit ramp is nothing more than the first days signal that this battle is over and there are two more to go. Recoup in transition and prepare mentally for Round 2.
As you take off on the bike your goal is to prepare your troops for the last battle. The battle that will determine who wins the war.
Stock your troops with nutrition and liquid. Prepare them for what is about to come. You have a long ways to go on the bike and the questions will begin to be asked once the adrenaline from the swim battle are gone. Your mind will tell your body that it is time to slow down and your body has to react to this and tell the mind that it will not tolerate negative thoughts.
Soon thereafter the body will tell the mind that it wants to quit because it hurts too much. Your mind will have to remind the body that this in not the time to stop. That the body can stop after victory has been claimed.
You pedal and you eat and you drink and it is all second-hand nature because you trained for this for months and maybe years. Auto-Pilot takes over and you do not recognize your body nor your mind as it just moves like a well oiled machine. You see the final mile marker and know that your mind and your body have cooperated long enough to bring you to this point…..the dismount line.
You are so ecstatic to be here but quickly you must recognize that the uphill battle is about to start. Once you take that first step you know it is about to get harder and harder. You move to the beat of your own drum as you are so excited to be off the bike. Your legs move you forward but then that first hill shows up and you start to feel the lead in your legs.
At this point your mind has to reach into its bag of tricks to remind the body that this will be over soon enough and then it can sit back and relax. You crest the hill and you start moving again and you feel good but then your mind wanders and it realizes how much pain you are in and wants to shut down. Your body quickly decides that now is not the time to quit. And there in lies the truth. Ask yourself if you want to stop or if you want to quit. By responding with: I Will Not Quit your body continues to move forward.
This back and forth will repeat itself over and over but know that with every step you take you are closer to victory. You are closer to leaving the battleground and entering the area where all the spoils are laid out for the victors.
Visualize that treasure and chase it down. Your body will react favorably and your mind will not know what is going on until the end and by then you will be enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Make no mistake about this sport. The moment you hit the Register Now button you have declared war. You will battle over and over again but when you cross the finish line you will lay claim as the victor over both your mind and your body. Celebrate like a king because you are.