It’s 7:00 PM the night before my big race and I’m ready to rumble. Like everyone who endeavors to traverse 140.6 miles all in a row broken up into a 2.4 miles swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run I have to wonder ‘why?’ – why am I doing this? Knowing the answer to that question is really important because as I understand it there will be several times during the day when I ask myself that question and if the answer isn’t good enough I might decide to quit which would be a real shame.
Last night in my effort to find something on TV to keep me company while I caught up on Facebook I stumbled on a show on FitTV about Diana Nyad. Diana was a world class ultra-swimmer. She attempted at one time to swim from Cuba to Florida and was in the water for 42 hours, covering 90 miles before she had to give up. She couldn’t repeat that trip because of Visa issues but she did manage to swim from Bimini to Florida successfully. Makes 2.4 miles seem kind of easy but that wasn’t the best part of seeing that show.
At one time in her life she really wanted to represent the USA at the Olympics. Specifically she wanted to swim in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico when she was 18. Sadly she had some setbacks including a sexual assault by an adult she knew that strained her emotionally and spiritually and a cardiac infection that kept her out of the water for 8 months and sapped her fitness. Those events conspired to keep her from that goal and she approached her final swim meet in high school with a ‘why bother’ attitude – her dreams a pile of dust. A friend of hers noticed how laden she looked and said, “look at the nail on your pinkie. What does that represent as a fraction of the effort you use to swim a race? Why not go into that race and push off as hard as you can and use every bit of your heart and gut and those muscles you’ve worked so hard to develop and swim as hard and fast as you can and when you get done don’t look to see if you are 1st or 8th, just close your eyes and close your fists and think about how you swam that race so hard you didn’t have a pinkie nail’s worth of effort left in you.” And that’s what she did. She came in 6th but it didn’t matter because she was all in on that race and she knew it.
Since then she has filled her life telling stories as a sports caster and she has done many things to inspire others. She works with women over 40 trying to reclaim their lives and with veterans dealing with any number of casualties and issues. She’s done lots of things to inspire and enrich the lives of others.
At the end of the show she talked about how there is so much to do and so many people to help and so much to experience that no one can do it all – you just can’t. But when her time comes she knows that she will close her eyes and know that she lived her life so that she couldn’t have done one pinkie nail more than she did.
And that, as it turns out, is my ‘reason’. I also do a lot of “things” – I’m a CASA volunteer (and just signed on to be a team leader and help other CASAs) and I’m on the BOD of my race club and I started the new triathlete program last year and will continue it next year and I “do” stuff; it’s who I am. This race and presumably my impending accomplishment in finishing it is one of many things I am doing not to win, not to be the best, not make someone else happy, not for glory or fame, but as another component of living my life with every bit of spirit and effort and joy I can.
Getting to a race like this is never a solo effort.
Thanks go to my Coach Tammy Metzer of Tempo Multisport who has taken me from a ‘no way I can do this’ nervous breakdown to feeling 100% confident in my ability to finish. I feel strong and I feel great and she got me here so thank you Coach Tammy!!
My kids have been a huge source of encouragement and inspiration. That’s one of a bazillion reasons I love them so much and want to make them ever more proud of their Mama.
My friend Sharley took me under her wing and trained with me quite a bit over the last couple of months and it’s been great. Kelby, too. Both of them have been great at beating me into shape encouraging me to go a little harder and a little faster than I wanted to. Dana and Maggs and Kat and Harold and Julie and Christy and Patrick all get thanks for hours logged training together. Kudos to Vali for endless cheering and excitement for me (but we really didn’t get much of a chance to train together – baby that knee!) Chris and Monica are my forever coaches and Joe is my forever font of wisdom and calm. Thank you to Dana and to Sharely for putting together send off/good luck gatherings for me and thanks to everyone who came – it meant the world. And it means the world to me to know that so very many people are watching me and rooting for me and sending their good vibes.
And on that note – LET’S RUMBLE!!!