The End of the Beginning

The sequence of events went something like this.

I was sitting at my desk on campus, completely brain dead after teaching three back-to back classes.  Of course, that feeling may also have had something to do with staying up late the night before monitoring Zers and others at IM Wisconsin.  I began looking through my e-mail, most of it was from the Team Z Yahoo group with people talking about registering for next year’s race.

I knew that registration opened at noon, but I didn’t realize that it was noon Wisconsin time (still learning that the US is a big place after all these years; of course Russia is also a big place, and they had (have?) one standard time zone, which probably makes things easier. . .or more difficult. . .anyway, I digress. . .).  So I saw Coach Ed’s e-mail saying that registration was now open and that everyone should go for it, then looked at my watch and saw that it had just gone 1.

What happened next was as if some kind of malign alien intelligence took control of my physical self while I was condemned to watch from afar saying things like “well, that’s interesting.”  I found myself going to the IM MOO site and clicking on the registration button, thinking, “The speed these things fill up there’s no chance I’d get in anyway.”  But there was no sign that it had filled, and the registration process let me in.

Then I sat there for ten minutes.

“Come on, what are you doing?  There’s no way you are going to be doing an Ironman.  You’ve never even done a real Tri, for Chrissake!”

At which point I began entering in all my personal details.  Then clicked the “next” button.

Then I sat there for ten minutes.

“This probably isn’t the best time to be doing an Ironman.  You know, Mary losing her job.  Recession.  Global Warming.  Plagues of Locusts.  The Four Horsemen sighted just south of Woodbridge.”

I began entering all the payment information.

Then I sat there for ten minutes.

“Dude, seriously.”

I hit the submit button.

The last best hope: maybe the registration process made you do all this work, and then simply rejected you once the race had filled.  I waited several minutes, checked my e-mail, and there it was: confirmation.

I’d like to say that I freaked out completely.  That I ran around my office doing a series of John Cleese impressions.  That I immediately enrolled in group therapy (well, I am already a part of Team Z).  Instead, I felt a lot like I feel after finishing a really hard race.  Numb.  Kinda wondering what the hell just happened to me.

Somehow, for some reason, and completely against my intentions, I had just signed up to do an Ironman.

And since then, I’ve been trying to figure out why.  Mary and I had talked about what we wanted to do this coming year and although, as I predicted, Mary was soon talking about “when I do another Ironman,” we had both decided that it would nice to have a lighter training year.  We managed pretty well this year, but Iron training certainly takes its toll, not just on the athlete but those around them who have to adjust to frequent training absences or–the less popular, borderline insane solution–accompany them on their training efforts.  Mary was looking forward to focusing on sprint races next year and I was planning on doing. . .

. . .well, nothing solid for certain.  Oh, I’d had some vague ideas.  Really enjoyed the FSA duathlons I did this year and was thinking about maybe trying to do the whole series and compete for a series place.  I wanted to actually do a couple of Tris and then work my way up to Savageman as an A race.  But, it was all a little vague and half-formed.  So maybe that explains, partially, what happened.

However, I think the major driving factor is both more simple and more complex.  Every day, in many of the situations we face, there are always plenty of reasons not to do something.  Many of those reasons are solid, eminently sensible ones.  I’m an overly-analytical person anyway, prompted by nature and/or nurture to be the person in the group that always says “But wait. . .”  One result of that is that I don’t believe there is much of anything that can be said to be true in an absolute sense.

Except this: you are a long time in the grave.

Clearly, something in me snapped.  I guess we’ll see if it was a breaking free, or the kind of snap that presages a full-scale meltdown!


3 responses to “The End of the Beginning

  1. Of all the things that went through your head…the only one I can’t picture you saying is “dude, seriously?”

    I can’t wait to see you finish next weekend! 🙂

    • Yep, hard to believe but there is an inner Frat boy lurking in there who pops out occasionally when I let my guard down.

  2. When I joined Team Z, IM Moo was already full. If I wanted to race Moo with Team Z, I would have to pay double the price for a charity spot. I could have done another IM but it would have been without Team Z support and crew. So then there would have been no reason to join Team Z since I had trained and completed Sprint, Oly and 70.3 on my own.
    I began the journey of training for Moo even though I still had not registered. I was going through many challenges in my life which would justify not doing IM in 2010 but I kept on training and still not registered. I would check the page occasionally to see if charity slots were still available and each time, they were sigh. Then around March a close friend asked what was I waiting for? In March I had some additional medical tests done and decided I would be able to make it and signed up for Moo. OR my friend was going to register me 🙂
    After all the times of checking the page and hoping it was full, then I got nervous as I got ready to commit and thought what if all the charity slots are gone!!!
    It was a very unique, calm feeling that did not scare me or make say what have I done. But a feeling of YES.
    I am racing Moo for me as a cancer survivor to remind me there is no someday but today. I race for those close to me I have lost to cacner. I race to get a new tattoo and to find out what I am made of…
    I am so excited to sharing it with 69 Team Z friends. It will be an experience that will last a life time.

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