Saturday, July 27, 2013

the fear of suffering

Last night at dinner, with a few of my best girlfriends, we started talking about race day.  A little, not really specifics, but about the ins and outs of the day.  And it led to a discussion of what we are afraid of, this time around.  We all had very different days at our first shot at ironman, and we all fear different things out of number two.
I know what I want and I know what I am afraid of on race day.  I can guess at what a perfect day might look like, but the thing about ironman is, you rarely have a perfect day.  Because what everyone says, when they are striding about with their shaved legs and their 3% body fat postulating with wisdom to an eager audience of newbies, is actually true: anything can happen.  You can get a broken nose, you can trip running into T1, your helmet buckle can break, you can flat, you can pop a spoke, you can break a chain, you can flat some more, you can eat too much, you can eat too little, you can puke, you can chafe and sunburn and bleed and shit and cry.  Ironman strips you of any dignity you think you might possess; ironman levels the field between the young, old, fast, slow, cocky, humble; ironman is one of the rare opportunities where you get to find answers to the questions that plague you when you can't sleep at night.  
I am at peace.  This year has brought me a lot of peace.  A lot of big changes in my life, but as the dust has settled, I've realized that my life, as an entity, is heading exactly in the direction that I would like it to go.  I have seen growth in myself this year, I have struggled and fallen and made mistakes, I have experienced my own small victories, I have failed, I have fought for the finish and found acceptance.  And my mind, right now, the day before, it is quiet.  I am silently gathering the ammunition I will need to survive 140.6 miles, and I am hopeful that what I have is enough.  That I, alone, am enough.
I am curious.  I've done this once now, and I've put in a year of physical and mental training, and I wonder what my day will look like with that in my pocket.  Will it look the same?  Will I be asking the same questions and troubleshooting the same problems I was a year ago?  Or have I changed in ways that I don't even realize, will my day be different because of the year I've lived, loved, lost, found, fought?
I am afraid.  I think - no, I KNOW - that it is okay to admit the fear I'm feeling, not acknowledging it isn't going to make it magically disappear.  Fear is healthy, fear is humbling, fear is telling me that I am taking a risk, that there is something to lose, that I am reaching, stretching, grasping higher, further, faster.  I am afraid of looking into the mirror that ironman will hold up in front of my face tomorrow.  I'm afraid of what I will see in myself, I'm afraid that I am not the athlete I would like to believe that I am, I'm afraid of the truths I will discover.  I am afraid that I am holding too much peace and will not be able to GPS locate my desire to fight.  
I am afraid that he is wrong, and that the suffering will, in fact, be worse than the fear itself.  
I don't know.  I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know that there is only one way to find out.  To stand on the line.  To go from the gun, be steady be happy be unwavering be focused be joyful be humble be smart be unrelenting.  To bend down and pick up the edge of the rock and heave it over with a cry that will raise the hair on the back of your neck, to face all the ugly things that I am sure will coming pouring out the other side of my mind, to stand tall and to look myself straight in the heart, whatever it is that I may be.  To walk calmly, peacefully, directly into the fire, to go in search of my dreams.

15 comments:

  1. I love that pic Sonja sent us. It is true, I've seen it through the window of your blog, you have grown so much since IMCdA and are completely ready to crush 140.6 miles, AGAIN. Remember out there, you are f-ing legit and ready to dig deep. go get em girl!!

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  2. Trust in your training! You have worked hard and busted your ass to get to this day. Now, tuck in and enjoy the ride :) I'll be sending you good vibes and thoughts while you experience what IMLP 2013 has to offer. Don't forget to enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding you, this life is what it's all about! So so proud of you - you're an inspiration to so many by just being you!

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  3. I actually think there's a lot of fight IN calmness — it takes strength to trust yourself in the world. So I'm betting you're going to feel that fight tomorrow. Go get it.

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  4. Dear Katie,

    I have immensely enjoyed reading your blog these last 7 months. I found you in search of information on a disastrously injured hip. In finding your blog, I found an individual who is forthright, funny as hell, perfectly and gorgeously flawed and mostly...profoundly inspirational. I understand that your blog is for you and about you- but ...thanks for sharing. I have completed several ironman events- I am a much older female than you. I miss my sport and my life but your blog as well as other wonderful resources has inspired me to...enjoy the "ride." That IS what its all about- well that and the hokey pokey. Don;t know what Ironman 2 will bring but I can say for certain- you'll find yet another depth to yourself-WHATEVER the outcome. Good luck my dear. I'll be routing for a fabulous outcome for you.

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  5. Thank you, once again, for speaking your truth by sharing the emotional side of a physical journey. I find that showing up is harder than most people know, and when you do that, whatever the outcome, you've gained in a positive way. Best of luck to you.

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  6. I imagine there would be a huge difference between a first and second Ironman. I like the idea of not having to worry about time during your first one. Definitely takes a lot of the pressure off. Good luck today. You are rocking the course so far!

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  7. So I've just spent forever stalking your twitter feed -congrats on the ironman, but more importantly where did you get the wonderwoman swimsuit from? It's amazing!

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  8. I followed along on twitter so I know that you finished. I can't wait to hear all about how it all went down! Congrats on your amazing race!!!

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  9. I think curiosity is the only acceptable attitude to carry into any endurance event. Because you're right—even in distances shorter than an Ironman, any number of things you have no control over can sidetrack your best-laid plans. Like so many other things, the ability to be curious and flexible rather than rigid and expectant isn't just a race-day coping mechanism, but a life skill—and I'm sure your ability to do so served you well yesterday. CONGRATULATIONS on another finish!

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  10. SO damn proud to call you my friend. I stalked you yesterday. AMAZING. Just like you!

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  11. Is Mickey Rourke the villain in your Ironman 2 as well?

    Oh, and just this: Kick ass.

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  12. You are a badass cant wait to hear all about it!!

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  13. Fear is healthy, fear is humbling, fear is telling me that I am taking a risk, that there is something to lose, that I am reaching, stretching, grasping higher, further, faster.

    THIS. SO MUCH THIS. I stick to the marathon (and marathon alone!) but I have big, fast, scary goals this fall. Goals that will make me hurt. But I want it so bad. You have such a way of articulating exactly what I'm thinking when it comes to fear and suffering. Thank you. And CONGRATULATIONS!!! You're such a badass.

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