October 23, 2007

Addiction, Part 1

Is it an addiction?

My new favorite t-shirt that I picked up at the Ironman store this year in Lake Placid says:

"Life is Simple. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat. Sleep."

Is there anything else? When you are in the middle of training, does it seem like there is anything else? Actually, a better shirt might be:

"Life is Not Simple. Irritable. Irrational. Stressed. Tired. When will it end?"

Why not? That's how we feel when training seems to drag on and on. However, when we cross the finish line and our bodies make their way back to being normal again, a peace sets in. We're elated. We want to show off all that we have earned. When the family makes a remark like 'Oh no, you're not wearing another finisher race shirt or hat or both!' My daughter sums it up with 'it's their badge of honor. They all wear them.' True. We wear what we've earned on our sleeve, er, back and head. And ankle too. Many of us after finishing an Ironman head to the neighborhood Tattoo parlor and get the ultimate badge of honor, the M-dot. I thought of doing this. I even felt the pressure from two friends that got their's. But everytime I mentioned it, my youngest daughter would start to cry. I think she equated a tattoo with a life of crime and possible jail time.

So, the training drags on and we pray for it all to end. Race day arrives and maybe, the race doesn't go so great. Like me, maybe we're bent over at Mile 10 of the run with the dry heaves praying even harder for it all to end. Or maybe we crashed on the bike and the raspberry hurts like hell and the end just can't come quick enough. Thoughts of quitting enter our heads. But we don't and we push on. At this year's Ironman in Lake Placid, I was at about mile 15 when I spotted a guy with the finisher shirt on. It was a beautiful shade of faded Hunter Green. It was sweet looking. At the time I was battling with myself about dropping out. I was beyond the dry heaves but my stomach was in distress. It would have been so easy.

"Hey, is that this year's finisher shirt"


"Well, now I have my inspiration to finish"

"Oh, you have to man...there's no greater feeling"

"I know.." I managed to whimper. And so, I pushed on in search of another badge of honor. But we still talk to ourselves: "This is it. I'm done. No more Ironman's. No more long distance Tri's"

And then we finish, we're happy and we're not signing up the next day but we're not talking like our triathlon career is over either. We stand there in the middle of the road not committing to anything either way. Then the next more is when the Addiction sets in. We miss it already. As the weeks go on and the glow of our race brightens, the feeling grows stronger, the Addiction grows and festers inside of us. It's then that we realize that we're hooked. The only cure, fortunately, is more Swimming and Biking and Running and Eating and Sleeping.

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