I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin and Mike Reilly told me I was an Ironman. I thought that would mean something to me when it finally happened. It didn’t. It still doesn’t three weeks later. I trained for over a year to complete something people tell me “is quite an accomplishment.” So, why don’t I feel different?
I honestly thought crossing that finish line would change me in some kind of meaningful way. I thought it would answer some questions I had never had the courage to ask out loud. I thought I would be overcome with emotion.
None of that happened. I crossed the finish line. I got a medal. And then... Then my life went on, but with a gaping hole in it. I had completed something I didn’t know I could complete. I was an Ironman. People wear that label around like a badge of honor for the rest of their lives. They get a tattoo so other people can show it off.
I wish it was that simple for me, but it’s not. Becoming an Ironman was a point-in-time event for me. It started and ended in the same moment. The moment I crossed the finish line. The moment I realized that nothing had changed and nothing would change because I finished. I was not a different person that than I was the moment before I crossed the finish line.
That’s not totally true. I am a different person since I finished Ironman. I am lost. I am drifting through life without any answers to the questions I set out to find the answers to at that finish line. At the moment I feel more like a victim of Ironman, than a victor.
As I struggle to get out of bed each morning and search for the motivation to do my workout each day, I’ve realized something, my goal was never to cross that finish line. I don’t care about being an Ironman. I don’t care if anyone knows that I finished that race.
I don’t care because for me, Ironman wasn’t a race. It was a 14 month journey of training, camaraderie, teammates, solitude, fatigue, fear, loneliness, friendship, pain and for the first time in my life, a sense of calm in my mind. A calm that comes from a daily fatigue that forces me to focus only on what matters in my life. A calm that comes from feeling like I’ve really lived each day.
I’ve lost that calm and that glorious fatigue over the past few weeks as I’ve “recovered” from the race. Now, it’s time to find it again. It’s time to begin the journey all over again. Training for Ironman WI 2018 starts now.
I didn’t change when I crossed the finish line, I changed when I took the first step in a very long journey to get there.