It's interesting how the mind works. Your mind plays tricks on you for the sole purpose of self preservation. Your brain tells you, "Stop! This hurts! This is uncomfortable. I feel like I'm dying and you should stop. Sitting on the couch is a much better alternative!" However, I often ignore the voice of reason and go after what I want. Now, my goal is not to place at the top of the podium in my age group at a race any time soon. Athletes race for different reasons. If all we did was race just to win there would be a lot of heartbreak at the end of races. Instead what you see at the end of most faces are the faces of people determined to finish what they start.
When I returned to school a few days after Ironman my students were all excited to ask if I won Ironman. I smiled and laughed and told them that winning was never the goal. Rather, my plan was to set a high goal and work for it every day. Yes, there were times when quitting seemed like an option but I knew that I would regret that decision when I woke up in my own bed on October 1st. I had to wake up in Maryland and get to the race because that is the commitment I made. Athletes cannot control the weather on race day and Ironman Maryland athletes this year were no exception to that rule. Many athletes quit before the race even began when they found out that the swim was cancelled due to dangerous water conditions. Most of us stayed and raced the race we were given because quitting was NOT an option. I explained to my students that you don't quit just because things don't go your way. I explained that participating in a race is more important than being the fastest person on the course. Honoring your commitment and getting through the highs and lows of training is what people admire the most. I'm sure that standing on top of the podium is great and all, but it's personally not my goal. After all, only three people make it up there in the end! Our culture encourages us to believe that only the top 1% in anything is the only dream worth having and the only thing worth admiring. I hope that my students can see that being the best isn't what sets you apart. You can inspire many even if your name isn't called out with a top three number after it. But anyway. . . That's not the point I am trying to make in this post.
Right now, my plan is to sign up for White Lake Half Iron Distance triathlon in April of next year. I decided that it's too expensive (and time consuming) to do a full every year so right NOW, the plan is to do a half every other year and do a full in the other years. I am excited about White Lake because it is "close" to home (as in it's in North Carolina) it is much cheaper than an Ironman branded race, and my friend Kristie will be training with me for it! Kristie is an amazing woman who I met this past summer in training. She was one of only a couple people who would ride crazy distances with me at crazy hours of the morning. She was training for an Olympic distance triathlon but I was able to talk her into riding Ironman bike rides! In fact, we are riding this coming weekend which will be my first ride post-Ironman.
I thought about trying to run a couple marathons next year as well but have not picked out which ones I want to do. It's funny to think about because years ago the idea of running one marathon was "crazy" and now I look at it and think, "Oh, that would be fun!" Ironman puts things into perspective and teaches you to never set limits. "Anything is Possible" is their slogan, and now I understand why. I often lay in bed late at night contemplating the possibilities of what I can do next. Someone asked me a couple weeks ago if I considered changing the name of my website since it's called "My Road to Ironman" to which I responded, "NO WAY!" That would imply that I am done, which I definitely am not done!
This Ironwoman is far from finished.... The road did not end at the finish line. When I heard the words, "Jamie Connerton from Greenville, North Carolina. YOU are an IRONMAN!!!" I realized I am going to stay on this road and keep on rolling.
But for now, I am off to a PTA meeting. :-) Reality sucks sometimes.