So yeah, I've imagined every bad thing that can happen during this race. But at the same time, I still have a (perhaps naive) optimism that my day is going to go well. I've dialed in the nutrition, I know the course, I've done the work. Now just time to execute.
But in my prep, I have been looking for inspiration everywhere. A lot of the people in my Ironman training group have been all about the idea of being an "Iron Turtle." You know, slow and steady. Their mantras are things like...."be the turtle," etc. I get the concept, don't worry about speed, but it hasn't spoken to me as much. For one, I find turtles sort of creepy. That's just me. Second, I am a little worried about speed. Yes, I know very, very well that the success of the day will depend on proper pacing early on. I can't overdo the swim and absolutely have to chill on the bike. But, in the end, I don't really want the word that describes my day to be "slow." Or, "turtle-like." Controlled, yes. Courageous, yes. Tenacious, yes. Steady, sure. But overall, slow? I hope not.
So last night, in the least likely of places, I found my own mascot....a two-year old. Max. Last night, I walked to the neighborhood park with Liz, Max, and Liz's mom. It was about a half mile away. Max started out sitting in a wagon, which Liz pulled. That lasted about half a block. Pretty quickly, Mr. Max was climbing out of that wagon, and insisted on pulling it the rest of the way to the park.
Now Max is a little guy with little legs, and that wagon probably outweighed him. It was no easy task to drag that wagon to the park. But he was absolutely insistent. Max-plus-wagon-speed was a little slower that comfortable adult speed, and there were repeated pleas that Max call it a day and get back in the wagon. "C'mon Max, at this rate, it's going to be dark by the time we get to the park." "Max, it'd be much more fun if you were sitting in the wagon." He ignored us, and kept on keeping on. He'd stop occasionally to look at a stick, or a little puddle of water in the sidewalk, but quickly got back to the task. We tried to help him out a little....I went back and using just my index finger, tried to take on a little of the weight of the wagon. Two squawks later, and it was clear he was having none of it. Max just kept on moving forward, at his speed, at his tempo....slow for us, not that slow for him.
When we finally saw the park, and the playground where the fun stuff is, it was SO far away. I figured that'd be the moment Max gave in. I mean, the playground was visible! We could hear the kids playing! He could have hitched a ride and been there so much quicker! But no dice. He just put down his head and kept on walking, pulling that heavy wagon behind him. All the way to the park.
Since of course, I'm relating everything in my life to Ironman right now, I was inspired. I think Max has figured out what Ironman is about.... staying the course, and moving forward, no matter what. There may be external or internal forces telling you to stop, give up, get back in the wagon. And you've just got to ignore them, and keep putting one foot in the front of the other. Until the very end.
So that's what I'm hoping I can do on Sunday....to keep my eye on the prize and just keep going. Hopefully, I'll be able to just keep going at a pace that isn't necessarily turtle-like, but who knows? I've certainly thought through all the scary scenarios and considered how I'd handle them. I'll control what I can control, and then be mentally tough...just like Max.