Last year at this time I had blown off the second triathlon I had signed up for.
I was angry, dejected and bitter. How dare this surgery not have made me lose everything I wanted? How dare it be more successful for literally everyone around me that had it? How dare it be a year later and I am STILL fighting?
It's now two years since my gastric sleeve surgery. I am still fighting. And if you are considering weight loss surgery, you need to know that it WILL NOT do all the work for you. It will not repair your head or the scabs on your heart. You will continue to be your own worst enemy unless you embrace that fact.
However, two years later I realize that there is a difference between bitching about it and fighting for it. I remembered, painfully, that this had to be what I was going to make of it. Just me. This is me, evolving very slowly.
Often, I need a major face slap to knock my goals in line and take stock of the important things. I am fortunate to have some very strong women in my life that aren't afraid to do that for me. (I suspect they rock-paper-scissors with each other for the privilege). So when Moe sent me an email in the spring inviting me to participate in Danskin's Sprint Triathlon, I put some real thought into it. Her invitation included options - be the swimmer in a relay team, do the half sprint, do the whole tri, check out the website and decide. No pressure. This is the gentle version of the face slap, just so you know.
I clicked over to the site and pondered the choices, halting to a stop when I saw the "Athena" category, which I have pasted here for you:
You WANT to be scored against women who are above 150 lbs (pursuant to USAT Rules for Athena)
You compete on an individual basis within your “age group” BUT you will be scored against all other participants (regardless of age) who checked off ATHENA when entering
You will receive an Official Race time within the Athena category
You will be eligible for Awards (top three) within the Athena category
What. The. Hell.
150 pounds. Is fat. If you are a Danskin Triathlete. If you are me, it is your god damned goal weight. It is a size 8. It is I can buy the thong and walk through the neighborhood in it. It is my nirvana.
Then and there, I clicked "Sprint Triathlon Age Group Category", dropped $100 bucks and a large amount of attitude along with it. Then I called Moe and said, "I am signed up, I am not swimming for anyone, I am not in the half sprint, I am not in the fatties race, I am in the sprint and I am going to OWN THIS BITCH.
Big slap. BIG SLAP! Did you hear it? Because I felt it.
And so it began. I bought the brightest funnest running shoes I could find. I found sites like this: Plus Runner - and read every entry . I stole the good goggles from my daughter. I built a playlist. I got new tires on the bike I rode 12 years ago, and thought about it, and got an awesome seat too. And then, I trained.
I trained as "That Girl". The girl you see running slowly down the street in her baggy, un-runnerish clothing. The girl in the lane that you didn't think she should be in at lap swim. (Competitive swimmers get fat - but they don't forget how to swim). The girl who rode the bike endlessly around the mile track at the park because she wasn't ready for hills. The girl that you are glad you're not while you are driving by, but you hope she succeeds because at least, she is trying.
In between trying, I tried to fit life, work, and all the crap that comes with it. I was not always successful. I sometimes chose sleep over a run. I often chose alcohol the night before a training session, because drinks with my husband or friends are things I treasure and won't give up. I read and cheered as my friend's daughter Alida did a play by play of her own friend competing in (and conquering) his first Ironman. I was inspired. I decided that while I will never be an Ironman, I could definitely be a Sprint Triathlete again.
The week before the tri was emotionally taxing. Since this post is not about that, I refer you to my prior one. The Friday before the race involved me coming off 4 days of work, 3 missed days of training and like a miracle - a morning run that gave me a glimpse of that elusive epiphany that makes people sign up for marathons. I don't love running. I never will. But damn, it works. Since starting to run I began losing weight again, my pants are looser and I feel my abdominal muscles. How did I celebrate this? By staying up with my husband, drinking Johnny Walker Black out of his Bladerunner rocks glass and talking until 3am. Sometimes the wrong decisions are the right ones in disguise.
Four of us were racing together. Moe and her two friends Candace and Amy. We picked up our race packets Saturday and reviewed the course. We swam in the lake so we could get the muck and seaweed factor straight in our head. We walked the run, which led through a cemetery next to the lake. I noted that there was a stone that said "Falk" and decided when I was in the pain I anticipated I would be in at that point, I could yell "FALK" and blame it on reading tombstones if someone had a problem with it. A half mile down I found another stone that said "Fockstoff" and filed that one, too. I drove home and hydrated all day, because that is what iWill - Ironman Rock Star told me to do when he patiently answered my emails loaded with training questions. I hydrated a little more, to cover last night's JW Black debacle. I packed my bag. And just to calm my fears - I made a decision to stuff a little speaker with my iPod duct taped to it down my bra for the run. Sometimes you just need to break the rules a little and all the time - I just plain run better when there is music. The penalty for this infraction? Not being eligible for placement awards. Yeah, now you see why I wasn't that concerned.
I spent the night at Moe's, where I dreamed about whales swimming under me while I raced. She woke me up at 4:30 with coffee (I just love that about her) and said "Let's do this". I ate my English muffin and canadian bacon and stopped at 2 cups of coffee (sorry, Will this is why you do the Ironman and I do not) and began the hydrating routine again. We took off - more awake than I have ever been at 5:30am.
I had stuffed all the anger I had built up over the last few days into the back of my head. Slowly, I tried to reprocess it and make it work to my advantage. I smiled as I read the words Travis sent, sad that he would miss this but happy he had a job to go to. I thought strong thoughts. I thought about the people who loved me, who were texting me early on their Sunday morning to wish me luck and I breathed all that love in. I was as ready as I was going to get.