Did you ever wonder about it, or did anyone ever ask you during those long, challenging weeks and months of training you were putting it, will the ironman triathlon change you?
Maybe it’s a husband wondering that very thing about his wife as she heads out the door for a 100k training ride. Where is my wife? What have you done with her?
Someone who is bitten by the Ironman bug can easily become unrecognizable to the people closest to them. Suddenly that shy wallflower has a steely look of determination, adopts a healthier diet, and is often in bed before the sun goes down.
Their body is crying out for rest from endless pool-laps and mile after mile bent over whirring wheels on some dusty, sun-soaked, distant highway.
And the next day……they do it over again.
I think it’s safe to say that one way or another, everyone who takes on the Ironman challenge undergoes some sort of change.
In most cases the changes are positive because something has been accomplished that at one time may have seemed like an impossibility.
How on earth does someone who spends most of their life as a non-athlete who can’t swim a stroke and has never run around the block without stopping cross the Ironman finish line?
But it happens all the time and the mystic of the Ironman is perpetuated when people on the sidelines witness ordinary people doing something so heroic that it’s almost incomprehensible.
When you’re out on the Ironman Highway, it’s almost like an out-of-body experience.
People do things that are remarkably out of character and they are completely comfortable with it because they are on a mission and in the sound and the fury of battle, reaching that finish line is all that counts.
Modesty goes out the window when everyone is struggling out on that marathon course and you never know what will happen next.
One year I was in the inaugural Ironman Couer d’Alene race and was halfway through the second of two laps of the 26.2-mile marathon.
It was a stifling 105 degrees Fahrenheit out on the highway that year and it truly was a death march of gigantic proportions. I thought I was very fortunate to have someone match strides with me as we fought our way through those last agonizing miles.
It didn’t hurt that she was a gorgeous blonde about 26 years old with a California tan and an amazingly fit body.
As we struggled along I was pretty sure that despite maintaining a strong front, she was really struggling.
I was certain of it when just out of the blue she threw up all over my right foot.
She looked over at me and said(and I will never forget it) “Do you know that’s the first time in my life I have every thrown up in front of a man?”
“And it has changed me forever” I answered.
Anyway, we had a good laugh about it. My point is, she wasn’t mortified and neither was I.
It’s the Ironman and stuff happens out there and despite everything she crossed the Ironman finish line for the first time and that was all that truly mattered.