Monday, November 23, 2015

This is a heart thing

"The numbers say “you finished.” “You are an Ironman.” But they don’t tell the whole story. They can’t capture the beauty or the grit or the strength it took to dig deep when everything else says you can’t. They say nothing about living your dream or breaking down walls. They’re not what gives you the confidence to take on the next challenge. This isn’t a numbers game. This is a heart thing."

Talk about a quote that captures the journey to Ironman. This year is going to be one hell of a journey.

For starters, this is the first time in a long time I have felt like "me" again. After 8 years of being on antidepressants, I am off them completely. This is step one of the journey to Norseman in August. I never really realized the "haze" I have been under. It is just a pill right? Problem is, antidepressants can actually make bipolar symptoms worse. Bipolar depression is apparently not the same as depression. So anytime spent on antidepressants for an extended period can make things worse. Which I think we have seen. They are not nice drugs and have ravaged my body and psyche, but now I can move forward and heal. The weight is now coming of much faster. I don't look so swollen anymore and I am not worried about collapsing during training or racing. My body and my mind are finally healing. There is no more fog in my mind, my focus is better, and the best thing - I have hope again.

As you know, triathlon is a way to free my mind. When I am training and racing, I am no longer bipolar - my mind is free. I don't have to think and I have a break from all the racing thoughts, anger, sadness, and anxiety. It challenges me as a person and when I push myself to my absolute limits - I know I will make it.

Out of this crazy need to reach my limits, I put my name in the lottery for Norseman Extreme Triathlon. It is also a full iron distance triathlon. To many, this is considered a bucket list race and the hardest triathlon on the planet. Only 250 lucky athletes get in and out of those 250 only 36 women get in and out of those 36 only 18 foreign women are given spots. I just happen to be one of those 18. I had already signed up for Ironman Texas in May and was wary about taking the spot since the races are only separated by 3 months. BUT I don't know if I will ever get this chance again, so I took it. It takes place in Norway, features a swim with 50 degree water, an overall elevation change of 16000 ft, and a hike up a mountain to the finish line. On top of the extreme course, you have to provide your own support crew. To me, this is the pinnacle (besides Kona), and in my mind if I do this, I have finally won. It seems like a silly idea that I see a triathlon as proof, but when I finish at the top of the mountain it literally symbolizes my climb out of darkness.

And so, I have begun this crazy journey of doing two ironmans in 3 months along with two half iron distances. As I continue on, I get to heal. There has been a lot of damage done, but there is hope now. There is a light at the top of the mountain.

Mount Gaustastoppen. The finish line is here.

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