Expected is people’s reactions when they hear I am competing in a full Ironman distance in less than six weeks. “Woah! That is craaaaaazy! I couldn’t imagine doing all that!”
What is less than expected is my response when I act just as terrified and surprised as they are. “Isn’t it crazy!? Who would want to run a MARATHON after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride!? It is CRAZY.”
You see, deep down I still don’t consider myself an athlete, much less a hardcore Ironman triathlete. I’m just a regular girl who can’t turn down a good challenge. I don’t know what fartleks are or how to do the fancy turnaround thing when swimming laps in the pool. I rarely have any sort of training plan, and, if I do, Facebook is usually the biggest competitor.
Yet I do a long run every Friday, a long ride every Sunday and hours of training most other days.
And at the beginning of every long training run or ride I ask myself why in the world I decided to sign up for an Ironman and a 50-mile ultramarathon. Why can’t I be like all the other regular girls and not be sweaty or not be in workout clothes for a change?
Without fail I always find my answer at the end of the long workout. I feel refreshed, strong and alive. I feel like Ashley. I feel like new life is pumping through my veins and filling up my lungs. I think of the finish line at the Ironman. I will cry and be more proud of myself than I have ever been before. I will feel both humbled and empowered. I will have pushed through sweat and tears, turned down plans with friends, gone with little sleep and worked my butt off to accomplish something few others have. I will feel crazy awesome.
And even if my run or ride stinks, it really doesn’t matter why, because in a few weeks my regular girl butt will set out to travel 140.6 miles. And Ironman’s don’t accept excuses.