I’m sitting here under a full moon. It is SO bright and shining through the window of my favorite room. I am sitting cozy in my favorite chair snuggled in a soft and warm blanket. I can hear the soft music playing in the room next door. My babies have been kissed, backs tickled and tucked in tight to bed. We ate our dinner of Subway sandwiches which was just a convenience after soccer practice tonight, huddled under a blanket together over a heat vent as we ate on the floor. We wanted to be warm so snuggled tight and I blast the heat so it would keep going until our chips and sandwiches were gone. We laughed about little boy things like burps and farts. We talked about soccer and their favorite part of the school day. It was such a simple moment but one of those that will live in my heart forever. I am not formal. I won’t ever remember a formal dinner or meal with my kids … but the ones we share laughing on the floor getting toasty from the heat vent … those are the ones that will live in my heart and memories forever. I am not a “normal single soccer mom” … I have always been unconventional and have never really fit the mold that society wants a mom to be. So for me and family, mealtime on the floor is where the memories are made.
Now that my house is cleaned and quiet I have some more time to reflect. This morning I was a blubbering fool thinking about how one year ago I did an Ironman. The rush of memories as all the pictures popped up on my apps.The people. The love. For me that day was about the LOVE. I have never felt so LOVED as I did that day. It was the day that a truth I had held onto for SO many years finally left. That truth was that I was unlovable. I can’t explain how it feels to be unloveable. You either understand or you don’t and I hope and venture to say most don’t know the depths of that loneliness of being unloveable. Sure I knew people “loved” me … like of course my mom and family and best friends said it but to FEEL it was another story.
And on those streets in Tempe, Arizona I washed that truth away. Literally. The RAIN. My God that fucking RAIN. It poured all but maybe 15 miles on the bike. I was numb. I was frozen.
I was being cleansed. The race wasn’t physical anymore it was a journey to depths of my inner soul. To cleanse, purify and wash away the ugly truths that I had been told my whole life. And not just told but believed. I will never forget the rest of my life the moment it changed. I was headed out for my last loop. I was so cold. I couldn’t move. I don’t give a fuck to say that I was peeing on myself every 10 minutes just to keep my feet warm … PS … If you aren’t a triathlete and reading that, it is VERY normal to pee on the bike!!! I promise! But for me, it became a warmth. Gross yes. Truth … even more yes. I was frozen. I turned the corner to head out on the long stretch into the dessert and then looked up. And there it was.
The biggest rainbow I had ever seen. It spread through the entire sky and was as bright as could be. And I was riding literally into the middle of it. It stayed with me for maybe 17 miles. I rode into the rainbow. It was my sign. It was my peace. It was my solace that there was never any turning back from that point forward. The rainbow is symbolic of a promise and it was to my soul that I would never be unloveable again. I was loved. By a God that I had rediscovered after leaving the religion of my youth. By my angel Grandparents who were with me every second of that journey. By my family and best friends who were standing in the pouring rain just so they could see me for 5 seconds as I passed by them on the bike. But most importantly it was a promise to myself that I would always be lovable to myself. I loved ME. The person I had become. When I got divorced and left my religion of course I lost friendships along the way. I also gained lifelong ones and the ones that remained near to me during that time became my impenetrable inner circle. I was willing to give it all to be ME. The real ME. To live my TRUTH. To speak my TRUTH. To BE my TRUTH. I was NEVER pretending again. And I fought hard to be ME and in that moment … riding into the rainbow … it solidified to me deep into my bones that I was truly the Woman that I was born to be. And this was just the beginning of “Her”.
There were two more defining points for me. Around mile 18 I started to tank. I was SO cold still. I hadn’t felt warm since I started the day. My vision was blurry. It was dark. I was running along side my friend. I begged her to leave me. I told her to go. I threatened to just stop so that she could go on. I am so used to being alone. To being “left”. One of my greatest fears is that people won’t stick around. So I believe one of my greatest faults is that I push. At some point, everyone bails. It is a genuine fear. So I pushed her to leave me. I can do alone. I know alone. Alone and lonely are VERY different. Alone is what I do. I am a single mom. I do Alone like a mother fucker. So I kept pushing. Leave me. Let me be alone.
And she simply said NO. You will not stop. You will not walk. We are going to finish this together. We both hurt. At mile 20 of an Ironman you are in pain you can’t describe unless you have been there. She said NO. And didn’t leave. And this crazy thing happened. I finally gave in. I was so tired I gave in. And I let her stay and didn’t say another word. In silence. In talking. In non-verbals. WE stayed by each other. And I learned that not everyone bails. Some people WILL stay the course with you. Step by Step.
And when I needed that reconfirmed I would turn the corner and see my parents. My sissy. My Joshes. My Stacy. My cousins. My babies. My friends. My tribe. They stood in the rain ALL.damn.day. for me. They gave me hugs. My mom literally gave me her strength. I felt it leave her body into mine with each hug. Toward the end of the run my sissy grabbed me and squeezed me so tightly. She told me things I hold sacred. She gave me power.
I have been through a lot. I have had a few really shit cards dealt to me. As we all have. BUT that day, I learned … that not everyone bails. The ones who are true to the end always show up. And that doesn’t have to be a lover or husband for me. I have people I know that are there to take the steps with me in life. And that is more precious than any medal or time could ever give me.
The last defining point was the finishers chute. It was like I was dying. Or what you see in the movies. Bright blinding lights. Everyone screaming for YOU. Your name! Your tribe. The smiles. You hear your name and it is over. The Finish Line. I saw my dear friend Seth minutes after crossing and he had told me that the Finish Line is just the beginning … And that was the final TRUTH. Because that finish line set my life on an entirely new course. Seconds after crossing. A new woman was born. A Phoenix rising from the ashes. A part of my spirit that I didn’t know exist appeared and hasn’t left my side since. And it has made all the difference in the world …
One year later.
Has it been easy? Nope. Not always.
Why? Because I take more chances.
I take more risks. Risks equal success but also “learning experiences”.
I say YES to more LIFE. More LIFE equals more LOVE. Not romantic love but real LOVE of LIFE.
I found my worth on that course. And I haven’t forgot it.
I found humility, patience and tenderness on that course. And I haven’t forgot it.
I fought for a goal. A dream. And I got it. And I haven’t forgot it.
I am 10 months out from my next Ironman. I have a feeling the journey to this one may be more WILD than I could ever anticipate. I will be there on September 10th 2017. My 35th Birthday. 17 is my number of change and reckoning. No matter WHAT I will be there on my 35th Birthday to have the adventure of a lifetime … Round 2.
And I can’t FREAKING wait to see what I learn about myself and my life on that day. In my home area. My day to day people will be there. The ones I love most. I have a lot of work to do … But that is the beauty of Ironman. Growing into the person who can cross that Finish Line and create a whole new Start Line for their life.
THAT is why we do this sport.
And for the pizza at the end…. 🙂
My full RACE RECAP can be found HERE
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