On July 20th when I'm in Mirror Lake waiting for the starting gun to sound I'll be surrounded by 2,000 individuals each fighting their way off their own private island. Yesterday after a terrifying swim in White Pond in Kent, NY where I felt as if I was being attacked by 6 foot weeds I felt isolated from the world through Ironman training. All the struggles I've encountered in the past year were transformed into waves making me think I was standing alone on an island with 140.6 miles between me and the rest of the world.
I spoke with my Coach about this last night; she said that each athlete training for IMLP feels almost exactly the same way that I do. That each person will face an internal struggle during the race and each person will need to overcome those obstacles to call themselves an Ironman for the first time or the xth time. Each person will be on their own island and will be fighting the same waves. Their waves may be created from different fears and different struggles than mine but each person will need to navigate those waters, to shed the feeling of isolation and to fight through to the finish.
With IMLP looming like an enormous storm cloud 25 days away, bike issues that I've been struggling to fix and some 6 foot weeds that wanted to kill me my island felt like it was further off the shore than ever before. The last block of training is always the hardest according to Coach Egg. This is where mental toughness truly becomes a factor; the pressure of the race isn't there in January but it sure as hell is there in late June and especially July. I want each finger prick to give me a perfect result, I want each workout to be perfect, I want my muscles to feel the best they ever have and each time that doesn't happen I am frustrated. With my goal in sight this is the time where I must trust my training and not fear those waters but embrace them to break through to the other side. This is the time to leave that island and face those waves head on, to look fear and frustration in the face and work as hard as I possibly can to defeat them. This is what the journey to becoming an Ironman is all about.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." ~ Winston Churchill