For several weeks, I have been planning to return to masters swim for the first time since my injury took me out of the pool. I had even put it on the training plan in the sidebar.
But I didn't do it.
I didn't do it because I was afraid.
What if I haven't gained back as much strength as I think? What if I get hurt again? What if I can't hang with the workout? What will the good swimmers think of me? I'll look like a fool and a poser.
But Friday, I did it anyway. I was in the slowest lane, but I did it anyway.
Saturday, I almost did not show up for a group ride with the Lone Star Multisport club from the Woodlands. Again, I was afraid. I've never ridden with that group before, and beyond my usual reluctance to meet new people, I knew they were a strong group. I wasn't wrong. There were at least half a dozen studs with ironman finisher gear. What if I can't hang with them? What will they think of me? I'll look like a fool and a poser.
But Saturday, I did it anyway. I got dropped by the Justice League crew in the first group, but I did it anyway . . .
. . . and I pulled someone on a road bike who later thought better of pursuing the long route that day. Karma.
On the hills outside Anderson, Texas, having long since been dropped and riding alone with my own thoughts, I crested a hill and saw another solitary rider. Actually, he was not riding. This card carrying member of the Justice League was on the side of the road with one slowly leaking tube, one tube that would hold no air, and having expended all his CO2.
As luck would have it, I was carrying 4 cannisters instead of my usual 2. Karma.
I was la lanterne rouge of the long route, and the little voice in my head was telling me just to avoid the ignominy and jump in the car after my brick run. I was embarassed to talk to anyone, but I did it anyway.
The only person around happened to be the CO2 superhero's friend. He and I both did our first half-iron distance events last year. We began talking about our race schedules and how I had signed up for Ironman Wisconsin after seeing my friends on the course while volunterering. A spark of recognition dawned on his face. He knew I was talking about Iron Wil, and he figured out that I was Greyhound. The superhero soon returned, and besides meeting two great people, I learned some useful information about Wildflower. Karma.
Shortly before Ironman Florida, The Tri-Geek Kahuna observed one profound result of his training: "The one emotion that has ruled his life, that he was weaned on, is missing: fear." Maybe that is one of the things I'm looking for in my Ironman experience. I am the older of two brothers, and yet it was my little brother who had no fear. I was afraid of everything: swimming, girls, boys, athletics, locker rooms, my own appearance, failure, embarassment . . .
. . . a lot of the same things that have kept me out of the pool or away from the group rides.
I will always be the cautious older brother, and the future is always going to have another "it" to be afraid of. I hope that part of this Ironman experience will be increasing measures of courage . . . to do "it" anyway. If I can do that . . .
"If" by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!