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January 7, 2011

A beautiful day…

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You`re on the start line, sitting still, looking at your heart rate monitor. It reads 134. You are supposed to max out at 158 today. What the…

It’s the adrenaline, the anticipation of the rush you are about to feel. You check your goggles one more time for fog. You look up at the sky an.. BANG! off goes the gun and you are in a flailing of arms, legs, feet, fists, heads and white water. There is foam everywhere and you are in survival mode. What race? All you want is to get through the first 100m. You find some water that isn’t filled with bubbles and stretch your stroke just a little. It feels good. The taper seems to have worked. You look around for some feet to sit on. Back into bubbles, but control this time.

Oh shoot, you are in an Ironman. All the preparation, all the sacrifice, all those hours that took forever and here you are. It suddenly dawns on you that you are here, that by getting to the start, you are 99% of the way there. You breathe a little easier and realise you are already halfway through the first lap. The feet you have are slowing and you attempt to move around but there is only clear water ahead of those feet. You look behind. 30 people are sitting your feet and you pat yourself on the back for those extra swim sets.

You judge it to be 10m to the next pack, so when you hit the beach you run hard to cross the gap and make it as you hit the water. Settle in onto the feet again. STOKE!! Lap 2 goes by so quickly you almost forget to kick a little more before hitting the beach. You high five a spectator as you run up the stairs to Transition, because YOU ARE AWESOME.

You thank the volunteers for helping you dress for the bike and hop onto your bike, the music and crowds are just a treat. Your first few pedal strokes are so easy. You feel so good. You know this will eventually go away, but you hammer a little, just because, in the first few kilometers. You settle your heart rate around 10km and aim to hit the zone. People are flying by, but your coach said this would happen. You hang tight, obey the rules and eat son! Up and over the drag you are on your way back to the coast and before you know it, that fresh air off the water is with you and the wind slightly at your back. Some of those early pace hitters are starting to fade already and you feel a-ma-zing! Lap 1 is done, right on time.

Lap 2 feels super, until about 110km. Eat boy! Eat! Focus! You find your rhythm as you come back into town, the crowds and the noise are a motivation and you bottle the energy in your thumbs and stare at them for the entire lap 3, holding focus. Before you can blink you are off the bike. The legs are not happy about the change of position. The back is stiff. You run barefoot back to the tent and it stings. You beg for sunscreen and help with your socks. Volunteers rule! Socks, shoes, cap, gels, tablets, water, what did you forget? Ahhh, there is your trusty arm band. Don’t forget it. Karma.

You hit the first aid station and need to pee. Eish. It feels like a world record in time but its a short stop. Breathe. Coke! Water! Arms up! Repeat. 40km to go. This is what it’s all about. This is make or break, this first lap. Hold BACK boy! It feels effortless. You high five a kid so hard he almost falls over. He loves it. He runs with you for 200m then fades. I AM AWESOME.

You head into the university. It’s warmer, with no people. The dead zone. You find your power song and hummmmmmmmm it loudly in your head. Where is the damn aid station?

There is it. Focus. Arms high.

Coke! Water! Gel! Water!

Tailwiiiiind!! Round the corner and lap 1 is almost done. Wow! The drone of the crowds rise and your pace a little faster as the pain seems to vanish under the cheers and the applause and the admiration for you being such a warrior. For making the commitment, for your willingness to be better than yourself. It’s 18km and the next turn and you are smashing it now. Feeling better than you ever have. You are so in the zone and your pace is so dialed you don’t even have to look at your heart rate monitor anymore. Your smile says it all.

You cruise through the back section of the loop with more confidence this time, knowing the crowd reward at the end of lap 2. You head out on lap 3 and with 10km to go, you feel mega tired for the first time. They have either switched to coke light or you are missing something. Fatigue is creeping and your head feels a little fuzzy.

Hold it together. Just like in training. Come on, boy! Focus! One step in front of the other. This is now really hurting. 8km to go and into the university. What is this hill? Was is here on lap 1 or lap 2? Sheeshkebab! You walk for the first time. You make the choice to laugh at yourself instead of cry. I AM HUMAN.

When the hill flattens, you find your stride again. Just make it to the aid station. Baby steps. COOOKE!! COOOKE!!

The long downhill to the last turn on your most epic day ever seems quiet and your reflection begins long before you hit the finish line. The noise is distant and you wake to the emotions you have been hiding for so long. You swell up and let a tear loose. Your stride begins to grow and your pain disappears. You feel euphoric and you head back to the noise with a returned smile.

You stop at your supporters area and thank everyone. They yell at you to keep going. You oblige.

You hit the carpet.

There are 2000 cheering and a huge sound system blaring.

You hear nothing. It’s dead quiet. You feel numb. I AM AWESOME. You raise your hands, cross the line and life returns. The beautiful day is over. Bring it back…

One Comment on “A beautiful day…

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Raoul de Jongh. Raoul de Jongh said: http://bit.ly/esYceH The Beautiful Day, in 1066 words. #ironman #triathlon […]

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