MAINTAINING THE IMAGE
One thing I hadn't thought about in the whole scheme of doing an Ironman was what seems to be happening lately. Putting that 140.6 sticker on my car advertises the fact (to the knowing) that I have now done an iron distance race. It certainly makes it easier to spot my car in the work parking garage among all the other black SUVs. And having my accomplishments and picture put in the health club newsletter also brought attention to my recent achievement. And a recent e-mail from a fellow triathlete welcomed me to the "club." Meaning of course the local club that is Ironman.
So now I hear about it constantly (not that I mind that much). "When is your next event?" "What will you do next?" And last week, after a particularly stressful and trying work week, one of the guys said, "It can't be worse than a triathlon? Or the last 10 miles of a marathon, can it?" Want to bet?? I really think working sometimes is harder.
But having that sticker on my car makes me wonder if someone who sees me actually thinks I am the one who did that distance? I'm not sure I have "the look" of an Ironman. So it makes me walk a little taller, keeps me on my toes as far as workouts go, to maintain that image if nothing more. Its no big deal to my family. I'm still the same person. They don't see IM written on my forehead. The only effect it had on them were my frequent weekend absences over the past few months especially. The accomplishment is mine and mine alone.
And I can't help but think often that really only a small percentage of people, women particularly, do these things. Not that I think anyone who really wants to can't do one, or that I am somehow special because I have. I have proven the theory that if you really want to do something like this, you can. You don't have to be a certain age or weight or have a special ability. And I'm not saying anyone who doesn't want to really do this is less. It has to be a goal, and you have to have a burning desire to make the commitment to do what it takes to meet that goal. That is the hardest part of doing one of these races. And making the commitment is going to carry you through the hard parts of the training and the race. If the will and commitment is there, that's half the battle. Of course, there is also my other theory on this: sign up for something like this and it will scare you enough so you don't dare not do the training!
To me now, maintaining the Ironman "image" means setting an example that others can follow if they so desire.