I thumbed the ON switch to my Mac at 6:30AM this morning so that I could watch the Ironman 70.3 World Championships live from Clearwater, Florida today.
I have no direct affinity to such a lengthy race, considering I've never even done a sprint tri myself (although I want to and will blog about it if I do it but only if I do well), but I've seen how it changes people's lives (including my awesome twin, Mary, who gave up working to pursue it for a living. like, for real) and I've met some really great people whom I consider my friends through this event. This morning many friends were racing at Worlds and Mary was down there as well, watching her boyfriend vie for a top ten spot. I was experiencing the good kind of jealousy in my heart, wishing I could be part of all the energy and excitement, but technology can make a girl lazy and, rather than spending $200 on a tickey, I decided to set my alarm and watch it from the comforts of a bed - coffee at hand.
The course was fast so it was no surprise that many top competitors would throw down some great times. It was awesome to watch The Dibens (Julie) put 3 minutes on the next closest girl on the bike and to see how many guys were in the lead pack. And the run. Heartbreakingly fast. Aside from this, I really don't know much about how to talk triathlon, so I won't pretend to do so here. In fact, I sort of hate it when people who don't DO triathlon try to TALK triathlon so I'll break down my good cheer and awe in my own words.
An Ironman 70.3 is half of an Ironman, the "70.3" just stands for the total distance covered, which breaks down to be a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike and then a 13.1 mile run. NO.BIG. DEAL. I mean, to finish one - let alone break the TOP 10 - is phenomenal. Now tack World Championships onto that, fill it to the brim with people from all over the world who qualified for it, and you've got some mad spice in your chipotle.
These athletes, every last one of them (including the DNFers who, sadly, can't finish for one reason or another) are tough. I'm talking GIANT IRON BALLS tough. Their mentality and focus has got to be tight and positive. These people have given up drinking or late nights. Some give themselves a curfew, a bedtime, a diet, a 30-hr/week work out plan. They sacrifice. They have an iron will.
It's no surprise then, that Ironman was appropriately named "iron, which has a number of definitions but is largely associated with something that is strong, robust, healthy, rigid and unyielding (thank you, Merriam-Webster. always good to get a second opinion).
Or perhaps it was named in honor of Science, after the transitional metal, Fe, on the periodic table of elements (i looked this up, I had no desire to study the PTE after 11th grade). Iron is essential to life. Iron also happens to be the the sixth most abundant metal in the Universe; it's been around forever and is the most widely used of all metals. It's found in veggies and red meat, too.
Or maybe it was named after Marvel Comics' Iron Man. As Superheroes go, Iron Man is this fantastic avenger who relies on his iron exoskeleton to protect him. Rust is his version of kryptonite and he sprinkles iron fillings on his cappuccino in the morning. I can relate.
I prefer to think Ironman embodies not just one definition, but a little of each. You gotta have heart. There's no WAY anyone would put themselves through the training if they didn't believe in themselves. You gotta have Fe, I mean, it's in your blood. We ALLLLL have it. And you gotta have superpowers. Who DOESN'T put iron sprinkles on their cappuccinos?!
This makes me feel good. I figure we all possess at least 2 of the three, so therefore we all have the potential to become an Ironman. Shucks, no more races this year (sigh) guess I'll think about working on my form for next year.
So here's to a fantastic race today, Ironmen and Ironwomen of the world who collectively are IRONMAN finishers (no gender sensitivity to this title), and a shout-out and FIST PUMP to every single human being who put their heart on the line at 6:30AM this morning.
Special Congratulations to friends:
Joe Gambles (5th male overall)
Julie Dibens (1st female overall)
MaryBeth Ellis (2nd female overall)
Sarah Groff (7th female overall)
Brandon del Campo (1st in age group)
Kara Nielsen (12th in age group)
....and a shout to my sister who is so packed full of 2010 potential it's almost outrageous:) I can't wait to see you whallop the field with your incredible perseverance and strength. you rule.