Good morning lovelies and gents, today I am bringing you a post with a person, a passion, and a purpose. This is a deeply personal journey but please do enjoy and feel free to join me, it can be yours too.
I can’t pinpoint the moment of truth or exactly what put it in my mind in the very beginning but it quickly kindled itself into a burning fire that only everyone with insatiable passion can possibly understand.
I remember last fall (2012) thinking that I’d do a 5k. Great, but if I could a 5k what was stopping me from doing a 10k? Nothing. Perfect, I’ll do it. But wait, what was another 6.9 miles? Ok, I’ll do a half marathon. Hang on, if I could run 13.1 miles what was I thinking not going for the full? FINE. I’ll do a full marathon. Perfect. A full marathon it is. 26.2 miles and I’ll be finished.
But this dog was mocking me, grreat.
A marathon wasn’t good enough. Not for this sled dog. Not for me.
I wanted to go beyond the humdrum of “just” running a marathon. A marathon is not for whimps and whatever you do do not go out there and think you’re going to be ok running on a whim, you won’t be. Please do go run one though – what you learn about yourself during the training alone is incredible. You can accomplish anything.
I really wanted to get out there, I wanted to make a difference and push myself to the edge of where I could be…and then I wanted to go further. So that’s it, I decided my “thing” would be a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run (PS that’s an “ultra” distance/Ironman triathlon). No big deal, right?
Ha, right! I know I can do it. I know I can do it because I’m not afraid of blood, I’m not afraid of sweat, and if life has taught me anything, I am not afraid of tears. At that point I was mentally committed, that was Winter 2012. It took another nine/ten months of research and what some might call stupidity to commit to a race.
Ironman Wisconsin 2015, here I come. No, I don’t know that I’ll get into this race and truthfully, the training just might kill me (kidding Coach, kidding) but I am willing to give it all I’ve got.
Why Wisconsin? First, I’m pretty sure they (we) cycle by dairy cows and if they don’t they (we) should. Second, and far more weighty this tweet, this mission:
Here’s the link if you want to join the largest t1/t3 team ever to race a single Ironman. 2015 is calling https://t.co/U0IH28Tds4
— Michelle Alswager (@MichelleMile23) October 6, 2013
Michelle is the Development Director of Riding on Insulin, has had a child with T1, and has continued to advocate. This on top of not seeming to mind my already persistent questioning. I promise Michelle, I’m not trying to bug you!
Riding On Insulin is a classified 501(c)3 with this mission “Riding On Insulin empowers, activates and connects the global diabetes community through shared experience and action sports. In addition to establishing a comfortable environment, we strive to help families explore new passions, challenge the illness, and celebrate each other’s successes.” Riding On Insulin is also open to “T3″ siblings and parents. T3s are family members and friends without diabetes but with the desire to be a part of the diabetic fight. T3s are a way to be included, a way to suit up for battle if you will.
I’m not diabetic which makes me a T3 and I don’t know anyone in this group (yet). What I do know is that I want this journey to mean more and serve more than me. I’m one person, we are one group, and this is one world. If I’m going to do something this “ridiculous” I’m going to do it for a higher purpose. That higher purpose just so happens to have come to me by tweet.
Allow me to introduce to you “a person” and a support system of people:
I know that I love an amazing someone unconditionally who has inspired me to go further, try harder, and push more than I ever thought I could. She has had T1 diabetes since she was 4, has beaten breast cancer and has done both of these thing while brightening my life and many others every single day.
Kathy is my step mom. She is one for the record books. Always claiming to be “the evil stepmother” she has never shown any true sign of this! She keeps my dad out of trouble (trust me – he needs all the help he can get ;)) and is always there if I need a shoulder to cry on, a friend to listen, some no-nonsense advice or any combination thereof. There is nothing this woman can’t do. She feeds those in hospice when she’s not doing dialysis. She sounds like a saint, huh? To put up with all the shenanigans of the family, she dang near has to be.
Sure, she’s not perfect. God knew what He was doing though. She’s never lost sight of Him either, quite possibly more than anyone else she has served as my foundation of faith. She has never once wavered. Of course, why has entered everyone’s mind. It’s entered my mind certainly. Why would God ever put anyone through this? Is this path of pain and suffering really what life is? Her life training plan sucks, cancer, diabetes, crazy in-laws, and quite possibly crazier family. She always assures of the opposite though, she has an amazing life, God gave her obstacles to clear gracefully and a group of people who, albeit bizarre, have their own way of loving her. God has a purpose and at the end of every day He’s the one helping her dust off the day to start the next.
To help dust me off the ring side seats are packed with friends, families, and strangers alike. To say I am blessed is an understatement and I am so grateful for each and every one of my supporters and her supporters. Allow me to introduce to you a few.
First, on the technical side of things: I hired a coach. He’s nuts, absolutely bonkers but I love it. He will be a part of many, many posts over these next 22 months I’m sure. I could have printed off a training plan and followed it meticulously, I could have found a friend who would help me get reacquainted with the pool, etc but I decided hiring a coach was the best step for me to get the most out of this experience. He will also be instrumental in getting me in proper gear, figuring out proper nutrition, and most importantly, pushing me harder than I ever have been. Sure, hiring a coach is selfish but I know he is my best first move. Less than two weeks in and he’s already proving his worth in gold (more on that Monday).
Next to be introduced is my husband. Thankfully he supports me in all things. He also just so happens to be the best Athletic Trainer on the earth (in my very humble opinion). He
has to gets to listen to me gripe and whine of early/hard/easy/rest days, make sure my body is sound enough (for which I cannot thank him enough), and of course, hopefully, be there at the finish line 600 + days away.
My parents should not go unmentioned either, each has taught me invaluable lessons. My stepmom, the person behind this, just keep kicking. My mom, someone who I am proud to say is my best friend, she thinks I’m nuts for doing a marathon…we’ll hold a session on what she thinks after Ironman! She has taught me so many things but I suppose my favorite life lesson is to always be kind. Always. My dad, there is nothing quite like the father/daughter connection and I know he’s going to be cheering me on the whole way; lesson: “you do whatcha gotta do, it’s that easy”. My stepdad, last but not least, who taught me that I can do anything, it’s just a matter how many tears I cry first (I know he remembers teaching me how to drive)!
Twitter. Can’t leave social media out of this fight. It may sound 21st century and it is but I have the opportunity to connect with so many incredible people from all walks of life with all different goals, all of whom inspire me and I will hopefully have the chance to be that inspiration for someone else. Besides, if Twitter is good for nothing else it’s perfect for shouting to the abyss!
So in my corner how many people is that? Oh, yeah, millions I have fantastic support system!
Let’s go through the motions.
The swim. I grew up in a pool, I haven’t been in any pool for about seven years though and for any consistency even longer than that. Coach says I’ll get my form back no problem. Advantage? I think so! Thanks Mom!
The bike. <insert groan> I can literally count on one hand how many time I have sat on a bicycle. You read that correctly -sat not ridden – and this next sentence might even make you cry a little. I am 20 years old with absolutely no knowledge of the fundamentals or mechanics of riding a bike, much less riding for 112 miles. What could possibly be in my favor? I rode horses for what seems like forever. Win for awesome parents again! The plan? To start out on a stationary and an indoor trainer, get me comfortable by Spring and…let’er go! Yes, I promise to video the first ride for you! Coach will be instrumental in making sure I succeed in this one. I have faith in my abilities and he has faith in mine – we’re all set!
The run. When I first began I hated running or at least I thought I did. Then I started down this road to 26.2 (marathon) and I’ve found it therapeutic, energizing, enlightening, so many amazing things. Needless to say, I don’t hate it any more! Really I am looking forward to crossing that finish line on my own two feet.
My passion is to move and for others to move. I have an insatiable desire to keep moving, to live my life with others and not for myself alone. It’s fueled by finding my stride, in all aspects of life. I believe that if you’re unwilling to lend a hand you haven’t started living yet.
Decide to Ironman: Check. Pick a race: Check. Find an amazing group of people do it with completely by accident: Done. Hire a coach who’s just as crazy as you (he’s a multiple IM himself): Done. Write your story: Doing. Finish thousands of miles later: Will do.
Now to get down to business. Ironman is about me, Ironman is about Kathy, Ironman is about you and embodies every single goal you set for yourself. It is the pinnacle of existence. My thing is Ironman, yours might be buying groceries from farmer’s markets (buy local guys, you’ll love it) or quitting your stable job to pursue your purpose. Whatever it might be, go do it. Go do it with passion. Go do it with zest. Go do it with everything you have. You cannot lose.
Please join me in my journey, share with me yours.
There is a fundraising effort being put together and I will be soliciting donations for Riding On Insulin if you would like to be notified when my fundraising page goes up simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to send an encouraging word or share your story I’d love love love to hear from you – email me at the same address as above!