Slow Dissolve

IMG_9590Last week I sat down and took a look at some numbers. Miles. Hours. Time I’ve spent away from my family and alone swimming, biking, and running since June when half-ironman training officially began.

Here’s how it shakes out (more or less):

Biking: 660 miles

Running: 165 miles

Swimming: 24 miles

I started to tally the total hours, but quickly decided that it wasn’t really important. All that I need to recognize is that I’ve spent approximately 10-15 hours a week training over 16 or so weeks. Enough hours to get me here today.

And I sit here with a compression sleeve on my angry knee. Icing several times a day. Hoping. Praying. Working harder than I’ve worked during any training over the last four months just to stay mentally calm and focused. And after a moment of tears and panic the other day that I’d never cross the finish line, I had to consider that the training means nothing if I try to sink the ship before race day has even arrived.

Whatever the miles and hours add up to, it’s overwhelming to consider. And I remembered that it isn’t really about the numbers at all. It’s not about the miles, the hours, the laps. It isn’t even about 70.3 miles on race day. Not really.

No, it’s the countless things I can’t really tally that add up. The supportive comments and unexpected utterances from friends and family. The countless moments I questioned my ability and right to be on this journey. And those countless moments of doubt are all supported by countless times I’ve carried on, pushed forward. One more step. One more stroke. One more pedal. One more hill. It might have been half-heartedly at times. I might not have really believed in myself all that much, but something pushed me forward. Whether it was a friend, a vision of the finish line, a faint glimmer of possibility. I have never given up on this dream or my ability to achieve it. And now, sitting here, one week away from race day eve, and I am amazed at how quickly all of those hours, those miles, those laps, and steps have transpired. I want to freeze time just a little and marinate in these moments a while longer. There is nothing like the build to this first big race, this first seemingly impossible accomplishment. I don’t want it to be over too quickly. I’m not ready to be on the other side of race day, reliving each of the 70.3 miles. Even the hard ones. Because I know I will find myself in some dark places that day. But darkness, in a slow dissolve, is always followed by, bolstered by light.

And it’s all been a slow dissolve. Not just over the last four months, but over a journey of many years. From a slow trudge, a run a block-walk a block to numb the pain of divorce, to the bubbles on the side of the pool, to a then seemingly impossible feat: my first sprint triathlon. From open water paralysis to confidence. From a niggling idea a year ago to almost reality now.

I am here, so close to what has been building for so long. And I am overwhelmed by it all. I find myself teary at random times. At the friendships I’ve built because of this journey. Of those that have been strengthened. At my goal of being connected this year and finding that it has propelled me through to such amazing places and people. And probably most surprisingly to myself. Through all of the miles and hours, the doubt and belief, the strength and weakness, I have found that I am enough. I have the ability to do what I set out to do. To follow through. To push hard and face fears and create a new reality. To slowly dissolve into someone stronger, happier, and more amazing than I ever believed possible. A shadow of what I once was.

And when I cross that finish line (and I will), that is the message I hope I have sent through sharing this journey at home and here and on Facebook and Instagram. No matter the goal, we are all capable of amazing. Of new heights and reach and limits. Of pushing beyond the paralysis that so often plagues us at the onset of something new. And slowly, sometimes even imperceptibly, we dissolve from what we once were into a new life humming with the energy of limitless potential.