On Friday night, I get to trade this...
But also this...
2167 of the fastest long distance triathletes in the world.
570 kick-ass female athletes.
140 miles of heat, humidity and lava.
140 miles (well, 140.6 to be exact) is a long, long way to travel...even in a car. Anyone who has done multiple Ironman-distance races can attest that it never gets easier. As I pack for my sixth Ironman and third visit to the Big Island, I am remain equally terrified and intrigued by the magic that is Ironman Kona. It's the most daunting Hawaiian (non) vacation you could ever dream up.
Someone commented to me earlier this week that my participation in Kona is getting "old" - from someone unfamiliar with the rigors of training, I understand where the view comes from. It must very much seem that way...but in reality it is far from the slam dunk. My perspective, having lived every ounce of the big scary goal that was qualifying for Kona this year, is quite different.
Twelve months ago, on the back of heartbreak that came in several forms, I put before myself the big, scary goal of getting back to the Big Island. As 2013 arrived, the likelihood of getting to that start line had faded considerably as I struggled to run even short distances. But the very best goals should feel so very unattainable, they should make you reach past the point of comfort and they absolutely should make you dig deep, recalibrate and focus.
The long-term focus became a day-to-day one that enabled me to redefine what health, happiness and power over my life looks like. Defining myself was a beautiful side-effect that, whether I succeeded in reaching my goal or not, transcended any start or finish line. I get to, every day, empower myself to live my life with purpose. It's a pretty great thing.
In 2013, I learned to listen to my body, to accept that some days less is more, and to trust the plan. Bodies and hearts heal...but only with patience, time and TLC.
Today, I have #1612 assigned to me, and the beautiful, beautiful gift of another start line.
Today, I feel grateful for the love and support around me. My ohana.
Today, I feel blessed for my health...and not just the physical kind.
It is truly an aloha life.