Sunday, October 18, 2015

IRONMAN JOURNEY: The finish line

Yesterday I volunteered at Ironman Maryland to work the finish line and hand out medals. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. The day started off with a disappointment as the trigods decided to shorten the swim for safety purposes... taking the 3800m swim to 3000m. Still a helluva long way but I think if I was doing this triathlon my mental state would've been like, "dang it... now I'm guaranteed to have to sign up for another so that I can complete the full swim distance."

The weather was a chilly 58 degrees as its high and upper 30s at its low. The day quickly turned into night.  Temperatures dropped. This is what I remember seeing:

I saw a girl run broken to the finish line and as soon as she crossed the line she collapsed shaking and weak...actually I saw 100 people like that.

Countless people having to hold onto two 'catchers' who helped them clear the finish area because they didn't have another ounce to give.

I saw man and wife run thru the finish line holding hands and as they crossed he grabbed her around the waist and passionately kissed her. Awww! and yeck at the same time. (I mean, these people are saliva-ey, mucousey, sweaty and all things gross by the end of this race!)

I saw a guy from China with his flag.  I saw a guy from Ecuador with his flag.  I saw a girl with the American flag and I held it up off of the ground for her when she ran thru.

I saw identical twin sisters cross the finish line together.

My last medal I gave was to a 70 year old woman.

I saw fit and lean, I saw not as fit and lean... people who didn't look to be iron at all but were more iron than I've ever been!  I saw women who had rosy cheeks and looked like they had just taken a little jog (except they could barely stand), I saw people with vomit on them, a guy who had a huge scrape across his face and bloody knuckles from what I can only assume was a spill on the bike. But he finished!

I don't know how many times I said Congratulations!! You are an IRONMAN. Well done!

One man picked me up in a hug and wouldn't let go and all I could do was giggle and say "You did it!!" His joy was contagious.

But the guy I remember most and who I'll remember a year from now in my own Ironman was a young guy in a green trikit and a hat. He ran over the finishline, jumped in the air and cheered with a fist pump. Then stopped and stood there just as suddenly and covered his face, overcome with emotion. We all collectively said "awwww..." with so much pride and appreciation for him and his accomplishment. As we escorted him to the side we heard his friends congratulating him and comforting him.
8 weeks ago today, cancer free. :D

One of the best nights ever to stand in the exact right spot and watch over and over and over from that vantage point of people of every race, gender and creed--achieve their dream. They crossed the finish line and some were irritable, some jubilant, some gracious, some over it-- all were in some kind of pain... and all were changed. For not everyone can be iron. But as of last night, they are!!

Congratulations!! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ironman Journey: You Will Not Outwork Me.

Last night I stumbled on this motivational video:
Check it out...

It's Eric Thomas... he's going in.  Passionately orating while images of buff athletes doing pushups with chains on their shoulders and sweaty guys crawling out of bed at 3 am to put on running shoes flash across the screen.  He's talking about wanting it more than you want sleep.  He's talking about putting in the extra work.  Further than what the coach says to do.  Further than what your boss says to do.

He says, I dare you to give it everything this year.  He says I dare you to give one year out of your life when you're dialed in; sacrificial.  One year out of your life when you show up.   Walk off EXHAUSTED.  And I wondered what that'd look like.  What would it look like if I just operated at this other level, this determined level, this consistent level, this committed level?  This Rob Giles kind of level?  This Tanji Johnson kind of level?

Eric Thomas talks about the difference between Oprah and the guy who's broke is how she spends her 24 hours.  In this past week I passed my Leadership Supervisor's Test for my job, the culminating end of what has been a year-long process to qualify to apply to be a supervisor in my organization.  I wrote a 7 page paper for Air Command Staff College in betwixt choir rehearsals multiple times a week for this coming weekend, next month and Christmas-- learning my song for a solo that I'll sing in front of thousands next month (pray for me).  And when I wasn't writing and singing over the weekend, I was at a soccer field with 100 kids taking photos for an event that was created to inspire them to stay out of gangs.  I learned out there on the field how to take pictures of people and things in motion...thank God for google, I learned right there! And then in the middle of the night, after work, and then after training... I was on my couch--editing and uploading 500 photos for that event and organization so that those 100 kids wouldn't have to wait to see their pictures.  This week I was chosen to be a chaplain for my church.  I was assigned 2 new cases and I agreed to accomplish a 3 month military tour to support the Air Force.  And tomorrow in 4 hours I'm getting up at 3 am to volunteer at Ironman Maryland at the finish line until 10:00 pm, to drive two hours home to get up 4 hours later to sing in 3 church services.  It'll be one of those weekends when I'll go back to work on Monday for rest.  ;) And as I write this I was called to respond to a crime scene..

I was talking to my mom and dad last night and my dad said, "so when do you say no?"  That question laced with wisdom and all-knowing made me hesitate and then also made me throw caution to the wind...

My mind said:

But I'm not called to say no.  I'm called to serve and be better and be greater and glorify and inspire... and if I can change, YOU can change.  Not just your body, but your discipline, your work ethic, your spiritual walk, your professionalism at work, your reputation, your finances, your mind. 

I spent last week watching BTA updates of Ironman Louisville and watched the people cross the finish line.  Jump up and down, fall down, cry, overcome by emotion... because its not just the race(!).  It's the culminating end to the process that it took to get to that finish line.

The finish line for my Ironman journey is September 25, 2016.  What if I dedicated an entire year to greatness in and off the field? Truth be told, it's been a minute since I've done that.  What if I ate right?  Slept more?  Trained everyday?  Showed up early, stayed late?  Walked in my purpose?  What if I stopped being hurt and just encouraged instead?  What if instead of not trusting, I believed?  What if I dressed at the level of my next job?  What if I pushed myself intellectually?  What if I pushed myself to another level physically? 

Eric Thomas says, "Everyone wants to be a beast until it's time to do what beasts do."

Kevin Hart says", "Everyone wanna be famous, don't nobody wanna do the work."

But do I have the heart??

We're gonna see..  I sign up for Ironman Chattanooga tomorrow. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Last night I posted on Facebook that I am going to
 be an Ironman. 

Publically said it - for all of the world to see. 

This morning I woke up in a sort of panic and thought to myself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE??".  Lol.  I checked Facebook.  Only 4 people took interest.  Maybe I can just quietly delete my post and act like I never said a word...

Then I thought to myself, why CAN'T you be an Ironman??  What's stopping you?
That silly voice inside of my head that is so persistent and loud said-- "um..  you are fat.  You can barely run 2 miles.  You are lazy.  You aren't motivated.  You aren't driven.  You are a dreamer."  She sighed and looked down at her nails she was loudly filing in the corner..


Then I said again, "no seriously-- why CAN'T I be an Ironman?  I am healthy.  I am able.  I am athletic.  I have no real commitments outside of my job.  I have a support system.  I have a bike.  I even have two bikes.  I have a bike trainer.  I was a competitive swimmer.  I have run marathons.  This is a good start.  Why CAN'T I??

That other voice stayed filing her nails in the corner of my mind but had fallen silent.

So, on Day 0-- this is my current situation.  I am 160 pounds.  That's 40 pounds away from 200 for all of you non-mathematicians out there.  As I sit here typing, I have folds of fat that kind of push against my waistline and feel stuffed against my clothes.  I have cellulite and its starting to form everywhere.  My face is getting fatter.. Yeck.  My outside runs are slow and laborious...  I'm at something like a 12:00 mile pace and yesterday I got out there and took forever to do 2.5 miles. (In my defense, it was the hilliest course ever and I ran with irritating/irrational dogs who think they run me...).

So that's where we're at.  :)

I do have a plan.

  • I have already hired a nutrition/lifting coach.  I wait patiently for his instruction. If you're reading this Coach, ahem.  More to come on this.
  • I am strongly considering hiring a tri coach in the area that I've worked with before. 
  • I am looking at training FIRST for a 70.3 (half-ironman) in March in my old home (but not at all where I'm from)--Puerto Rico.
This first blog is just to start the journey.  My boy Havanah started a fitness journey awhile back and it was really amazing to watch his journey and story and progress unfold.  Obviously he was an inspiration to me and many others.  He literally changed his body and his life before our eyes. 

That voice in my head is right on one thing.  I am a dreamer.  I happen to be a dreamer who dreams BIG.  I had a dream to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy.  I had a dream to become a forensics expert.  I even had a dream to work for the world's elite investigative agency (which incidentally is NOTHING like that new TV show-- I literally wanted to stab myself in the neck with a fork after watching 30 minutes of it...I say we all boycott...)  I dream big and because of it, I have been blessed to have lived big.  I don't settle.  Not for my career.  Not for men.  And now, I'm not settling for what is ulitmately supposed to happen by all predictive accounts--I mean, right?   I'm supposed to get old and tired and fat and sick with heart disease and diabetes and just... sit around and dream.

In the triathlon world, there is a saying... you never know until you tri.

One last thing.  I have had this idea in my head since at least 2007.  8 years ago I met an Ironman (the first I'd ever met) who had done like...12.  He wasn't the nicest guy and seemed to walk around like the rest of us were peons because we were not iron like him.  I thought to myself.  I can do that.  But when I do it, it won't be like he's done it.  I'll take everyone along with me and encourage and motivate and inspire if I can.  Fast forward about 7 years to when I joined BTA.  (shout out to BTA!!).  This group of predominatelty African-American triathletes who have engaged in a sport not known for its diversity-- has literally catapulted my imagination into this goal.  The members of BTA have shown me that anything is possible.  We can do anything if we believe.  Day in and day out on their Facebook page, I watch people achieve their goals-- or fall short of their goals and get back up to tri again.  Amazing.  They've taught me:

You never know until you tri. 

So, who's with me?