Mohammed Ali once said “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, in the gym and out on the road long before I dance under those lights.” and I’m starting to learn the same is true for Ironman. I’m learning triathlons, and especially the longer ones, take a ton of preparation away from “those lights”. I’m really battling at the moment with the solitude of it all. The long swims. The long rides. The long runs. Especially at this time of the year when everyone is talking about winding down and getting away and I’m looking to ramp things up and focus more. I actually just looked at a calender and it is only 16 weeks until Ironman South Africa. 16 weeks until I dance under those lights.
I have been visualising the red carpet and in particular the feeling of heading down that stretch of beach front in Port Elizabeth. The crowd cheering and going wild. Running towards the finish line you realise what you have achieved on that day. More than the 3.8km swim. More than the 180km cycle. More than the 42.2km run. Its the culmination of months and months of commitment and sacrifice. Doing more and going further than you thought possible. Everyone craves glory but few are prepared to put in the hard yards. Few are prepared to make sure the fight is won in the gym and out on the long road.
As you get closer and closer to the line the pain dissipates. The pain of the thousands of kilometres you put in away from the witnesses. When there was no one around to share a sunrise. Or a sunset. A rainstorm. Sunburn.
The first steps have gone unnoticed. The final steps to the summit will not. I haven’t been there yet but I have let myself feel what it feels like to cross that finish line. To the end of the red carpet. Arms raised. Skin crawling with goose bumps. You are an Ironman. Over and over and over again. 16 weeks until I live my visualisation. 16 weeks until I dance under those lights.