Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Thrill Ride - No Turning Back!

Years ago I visited Disney World and talked one of my sons into riding the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (featuring Aerosmith) with me. I have long loved thrill rides but not all of them. I usually need to see the whole ride, watch it for a while before deciding whether I feel it would be fun versus flat out terrifying. I would need to see all the loops, twists, turns, drops, upside-down sections, and determine the speed of the ride. I would also judge by the screams whether I could personally handle the ride.  So here we were standing outside the entrance to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, reading the warnings among which was stated "this is a high speed thrill ride" followed by the Do Not's. Do not ride if you have heart, back or neck issues, or high blood pressure. Do not ride if you are pregnant. Do not ride if you have claustrophobia, etc....  It features an extremely fast acceleration from 0 to very fast within seconds. This roller coaster is housed inside a building so I couldn't study it ahead of time. All I knew was it was the newest ride and was all the rage and I thought it sounded cool, and it had a very long wait. But I had to make the decision to ride it or not without really knowing what I was getting into. And again, thankfully at least one of my young sons was gutsy enough to try it with me.

So we stepped into line and began the slow movement inside of the building, spending a couple of hours inching around the winding path within. Along the way there were glimpses of what was in store and Aerosmith rock blasted around us. I looked around to see who else was in line. Were they normal people or crazy people? Were there young kids? Was anyone panicking as we got closer? I became bored at the wait, and then would be pushed into an adrenaline rush when we made quick progress forward. At times I eyed the exit signs along the way and kept in mind I could bail if I needed to. I tried to imagine what the actual coaster seating would look like. Would I feel secure? I reminded myself that I would most likely not die which was slightly comforting.

The anticipation and apprehension grew stronger as we neared the end of the line. I had been reminded 15 times that this is a high speed thrill ride and that the high speed part started immediately. I like loops, twists, going upside down, but I am not a fan of super high speed. I finally got close enough to see the roller coaster start and finish location and I studies the demeanor of the people getting off the ride. Were they staggering? Was their hair standing on end? Were they smiling? Was anyone saying "let's go stand in line 2 more hours so we can do this again?"  I began to feel just a little panicked and looked to my nine year old son for reassurance.  A moment ago I was pretty sure I'd survive this ride but now I wasn't so sure.  Sweaty palms, quick glances to the "last chance" exit. The room was dark, full of people and I still couldn't see the actual ride. All I could see were people shot off into the darkness like a bullet, with their screams quickly fading. And Aerosmith Rock all around me. Steven Tyler was scary enough. Did I really want to do this?

Soon it was our turn to board. I was attempting deep breathing techniques to calm myself and project some type of facade of confidence. Hey, this was going to be fun ... not. I hadn't stepped into the coaster yet. There was still time to bail. Bail, don't bail, bail, don't bail. Once they strap me in if I freak out it would look very bad ... note to self "don't embarrass your son." I stepped in, the cage came down over my shoulders. There was no getting out of this now ... and that was a very bad feeling. Heart pounding. What's going to happen next? How fast are we about to go? WHEN will we go? Will it be dark? Will I be able to see where I'm going? And then we shot off into some cylindrical tube full of lights. I don't think I breathed for about 3 minutes.

That which I just described is the exact feeling I get when I'm lined up for a wave start in an Ironman 70.3. Every bit of what I described above happens to me as I move closer to my race start. It's a thrill ride. I'm about to be strapped into this ride and no turning back.

Next Saturday (May 7th) is the next thrill ride. The Ironman 70.3 St. George. I'm already beginning to feel panicked. But this time I think I will feel something else besides panic. This time I think I will also feel excitement, eagerness, confidence. With the help of some very wonderful people, I am prepared for the depths of pain I will be facing.  I am injury free and have had 4 solid months of focused preparation, countless epic workouts, high intensity efforts. I've tested my nutrition plan several times. I've studied the St. George course and have trained specifically to prepare for the challenges of it. When I stand amidst my wave of competition, I will be able to look around and know I did everything possible to prepare and probably more than most others, maybe more than all others. Besides preparation, the only other factors are talent and execution. I can't determine my abilities compared to others' abilities but as far as execution. I knew the plan. Everything has been thought out, including plan B's if needed. It's still going to be a little scary but for the first time ever, I am doing a triathlon as a triathlete instead of as a runner. It seems an intricate balance to become a well rounded triathlete and this will be the first test to see if we've struck the right balance.

St. George here we come, along with several other Santa Barbara athletes. This will be the ultimate EPIC thrill ride!!  A chance to chase dreams. Never stop dreaming and never stop chasing!

On the eve of this race, I again want to thank the following amazing people! My husband John who doubles as my swim coach and he is the best at both! Fred Maggiore who has selflessly shared from his wealth of experience and has guided my entire training plan. My preparedness is a direct result of all he has done. Nash Jimenez who has been my running inspiration and guide and gives me (and many others) a reason to give it my all. My many training partners and teammates: Desa Mandarino, Jen Brown, Lynelle Paulick, Tabitha Elwood, Doug Moore, Jim Adams, Chris Latham, Bob Kitson, Crystal Martin, Dave (Spaulding and Adornetto), Poul Jorgensen, James Kantrim, Joe Sullivan, Christie McDonald, Renaud Gonthier and Laurence (the French people), and many others. 
Thank you to the Santa Barbara Triathlon Club and all of the amazing community, support and encouragement that comes from this club, and for Santa Barbara Running Company, De Soto Sport Triathlon Company, and Rabbit Running apparel (Rabbit clothing officially launched April 2016 and I am blessed to be a first supporter and user of the apparel as a member of the Founder's Club. My newest Rabbit outfit is pictured above), for equipping me with the right clothing for all aspects of triathlon. Hazards Cycling (Bruce and everyone!) who has my bike well fitted to me and tuned up, ready to go as fast as I can drive it. And Dr. Ernie Ferrel (Ferrel Chiropractics) who has helped keep me injury free and works out the issues that crop up.

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