Friday, February 1, 2008

Rising Above

(pre-note: my spell check is not working, so please excuse my horrendous spelling errors)

You know how you can listen to the same song, over and over, and then you can hear at just the right moment, and the words just squeeze your heart and put the tears right in the corner of your eyes?

Yeah, that happened to me today.

And yeah, I am that girl next to you that cries on the treadmill. Divert your eyes.

I was trottin’ along on the treadmill, had a quick 50 minute run (which was made slightly more difficult by that nagging knee pain that has decided to revisit me after the ½ marathon – how lovely) and with every step I was trying to gage, “Does it hurt? Does it not hurt? What if I land my foot this way? How about this?” And then out of nowhere, I heard “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen.

Now, I saw Bruce in concert when this album came out, and if memory serves me, it was after 9.11. In fact, this song, I believe, is about that day, and about moving forward and rebuilding with a mix of sorrow and hope and faith.

But that’s why it hit me. I guess coming off of an incredible ½ marathon, the realization of having no back pain just as the anniversary of the injury approaches, then worrying about the knee pain – all while trying to wrap my mind around this whole Ironman thing – it all just came together this afternoon in one big emotional heap at my feet.

Here’s the thing I never talk about. I am scared. To my core. I do so much visualizing during the long workouts (you know, the one of yourself coming down the finishers chute, the family and friends screaming from behind the gates…makes me teary thinking about it) but it’s always about the fun and exciting and wonderful things about this day I have come to glorify.

But sometimes I wonder if I truly get it. Can I really comprehend the distance of the day? What does 140.6 feel like? I read the blogs of other who have gone before me, and wonder, “Am I doing enough?” Five hour trainer ride followed by a 90 minute run? In January? Does that somehow qualify me for Ironman? I compare, I read all race reports – I want to know just what to expect. Does my fantasy match up with the reality?

But the "reality" is that I have no idea. There is no way I could possibly know without having done it myself. I don’t know what I will feel like that day, if my knee will hurt, if I will get kicked in the face during the swim, or feel my quads burn off during ride. How long will my transitions be? What will I put inside my special needs bag? How hard will it really be?

How bad will I hurt?

It’s all of this unknown that is reeking havoc on my brain. On the positive side, the unknown makes me get my ass to that pool and make all my swims (fear of drowning will do that) and makes me stick out those long rides all the way to the end (no skimping on those last five minutes!) I want to be as prepared as possible, and the fear of not being so will make me do anything.

But boy do I hate admitting fear. I like my control. I like knowing. And I don't like that others see me as anything less than this tough chick that can do anything. And I know that all my fears are rooted deep in my insecuritires about myself, about not measuring up, about not being good enough. I carry so much fear - for this race, for my relationships, for my career and my life - that it is just so stifling at times.

But there are times when I can’t escape it, when I wake up literally sweating through my clothes at 3am after having a dream that I kept getting flats and people were flying by me on their bikes, or that I get lost during the marathon….it goes on and on. And I wake up sick, worried, stressed. I have runs where I just start to cry because I am so overwhelmed by the rush of emotions attached to this.

After last year’s disappointment, I can honestly say I have never wanted anything more than I want this race.

Than I want to start.

Than I want to finish.

So back to my original thought – When this song came on, I actually took a pause in my knee analysis and all the millions of thoughts running through my brain. When the song came on, I heard it as one about loss and rebuilding, and the path that one must travel between the two. The inability to know the future, but the willingness to keep moving forward and the courage to find out. Those moments of self-doubt, and the places I have to go to get out of it. And then finally, the recognition and appreciation of all those who carry me on their shoulders when my legs are simply too tired to move.

I don't need to finish in a specific time. I have no goals except to finish.

For my first Ironman, I just want to be "good enough."


The Rising
Bruce Springsteen

Can't see nothin' in front of me
Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone, how high I've climbed
On my back's a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin' the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin' down here

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

There's spirits above and behind me
Faces gone black, eyes burnin' bright
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There's holy pictures of our children
Dancin' in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line

Sky of blackness and sorrow ( a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness ( a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear ( a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow ( a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li


SUB6 said...

I have been a reader of your blog for a while. Don't think I have ever commented. However, I nearly deleted it from my RSS feed because of the 'Cheese with everything' aspect :)haha

.... BUT not after this post. Now I want to follow your exciting journey to Ironman. Great post! :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is a true story or not, but if it isn't, it should be.

It's sometime after the 9/11, and Springsteen is standing on the shore looking across the water at ground zero. He's sort of lost in his thoughts, trying to wrap his mind around everything that had happened, and all of sudden a fan comes up to him and say, "We really need you now, Bruce. We really need you." And so, with that, he wrote the Rising.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I'm one of those readers who could really care less about running and marithons and doing an ironman. Which is not to say that I do not appreciate the insane drive and work and mental fortitude it takes to attempt what you are trying to accomplish. I have my own kind of ironman that I'm trying to finish. The main thing that brings me back, what I love about this blog, is the idea, as cliche as it may sound, is that it is not the destination that's important, but the journey. I love reading about your journey. You reminded me of this thing Elenor Roosevelt once said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

You will do this.