We all know the addage. Every journey begins with the first step. For me, that first step came many years ago. It was the first step out of the doctor's office after finding out there were unexplained shadows in my lungs.
The first leg of the journey took me from a generalist to a pulmonary specialist. After x-rays, upper CT scans, and abdominal CT scans they started throwing around words like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, surgery, and RIGHT NOW. When doctors start putting those things together, it tends to ruin your weekend.
After surgery to collect samples for biopsies, we had the answer to the question that had been causing sleepless nights for weeks. I had sarcoidosis instead of cancer. And having a friend who was dying from a lifetime of battling sarcoid had little impact on our sense of relief. At least the "here and now" threat was gone.
The next step of the journey started when the pulmonologist asked that I complete 1.5 mile runs a couple times each week to monitor lung function. If it got harder and harder to breathe, we would know there was a problem. What he failed to contemplate was the other problem. Type-A personalities and instructions to run. Four marathons later, we know how that journey is going.
Another step in the journey was taken at the beginning of the year, when I started training for a sprint distance triathlon. Actually, "step" is a bit of a misnomer. "Stroke" is more appropriate as most of the focus of this year has been on swimming. Many of you have been along for every step of this portion of the journey as I went from sprint to Olympic to Ironman aspirations.
Today, it feels like the journey to Iron has officially started. Oh, the training of the past few months has been part of the overall journey, but it just didn't have the feel of being part of the IRONMAN journey. The journey that leads from here and now to Louisville in August. That changed this morning.
It happened somewhere during my swim. And it was a long swim. 3520 yards, to be exact. Two miles. Somehow, the 520 extra yards symbolized a change. This is no longer about being a better swimmer. It isn't about doing well in the Spirit of Racine half Ironman. It's ALL about Ironman Louisville. Whatever the difference, TODAY marks the shift from training to Ironman training. Something tells me that nothing between now and August will be quite the same as it was only yesterday.
So, let the journey truly begin. Let the changes that are needed begin now. Let the gremlins bring what they will. I know they're coming, so I welcome them. Each one that is overcome makes me stronger. And in about 260 days, I'll start one more leg of the journey. And understand, they truly are two journeys. One gets you to Ironman. One makes you Ironman.