Sitting in bed that night after crossing the finish line the idea of going to Kona still hadn't sunk in. I was riding this high from the race and I was beyond tired, honestly I don't think I actually thought much about Kona until the next morning.
Prior to this race my husband and I had briefly talked about Kona and what we would do if I qualified, but as I did not think I would win my age group I figured it was such a far off chance we didn't talk much. By the end of training for Arizona I was so burnt out I couldn't even image training for another one again. After 11 months and two recoveries in the mix I just didn't want to; in fact I promised my husband that I wouldn't do another in 2017 (oops). We had spent our first year of marriage rarely seeing each other as I was training all the time, a lot of this had to do with the fact that I was always feeling behind.
As we headed out to the awards ceremony the pressure of my decision began to weigh on me. No longer was it just about the high of having won my age group but it was about deciding what my, our, journey was going to be the next year. My decision didn't just impact me but my family as well, I had promised my husband.
My phone was flooded with texts, messages, and comments all saying KONA BOUND KONA BOUND and here I was with a million thoughts running through my brain: "Do I really want to spend another year training?" "I promised my husband I wouldn't." "But I did so well....""It's KONA?!" "What if this never happens again? Nah it'll happen again, I'm young" "If I say no will I be letting all the people who supported me down?" "If I say yes I'm letting my family down?" "It's so expensive...." "But its KONA... It's the dream... .I want it so bad"
You wouldn't have wanted to be in my brain that day, it was a mess trying to decipher between a dream and reality. By the time I had gotten to the awards ceremony I had decided I wasn't going to take it; I had promised and holy crap dropping 1,000 dollars just wasn't something I felt we should be doing at that time. I was ok with this decision. Not because I didn't want to go, I really really wanted it, but because I felt like making the decision would be asking my family to give up something just for me. Choosing to go felt selfish. Choosing to go felt like I was asking my husband, again, to follow my journey and forcing him to give up his dreams for mine.
The Awards Ceremony
The awards ceremony was a lot of fun. It was relaxed and you could feel the excitement everyone had at being there. Each person there had done something amazing, it was such an honor to be sitting there with so many amazing people.
They had breakfast for the athletes and since I hadn't been hungry enough to force food down prior, it tasted so good, pretty sure I inhaled my burrito.
Luckily my age group is one of the first one's up for getting awards so I didn't have to wait long. For some reason I was nervous, maybe it was the excitement of knowing what I did or maybe it was knowing that by accepting the award it wasn't over I still had a big decision to make.
Hearing my name called for the age group winner was very special and with my family and Team Betty friends cheering me on I hobbled my way up onto the stage, they made the women walk up the stairs can you believe that!!
Standing up there with the other ten amazing athletes in my age group I felt this sense of strength and calm. I know I've used the word strength a lot as I've given you an account of my journey through Ironman Arizona, but there is no better word to describe the greatness that was achieved by everyone on that day. It takes so much strength to complete an Ironman; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual not only from the athletes but from the support team as well.
As I walked back to my family and friends I was satisfied, I knew that Kona wasn't going anywhere and since I was young I was confident this wouldn't be my last chance. So when the 3rd place girl came to me to ask if I was going to take my spot I was ok with saying no I wasn't. About two minutes after I told her that my husband pulled me aside and said I think you need to take the slot. Both my husband and I believe strongly that certain things lead us in certain directions and everything that happened during my journey led me to winning this race giving me this opportunity. Despite that I couldn't help but feel like if I took it I was letting people down, I was being selfish; letting my husband and family down as they want grand kids and doing this race means that gets put to the side again.
We only had about 15 more minutes to make a decision, after some tears and serious discomfort on my end we made the decision that I would take it and see what happens. What if it was a once and a lifetime experience? Once I made the decision I then had to tell the 3rd place girl that I had changed my mind, and I was very sorry.
I know that for most people the decision to go to Kona is an easy one. It's the dream, to goal, I mean it's Kona for goodness sake. Choosing was not easy for me, not because I didn't want to go - I wanted it really bad - but because I knew that my decision didn't just affect me but all those around me. That's a lot of pressure in a short amount of time.
It took me a solid week to feel the excitement, to come down from the stunned - what did I do feeling - to feel the pull of Kona. Again I want to preface that my hesitation had nothing to do with not wanting to go, with it not being a dream, but rather what I thought was a decision that was best for my family. Yet, once again my husband reached down and came to my rescue, getting me to do what he knows I need. He did it when he signed me up for Ironman Arizona after my accident and he did it again when he had me sign up to go to Kona. If I hadn't signed up would I have regretted it? No, because that's the choice I made, but would I have spent the next year constantly wondering and second guessing? Yes. He has this amazing way of knowing me better than I do; its one of the things I love about him.
It has been two weeks since Ironman Arizona and in those two weeks I have had a chance to wrap my head around the journey continuing to Kona and riding the high that came from winning my age group. Each day my excitement grows, the pull to Kona keeps getting stronger and stronger. I'm already thinking of what can I do in order to be able to make that day my best day yet.
I love the challenge that comes with going to Kona. I love that it allows me to take what I produced at Arizona and figure out how to replicate and improve on it, its like a puzzle, where you have the edges all put together and now its time to put together the meat of the puzzle. My husbands excitement for me helps to increase mine as well. He's constantly researching ways to improve my bike time, my run time, what I need to do nutrition wise, how to get me noticed by potential sponsors, etc. I'll be sitting at work and he'll send me condos we can stay while at Kona or a note that he reached out to this person to ask a question, it's hard not to get excited when he does.
Kona. Its the dream. Its the passion. I have been given the opportunity to live the passion and fulfill the dream, I couldn't be more thankful for this blessed opportunity. So Kona World Championships.... I WILL SEE YOU IN OCTOBER!!!!!