Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of my friends and acquaintances who are racing the Ironman World Championships tomorrow. I’m excited for the thousands of people who will fulfill their dreams tomorrow! I can’t wait to cheer for them! And I’ve enjoyed sharing my island with them this past week, and taking photos of them under palm trees, with the ocean I love so much in the background. I love Hawaii and Kona, and my hope is that perhaps even during the craziness of race week, it has captured a corner of their hearts too.
Walking down Ali’i Drive today, I was reminded of a time when I proved to myself that with God, nothing is impossible by finishing Ironman Lake Placid. Walking around Boston with Patrick and Bree and Mikey this past April proved a similar reminder. But today was different. For me, there are hints of sadness at the sight of these athletes rolling through town on their tri bikes on their way to transition.
Unlike the Boston Marathon, which was pure actualization of a dream that was planted back in 2001 when I ran my first 5k, Ironman Kona reminds me of a time when I chased a dream that wasn’t mine. For me, Ironman should have been a “one and done experience”. My heart and body screamed for me to move on. But I was too scared to chase my own dreams.
After all, I had helped started a tri team. I had built my whole world around dreams that belonged to others. I knew it when I crossed the Ironman finish line the second time, miserable and in tears. My parents tried to console me. My friend Tinker wrote me a heartfelt message telling me I should be proud of myself, not disappointed. What I couldn’t put into words then was that the disappointment stemmed from putting my own dreams on hold because they were so different from everyone else’s!
They were big, but somehow simpler. I dreamed of living a simple life that left room for chasing adventures and changing the world. They were dirty dreams too. As in, literal dirt! The mountains and trails and sunshine and simple life were calling, but how could I go?! It was too overwhelming. Everyone would think I had lost my mind! Better to lose your mind and find your soul though.
Now I realize that. I didn’t then. I stuffed those dreams down. And I’m a pretty optimistic, silver-lining kinda chick, so I can trick even myself into thinking losing your soul isn’t so bad!
The thing about stuffing your dreams down and suffocating your own soul is that they will bubble back up in ways you don’t expect. As Nikki worked on my hip today, I thought about how perhaps that injury was just my heart implementing my body to get through to me. Well heart, I’m listening now!
But truly everything occurs for a purpose. If I hadn’t jacked my hip up so bad perhaps I would still be blindly, miserably stumbling through 140.6 mile triathlons. I’m talking “can’t even ride a bike” bad. I’m talking “running on roads will side-line me for days” bad. So bad… but SO good. At this point, the only time I can run pain free is off road. On the beach, through grassy fields, up mountain trails that most people are hiking, and down gravelly, dusty country roads.
Is is a coincidence that those same roads and trails are the calling I hear the loudest? Is it coincidence that I feel most present in God’s presence when I have a Camelbak on, and a herd of goats and sheep are running along side me? Actually, it’s not a coincidence. It is my heart and mind and body replying in harmony to the call of the country roads and root-adorned trails.
And so I chase my dreams into the woods of ohia trees and through the fields of elephant grass, unafraid to lose my mind and brave enough to find my soul!