As Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, originator of the Barkley Marathon, put it in the documentary The Barkley Marathon: The Race That Eats Its Young, “something is a challenge if there is an opportunity for failure.”
If I viewed success exclusively as finishing the Sept. 11 Santa Cruz Ironman 70.3 Triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) in the allotted 8½ hours, then yes, there is an opportunity for failure.
Even the most experienced athletes sometimes don’t make it to the finish line on race day. Case in point: Sarah True, who finished fourth in the 2012 London Olympics Triathlon, withdrew during the bike leg of the 2016 Rio Olympics Triathlon.
Instead, I am following the wisdom of my dear friend and Ironman, Jon Goodman, by approaching Sept. 11 as the celebration of training consistently and thoroughly with joy and determination.
I feel like I have already succeeded and am really excited to be going to Santa Cruz totally prepared to celebrate by doing my best at the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon.
On the off-chance I don’t finish, that just gives me more to look forward to the next time I attempt an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, but it will not rob me of the happiness I have already experienced on this journey.
Since starting training for Santa Cruz I have learned more than I anticipated — both mentally and physically.
In addition to what I reflected on in my previous articles, my love of triathlon-ing has grown. Along the way I have experienced physical pains, and the silver lining is that there wasn’t a break in my training because when one sport was aggravating a joint or muscle I focused on the other two sports. It was gratifying to simultaneously rest and train.
I have also learned that triathlon-ing plays to my athletic strength, which is endurance, while indulging my mental muscle’s need for variety.
Focused more on my journey than the finish line, I can’t anticipate what it will feel like if I finish. No, I will not get an “M Dot” tattoo, but yes I will litter my body for a few days with “M Dot” temporary tattoos (cut in half of course, after all it is a 70.3 not a full Ironman).
I may even lobby Congress to add Ironman 70.3 as an official prefix like Ms. and Mr. Then I will have everyone address me as “Ironman 70.3 Allison.”
Or maybe I will write on the rear window of my car “Just Ironman-ed 70.3” and attach my previous (participation) medals from other types of athletic events to the bumper. After all, this is taking as much preparation and emotion as my wedding.
Or maybe I will ask my husband to build me a podium with a big No. 1 on it and in small print “… Moehlis to finish an Ironman 70.3.” Then I can stand on it whenever I want and have my friends and family cheer and applaud.
What can I say? There are many things to celebrate in life and many ways to celebrate them.
What I do know for sure, regardless of what happens in Santa Cruz, I will write about it for my wonderful Noozhawk readers.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Allison Moehlis is proud to have earned many participation medals for completing half-marathons, metric century bike rides and triathlons. When she is not basking in the glow of her medal collection, she is a working mom of two bright and talented daughters and a happy wife of 17 years. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.