I’m 11 weeks into what has been for me an intense training plan, and the race is now a week and a half away. Eleven weeks of predawn swims, hours on the bike and on weekend distance runs, prepping my muscles and mind for my most physical challenge since childbirth. This triathlon will be an endurance test — mile after mile, 70.3 of them. The training has been a test already for my husband and kids, who’ve endured my sweaty disappearance on weekends and later-than-usual weeknight meals as I drag in from a ride. It’s been indulgent and yes, selfish, but the discipline has been rewarding. I like having a prescribed routine (thanks to Dawson Cherry, coach extraordinaire), and I’ve enjoyed the time to zone out and think during long workouts. I think about why I’m doing it, can I do it?, will I be humiliated?, how to pace myself so I don’t bonk, how to keep my crazy feet from cramping, how to eat Gu without barfing, and is it worth it?? Lately this last question gets coupled with another one: how to outswim an alligator?  Because the big news is that gators may be lurking in the pond some 400 of us will be swimming in.  

Risk and effort. Effort and risk. The two go hand in hand. Danger looms submerged, unseen, in any endeavor that requires plunging into the challenging unknown. It was one thing when what I risked in this race was coming in absolutely last, or not finishing at all. It’s another when risk has mighty jaws and teeth. 

For me this race is about saying Yes when there are a million reasons to say No. It’s about perservering, when everything rational says Just Don’t Do It. Officials assure us the pond will be safe, and I convince myself the effort will be worth it. Not in the least because of everything else that  is lurking.

It doesn’t take Freud to recognize that I’m confronting and pushing my limits as my mom and Susan’s dad are confronting limits of an opposite extreme. The alleged alligator is a below-the-surface reminder that nothing is a given, that safety is never a guarantee.


~ by Stephanie on 04/20/2010.

One Response to “Alligators.Lurking.Surreptiously”

  1. Wow. I’m more than impressed that you’re doing this triathlon, Stephanie. It’s fantastic. I’m so struck by and understanding of how your life and your relationship to your mother at this time is seeping into it all — I think the important word or implication is “safe.” You will be safe. Your mother is safe.

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