Mile 20

Mile 20...

Numbers.  As of today, 6% of our year is left.  In an Ironman, at Mile 20, 5% (6.2 miles out of the 140) of the distance covered is left.

Some of us from The Energy Lab went to watch, cheer, support our friend from The Energy Lab, Ironman Suzanne (as we sometimes call her) participate in Ironman Arizona last month.  Suzanne began TRX training before her first Ironman in Kona in 2008 when nobody knew what TRX was.  Suzanne was also one of the first to sign up at The Energy Lab when nobody knew what it was.  She and I would have great TRX classes, just the two of us. Now, you've got to make sure you you've reserved your spot to get a space in TRX class!  In Suzanne's training, she decided to take my favorite road, "the road less travelled"!  She built core training and frontal plane (lateral movements) into her training in addition to miles upon miles in the sagittal plane (forward direction).  So as we watched person after person swim, ride, and run past us from our various viewing spots, we could see how training paid off (or didn't).   We could see where indomitable will could outweigh physical strength and we could see where those who were there understood that "you are either making progress or you are making excuses".  They were all making progress.  Our favorite viewing place was Mile 20.  That is where The Energy Lab comes in.   The Energy Lab is a real place, known simply as "the energy lab" in Kona along the course of the Ironman.  It is said that if you can make it to "the energy lab" you will make it.  Same with Mile 20.

What we heard as we stood at mile 20, from the guy wearing bib #628, "I'm halfway there".  The last 6 miles of the Ironman define you.  It is here that you have to dig deep. Turn yourself inside out.  The wall.  And as Randy Pausch says,

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ― Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

As the triathletes rounded the corner where we were standing with our Energy Lab signs, they saw the Mile 20 sign, and almost everyone had an expression, of joy, of pain, of tears, of gratitude, of something.   It was a most amazing glimpse at the depth of the human soul.  All of the layers had been peeled away.  At that point, those athletes had been on the road for 11 hours, and what was left was the sheer will to finish what they had started.  Other comments we heard, "It's done", "alright, the big 20", and then, with hope, "oh, I'm at mile 20!"  We saw our guy we had seen at every other spot we cheered from with the "running sucks" shirt and we saw the girl with the one leg, running by and looking "light as a feather"!  You could tell who was looking good, and we made a point to tell them. We meant it when we told them, "you're looking good" because they really were, and that meant a lot! Quite a few thanked us.  We knew these people. They didn't know us, but we knew them and we developed relationships with them.  They represent perhaps our own fears that we've left hidden.  Our own hopes, that they are daring to live.  Our own beliefs, that we are letting spill over into them in the form of the energy we brought to let them know they are not alone in this race.  We had no idea how much impact our words may have had.  Hope. They have no idea how much impact their actions made on us. of the gifts of this Christmas season.  But hope can lead to expectations. Expectations set up conditions.  Unconditional love and acceptance cannot exist where there are conditions.  Conditions are usually grounded by fear.  Hope and Fear. Are they the same?  I believe yes.  When I am asked if I am excited about an addition to The Energy Lab studio space that will double our size, I am both hopeful and fearful. But it is in the willingness to face hope and fear that growth and change occur.  And so, we must believe.  Believe in those things that exist that are bigger than us.  Believe in letting go and surrendering the conditions and expectations. Believe that the very smallest things, gestures, words can make the most impact.  In a cycling class the other day, I got to witness how we share the burden and the joy of hope.  A young girl had "LIFE" on her mind and was so brave as to ask the others in the room, "how do you know what you want to do? What should you major in in college?  I was told I should go into ....this program because there are a lot of jobs there right now".  Each person in the room had a response for her. And it was beautiful and uplifting how we can carry each other through times of need.  The overwhelming response was that fear of failure is as paralyzing as it is the greatest catalyst for change, action and some of the greatest triumphs.  Hmmm.
Hmmm.  Those Ironman competitors, the spectators, our friend, Ironman Suzanne, the young girl in cycling class and the others who offered their perspectives - all experience fear.  All experience hope. All are living.  You will never know if you don't try.
 Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. - by Conant, James B.

And now, it is December 8, 2012. The Season of Christmas is in full swing.  I had to look straight up to see the moon in the dark early morning today.  It was the shape of the half moon, its glow was soft and reassuring to me today.  The moon is my connection to that belief and hope that I know I am on the right path.  It is bigger than me and yet, within me, the moon and the entire universe can exist.  It keeps me grounded and it keeps me lifted. When I feel the energy like I felt at Mile 20, like I felt in our SoulCycling room with the young girl and the wisdom from the others who had been there, like I feel when I watch the movie Elf, and how I feel about having something to believe in, like Christmas, I know I am on the right track.  And if we are at Mile 20, with only 6 left to go out of our 140 or if we are on December 8, with only 23 days out of 365 left this year....can we say we have hope?

Where there is hope. Where there is belief. Where there is faith in knowing that things exist which are bigger than we alone can be, there is magic. There is Santa Claus. There is Christmas. Hanukkah. Solstice. Whatever you celebrate- at the root of it is the BELIEF and HOPE and WONDER. The thing that allows us to be humble and vulnerable and naive enough to know that we don't know everything and so all we can do is believe in the magic of our childhood dreams.  They might let you down, you might fail. Or you might be carried away be them to places you were meant to be in all along.  And so, when the mother asked me if the Santa who was going to be at our party was a good one, because she didn't want her 6 year old daughter to be disappointed, I had to bring her one of my favorite books, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus".  And tell her, that yes, Santa is very good, very real and he lives in our beliefs.