This is the text I received from Mary yesterday: "26.2 isn't my cooldown."
This is the dream I had last night: Mary was really really upset over the forces that were in St. George yesterday and said, "I'm totally over this Ironman bulls$%#$...It's just not worth it."
The text I received was, unfortunately, reality. The dream I had was anything but.
For those of you that know Mary, you probably know her nickname is Champion. It's a very well-deserved nickname. It's been 3 years since Mary competed in and completed her first Ironman at Coeur d'Alene. And in the 3 years since then, I have watched Mary pour her heart and soul into becoming the best long-course triathlete she is capable of being. She has done everything a professional athlete would do on her quest for improvement.
She got a coach. I have seen some of the workouts her coach has given here the past few months in preparation for yesterday's Ironman St. George, and they were gnarly. Mary trains like a professional. Training weeks with 20+ hours of swimbikerun were her norm. If completing these workouts meant getting up at 3:15 in the morning to do intervals on a trainer, she did it. If it meant dedicating an entire Saturday to powering up Fremont's Peak on her bike followed by a treadmill run, she did it. Right before she left for St. George, Mary "admitted" to me that out of (what I'm guessing was) 500+ hours of prescribed workouts, she did everything but 20 minutes. Mary has got more dedication, persistence, and guts than anyone I know.
Mary rests and recovers like a professional. When I first met Mary, I don't think she ever took a rest day. "Just a 3500 yard swim" counted as a rest day. But for the past 2 years, trusting in her coach like she does, Mary has rested when told to. She takes rests days. She gets massages. She allows her body to absorb the brutal workouts she puts it through, and she has been getting stronger and fitter by the day.
Mary thinks like a professional. Mary takes the mental side of triathlon just as seriously as the physical. She truly believes that anything is possible, she doesn't believe in limitations or setbacks, and she is the only person I know that could possibly consider a 26.2 mile run a "cooldown." Mentally this girl is tough as nails.
The only thing NOT professional about Mary is that she has a full-time job outside of her pretty-much-full-time training. Did I mention that she works for a CPA? And that the peak of her St. George training fell right around a certain date like April 15th? And that she still only missed a few minutes out of hundreds of hours of training? Truly amazing. Oh yeah, and despite the hours upon hours of work and training, Miss Chloe still got walked, and Mary's windows still got Windexed, and Bill still had a supportive wife, and I (and many others) still had a wonderful, inspirational friend. Despite her having an "unprofessional" job, Mary always finds a way to fit it all in.
And the best part is, she fits it all in with a smile on her face and a true passion for what she is doing. I am not a morning person. But I have gotten up in the Wee Hours of Morning to join Mary on rides and workouts more than I would have ever done on my own. Why? Because Mary is fun to train with. She is positive, she is supportive, she is funny as h-e-double-hockey-sticks, and she brings out the best in me. Or at least the best I can be before 7AM! She doesn't train to get faster than someone else or even to PR at every race she races. She does what she does for nothing more than a true love and passion for the sport, and has inspired more people in the process of doing what she does than she will ever know.
So back to my dream where Mary quit doing Ironmans... In reality, Yes, Mary was understandably really disappointed about St. George. On any other day, Mary would have finished all 140.6 miles, including her 26.2 mile "cooldown," and probably would have PR-ed on a not-at-all-a-PR course; but yesterday the uncontrollables took their toll, and it just wasn't her day.
But if there's anything Mary is NOT, it's a quitter. I actually feel bad even writing the words Mary and quitter in the same sentence. I know she will find somehow turn the disappointment from yesterday and the lessons learned into tools to become stronger, fitter, tougher, and better. Because there's no way Mary will let one little day get in her way to be the best that she can be. No way. She'll be back training in no time. And she'll train with a vengeance and with passion and with belief in herself. And she'll train with a smile on her face.
Because that's what Champions do.