What the hell is Ditch the Tiara?

Redefining the word beautiful...one dirty, sweaty, bruised up mile at a time, with a few downward dogs along the way...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Iron Tiara: The Secret Ironman Handshake - Published on 303triathlon.com

Check out my most recent post on 303triathlon here!

In case you haven't heard, I now have my own column, called The Iron Tiara, on 303triathlon.com.  If you haven't visited that website, PLEASE DO, as it has so many relateable stories and is loaded full of useful information related to triathlon.  It doesn't all just apply to the 303! I've had some time to let IMTX sink in and wanted to write about the most special feeling in the world and the one "feature" of my body that I am absolutely in love with! Taken directly from their website (DON'T FORGET TO VISIT IT), I introduce to you my pearly whites and the power they give me!
Iron Tiara: The Secret Ironman Handshake
By Kristina Jensen
With Ironman Texas over a week behind me, I find myself asking the dreaded question, ”Now what?” And then I remember, Ironman Boulder is in nine weeks. Oh right. There’s that, along with the Redman Full Distance triathlon in Oklahoma City, seven weeks later. PHEW. There will be no shortage of summer training and guiltless consumption of mass calories for this girl, and the dreaded post-Ironman depression won’t set in for at least another five months. Yay! I imagine I represent a tiny percentage of the ultra-endurance triathlon community with my resolute and relentless enthusiasm, otherwise referred to by most as addiction, towards this self-sacrificing sport. I love it. LOVE IT!
Why? Gah! That’s easy to answer. It is primarily based on the marathon. Not because of the physical challenges of trying to make my deadened legs work, or digging deep and recognizing that I am strong enough to go 26.2 more miles. Let’s face it, if you can do anything for 114.4 miles, what’s another 26.2? [ENTER: MILD SARCASM] It goes way beyond that, and is actually quite simple in nature. It’s because I get to spend just a few more hours…smiling. Directly. at. people. That’s it…not exactly easy to do while swimming OR going 18mph on a bike, right? Are you disappointed that it’s less than the typical *sparkly* Iron Tiara response? To say that smiling is my favorite thing in the world to do would be absurd. There are plenty of things that I enjoy doing more, but it’s those things that I love to do that result IN smiling. And lots of it! I do things that make me happy and in my efforts to make the world a better place.
(PLEASE don’t mistake me for Mother Theresa…I fear a lightning strike so I need to be clear.) I have found that smiling is one of the most contagious actions on earth. It denotes joy and let’s face it, we could always benefit from a little more of it in our lives.
Deep down, I believe that everyone wants to be happy and feel joy, even during an Ironman, but sometimes there are those little “life hang-ups” that get in the way. I know this sounds crazy, but for those 26.2 miles, when I KNOW my fellow athletes are suffering, pained facial expressions clearly giving way, I find myself making eye contact that lasts a moment longer than comfortable…and smiling. And for that brief moment, I can see the joyful transformation on their faces, as they feel that we are suddenly part of some secret club, longed to be in by so many that stand loyally on the sidelines, cheering us home. Admittedly, it’s a damn cool club to be in, as membership is incredibly tough to gain.
And apart from the “secret handshake” exchanged to those members of this elite club, I also feel that I owe it to their beloved iron crews, offering gratitude and appreciation to their continuous sacrifices as we chase down our dreams.
The course support does not, and should not ever go unrecognized, as these dutiful family members and friends suffer in their own way, while we not only spend hours away training from them for months on end, but during a long ass day under the burning sun and in the stifling heat, just to make us feel a little more “secure.” Their wild enthusiasm, as they scream out praise to ALL of us, helps push each of us one step closer to accomplishing our goals. They deserve that same smile, letting them know I’m ok, even when I’m walking. That we’re all OK, even though some of us have an easier time showing it than others. I guess I feel a little obligated at times to represent us all.
Last week, I recall hearing things like, “I can’t believe that she is STILL smiling,” and “she absolutely has the best smile out here,” as I made my way onto the third loop of the run course. And all that did was make me smile harder. I swear my cheeks hurt so bad when I finished that I couldn’t even feel my battle scars, aka wicked sunburn and chaffing. I may not have had the speed that day that so many of my peers had, but I had S.P.I.R.I.T. [INSERT KATIE MACARELLI JAZZ HANDS] In my opinion, that will be far more remembered than my 13:56 finish or 10 minute bike PR. So if you are STILL wondering why I love Ironman so much, I ask that you look at the person next to you, make eye contact and just smile. You never know what kind of impact you could be making by that simple little gesture. But I assure you, it’s far more than you can ever imagine, as we all know that a sparkly little smile can actually go a very long way.

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