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8 days out. « Jocelyn Wong's Blog

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8 days out.

I’ve made it! making it to 8 days out from an Ironman without major incident is a big deal for me, in a superstitious kind of way. yes, 8 is a very lucky number in Chinese (which is why the Olympics begin on 8-8-08 this year) but that is not why.

when I was 18 years old I saw my first triathlon ever, it was the inaugural Ironman California at Camp Pendleton (before it become a 70.3). This was just a month before I did my first triathlon ever and I was so inspired that I decided then and there that I would sign up to race Ironman the next year. Luckily this was before the crazy Ironman craze where all the events in North America sell out in a couple days, or even hours, so I was able to actually get some triathlons under my belt over the summer, and evaluate if I would really be able to complete an Ironman in the next year. I worked at a sporting goods store (running shoe department) over the summer and saved up enough money to register for my first Ironman!

Over the next year, I didn’t really know what I was doing and just trained a lot rather haphazardly. There wasn’t as much information out there as there is now, even though it was only 8-9 yrs ago. I had all these odd injuries, falling off my bike and getting nasty scars, getting tendonitis in my foot, and the strangest one–bruising my sternum from the odd wrestling match at a college party. :) It got to the point where a couple months out from my first Ironman, I wasn’t able to swim or run, so I biked a lot. On a routine visit to the campus health clinic, I needed to get some allergy pills, and when they looked in my throat the nurses saw something strange. apparently there was a mass that was growing on my tonsil, and it didn’t hurt or anything. I didn’t think much of having to get a CT scan, other than the inconvenience of missing a workout.

When the results came back, less than 2 weeks before Ironman, the doctor said it was urgent that I have the mass removed IMMEDIATELY. E.g. have surgery to remove both tonsils, which would be pretty painful and I would need 2-3 weeks recovery. Are you kidding, I’m doing the IRONMAN!! I told him. he threw out words like “cancer” and “chemotherapy” but all I could think was, I got through all the training obstacles–injuries, bruised sternum, etc, and I’m not going to let a little bump in my throat stop me now. I was actually in a place where I knew I would be able to finish Ironman; it wouldn’t be pretty, but I would finish.

No, this isn’t a Lance Armstrong-type story about how I was diagnosed with cancer and battled it and became this phenomenal triathlete. This is the story of how 8 days out from my first Ironman, I had to accept defeat before the starting line and listen to the doctor, my mother, and my grandma. I was DEVASTATED. But I had to realize that some things (not many eh!) were more important than Ironman. Like my health. Instead of doing my first Ironman, I went into surgery to remove both tonsils. The mass growing inside my throat ended up being benign. And let me tell you, tonsil surgery hurts like hell. People always say you can eat as much ice cream as you want afterwards, but that’s a lie. Every swallow hurts. You take for granted not noticing every time you swallow until you get them tonsils out.

I went on to do my first Ironman another year later, at 20 years old, with better preparation and greater respect for the race. But at 8 days out, I had to breathe a sigh of relief. And I’ve done it for every Ironman since.

Just like today.

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