I was disconcerted by my post-Ironman experience. Quizzically, it only took me a day or two to feel physically back to normal, but it took me weeks to feel emotionally back to normal. The anger I felt during Ironman was strangely powerful and unexpectedly lingering.
I had ancient anger issues when I was a teenager and also in college. As I grew up, I fought the bouts of anger less and less. I thought that I had put my anger in my past years ago. The theme of this blog, “Choose Happiness” is really in contrast to the years of anger as a teen and young adult. The anger used to be lingering, smoldering, gut-wrenching, mind-fixating anger that I couldn’t shake. And it returned during Ironman. I was shocked and disappointed in myself in how angry I got at IMMT and saddened by how long it hung over me. I knew to expect a dark moment somewhere during IMMT, but I didn’t expect to have it sit over me and stay with me well past the finish line, for days and weeks after the race. I was so conflicted after Ironman. I wanted to be happy with my accomplishment and happy for all my friends. That’s what I said out loud, and what I knew I wanted to feel. But, inside, the real emotions that you can’t control were just seething anger and it was pointed at me. It was coming from me and all my fault. It kept rising up, day after day. It was weird to feel it hot and uncomfortable again, like an annoying friend that won’t go away. I hid for a few days to shield as many people from any outbursts. I hate to take out my anger on friends or family that happen to be in the wrong place and the wrong time.
It took some heavy prayers and some long hugs at home with my wife and kids to finally shake it off. I hope it never comes back. I’m posting these feelings, to get it all the way out of my system. I try so hard now to keep a positive attitude in I’m exciting about what is coming next. I’m diving fully into serving more at church. I’ve been to every soccer with my son and I’ve been taking my daughter driver training almost every night.
People asked me what it was like to cross the finish line of an Ironman. I tell them what I wanted to feel: thrilled, exhilarated, relieved, accomplished and proud, but it was also mixed with shame and guilt of being angry at myself for some stupid choices. The actual race blunders weren’t that bad, I dealt with the problems and moved literally forward, but the emotional train had wrecked and there was a huge rut that I got stuck in. It’s been a month after returning home, and only now, do I feel completely at peace with the race results. Weird, but glad that has passed.