Casino winnings

After our morning run in Montreal, Mark and I had some time to kill. It was a gloomy, rainy day with no official race activities so we decided to head over to the casino (Casino de Montreal) for two reasons: First, the casino is actually inside the race track and on the island where the Esprit Triathlon will be taking place on Saturday, making it a good time for some early reconnaissance work.

Second, it was a chance for me to pay tribute to Bob Summers, a co-worker at The Buffalo News who died of a heart attack last weekend. My trip to Montreal to become an Ironwoman meant missing the services and this, I thought, would be a nice way to remember Bob.

Granted, I’m not much of a gambler. I don’t really know card games so Mark and I sat down at one of the nickel slot machines. We each put in $5 and played around with the combinations of how much to bet and how many lines to bet.

I was down to my last $1.90, content to lose my $5 as the cost of a cheap afternoon’s entertainment, when I bet 5-times on one line and hit. I won $10.

Big winnings? No. But I did double my money. So I cashed out and treated BBM to a muffin in the casino deli.

It was a fun diversion, because when I woke up this morning, I was a bundle of nerves about the race. Logistics always make me anxious — knowing where to go, where to be and where my stuff is. And that’s not as easy when the majority of the spoken and written word is in French.

Then come the waves of doubt and concern. Fear that I can’t do this Ironman Distance race. Fear that I’m too excited. Concern that I’m not fearful enough. Oh, and that sinking feeling in my stomach which asks “what if I ate too much yesterday because I’m feeling really fat right now?”

What I know for sure is that those are just thoughts. And I can change my thoughts. I can think of something else completely (like my tribute to Bob at the nickel slots) or I can change the way I’m thinking of the race and my preparation. I’m going to need the carbs I ate the last few days to fuel me through the race.

Most importantly, I’m excited about the challenge of the Ironman but I’m choosing to not make it daunting. There’s a difference between respecting the challenge and being afraid of it. And when you enter anything in fear, look at a challenge as a “battle,” it’s bound to be difficult. I can fight against the Ironman or I can look at is a playmate, someone to muck around with on a beautiful Saturday in Montreal.

Silly me can sometimes get afraid about letting go of that fear. Aren’t we supposed to be afraid of big life changes?

But what if we weren’t afraid?

The Ironman is going to be difficult and challenging. It’s going to have hard parts and it’s going to hurt. But that doesn’t mean I have to be intimidated by it.

In fact, that’s what my training in essence was about — pushing my limits, pushing my comfort zone boundaries and knowing that I’m stronger that I think. That the highs and lows will pass. That everything will be OK.

And of course, that there are pancakes at the end of any challenging journey.

I enter today’s final preparation for my first Ironman with respect, joy, a bit of nervous and a bit of excitement.

And when in doubt, I’ll think about the casino.

Because doubling your money, even on the nickel slots, is something to celebrate.

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