It started with a guy drinking a clear liquid and ended with someone else hallucinating for days.

There’s a show in Las Vegas called Absinthe. It’s venue is in a small ‘tent’ with incredible acrobatics, balance, concentration, humor and at least one audience member dreaming. You can overlook the small budget to find a potentially life changing message. I’ve seen bigger ‘shows’ and more directly motivational messages, but for some reason my hallucinations haven’t stopped since Wednesday last week. What was so powerful? What made this thing have mind altering effects? Isn’t just entertainment and a way to make money for the casino?

Just a few days earlier, I visited the site of the race I’m part of in November. I spent a few hours locking the images into my head. I walked the swim portion (it was so much further than what I originally imagined). I know (or at least think I know) how far 2 miles is, but when I’m swimming in the pool, there is no sensation of length. The farthest I see is 25 meters, and that’s not only because I don’t have my glasses on. Getting to Tempe Town Lake and walking from one bridge from where the swim starts to the next one where the turnaround is, was an important thing to see. I have to go that distance in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes. I have to say, it’s pretty far. The walk itself seemed far. The best thing about it was that I got excited and energized about the thought of being able to go that far AND having enough in me to continue biking and running for another 14 hours in the same day.

The walk along the swim course also happens to be a portion of the track of the marathon course. I walked that first mile dreaming of and picturing my swim, how I’d feel and how fast I’d be going at that point. The next mile and a half was all about the marathon. I tried to take in the landmarks, the feel and the terrain with every step, where my next turn would be and how I’d make that turn. As I walked over Scottsdale Road bridge, even though I was on the sidewalk, my mind was in the middle of the street, running my heart out. I tried to imagine the feeling, my mindset and how in my first lap, I’d be only 20 miles away from completing this milestone in my life. If I teared up, the 115 degree heat evaporated it right away, but I know I did. I pictured me running up that bridge with a huge smile on my face (because no matter what, I’m going to have fun!).

I walked all but about 2 miles of the 9 mile loop (you need to go around 3 times) that day. I saw the loops, the turns, descents and elevations, they are now locked in my head. That course is now part of my daily (many many times daily) mindset. The 37 mile bike loop had to be driven (I’m not THAT crazy to walk that….yet). There are 3 full loops. All three events start and end within the confines of the park and the bike portion leaves the park for an incredible ride through the desert and Indian reservation. I rode that loop three times in the car to know exactly where and when I need to make the turns. I know on race day, It’ll be clearly marked, but until that day, I’m running (riding) that course over and over (in fact, I just did).

A half a week and at least 10 full mental ironman races later, some show 500 miles away that I went to last minute changed the intensity of my visions. When I really analyze why, it’s because I want to be really good at something. The performers in the show were amazing. I want that feeling, I want to be amazing. That’s where the absinthe comes in. In my head, I am, can, and will be amazing. I have 5 months left. Not only has the intensity of my mental images increased, my workouts have as well. I see how we can do amazing things with our bodies, my psychoactive drug (absinthe) of choice…..imagination.

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