"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine
Last One Picked In Gym Class
To Let My Children Know That Anything Is Possible
There are thousands of athletes that train for triathlons every year. Everyone has something that motivates them. I have heard every reason why people dedicate so much time to go out there on a weekend, spend your heard earned dough, and beat the hell out of yourself for a few hours.
Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions asked by people—especially family—why I do what I do.
Do I have something to prove? Nope. I ran Rev3 Full last year. I know I am capable of doing the mileage.
So, why the hell do I subject myself to a part-time job that I will never get paid for?
Those of us who do it, understand why. It is not really a choice.
It is a lifestyle.
Like the "choice" to become a composer. It was not really a choice. I had an involuntary urge to want to be accompanied by music all the time. It was not that I "chose" to be a composer, but rather, it chose me. I can never stop thinking about music—it is in my head all the time. I write daily, I play daily. I write music because it is my passion and I have to do it. Whatever it is I do, I want to do it an an exceptionally high level. I think that is one thing I have noticed about triathletes. I have not met too many athletes who race triathlon that are complete slackers outside of that world. Everyone I know are incredibly hard-working human beings who work hard in every aspect of their lives—whether it is parenting, their careers, scholarship, academics, or their athletic endeavors. I have noticed that triathlon does have a tendency to attract people who are incredibly goal-oriented. That is a good thing, right? Even when I was tending bar in college, I asked myself "what can I do to maximize my tips?" No, Kelly, I did not take off my shirt. Despite what you think, I have worn a shirt more this summer than I have been without one.
There are few things I dislike more than people who say things like "...I just don't have the time," "...we can't do that. It's not possible."
I have never understood—nor will I ever—understand the notion that something is not possible. How is THAT possible?!
I have worked with people who have given me this line. I would rather work with people who try to find ways to do the seemingly impossible rather than resign themselves to some imaginary notion that they can not do something.
I see people overcome enormous obstacles everyday. Forget about triathlon. I look at heroic people—ordinary people—with live with physical disabilities, chronic pain, even terminal illnesses—who do not resign themselves to limitations imposed upon them by the words of others, or by their own bodies. Those who live with these "limitations" somehow muster up the courage to summon superhuman will—not allowing their brain to listen when the body says "quit, now," "you're tired," "you can't do this." These people are fighters. They are winners. They are inspiration for me. I think of the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt. If you don't know their story yet, I dare you to watch this video without getting choked up.
Why do I train? For me, I get little satisfaction out of the physicality of the sport. I mean, I don't wake up in the morning and say "Alright! I am super-psyched about my one hour open water swim and 45-minute training run today!" Okay, I do like to be out there hitting it hard, and I do love the feeling that I have after accomplishing a ride/run/swim, but to me, the more attractive part of triathlon is the mental component. Anyone who puts in the time to train can run a successful triathlon at any distance. By "successful" here, I mean that they can finish. Qualifying for Kona is not an option unless you are genetically predisposed, work your ass off, and, alas, MAKE TIME!
When friends say they don't have time to a man with five children, a full-time job, and a ton of projects constantly on the burner, I feel like I should have a free pass to just punch them in the face. For the record, my wife feels this way too. However, I am not a violent man, and the passive-aggresive route is so transparent to anyone with a brain. But, I do ask, "Is it that you don't have time, or you are just not interested in making time for that?" I have friends that are casual runners. Some even will run the occasional half marathon. One of my friends gets out to run two days a week—once during the week, and one "long" run on the weekend. I always wonder (aloud), why don't you do more running during the week?
"I don't have the time to train."
Let me translate what that really means: I am NOT motivated/interested in improving my run. I am okay with being mediocre. There are other things in my life that are more important to me.
OKAY—I get that! But, don't say you do not have time to train. I have gone for runs this season at 5:30 in the morning and 11 p.m. at night. I fit it where I can. I also do not run merely to train. I run for my sanity. If I don't run, I become a very irritable person. I need it to help clear the cobwebs, and to escape from the sometimes harsh and brutal realities of la vie quotidienne.
So, back to the mental part. That is the most difficult. Finding the will. You know, there are days that I just DO NOT want to go outside, I do not want to do it. This has been especially true the last couple of weeks in western New York as temperatures have consistently been in the low-90's, and the humidity can only be described as "brutal." I feel for my blogger buddies like Jeff and Anne who remind me that they live in that weather eleven and a half months out of the year. In the end, I know that if I don't go outside and start training that I am going to feel worse for it later. I am going to be grumpy, tired, lethargic, and filled with guilt (I getter over the guilt thing pretty quickly though, I must say).
TRAINING: I am currently in the middle of a build week. Everything has been going pretty well. I am biking and swimming where I think I should be. My runs have seemed a bit flat this week, but it could be because of the unbelievably oppressive heat and humidity (I'm blushing Jeff). The asphalt was well over a hundred degrees on my 45 minute run the other day. When I was done, it felt like I ran through a sprinkler.
I have a monster 6-hour ride this weekend. Yikes. I am going to try to hit a very hilly course. I will probably post the course here when I am done. If I am still alive.
More soon. Train Smart!