Ironman means something different to every person who steps up to the challenge. Nov 22nd will my second Ironman triathlon; it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. All completed in that order and hopefully all in under 13:30:00, you have up to 17 hrs to finish.
Only outside of my triathlon friends do I get the question “why you’d you ever want to do something like that?”. I’m not really sure if I fully know to tell you the truth. It all started in my attempt to be a badass. It sounds funny but I loved the looks people gave me when I told them I had run a half marathon, and then it went to a full marathon, and now Ironman. This got me started in the sport but being a badass isn’t enough to pull you through the tough times during these events. I searched and searched trying to understand why I would put myself through this. The answer I finally found was because “I get to choose to suffer”. I know this sounds funny but there are so many people out there who struggle just to tie their shoes. I’m healthy and damn sure am going to live while I’m here.
As I progress in endurance sports I am learning to enjoy suffering. It’s not that I love the pain; it’s that I know I’m pushing myself farther than most are willing. During my first Ironman, where I was well undertrained, I was ready to quit. I was off my bike walking and a 70 year old lady rode up and told me to get back on my bike and just keep moving forward. Mind you we all race head to head so yes she was 2 seconds from being faster than me. I was too tired to argue and hoped back on. I started talking to her about how the only thing I had been able to do all day was think about why I should quit. I was down and out. I have received two pieces of advice that have really stuck with me in reference to Ironman and one came from her. She said “that’s what makes someone an ironman; ten to seventeen hours of your body telling you to stop but yet you just keep moving forward”. This translated into stop whining and if you truly want to be an ironman just keep moving forward. Just keep on keepn on as Joe Dirt would say.
As for the second piece of advice, it was posted on a local message board in response to a woman who had signed up for Ironman and felt she had not put in enough training. You see ironman sells out a year in advance and is reaching almost six hundred dollars just in your entrance fee. So when you sign up, you’re hoping that in a year you will still have the drive and determination to train and then attempt the race. Some were telling her she had no right being out there if she didn’t put in her time training. Our sport is dominated by type A personalities who can be very elitist at times. You kind of have to be pretty driven to get into this sport. So there it was in two sentences. “I’m going to tell you something that no one in ironman will ever admit. “ANYONE CAN DO AN IRONMAN.” So the question is if anyone can do an Ironman why is it such an accomplishment? The fact is most people will spend their entire lives in their comfort zone. Yes anyone can do it but most wont. Less than 1% of people will ever run a marathon so I can only guess what the numbers are for Ironman.
Yes it is hard, yes it hurts a lot, and yes it very time consuming. It’s expensive, hard on your body, and did I mention it hurts? It is also an accomplishment that will stay with you for the rest of your life. If you really stop and think about it, when was the last time you truly accomplished something difficult? Something that took months of hard work and when you started it, you didn’t know if you could finish. Maybe Ironman isn’t for you but I’m sure if you put a little effort into it you could find something that sparks your interest. This is why I’m excited to spend a day suffering with some of my closest friends.