Thursday, September 29, 2005

it just doesn't mean as much unless there's some kind of suffering involved

Lance Armstrong has been quoted as saying "It just doesn't mean as much unless there's some kind of suffering involved." The competition, the training, the solitude, the unending grind of all the effort and energy and exhaustion and sweat and concentration and juggling of schedules and friends and work and classes and time time time...It just doesn't mean as much unless there's some kind of suffering involved.

Why? It's like your parents told you: You'll never understand the value of something until you pay the price. Because only then do you realize what it took to earn it. It's not about the money--you can't go out and buy a magic suit that makes you an Ironman. It's not about the GUs and gels and energy drinks--you can't go out and eat something that makes you Uber-human. It's not about the bike, or wetsuit, or shoes, or racing suit or stopwatch or sunglasses or timing chip or wristband. At the end of the day, after the 6am rush out of the starting chute, after the eternity of the swim and bike and run, after the chaos of transitions and the rush of the finish line party, it's not about anything you buy or eat or wear. At the end of the day, it's about nothing more than the energy and effort and 2-a-day practices and sacrifice and commitment to time and distance and time and distance and time and distance. Every day. Each and every day. For nothing more than crossing the finish line and keeping a t-shirt and holding a piece of metal called a finisher's medal. And yet, you'll wear the remember the finish line, wear the t-shirt, and look at the finisher's medal, and you'll swear it's one of the most valuable things you'll have ever done.

Why? Because you know the price you paid to earn it. You know what it took to get it. You know what it means. And it just wouldn't have meant as much unless there was some kind of suffering involved.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

the moment

Every competitor, at some point in every race, faces THE MOMENT. Some times it's worse than others. But it's there. Always. THE MOMENT. The moment when that kernel (or knot or bowling ball or bear) of outright fear strikes and you suddenly face the very real thought of pulling over, stopping up, dropping out, and QUITTING the race altogether. The moment when your fear turns to doubt and your resolve starts to break, and you go from finishing a race to just ending the race.

Different people deal with this in different ways. Some turn to pride (doing the race for reputation). Some turn to anger (doing the race to show everybody--or the race--up). Some turn to desire (doing the race because you Some turn to love (doing the race for someone else). Others return to their training (if you put in the time to train you can put out the energy to finish). Still others call upon life lessons (quitting in a race is quitting in a life...are you ever going to quit in life? do you ever want to be know as having quit in life?). A few even turn to trivialization (this race is just like any other...and just like anything else. just another day on the farm, and just another chore for the day).

Regardless, you need to remember one very important thing: you can do this. Every person, every one of us, each in our own way, can do this. Your body, your mind, your spirit is capable for far more than you can believe. The Navy SEALs make it a mantra in their training that the human body is capable of 4x as much output as you believe it can. Many philosophers have noted that too often modern society (in particular, modern American society) lulls people into an underachieving stupor, in that rarely in our society are we ever pushed (or encouraged or motivated or forced) to push beyond the limits we have put on ourselves. We often leave it for emergencies to truly find out the truth--when in reality the truth is something available at any time. And that truth is just simply that you can do anything you want to do. You just have to go out and do it. One step at a time. Beginning with the first...The journey of a thousand leagues begins with just one step. Yours. Finish the race. Finish it strong.