Sunday, October 19, 2008

spreading the message of Ironman

it's funny how people respond when they find out i do Ironmans.

some know quite a bit about it, and have either followed it, known people who did it, or are themselves aspiring to do it. the discussions i have in these situations trend to a personal nature, with questions about why i do it, how i trained for it, and how i found the experience.

some know nothing at all about it, or the sport of triathlon, or any of the individual events of swimming, cycling, or running. in which case, these conversations lean towards a more descriptive tone, discussing the distances, the locations where races are held, the origins of the sport, and how widespread it is.

in either case, however, i notice that there's always an undercurrent of incredulity, sometimes bordering on disbelief. frequently it's overt, with comments or exclamations of amazement. often it's subtle, with non-verbal signals of wonder. invariably, it's accompanied by sentiments of incomprehension, impossibility, inconceivability, or even outright deniability. in all cases, it comes down to the simple phrase: i don't believe it.

i find it funny because of 2 different reasons on 2 different levels.

first, and this deals with the word "funny" in its literal facetious tone: the subtext always reminds me of the conversation between Luke Skywalker and Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. it's almost literally out of the movie. Luke says the exact same thing. i don't believe it. Yoda's answer is classic, and also so very true: and that is why you fail.

second, and this deals with the "funny" in its figurative serious side: having been through an Ironman--several so far to date, and hopefully many more to come, i don't see it as being strange, or bizarre, or incredible, or incomprehensible, or impossible, or inconceivable. and certainly not deniable. in fact, i see the exact opposite.

because you see, Ironman isn't something done by superhumans or freaks of nature. it's not something accomplished through chance or by luck. it's not something undertaken by the insane or the delusional.

instead, Ironman is something done by average, ordinary people with average, ordinary minds guided by average, ordinary spirits inside average, ordinary bodies who one day wake up--in all senses of those words--and decide to take a journey--in all senses of that word--to become something more than who they were and what they are, and to look for what will come, and in so doing find just who they were meant to be.

yes, the journey is extraordinary. very. very. very. extraordinary. and those who do it become so themselves.

but that's the point. the journey may produce the extraordinary, may be extraordinary, but it begins with the ordinary. it begins with us.

and that's why i spread the message: anyone can do an Ironman.


you just have to wake up--in all senses of those words--and decide to take a journey--in all senses of that word. even though you may be ordinary. especially if you're ordinary. and look for, find, believe in the extraordinary.

and then never stop.

because anything is possible.


PaulDJesse said...

WOW...this is without a doubt one of the best ways I have EVER seen this topic covered.

Anyone that has done an Ironman has been faced with the question of Why? We ashould all carry around a copy of this and hand it out whenever we are asked.

Sladed said...

I say WOW as well, especially your writing on the deeper level of "funny", the ordinary, and the extraordinary. Unlike you I've never done an Ironman but I'm working my way up. It IS about the journey, and the struggle, and the challenge.

Unknown said...

awesome post man
Im thnkin of postin it arnd!
certainly explains why Im trainin to do it!