I have one of those “This Many Days to Ironman” countdown clocks on my computer screen. Today it will lose a digit. Tomorrow it will read 99 days remaining.
Obviously, the meaning of the clock losing its centi-digit is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, it has me doing a gut check.
Why do it?
I came to the sport of triathlon solely to raise money for charity and my charity of choice is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Yep, you read correctly. I’m out there training and racing for one purpose and that is to help fund a charity. I chose triathlon not because of the love of the sport [which I now do] and not for the fitness [which I now want forever]. I’m not out there to escape myself, or find myself, or create a new self [although I’ve done all three]. All of the hours, the money, and the straining are to make myself an instrument for action. As IronPol told me today, “... you’re a surrogate runner (swimmer, biker) for those who are currently unable to do so.”
So, again I ask, why race an Ironman?
Why not organize a golf tournament or charity ball? I’ve done that before and raised a bunch of money too. They would take a lot less time and who knows they might raise more money.
So??? Why Ironman?
To quote George Leigh Mallory, “Because it’s there.” (Hopefully, I won’t meet the same fate.)
Yeah, it’s sounds trite. But it’s succinct and fits nicely.
I chose the Ironman to prove a point. To show that anything is possible. Nice thought isn’t it? But how much of it is just a catchy slogan and how much of it is reality? Is it possible for my attempt at Ironman to make a difference in the lives of those fighting leukemia? Is it actually possible for the money I raise to cure blood cancers? My answer is, “Yes, yes it is.” I honestly believe it can. With enough people joining me and a divine union it can happen. I’m reminded of a story of a teenage boy, who with a slingshot and single stone, killed the giant Philistine and changed the course of history.
I chose the Ironman to make a mark. Training for it is like going for a Ph.D. It’s hard, it’s arduous, it takes months, sometimes years, of preparation and ends with a final exam. Then, when’s it’s done, and you’ve made the grade, you can wear the title for the rest of your life. Ironman and Ph.D.; both are marks of distinction and the arête of the endeavor. When I tell people that I’m attempting two half-Ironman and one full Ironman triathlons in one year I want their jaws to drop. I want to pique their interest, not in me, but in the cause. Some of the attention may be put on me but I make it clear I’m racing for a much greater purpose. Did I choose Ironman because it's awe inspiring? You bet… and I’m perfectly fine with it.
Will I be physically ready? That, I think will be the least of my worries. But, will I be mentally ready? That won’t be known until race day. Some call the water and pavement of Ironman “the course” but I like to call it a truth serum. At 7:00 AM on November 4, when the cannon fires, I’ll dive into the watery course of the unknown and -- hopefully before midnight -- the vial of truth will be poured over my head.
My gut is in knots but my heart unwavers.