Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gut Check

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?

Why Ironman?

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.

Stay tuned…


Running Rabbit said...

You can be on me, when I can be on yours. Figure it out smartie pants. :-)

Bolder said...

great post.

i admire what you've done.

not sure about the PhD part though, maybe real estate license?

something you pay to acquire, and takes the average mortal about 6 months to receive?

Running Jayhawk said...

It's posts like this that get me excited for your race report, Tri. You're going to be brilliant out there.

TriBoomer said...


I'm thinking Ph.D. as in a title of distinction. Such as Dr. Bolder, Ph.D., or Bolder, Ironman. Kind of has certain sit up and take notice ring to it. Not that there's anything wrong with being a real estate agent but it doesn't carry the same cache as Ironman.

Elizabeth said...

'Boomer, seriously, you're so inspirational to so many. I'm so excited for you and your triumph. Keep your unwavering heart going; you're almost there! I'll be cheering for you!!!

Vickie said...

Its really interesting your thoughts and feelings on IM. I have been thinking the same thoughts lately--that if I attempt an IM, I want it to be for something more than just myself because for myself it would be a selfish endeavor I could not justify. And doing it for a cause would be one way to keep me on task.

Carrie said...

Although, I've never done an IM, reading your post helped put it in the perspective that I would also want someday. I get depressed reading some IM training blogs because some people just don't appear to enjoy it. Some people just don't sound like they're having fun in the process. They're doing it because it was a natural progression or "the next step" in their race calendars.

You seem to have a clear picture of what it's all about FOR ego, no time goals, etc. Before I ever consider a race of this magnitude, I hope to adopt your outlook!

My Best!

Iron Pol said...

Another part of the equation is difficulty. Lots of charity events raise money. Few force the fundraiser to put themselves on the line like endurance events, especially Ironman.

Cancer survivors face some of the most difficult challenges any of us could ever expect to face. In many cases, they literally fight a life or death battle, every day. Ironman is tough. As tough as it is, I gather that battling cancer is harder.

Through your training and racing, you face great physical and mental challenges. And your challenges are for the express purpose of helping reduce or eliminate the challenges of cancer. A pretty noble cause that makes the entire journey worthwhile.

Jessi said...

I love the PhD/Ironman analogy - especially since those are 2 challenges I'm going to be embarking on simultaneoulsy over the next few years!

So can I have your permission to cut and paste that quote and hang it on the wall next to my desk? Seriously.

D said...

What an inspiring post!

Wil said...

omg, I had to take my clock down, it was making me way old!

I love this post... you're going to be so awesome at FL!