Friday, 26 September 2014

We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard

People often ask me why I do the things I do. Usually it's phrased, "why the hell would you do that?" It's not that Ironman is particularly fun, in fact, sometimes it's downright miserable. It's so much bigger than just having a good time, it's about finding out about yourself. Cheesy hey?

Ironman Los Cabos. The hardest race I've done to date.
When, in 2008, my friend and coach Alli and her now husband John first told Kim and I they were taking us to the mountains to go climbing we both just kind of laughed. It turns out John and Alli knew more about Kim and me than we did. We bouldered up some sketchy slopes, came down some scree and by the end of the day we had reached the top of a small mountain and returned back to the base. Our bodies were no different at the end of the day than they were at the start (save for some new scratches and bruises), however, the way we viewed our bodies was completely changed.

We walked a little taller and a little more confidently. We were physically identical to the day before but now we had climbed a mountain. This is the reason you challenge yourself. You have no idea what you're capable of until you go out and try it. Whether it's an endurance race or just getting into an exercise program, your limits are mostly mental.

I think what's most impressive about taking on endurance racing is the fact that the time and dedication required to compete in these events is only worth it if you are intrinsically motivated. At the average Ironman race there are somewhere around 2300 or more racers. Of these, something like 12 pros will win money and 50 people will earn a coveted spot in the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. And what's even crazier is that only about 300 people have a reasonable shot at one of those Kona spots. So 2000 people train hundreds of hours, spend thousands of dollars and endure 10-17 hours of brutal exercise with no hope or dreams of any prize or reward.  But the really cool thing is that it's worth it.

Sub 12 at 250lbs. Unreal day.
The first Ironman was thrown together from three different races to prove if swimmers, cyclists or runners were the best athletes. And although they could have never guessed what they were starting when they began the swim that day the tag line they used on the first registration form has endured as the Ironspirit: Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!

But it doesn't have to be Ironman. My first half marathon was just as big an achievement at the time. I was 300lbs and had no business being on the course. In fact, that day I came dead last ... but I did it. The mental fortitude to finish something that really sucks is not something that can be acquired without pushing yourself. It's not given to you, it's earned. 

I believe the courage that you gain from attempting something so tough is an incredibly transferable skill. Whether it's changing jobs when you're comfortable or going back to school to upgrade your education, diving into something and just doing it changes you. So just go out there and show yourself how amazing you really are!


  1. Amazing bud. Great words ! Makes me want to go out running right now. Well done

  2. Only just found you and your journey! As a heavier beastie too and an IM newbie/wannabie you are awesome!

    Congrats on the progress so far and look forward to trailing along on the rest of your adventures.