This weekend, hundreds of supreme athletes will crowd into the cold waters of Tempe Town Lake to begin a grueling journey to the finish line of AZ Ironman. This is the 40th Anniversary year of Ironman and they appropriately use the tag line - “40 Years of Dreams.” Well…it’s a dream for some but sounds like a nightmare to me!
The race starts with a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike, and finishes with a marathon – 26.2 miles of running. It’s hard to fathom just doing one of those legs much less all of them in a single day.
My husband has been training long and hard to accomplish this feat. It’ll be his second Ironman. I’m not sure if it’s an advantage that he knows he can do it or whether it’s a hindrance because he knows what it’ll take to finish the race. The mental element of the race is just as important (maybe more so) than the physical fitness component.
This is not an accomplishment most of us would seek out and yet, for my husband and his training partner, this is the pinnacle of an arduous training schedule. This is the moment they’ve been swimming, biking, and running towards for many months. This is the chance to prove to themselves that they can do it. That they can grit it out beyond physical exhaustion and they can earn the elite title of “Ironman.”
Regardless of their finish time, it’s the effort and the commitment and the journey that will truly shape them and change them. I’m confident they will finish. When they do, they will have moments of triumph to share and moments about how they almost gave up along the way.
Ironman will inhabit a special place in their memory reserves. It’ll reside alongside the epic adventures, the supreme accomplishments, and the ultimate victories.
What memories do you have that fit within this treasure chest? What are the things you’ve chosen to do that were incredibly difficult but you persevered? They don’t have to be athletic, they could be all sorts of things. Perhaps it’s an epic battle with cancer or pulling yourself out of poverty. When did you stand on the mountaintop and proclaim – “I did it!” “I survived and I’m better for it.”
We draw strength from these moments and we’re able to refer to them over and over as we charge up the next hill. Maybe that hill is one we’ve chosen or maybe it’s one that chosen us. Regardless, it’s the grit, the determination, the moving forward when we want to quit that ultimately defines us and shapes our lives. Within each of us is an Ironman and we never truly know what we're capable of until we're pushed beyond our limits.
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