I was working with a personal training client yesterday, one that I see three times per week. Towards the end of the session, I mentioned that she needs to behave next week and get in her exercise while I’m away, to which she replied “where are you going?” I’ve been working with this client for over six years now.
Most of my pt clientel still have no clue as to what the Ironman is all about. I think most outside the triathlon circle still think that there are maybe only one or two hundred triathletes in the nation. That you could show up on the day of the race, pay ten bucks and wait for someone to blow a whistle before you take off across a painted white line signifying the starting line with 30 other people. I still get the same comments when asked about the distance of an IM. The one I loathe; “112 miles!!! I can’t even drive my car that far without getting exhausted.” Occasionally, I’ll get the “I used to race marathons. I did a 3 mile marathon a few years back and I think a 5 mile marathon.” Many will ask upon my return if I won. One year, after placing somewhere inside the top 65 in Hawaii, one of my pt clients asked “how’d you do?” I mentioned my place and they returned with “sorry about that. Better luck next time.”
Years ago, this would bug the hell out of me. I wanted them to understand the magnitude of an Ironman. The dedication it took, and the sense of accomplishment. Maybe I wanted them to understand this to appease my guilt for putting so much time into this sport. I wanted it to be more than it actually is, which is just a race. Sure, most of us benefit a lot more from these events than the simpleness of racing from point A to point B in as fast a time as possible. In fact, I think everyone is affected quite deeply after participating in an Ironman, whether they want to admit it or not. But as crowded as these races are, as quick as they fill up, as hard as they are to qualify, the sport is still small in the grand scheme of things.
And now I realize that this is just fine. Even if I dragged some non tri-friends to an Ironman event, they might come away with a bit more appreciation, but most still won’t really get it. I know many who have dragged family to events, only to come away disappointed that the family members didn’t “get it” better. There are the few who do “get it”. The year I did Lake Placid, I rented a house and brought up a bunch of family. Baker was there and witnessed his first Ironman. Afterwards, he came up to me and just said “Thank you.”. I could see in his eyes that he understood.
What I now know is that we are extremely lucky. We should not only be appreciative of the sport we participate in, but of our lifestyles. Of the fact that we love to exercise. That we understand how cool it is to be returning from a hard Saturday morning 80 mile ride when most are just awakening. That we get mistaken often for being 20 years younger than we actually are. That non-athletic MD’s freak out when they check our resting heart rates. Because 90% of the population out there are the exact opposite. They don’t like to exercise at all. That’s the norm. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little bubble that we forget what’s really going on.
I did an easy 2 hour ride today and a 45 min brick run. I felt good! I’m still slightly congested, but all is well. After today though, I can’t wait to get in that Kona sunshine.
Download this (good tune to train to): The Fray, How to save a life