Willing Yourself

author : adumey
comments : 1

by Adam,


"The miracle is not that I finished, but that I had the courage to start."

I held off writing this piece because I wanted to take ample time for reflection. Often times I fall victim to acting on impulse and emotion, clouding the impact of my words. As a result, others cannot fully understand an event's significance.

My participation on this website revolves around sharing the knowledge amassed through my vast experience (note e-sarcasm) in the sport, with the hope that my sharing could reduce a very intimidating physical and mental challenge to a less frightening hobby. For this reason, I wanted to share the most important lesson I have learned while completing my first triathlon (Disney Half Ironman).

Personally, the allure of triathlons stems from the battle, perhaps exacerbated through competition with others, but ultimately, within myself. Chaotic swims, steep hills and endless running trails associated with racing do not constitute the most overwhelming challenges of the race, but actually serve as a distraction for the other more difficult obstacles to overcome.

In the swim, perhaps it was my premature dive into sand, in about 3 feet of water, and the ensuring feet crushing my spine or rather the woman who proceeded to simultaneously rob me of both my goggles and a pint of blood, that had me questioning my decision to participate and my ability to complete a triathlon. Or, to be fair, maybe the almost fatal fall that took place around mile 35, when my 12-minute experience in the aero-bars proved futile, when  confronted with a sharp turn played a role. To be fair, I started doubting myself when the ever painful IT band friction, present for 5 hours of the race, reared its evil head.

I will not lie --- I frequently thought about stopping. Perhaps I do not yet have the mental toughness of seasoned athletes, who frown upon the notion of quitting. Or, maybe I am actually, in this regard, quite normal in my race-day fantasies of retreating to a comfortable bed in an air conditioned room. Or how much I wanted to go back to the Wilderness Lodge for some more cornbread. IHOP? Deviancy is such a relative term?

But the weird thing is, like most of you, I didn't stop. And when I took the time to understand these thoughts, I realized I never wanted to.

Most of you have come across similar scenarios. Perhaps in racing, most likely in training. Think of every time your alarm clock goes off ridiculously early, while it is still dark outside, and you have to pack on layers to do your road-work. Getting out of bed is always a struggle and you often think of clever, yet surprisingly rational, arguments as to why you should continue sleeping. How about during the week, after a ridiculously stressful day at work, you carry your gym bag up the stairs and into your locker room for an evening workout despite the sight of a Boston Market or the ever-present smell of the local Krispy Creme? Or the time you were unable to wreak havoc on the town with your friends because of an early (weekend) morning brick? How about those dedicated souls who have altered their diet for performance?

Clearly all decisions that may sacrifice some sense of pleasure and normality, yet, despite the everyday temptations, of which I have fallen victim to on several occasions, you do it. I do it.

The most significant take-away from my triathlon experience to date is that a person's will is powerful. Willing yourself to train despite the seemingly endless distractions that cross your path and the inner-voices of self-doubt is inspiring. Perhaps equally as challenging are the inner battles that take place during a race, when all you have are thoughts which can sometimes be both empowering, inspiring you to perform at a level not previously known, or tremendously devastating, causing you to question your desire and purpose for being on the course.

Booker T. Washington wrote, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as the obstacles which [one] has overcome while trying to succeed."

So this is my message-- this is my strength: While I may never place in the top half of my age group or qualify for Kona, I am very proud of one thing: that I crossed both the start and finish line.



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date: September 4, 2004


Personal apple pies, loaves of banana bread and stacks of pancakes and/or french toast. Not withstanding these weaknesses, 05 Lake Placid Ironman or bust!


Personal apple pies, loaves of banana bread and stacks of pancakes and/or french toast. Not withstanding these weaknesses, 05 Lake Placid Ironman or bust!

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