Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why Do The Ironman? Part 2

Craig ‘Fox’ Holland led me in my first 10K run along Singapore’s East Coast Park. Till then, I had never ventured beyond 10K in a race or training run. He recently completed IM Melbourne in 10:38 – not shabby for a 51-year-old who completed Kona in 2005. Having completed dozens of triathlons and run races, he was the most suitable person to convince me to plunge into endurance sports.

My first 10K run during my training was mind-shifting. Due to years doing anaerobic-type activities, I was concerned that I would damage my body with long-distance, endurance-type activities. This paradigm held me back for some time, before I saw results in the all the three disciplines. The major obstacles then, was converting form breast-stroke to the front-crawl, and learning to ride a road-bike. Having run track (in the 1,500m & 3,000m Steeplechase), I transitioned (that strange word, and place) into the running formats of 10K, 21K and 42K quite quickly.

In my first foray to multi-disciplinary sports, I registered for a biathlon (swim-run). I swam and ran without a drop of fluid, experienced the ‘bonk’, which manifested as mild ‘heat exhaustion’ and I ended up in the ambulance. I have no recollection, till this day, of how I completed the race. Apparently, I ran off the road, onto the beach, past the finishing-line, and was headed out to the sea. Fortunately, several volunteers led me back, removed my timing-chip, and I ended with my first finishing time (to this day, still a complete amnesia). Soon after, I survived that scary ordeal (and warnings from family) to complete a 21K run, a marathon, and a full Olympic Distance triathlon. Then, I was ready for the big time.

Training for my first Ironman race was exciting, and scary at the same time. Training was dissected into portions, divided unequally over three disciplines. The weaker one is in a discipline, the more time was expected to enhance that deficiency. Each discipline can domino down to disappointment if we do not connect the dots well. The swim and ride determines your marathon; that’s about 183.8K later.

About a dozen Ironman triathlons later, I am still embarked on a journey to uncertainty. My 13th Ironman will be in Switzerland in July. Yet, there is a premise and promise of better things to come. It is not about the finisher’s medal, finisher’s t-shirt, bragging rights and enhanced resume. It may be that heightened sense of awareness that I am not alone in my personal quest for that something, that continues to attract many more in the years to come.

Or, as Ironman Hall of Fame recipient Bob Babbitt said: ‘It may be like the hole in the head of the first Ironman trophy.’ Yes, we all have that hole in the head that suggests we are missing a piece, or needs a piece to be filled in. 
(To be continued: Part 3)

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