Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Do The Ironman? (Part 4)

‘A man who is a master of patience is master of
everything else.’ – GEORGE SAVILE

Patience is what you learn very early in triathlons. You will be close friends with loneliness, and being alone. Incessant stroking in the pool-lanes, long runs, and longer rides. You can get philosophical as you perform repetitive work with little promise of payment, or a promissory note. We do all these laborious work for self-satisfaction and self-fulfillment.

Triathlons – whether its faster powerful cousin, the sprint or Olympic Distance or its relative of humble beginnings, the Ironman – is a sport that tests more than three disciplines. It is a personal test of will, willpower and many other values, including tenacity, patience, determination, diligence, endurance, persistence, and sense of purpose.

It is a sport not without its risk. You can drown, break your bones, and suffer seizures. Yet, it still attracts many new entrants every year. Are these individuals, risk-takers or those with a personal death wish? Not many, as I believe that there are more extreme sports where eminent demise is a higher and likelier possibility. This sport invites 'the pedestrian of us' to shy from its allure of pain. Pain is not so attractive, when it can manifest itself from the start till the end of the race. And, we are not talking about muscle cramps (from riding or running) or a bruised cheek from a swim. We can be defeated by stomach disorders born of stress, nutritional setbacks, or a bodily meltdown. The body will fight you to surrender after a few hours of prolonged physical assault. It is only natural to resist and battle any instance of pain or discomfort.

In spite of these potential ‘let-downs’, the purveyor of the 226K-triathlon may be intrigued by the possibility of having the ‘perfect race’. A personal best time is reward enough for many; for others, it is the fact that you completed a tough course, harsh weather and testing terrain. Every course/race is different. Same course, vastly different weather patterns on another year. The variables are too many to compute accurately, and it is consistent and specific training that reduces the chances of disappointment.

There are no easy days ahead. The military special force units would state vehemently: ‘The only easy day was yesterday!’
Julie Moss's crawl towards the finish-line of the Hawaii Ironman, demonstrated part of the essence of the human spirit and allure of Ironman triathlons.

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