Monday, September 17, 2012

A triathlete's Journey

Scott Tinley
 Let us run with endurance the race marked before us.” Hebrews 12:1-3.

If you wanted to know what it is about Ironman that captivates thousands of people around the globe and drives them to extreme of training , stresses in their lives and relationships , then read Scott Tinley's article Haven't we met . For me it encapsulates the feelings of striving to do this race and to reach Kona .

For many it is a struggle within and around life, and for some it is an escape from a troubled history  . I struggle with the purity of the race , the endurance , the training and yet the over commercialisation of the brand and all that it attracts. There is the money , the bikes , the equipment , the training aids , celebrity and just that Hollywood gloss so many find so very distasteful and unbecoming  when measured against the benchmark of a race in 1978 .No publicity , no support , just pure test of the individual and the elements.

Unfortunately , I arrived into this sport at a time when  with the growing interest comes the hype of the nanosecond news world. Everything is instantaneous. For that , I am thankful for my stumble into a sport where a 6 hour ride is 6 hours , there are no real short cuts (maybe good genes for some)  . Time is standing still for the most part. That is how you embrace the race and the challenge both physically and mentally.

I love Tinley's articles for capturing that feel and  for the sentiment it expresses . He sees Ironman and the people who venture into it for what it is , warts and all .For me it remains a dream , now further away , with the competitive nature of the sport and the fast times , but it embodies what I love of the sport , the  training , the ups and downs , the people I meet and the lifestyle it manifest .I may never win a race and I may never race in Kona  but I am beginning to learn it is the twin sons of approach that Scott speaks of , attitude and appreciation. Ironman does not make us or even define us , it may shape us but we are all so much more for having taken the journey. We just need to know within ourselves why we are on this journey.

Haven't we met by Scott Tinley
An athlete's journey into the place of his making.
If you participate at Ironman only a few times you might be able to walk away without rehab or counseling. But after a decade it’s too late. Life without parole, it can suck like it blows. You tell the same tales, frequent the same coffee bars and return to see if your mai-tai-induced initials are still carved on the back bar at the Kona Inn. Ten will get you twenty. Twenty will hold you down and commit you to some endlessly-looped film of the infamous ‘82 Julie Moss crawl-to-finish. That Ground Hog Day milieu where you can check out but you can never leave? It is the solitary confinement of one-too-many trips up and down the Queen K.

The Ironman is nothing if not an extended negotiation. One makes deals with themselves and family members and bosses and loved ones and unloved ones and in the end, some kind of dealer from higher up. When simple breathing is a challenge and sleeping makes you tired, you will go down to the Crossroads to make your deal for that finisher’s medal. The finish line on Alii Dr. has become its own its own Valhalla. No one travels it unvanquished.
The ideal of becoming an Ironman is not unlike an addiction to something we submit to. We talk about the grand benefits of endurance sport--self-awareness, personal challenge, the chance to rise above the white noise of modernity--but it mostly comes down to our
desire for love, to be more than simply accepted. Heroes are loved. In somebody’s eyes, an Ironman finisher is always heroic.
Somehow, we carve out the costs and the pain and suffering under that guise that we will somehow stand taller after that sprint down Alii Dr.

More than a Triathlete by Scott Tinley

The same is true with athletics, especially individual endurance sports. You and I may have the same finishing time, but what it represents to us may be as different as wheat grass and Twinkies. One man’s exalted victory is another man’s shameful defeat. So much has to do with the twin sons of approach: attitude and appreciation.There was a short quote handwritten in faded pencil on the back. It said, “Let us run with endurance the race marked before us.” Hebrews 12:1-3.
I turned the card over. It belonged to my new friend, the minister of a church in New Mexico. His name is Scott. He is a triathlete, but he is so much more. As are all of you.