What's Your Next Challenge?
Every now and then, we read about people that accomplish incredible physical feats. Dean Karnazes ran 50 Marathons, in the 50 states in America, in 50 days. Benoit Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean. For 73 days, he covered approximately 3,716 miles of deep-sea to complete this task in 1998. In 2004, Alpinist Karl Unterkircher accomplished something no other man has done, he scaled the two highest peaks on earth, Mount Everest and K2, without oxygen tanks.
The first question that normally comes to mind when we hear of such exploit is Why? Why would someone do something so challenging?
The narrative below attempts to answer this profound question. We may not all aspire to climb Mount Everest, but people accomplishing small acts of greatness are all around us, and we know there are many pieces of intellect to grab from this. Now, I leave the scene to the man that impacted my life the most, my dad, IronNorm.
The Ironman Journey
A little while ago my son JP asked me to write about my Ironman experience. Frankly, I have been delaying not knowing where to start and how to summarise this in a few words.
There is so much to be said about such an amazing experience that it is hard to put down in a few paragraphs.
Having completed my first Ironman 3 months before turning 50 years old, lets just say that the excuse of “being to old for this sh..” doesn’t hold up. We are never too old for this as long as being on the overall podium is not our objective.
My journey has brought me to meet such interesting and amazing people, who share the same objectives of being healthy, in shape and love to train, among other objectives, and that no matter how young or “old” they are.
Some thoughts about pro’s and con’s of the Ironman
On the con’s side: let’s realise that an event of this magnitude (3,9 km swim, followed by 180 km bike, followed by a full marathon (42,2 k run )) requires a huge volume of training hours in order to finish , avoid injury and not abandoning the race . Average training of 8 to 16 hours a week in my case with the top week being close to 20 hours and this for anywhere from 4 to 6 months.
It requires a lot of time, and can be also “taxing “ on family life and relationships. If your partner is not in to this stuff, or does not support you, or finds you crazy, needless to say where that could lead you. If you have young children, even more challenging.
It requires commitment, lots of it, as there will be times when you feel discouraged, exhausted, or overly fatigued. I have to “stress “ here the importance of proper rest and recovery, without which your headed for injury or burn out. Trust your coach on this. Chose your tool for this, but one of my favourites is yoga.
On the pro’s side: completing such an event is a huge accomplishment by itself, which can do wonders for self confidence, pushing your limits to a whole new level, not to mention the incredible joy you feel on race day, crossing that finish line and realising what you just did. Sure there will be moments of doubt, and suffering, and you will ask yourself the question: why in God’s name am I doing this? (This is using the polite formula of course, I have said a lot worst, believe me ! )
For me, throughout my races, the human experience and bonding, specially on race day, has always been on the top of my highlight list. On race day, we all wake up at 5am stressed and unsure of the outcome. But during the day, especially coming out of the water, you feel things will get better (or worse!), but you know your going somewhere. You see fellow racers, suffering just like you, in doubt, but just a few words exchanged with fellow competitors (plus spectators cheering you on) can boost everyone’s spirits incredibly.
Yes, there will be pain, suffering and doubt. You will pass others and be passed by faster competitors. However, if you’ve prepared well, done your homework , and KEEP YOUR MENTAL STRONG, great things might and will happen. A strong mental game is instrumental, and one tool that can help facilitate this is daily meditation.
Here’s a tip : focus on the finish line, take it 1 km at a time (specially on the run leg), and stay in your “zones “. Trust me, you will need it.
If you are into triathlon, remember that the Ironman is not the only distance (it’s kind of a crazy thing, I know) and certainly not what we suggest as a first trial. With that being said, of the 5 IM’s I have done, I loved every minute of it, and should you feel motivated (or crazy) enough to try it, I hope you will too.
Ironman U Certified Coach