The other day someone at work asked me why I put myself through all this "Ironman stuff". It's certainly not the first time the question has been asked. It reminded me of these comments from Scott Tinley. Scott was one of the original pioneers of triathlon back in the early 90's and was a World Champion. Here are his thoughts.
"You ever wonder what regular people think when they hear that close to 20,000 people are trying to get an entry into Kona? They're thinking all those people must have a screw loose, that's what. Yet, I'd bet 1,000 sit-ups that more than a few of them dream about crossing the finish line, all tan and trim, the crowd screaming, their toothpaste commercial smiles caught and beamed out over the airwaves. And I bet that when they wake up in the morning, more than a few roll over and try to hide from the gnawing desire that they, too, could have that same screw loose. Maybe they are realizing that too many of us die too young or too late. Maybe they know that we pull ourselves up by making money, making the grade; all the while taking less and less time to face the fact that there are some things in life we need to do. Just because.
I think the Ironman is one of those things. For all those people, I can't pretend to know why. Hell, I barely have an idea why I did close to 50 of them myself. But I know people are changed by an Ironman. Ironman finishers leave a mark on the world.
Try to define that. Go ahead. The words will never come. It is enough to hear the stories, to watch the returning smiles. Witness the metamorphosis.
Yeah, there is a price--relationships, jobs, sunburns, missing toenails; there always is for the good stuff. But the call of the distant drum is too loud to ignore, too powerful to pawn off as some midlife crisis of the middle manager or desperate plea of a soccer mom. All they want is their one day. One day full of enough feeling and emotion to last an eternity.
But like war, marriage, tight jeans and stick shift cars, the Ironman isn't for everybody. As much as it can give, it can take. If it were easy, it wouldn't mean the same. Even dreams are fair game in the forecast of one's decisions.
I know there are ways to validate one's life. There has to be. The Pulitzer Prize winning author Katherine Anne Porter once said that salvation can only be found through religion and art. I believe that great feats of physical endurance include both those traits.
And in a world that tries its hardest to separate us from what matters, the Ironman helps us to reconnect with the pulse of our lives. As long as it does that, we will be happy to have made the decision to even attempt the dream."