Late last night, when I was supposed to be on my way to bed, I saw a friend had posted a youtube video on Facebook (link is at bottom of post) This video was poor quality but the message was rich. I awoke this morning, thinking of it again. And it inspired me to write about it.
I'm sure many of you who participate in triathlon, running or some other crazy endurance sport have been asked the question "why?". Why do you get up before it is light in the dead of winter to pedal away on a trainer that takes you nowhere? Why do you decide to spend hours in a pool every week, swimming back and forth as you stare at the unchanging line at the bottom? Why do you choose to run out on the streets, fending your way through traffic and pain of climbing hills and challenging terrain, to end up in the same place you started? Why do you give up your relaxing weekends to throw yourself into a race where the first leg is bound to give you a kick in the head (literally), and the rest is most certainly a promise of pain in one form or another?
I know I have been asked before, why I race; why I train. My answer is usually a simple "because it's a challenge that I like to overcome again and again. It never gets old". But upon deeper dissection, this is what I came up with:
Running gives me freedom, cycling gives me strength and swimming gives me humility.
I can put on my running shoes anywhere and take myself on an adventure that costs nothing but sweat and time. No one has their thumb on me when I'm running. I'm like a little girl with ribbons undone and I can't help but smile. It is a gift. I think the more appropriate question is "why wouldn't I run?"
Cycling. It is the next best thing to skydiving. If I had to boil it down to one thing, I'd have to say, my favorite part is the speed. The best part of a ride is always the descent coupled with the effort it took to get to the top of the hill. Flying down a hill, hearing nothing but the wind in my ears is something I will never get tired of. I feel like a dog with my head out the window of a car. It is my reward. The experience of riding in a pack of people, the buzz of combined energy and effort all moving in the same direction is a close second. Directed chaos.
Swimming is a soothing yet frustrating experience. There are days when the pool spits me out like a sour grape, leaving me shriveled and defeated. And there are days when I have a glimpse of something greater, a better swimmer inside myself, struggling to get out. So, I continue to immerse myself in that chlorinated bath, week after week, in the hopes that I'll have less bad days and more good. And when I stand at the shore , waiting for the gun to go off, I feel confident that although I'm not the fastest swimmer (far from it), I am far from the weakest. I am six feet tall, and 200lbs, in that water and I can hold my own.
Although it takes help from my coach to know what to do, understanding from my children that my time is divided as well as the willingness of friends/training partners to lend an ear to talk over a bad race or training day...ultimately, it is me, and me alone who delivers myself safely to that finish line. And that is why I do it. The opportunity to prove to myself, over and over again that I am strong, independent and gutsy. Not to mention, to prove to the people who at one time or another, who have told me "you can't". Watch me.
Watch this video, think about it and ask yourself "why?" and maybe for some of you, you need to ask yourself "why not"? Find the reason why, white knuckle it and enjoy the ride. I promise, you won't regret it. Empower yourself.
1 year ago