I’ve lost track of how many times over the years I’ve been asked why I commit so much of my time to prepare for yet another Ironman.
For a long time, I found it difficult to come up with a reasonable response because often I wasn’t sure myself. I think what makes it difficult, is goals change as the years pass and so would the answer to the question.
At first, like so many others, I was “Ironstruck”. When I first saw this event I was drawn toward it and made the decision that I just had to cross that finish line. Despite the fact that I couldn’t swim a stroke and had never been on a racing bike I was compelled by some unseen force to do this race.
Once I consciously made the decision, there was no turning back and my life took on a new direction. It was easily the most important and life-changing decision I have ever made. It touched every single aspect of my life.
At 56 years old I don’t plan to do an Ironman every year from this point on. However, I’ve learned from my long Ironman career how important maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to a person’s quality of life.
My plan is to do my next Ironman in my 60th year. There is no confusion “why” any longer when I am asked that question yet again.
By setting that goal, I realize that I will have to stay fit between now and then. It also means that when that starting gun goes off 4 years from now, I will be going into my 60s in absolute peak condition. Most likely among the fittest 60-year-olds in the world. Really not a bad group to be a part of at that stage in one’s life. How that particular race turns out really has no bearing on anything. Just making it there is a reward in itself.
I strongly believe that how successful or rich a person is doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference when a twist of fate strips it all away and makes people from all walks of life materially equal and dependent on their own physical strength, courage, and adaptability in order to survive.
The world is changing and events like 9-11 and hurricane Katrina are examples of catastrophic events that knew no boundaries and in an instant left individuals with nothing but the ability they possessed within themselves to at least provide a fighting chance to survive.
Of course, it doesn’t mean everyone has to begin training for the Ironman Triathlon– one of the most challenging events in the world. However, to meet the unexpected circumstance of an ever-changing world, it behooves all of us to take care of our physical well-being to the best of our ability. At any age and yes, even as we settle into the retirement years.
Perhaps the best way to explain what I mean is an example I used in a previous article.
Twenty years ago, had I found myself in the middle of a lake, 5 miles from shore with no lifejacket–I would have drowned in 2 or 3 minutes. Now it would be an opportunity for a long training swim.
The Ironman has given me that ability and that confidence. I owe this amazing event so much.