MY FIRST TRIATHLON WILL BE AN IRONMAN
The point of this story is that in 28 days (1st December 2013), I will be in Cozumel, Mexico, running my first triathlon event. It will be 3.8 k of ocean swimming, 180 km of cycling and then a marathon distance run of 42 km all done in one day; this event is called an Ironman. In this post I would like to share my experience of my journey so far and then, in December, I will be able to report to you on whether I succeeded or failed.
I once tried ran a (sprint) triathlon in the UK but for health and safety reasons we couldn’t swim in the river so we had to use a canoe instead (yes, really!). I don’t really feel this counts as swimming is a core part of the challenge! I signed up to the Ironman in late January 2013 after a ‘medium’ drinking session with one of my best friends. The next morning, I realised I had actually signed up and paid the fairly substantial deposit. There was no going back! But, this wasn’t a drunken mistake; it was the expression of a yearning in my soul for an extraordinary challenge. I believe we are defined by the challenges we set ourselves, only by taking on great challenges can we hope to become great. A challenge doesn’t make you great it only opens the path to greatness; you must walk down that path and in doing so you become great. Plenty of people will (and have already expressed) the opinion that it is foolish to try so great a challenge, I should take it ‘slower’, do some more practice sessions etc. I think this is rubbish. It is not important who you are now, your current capability, what matters is what you can become in mastering the challenge. Do not think about what you can do today, focus on what you can become tomorrow. The real question, the only question, is this: ‘will you walk the necessary path to achieve your goal?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, you are on the path to victory; if ‘no’, then you should stop now and have a very honest conversation with yourself about what you are doing.
I have another confession for you, I haven’t actually run a marathon either. I have run an ultra-marathon through the hills of the South Downs in the UK and I’ve also done a few half-marathons as well as long cycling challenges. I did this because I found the standard marathon concept a little dull and wanted a bigger challenge. What drives me is not running the fastest time, but to push myself to see if I can achieve what seems ridiculously hard; a marathon didn’t seem ridiculously hard for me, it didn’t feel like a true test, but a hill ultra-marathon did. I write this not to prove a point to you, rather, I think it’s very important to be true to yourself, to be aware of why you want to do what you aspire to achieve. Whatever your reason, to impress others (that’s ok!), to prove to yourself (that’s ok too J ), to raise money etc., I believe that the basic platform of success is to be crystal clear to yourself as to why you want to achieve this goal. The sheer clarity and strength of this commitment serves as the foundation upon which you will build your efforts to success. Be true to yourself.
I believe this profound clarity of belief and commitment applies to achieving all things. People will doubt you, they will criticize you. The truth is that they do this because they do not believe that they can achieve such a challenge and therefore they do not believe that you can. This is often unconscious, people mean well but really they are projecting their own securities by saying you cannot do it, it usually has little to do with your own capability. You cannot allow their negative space to invade your mind and thoughts, you cannot allow your beliefs to be corrupted because they corrupt the very foundations you are relying upon for success. Let me be clear here, your success is built on one fundamental ingredient, your belief that you will succeed. Lose this and you lose everything. There is a balance to be found, we all need honest feedback and you should listen to sincere advice. However, there is a difference between honest feedback and negative poison. People must respect that they can share their opinion with you, but, it is only their opinion and in the end it is for you to decide what is right for you. It is your journey, your challenge and therefore it must be done in the way that is right for you. Only by owning your destiny can you become who you want to be.
This leads us to a core issue that affects all of us in everything we do: fear. Fear defines our boundaries; it defines who we are and what we believe we can do. The problem with this is that our fears come to define who we are. Our fears trap us in our current reality. Afraid, we surrender ourselves to fear and delude ourselves into thinking that we cannot achieve more. We adopt a fixed mindset and we lose the belief that we can become something more, something greater. We forget that we can grow. This is why challenges are so important, they force us to grow. In pursuing greater challenges we grow and become greater ourselves. Fear is the mind-killer; the toxin that corrupts our dreams. Fear is so powerful because it emerges out of a perceived lack of control, we are most afraid when we believe we have no control. Courage is the antidote to fear, it is the belief that we can achieve our goals.
I want to be the best I can be, I want to achieve something remarkable, this is why I chose to do an Ironman. I know why I want to do this and it provides a fire in my soul that compels me to achieve it. I believe in myself not because of arrogance or ignorance but because I chose to believe in having the courage to be more. I will not let my fear control me. There can be no room for doubt; there can only be one outcome, success. The key is to realise that it is our beliefs that shape our possibilities; we become what we believe. Find the courage to take control of your beliefs and you can define your destiny.
Written by Jan Bartscht