Be proud to wear you.
Last Saturday my oldest completed an Ironman Triathlon in the Woodlands, Texas.
He was up around 3 am to eat breakfast, left for the competition site at 5 am, and started the swimming portion at 7 am.
Around 14 hours later, he sprinted across the finish line.
In case you're not familiar with Ironman Triathlons, here's a description, courtesy of Wikipedia...
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break.
Ugh! Can you imagine?
And yes, he sprinted across the finish line, racing another participant.
Crazy! I was exhausted by that point, just moving from spot to spot to catch a glimpse of him!
Sure enough, there were so many people gathered around the finish line that I couldn't see him. But a friend whose wife is an Ironman (yes- it's gender neutral!) sent me this photo from the finish line video...
Success comes in cans, not cant's.
Just watching the Ironman was such a an inspiring experience!
There were thousands participating, as you can see from all the bikes.
You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.
While Tommy is young (31) and the image of fitness (you would never know he battled severe asthma when he was young), it was clear from watching one participant after another pass in front of us that an Ironman isn't defined by age, shape, size, or gender.
I would guess the average age is around 50; one of my high school classmates was participating, although I never spotted him, and there were quite a few participants who were obviously older than I am.
Several who were finishing ahead of Tommy would probably be considered overweight, and assumed to be out of shape. We even spotted two blind participants accompanied by guides. They rode tandem bikes.
While there are some who do this professionally, for most, it's not a race, just a personal goal. What they obviously have in common is something inside that compels them to challenge themselves in this way.
I admit I don't understand it. I'm not even tempted to run a 5K. I'm happy just running/walking with Belle each morning along our dirt road, and will only do another 30 minutes or so on the treadmill or with my weights to keep my heart, lungs, bones, and muscles in shape for however many more years I'm blessed to be here.
But that doesn't stop me from being so proud of Tommy, and so amazed and impressed by his accomplishment.
He made it look so easy, with a smile on his face every time we saw him. I think he was happy the day had finally arrived - he had spent months training for it - and also happy that he was getting closer and closer to having it behind him.
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
~Henry Stanley Haskins
If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
I will live the free-hand life — I will rise up at dawn, and with sure, unfaltering faith, create the day. I will come at noon, and with the assurance of a master, paint the heavens. I will come at night, and with the confidence of one who cannot fail, hang a million stars in the sky.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XLI," A Soul's Faring, 1921
The day started out warm, but ended unseasonably cool. That's probably perfect for a triathlon, where you start out swimming and end up running.
It reminded me of watching him at middle school track meets on spring afternoon/evenings almost two decades ago, first sweating in the bleachers then shivering under blankets by the time the meet was over, long after sunset.
In high school, he switched to running cross country. He rarely placed at the meets, but he earned the spirit award for never giving up.
He told us he started out the swim portion of the Ironman doing the backstroke for 1 1/2 miles. That was his event the one summer he was on the Lago Vista swim team, right after 4th grade.
Oh my gosh, that was a long summer, having to have him (and his two younger siblings, of course) up early and at the pool every morning by 7 am. (Maybe it wasn't every morning, but it seemed like it!) And then every Saturday - every Saturday! - we had to be up and out with the whole gang before sunrise for swim meets that lasted most of the day.
Of course, looking back now I cherish those days, but at the time... whew!
After the first swim meet, Tommy wanted to quit. We told him he couldn't, that he needed to finish the season, but then he would never have to do it again if he didn't want to.
So he finished the season - and never did it again.
I can't say I was sorry at the time, but now I'm grateful for those memories. We bonded with a lot of families who are still our friends today.
Life is weird, isn't it?
Anyway, we didn't always do everything right as parents, but I like to think this is one thing we did do right... impressing on our kids that if they started something, they needed to finish it.
Even so, I know we really can't take credit for the drive and determination it took for Tommy to become an Ironman. To follow through with his training after he signed up and to cross that finish line.
I do know it's pretty awesome when your kids become your inspiration and role models. (P.S. He's the best insurance agent you'll ever find!)
Don't live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.