Is there an event that gnaws away at you? A race, perhaps, that you would love to have run but have never got round to it. A mountain, maybe, that you’ve never quite found time for. A book, even, that you keep procrastinating from reading.
Here’s mine: an Ironman* triathlon.
I ran a marathon a few years ago. I wore a rhino suit. Later I ran another one, in less than three hours, a time I was pleased with. I’ve “ticked” the marathon box. I don’t really have the desire to do another one.
A logical step-up from a marathon is to take on an Ironman triathlon. You have to swim a couple of miles, cycle more than 100 miles and then run a marathon. It’s a difficult thing to do. I admire people who have finished one. At the moment I could not complete an Ironman. That makes it all the more appealing!
For a few years now I have wanted to do an Ironman, but I have never quite got round to it. Here are my excuses:
- I’m rubbish at swimming
- I resent the fact that the more expensive your bike is, the faster it goes
- I don’t have the time to train properly for an Ironman. My ego does not want me to enter something that I won’t do really well at
- They are expensive to enter
None of these are very good excuses, are they?
It’s not as though I’m disabled and therefore cannot complete an Ironman. Oh, wait, even being disabled doesn’t stop this magnificent display of courage and love at an Ironman event (Work Place Caution: you might start crying at your desk). But what if I am so tired that I can’t run all the way? If you want it enough you will crawl to the finish line. And I’m not as young as I was when I ran my best Marathon time. What’s that? Even an 82-year-old can complete an Ironman?!
In other words, my excuses suck. I’m being pathetic. I am being lazy, fearful, vain and miserly.
I want to do an Ironman, even though it is difficult.
I want to do it because it is difficult.
It is because it is difficult, painful and requires commitment and sacrifice that I admire those who have completed an Ironman.
I don’t give a damn whether someone comes first or last. In fact I admire the fat, sweaty, broken bloke who staggers home last even more than the bronzed, smiling gazelle who gallops home effortlessly in first place.
I acknowledge that I might well fail at my first Ironman attempt (particularly given my excuses above). It is the very possibility of failure that makes eventual success so precious.
At the moment there is no way that I can swim, cycle and run all that way. But I suspect that with a lot of hard work and a pig-headed refusal to look facts in the face, that I might be able to make it to the finish line.
But I will never get to that finish line unless I get to the start line.
And therefore I am taking the most important step towards finishing an Ironman. I am publicly committing to doing one next year:
By the end of 2013, I, Alastair Cecil Hogmanay Humphreys, will swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run 26.2 miles non-stop.
Why don’t you join me? Not necessarily for an Ironman (unless you are a masochistic, below-average-intelligence idiot, like me). But for whatever it is that you have been itching to do for ages. Your first marathon, perhaps? Your first mountain bike race? Your first 5km fun run? Right at this moment you might not be capable of completing that event. But if you commit to it now, and work hard, you will absolutely astonish yourself with your own potential.
You can find a race to enter on this site.
What’s the worst that can happen? You fail. What is worse than failing? Looking back on your life and regretting not giving it a go.
Do it. Today.
[UPDATE: I am ashamed to say that I withdrew my entry and did not do the Ironman. I had no very good excuse.]
* a pedantic legal note: Ironman is a brand. A triathlon covering the same distances does not count as an Ironman event unless it is an official Ironman event.