Tip of the Iceberg

We all know the saying …
When you see an iceberg you only see 15% of it. The rest is submerged under the water, hidden from view, and mostly unknown.
I was pondering that while running last weekend (see what odd things I ponder while running) and watching others on the trail. The bikers, the walkers, the runners. I was thinking about how the perception we have of these people is probably so different than what we can see. What we see is only 15% of what that person is underneath, much like the iceberg.
What has driven this person to run, or to bike, or to swim, or to just be outside? 
Because I just wrote a post about the things that chase us (I Only Run If I Am Being Chased) I won’t go down that road again. But we can look at another aspect of it; Training.
No one is really born an athlete. Sure, some are better suited to certain sports because of genetics or availability, but most of us are born the same and we aspire to thee feats of athletic prowess through work and determination. We find our nice eventually. We play the same sports but have different talents within the sport that usually come to the surface after hours of practice and racing. An example of this would be my younger brother Michael and me when it came to football. I came to football relatively late, not playing until I was in 9th grade. Mike played pee wee and Pop Warner before moving into Junior High and High School. He lived and breathed football. I was into music and played in bands, so football was an afterthought to me. Mike was a natural. He knew instinctively where to be at what time, and had a natural aggressiveness that suited his position, linebacker, very well. I was more of a thinking player. I was faster and lighter, but could determine where the play was probably going to go by the line up of the offense, which suited my position, Strong Safety, well. 
So when we see that triathlete burning through 56 miles of biking at 30 miles and hour, then hopping off and running 8:00 miles for 13.1 miles, some of it is probably genetics and natural ability, and some are suited for it so it came naturally, but others out there can do the same effort but had to work hard for it, or at least harder than their counter-parts. In either case, there is more under the surface than we are seeing.
I looked back at my training for the past 5 months, the time where I was signed up for the Augusta 70.3 coming in 11 days (as of this writing). I have 20 weeks of training, an average of 6 days each week, or about 480 training hours. This is for a race that will take me about 8 hours to finish. So to complete an 8 hour race, more than 90% of the time was devoted to training for that distance. That covers over 1200 miles on the bike for a 56 mile bike ride. Over 400 miles of running for a 13.1 mile run. And over 60 miles in the water for a swim of 1.2 miles. So when I look at someone passing me like I am standing still, I have to remind myself that, even though I have put in a lot of time t be able to complete this distance, the person passing me has put in the same amount of time and effort, and probably more. This ability to run and swim and bike is not a given to anyone. The courses of triathlon are littered with elite athletes in these three disciplines who took this type of racing for granted.
“Oh, I can run a sub 3 hour marathon. Adding a bike and swim should be easy.”
“I do Century Rides all the time. How hard could it be to run a half marathon afterwards?”
These are the people you see on the side of the road being passed by people like me; an overweight, Galloway Method runner, who has finished every race he has entered. I am sure there are some toeing the line with me that look at my build and think “man … he is never going to make this” and then are incredulous when they see me pass them on the bike (I never pass anyone on the run).
It’s because they are just looking at the tip of the iceberg …
… and forgetting what lied beneath the surface.

One thought on “Tip of the Iceberg

  • September 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I know better than to judge a book by it's cover. I've seen the opposite, where I see a super fit person and think man, that person is going to crush me, and then I pass them. You really never can tell. You're going to do great! Can't wait to hang out after we finish!

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