All The Small Things

Why do you do this?
What keeps you going?
Waking up at 4 AM to drive 25 miles to meet the team, so you can then bike 25-50 miles, and then, since you’re there, run 13 to get some road miles in.
Why?
Because it’s fun?
Maybe.

Sometimes.

There are days where you hit that sweet spot, that perfect pace on the run, or that perfect position and cadence on the bike, that you relax and enjoy what you are doing. Those days where the burn in your thighs feels good to you, actually makes you pump the pedals harder. Those days when the perfect song comes on your iPod that matches your running pace perfectly so that you zone out and just … run. I have even had pool swims where you forget how many times you have touched the wall because your stroke is so smooth, and you glide through the water as if being pulled along by a dolphin, and before you know it 2000 meters have been completed and you still have the energy for 2000 more.

Yes. I have had those days.
I have also had the days when the lactic acid hits my legs after three pumps on the bike. Those days when you are driving those pedals as hard as you can and only going 13 mph. Those runs when your back tightens up within three steps, and becomes so bad that lifting your legs to run becomes almost impossible. When your normal running pace of 12:30 hit 15:30 and no matter how hard you push you cannot go any faster. Those swims where you are barging your way down the lanes, gasping for air on each stroke, sinking even with a pull buoy.
Yes. I have had those days.
So why do you keep going back for more? What drives you to punish your body? To invoke such pain on it that you are dry heaving after the workout on the side of the road? 
Every one has their own motivation. It could be weight loss. It could be for overall health. It could be that drive to win. It could be the desire to “show them all”. It could be for fame. It could be for glory. It could be for self worth and for pride. But something in you drives the desire to pull yourself out of bed when most of the world is three or four hours away from rising, slathering your sensitive areas with chamois cream, coating your feet in Vaseline, pulling on uncomfortably tight clothing, layers of them if cold, loading your bike in the car, grabbing a bag of gear and nutrition, and heading out into the darkness. 
Why do I do it?

Crossing the finish line knowing that you gave everything you have. I have finished dead last in a number of races, but the bottom line fact is that I finished, and I finished standing. I did not give up when I knew I was last and they were breaking down the water stations before I even got there. I did not give up when my bike was breaking down and I had to stop constantly to get the tire readjusted, causing me to have a finish over an hour longer than I expected. I didn’t give up with some french assclown tried to drown me in the lake and they tried to pull me from the race. I have found strength competing in these races that I was not aware I even had. I may never stand on the podium, but dammit I crossed those finish lines. I have never DNF’ed a race. I have never been pulled from the course. That’s not to say I never will be … these races always surprise you … but even if I do I will be at the next one, toeing the line, and ready to finish.

Knowing and believing that others are seeing my activities and are finding strength from it. It’s the old adage of “Hell, if he can do why can’t I?”. It’s one of the things that got me going, seeing guys my size, and bigger, competing and finishing. It told me that I could do this if I gave the effort. I am still not the thin, muscular guy I envisioned I’d be by this point, but I am better than I was in 2010, and I am not as good as I will be in 2014. I write down everything in the hopes that others will read this while sitting on their couch eating a bag of chips …  that they will see the pictures of my in 2010 and in 2012 and think “wow…maybe it is time I did something about my life”.

I have met people that have made me a different person, that without this training and racing I may have never met. KC, Megan, Summer, Beth, Kate, Genna Beth, Teresa, Lyle, Adam, Gene, Kelly Ann, Jim, Tom, Tracey, John, Dustin, Dave, Bruce, Kirsten, Brian, etc. etc. etc. Each of these people have affected me in this journey. I may have never met any of them without it, and that is something I could never replace. If I even think about it, I connected with Jenny because of this. Our offices were next to each other at Moffitt, and we had spoken, but it was the connection over the biking that brought us together … her asking me one day to “come riding with them” one weekend. I didn’t even own a bike. I borrowed one from her nurse. A heavy LaMonde. And rode at the breakneck pace of 7 mph. So if it wasn’t for triathlon training, and TNT, she and I may have never had more than a passing familiarity.

As I said, the reasons are varied by person, and we all have our reasons, but I am betting that everyone can relate to at least two of the three things I listed. We swim. We bike. We run. We train in the cold, the heat, the rain, some of you the snow, We train with injuries. Some of us race with broken appendages (Summer). We gain strength from knowing we can do this, and we gain strength from each other. We have lost friends and alienated family members who do not understand this drive, but we have found others on the way.

We are Fat Slow Triathletes …

… and We WILL be Reckoned With … 

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