Examining the Bucket

The podcast is eating into my creativity … 
I love writing and I love doing the podcast (search for it as “Ironman: Year One” on iTunes or through www.doughboytoironman.com), much more than I thought I would because I think I come across much better in writing, but I also recognize that although we try to not be an extension of the NSNG group on Facebook, that I have readers here that also listen to IMYO, so I don’t want to be TOO redundant. 
And the award for the world’s longest sentence goes too …………. 

So I have been thinking recently about the so-called “bucket list”. I don’t think I have ever really sat down and thought about it in these terms, i.e. having to do certain things before you die. To be honest, I don’t have this inward sense of adventure that a lot of people seem to have. I guess I am a “home body” at heart, no matter how hard I try to fight it. Maybe accepting this about me will go a long way into my mental health moving forward. So, if I don’t have this inward “need” to do all these crazy adventures what drives me to compete in endurance races such as a full distance triathlon?
I think it’s a fear of death …
Not death in of itself mind you, but a premature death from a cause I could have done something about; cancer, obesity, heart attack, etc. I look around my work, my family, my city and all I can see are the walking dead. People just continually doing metabolic damage to themselves with no regard for the future. These are not all obese people, and I think that’s where a big mistake is made. You hear people say it all the time … “I’m just lucky … I can eat whatever I want and not gain an ounce”. Some of you reading this may have said it yourself … but the sad thing is, it is not true. It’s easy to look at someone, like me, and tell we have issues. The overweight, the obese, are easy to spot. But those that are thin, or appear to be in shape, may be just as unhealthy, or maybe worse, than those of us who outwardly show it.
But these are the people who are the hardest to convince.
I have a young man, mid 20’s, in my office who appears to be in shape. A former football player, walk on with USF (didn’t make the team but still, walking on the field is pretty impressive) and obviously in shape. In taking a walk over to his desk he has a big bag of Frito’s open in his lap, and two can’s of Red Bull (one empty and one he’s working on). To top that off he takes three or four breaks during the day to smoke.
If you look at us side by side you’d say that he was the healthier of the two of us. But is he? Maybe at this point, yes. He is 26 and I am 50. But what will he look like at 50 if he keeps up this lifestyle?
I did point out one day that he must love smoking more than he loves his children, since that habit will probably remove him from their lives at some point. I can’t help myself. I had to watch numerous family members succumb to cancer. Why anyone would want to put their loved ones through that experience, to me, is one of the most selfish acts possible.
So, I don’t fear death. I fear a long painful drawn out death. I am trying to avoid it.
But I could gain the same health through diet alone right? I don’t HAVE to do endurance races, right?
We were talking about this mindset during episode two of the podcast. What is driving us to do a long course race? When I started I really had no intention of doing a full Ironman. I thought a 70.3 was probably my limit, and to be honest I didn’t think I would even progress that far, but here I am with 5 of them under my belt. During my last race I distinctly remember thinking after my bike leg that I could not imagine having to do that same course again, and then run a marathon … but not a week later I signed up for a full distance race (140.6 miles) in Chattanooga.
Why?
To say I did it?
I can’t even lay it on the losing weight thing, because the worst thing you could do is try to lose weight while training for an Ironman. It is not meant to be a weight loss program.
Maybe it is to make a mark on the world?
I have two sons. I’ve made my mark. I have my legacy when I am gone … my name and genes will endure at least one more generation. Is it THAT important to have the word Triathlete mentioned at my wake? On my headstone will it say:
Here Lies John Cecil Harris
Born September 2, 1963
Died ### ##, 20##
Husband, Father, Triathlete
Swim Calm, Bike Strong, Run Steady
Will it even matter?
My family really shows little interest in these endeavors. They try. They ask the basic “how did it go today?” questions when I drag my tired and spent ass through the door, but once you start talking about “how it went” their eyes glaze over. And that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. When my 19 year old son starts waxing poetic over the recent news concerning the new Playstation 4 my eyes glaze over too. Luckily we share a love of music, so when the conversation shifts to the new Eminem CD we can actually talk about that, but sports, especially ones that I directly participate in, is really off the table.
So, is KONA in my future? Doubtful … although I believe KONA should be on every triathletes list. Not to race it, but to see it live, to experience the atmosphere. Personally I am hoping KC makes it there at some point so I have a real reason to go watch it live. I can live through her, and I am OK with that. At this point I have no inner desire to race KONA in order to validate my triathlete status.
But, I have said that before ….
Now … an XTERRA? That’s a chapter yet to come 🙂

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