I am getting ramped up for my 2009 triathlon season. Formal training begins February 1, tomorrow by the way. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying out my training schedule to get a feel for the timing of it, and I think it will work well with just a couple of tweaks. I am fine tuning a few items in my equipment, replacing a couple of pieces, upgrading a couple of items, and dialing things in the way I want them. Gradually, I have been getting back onto my nutrition plan. And I’m feeling juiced. Ready to go. Wanting to race. And that must be a sign that I’m rested.
I was reading in my most recent issue of Triathlete Magazine and saw a couple of familiar quotes that speak well to both triathlon and life in general, and I’d like to share them. The first is by Lance Armstrong, 7 time winner of the Tour de France who is currently training for a comeback attempt. Whatever a person thinks of his personal life and decisions in that arena, it cannot be denied that he is probably the greatest cyclist of all time. Part of that is due to his work ethic. Yes he is talented, but he works harder than anyone. That is why he is great. Sure, he has paid a hefty price, maybe too much of price according to some, and his personal life probably manifests that. But Lance is well known for the mantra, “Pain is temporary, but quitting is forever.” How true is that, in racing and in life. You can never get that experience back. If you don’t finish, you can’t ever go back and do that particular race over. I thought about that during my first Ironman. I did not want my first Ironman to go uncompleted, and I pushed on through temporary pain. Life is so much like that too, and it is one reason I love triathlon so much. It mirrors life.
The second quote is by Rutger Beke, a top professional triathlete. He has won several Ironman events worldwide, and is a current top contender for the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on a yearly basis. Beke has recently taken Lance’s statement to heart. In the 2007 Kona event, he suffered to the point that he was forced to walk. During that race, he was asked why he didn’t drop out. His answer, as he was walking the marathon after darkness had already closed in on the field, was that to quit would be disrespectful to all the age group atheletes gutting it out to finish even though they were in pain. He recongnized it was a privilege to be there. He finished 898th place, and he honored all triathletes in that effort. He believes that once such a surrender is made, quitting due to temporary pain, a severe character flaw is created that becomes exceptionally difficult to overcome. I think I agree with that.
So I start off my training for 2009 recalling that quote from Lance and that performance from Rutger Beke. They will help me persevere when the doubts come, and they will come. They will help me choose tea over Mountain Dew, fruit over cookies, salad over a cheeseburger. They will help me get up at 5 AM when my bed next to Karmen feels warm and cozy. They will help me in my races when I begin to hurt. And I will not quit due to temporary pain. I will not disrespect the effort of everyone around me. I will continue on.
On a side note….I am now a yellow belt. Our little group of 4 did well in our forms, kicks, punches, board breaking, and sparring. We succeeded together. It was great fun, and I remain gently humbled.