40 Days Remain - Why do I race anyway?

Ironman Challenge - There is only 40 day remaining until I race in Ironman Florida. After tens of thousands of miles of training, I estimate more than 40,000 miles of training; after millions of strides, pedal and swim strokes I have found myself feeling burned out, tired and sore. But recently I have found myself wondering why this is so important. I would like to share with you a few experiences I had today that led to re-discovering or re-obtaining my inner clarity.

I started my day by going to my massage therapist. I have a reoccurring problem with knots forming in my shins and calves. Additionally my therapist feels that my mussels may be fusing to my shinbone. He spent one hour and fifteen minutes today stripping my calves and shins. This is not the first time he has done this. I spent the hour and fifteen minutes screaming in agony. The pain from this procedure is intense. What does this have to do with why I race? Hang tight and it will all come together.

After a full day of work, I headed home to finish my daily workouts. On the way I called a friend of mine. I ended up having a conversation with two friends of mine, due to them being together at the moment. One friend told me that he wanted me to race Ironman Buffalo Spring 70.3 next year because he wanted to kick my "arse". Now let me go no further before I clarify that this was banter between friends. But it got me thinking; he works hard to beat his friends; why is it so important to him beat all his friends? In no way am I passing judgment. However, I found myself wondering, why it was not so all-important to me.

At about 7:30pm I still had not gotten my very easy one-hour run in today. Putting in so much time and having such a LONG season I found myself talking to my coach. I was telling my coach how I am floundering a bit. How I am feeling a bit burnt out and I am lacking the enthusiasm to charge out the door for my run. We agreed that my feeling being burnt out DID NOT MATTER, what mattered is getting the workout done. So I laced on my shoes, got my dog fitted with a red blinking light (because it was already dark outside), and we set out for my run.

The first couple steps hurt the most! The pain coming from my calves and shins (and no these are not shin splints) feel like my legs are broken. Each step hurts. But after my legs get warmed up, which usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour, the knots seem to relax and the pain subsides. But given that this workout was set to be only an hour long I knew that this would be a run completed in pain. To deal with the pain I turn my attention to some problem that needs working out. I went back to thinking about why winning is so important to my friend.

So as I was running I was thinking back to where this all started for me. It was a dark time, a time when I prayed nightly for God to end my life. This was a time when dying was more appealing than living. A time when, at times, being awake was so unbearable that I would take enough pills to put me out; only to awake and go running for more pills to end to suffering for another day. A time when I lost the ability to read, to add and subtract, and even to reason on a higher level. It was a dark time when I virtually lost my life. I lost the very person who I was.

Happiness, hope, joy, love, peace, or even any sense safety and security were gone! My wife virtually lived my life for me. My wife fed me, clothed me, read for me, thought for me, and even told me how to feel. I would be in a panic and run to my wife to ask her if there was reason to panic. She would explain that there was nothing to panic about, only to ask her five minutes later to tell me again how there was nothing to panic about.

I realize that this entire experience changed my life for the better. I am stronger today. Having to work at rebuilding the life that I lost has helped me better discover the person that I am. It has helped me discover what is important in my life and for that matter what is UN-INPORTANT in my life.

I race today because once, I was better off dead. I race today because it is self-exploration. Racing for me is about winning, but more importantly it is about further discovering who I am, what I can accomplish, and how many people I can help lift up along the way. So all the miles, all the hours, all the pain is absolutely worth it!

I race today because once, I was better off dead, but now my life is worth living.
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