The significance of a man is not in what he attains but in what he longs to attain.
And sometimes the what or the why gets lost among the distractions. The ferns engulf our practice. Training and racing is so complex, so ridiculously hard to 'big-picture' grasp, so mercurial, that we often need to stop, slam the brakes and take a refresher quiz on why we are doing it.
Is it an item on our bucket list?
Is it ego defining?
Is it our profession, obsession or addiction?
Is it still positive and constructive?
I have done eleven Ironman events, finishing ten. You would think that would be enough. It isn't. That one of the whole where I took a DNF home with me (from Pentiction) still haunts me every night like an evil, sinister, wicked crone. Sometimes I wake in the night hearing my inner coach plead: "Just one more step, you can do it."
The failure to finish what I started that summer day stays with me like a battle wound. It hurts and it's ugly. I am embarrassed, humbled and angry all at once, a horrible combination. But the wound is a constant reminder.
That I long for redemption. I must get back and prove to the sly Mr. Id that I can do it, that what was once a motivating dream, can be again. That this current nightmare can become a miraculous reality.
That is what I long to obtain. The empirical knowledge that I am better than that. To remove that bitterness with the sweet taste of completion, closure.
Sure, the long range plan is to KQ (Kona Qualify), but the daily steps necessary to achieve that goal are the keys. You can't have Ironman fitness overnight. There are myriad distractions along the way that often seem as deadly as roadside IEDs. There is real life. The cost of racing is enormous. Shit happens. The need to stay focused is as trainable a skill as doing fartleks, intervals or speed sets. We can get lost, lose sight of the goal, give up, forget the why.
Why do this?
Because one day a long time ago I quit. I walked away and went home. I gave up, created a litany of excuses, threw in the towel of failure. I rested my accomplishments on the glowing significance of the ten completed IMs, suppressing the darkness of the one. The pain of that day was huge. It hurt BIG TIME. I thought I was properly prepared and trained, ready. But not for that.
Little did I know that the spiritual and psychological pain that was to follow would make the physical hurt of that day seem like barefoot walk in the park.
Why, then? Because I have to. Because it is there. Because it is in my blood. Because it is what I long to achieve (again). Because I enjoy the process, the journey and the culture. Because I have something to prove.