I’ve probably said this before – but I’m not very creative, so I’ll repeat myself: I have a strange way of dealing with stuff that I suck at. I wasn’t very comfortable with speaking in front of a group – so I took stand-up comedy lessons in a club here in Manhattan. I got heckled by drunken strangers that I knew I would never again see in my life, and confronting this fear allowed me to get over it. So now I have another fear: I’m afraid of failing to finish Ironman this year.
It’s a realistic fear. It’s a fear that comes as a result of trying to walk the walk after talking the talk to my daughter. For a while now, I’ve tried to instill in my kid the basic concept that if your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough.
I keep telling her this….but I think it’s also important to show her that I can back up my words with deeds. That supports the other concept that I’ve tried to drill into her head over the years – to quote Ovid:”Facta Non Verba”. Put simply – Deeds, Not Words. (Or, to put it as Batman once did – It’s what we do that defines us.)
I used to dream HUGE as a kid. I’m betting that all of us did, didn’t we? Well becoming an Ironman has been a dream of mine since I first learned about it in high school. I used to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and I remember some buddies of mine at Fordham Prep telling me that a person had to be a little nuts to try something like that. Terms like “those dudes need checkups from the neck – up”, to “their elevators definitely don’t go to the top floor”, to the ever-so-colorful “the cheese fell off their crackers a long time ago, dude” were normally how I heard triathletes described when I was a teen. When I transitioned to college and joined the school’s crew team, I remember one guy on our varisty men’s squad was a triathlete – and this was when the sport of triathlon was not nearly as mainstream as it is today. This dude wasn’t muscular. He wasn’t really tall. He was not the best varsity oarsman as it came to rowing technique. But there was one thing his dude had in spades, and that was endurance. He simply never got tired. When everyone else appeared to be on the verge of burning out, he would get stronger. I looked at him as if he were a human power plant. That was how I wanted to be. We discussed the sport of triathlon, and it further fueled my fire to give it a shot.
But…as the song goes….life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
As the years went by, the dream of becoming an Ironman stayed with me, but I never actually did anything to pursue it. Then my kiddo came along, and my entire way of thinking was flipped on its butt overnight. While its always been my goal to allow my daughter to be her own person and let her figure out for herself what she likes and dislikes, it is a proven fact that kids observe and absorb their parents’ actions and preferences. That simple fact made me begin focusing on how I spend my time. I needed to show her that it’s important to have a goal, and then work like hell to achieve it. And that, quite simply, is how I found the sport of endurance running.
After taking up marathoning in 2005, I stayed with it and began to up the ante a little bit over time in an ongoing attempt to demonstrate to Mini Me that, if you continue to work hard at something and do not quit, you can accomplish things that you never thought were possible. 2012 saw me try a marathon a month to raise money for the Dream Team Project. In 2014, I tried a multi-day event (the inaugural Dopey Challenge). In 2015…well I got a little nuts and did a long distance run from San Francisco to Anaheim to benefit Do Away With SMA (www.doawaywithsma.org). That last one did a real number on me, as I returned home to New York City after Labor Day Weekend rather burnt out. The past few months have gone by in a haze of unfocused training and lackluster effort. Well that changes right now.
I’ve decided that 2016 will be the year that I chase after that goal that I’ve had hidden inside me for 30 years: The Ironman. My original goal was to run the Vineman in Sonoma on July 30th – but I don’t believe I will be ready in time. So, I am announcing that it’s my intention to compete in Ironman Maryland on October 1st. I’m going to compete in this event as part of a larger 2016 effort, in order to raise awareness and donations for Do Away With SMA – a charity that helps fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Since this event takes a TON of training, I’m going to use this blog to be my daily training log. And, since this training should make me stronger (and maybe even a little faster), I might as well take advantage of the juice that my hard work should zap into my body, right? Glad you agree. So I’ve put together a series of races that I’m going to attempt on the heels of the Ironman that I have lovingly named after Dante’s masterpiece….
My 2016 Inferno:
October 1st: IRONMAN Maryland
October 9th: Chicago Marathon
October 16th: The Nationwide Childrens Hospital Columbus Marathon
October 30th: The Marine Corps Marathon
November 6th: The TCS New York City Marathon
November 19th: The New York City 60k
…and, since there are nine rings of Hell within Dante’s work, my 7th ring will be attempting to run at least 2,016 miles in 2016 (which means that I’ll need to average 8.36 miles a day from today through December 31st to hit that number), the eighth will be to log enough miles on the bike to cover the distance from Central Park to Disneyland (which is 2,793 miles – meaning that I’ll need to average 11.60 miles per day starting today and going through December 31st), and my final goal will be to earn my Coaching Certifications from bother the Road Runners Club of America (“RRCA”) and Ironman U.
I have a game plan. I just need to execute it. And whether I am successful or if I choke miserably, I hope you’ll follow me on my quest.