I've been thinking a lot about Courage lately. I think about it in the early mornings when the sun is just beginning to rise, in the late day when I my legs are weary and I don't feel like going out for my next workout, and when I watch the sun slowly fade into the distance from the last hill repeat on my bike.
There's plenty of time to think out there. One of the wonderful things our sport provides is a chance to feel the wind against your face and either embrace the sound of your breath as you run through the darkness or just think about life, solve the worlds mysterious or reflect on your day.
I'm not sure why I've been thinking so much about courage, except that it's one of the things that ties us all together as athletes. Every person who has ever stepped foot on a starting line knows what I mean.
Races are tests of ourselves. Even if it's a "train through" kind of situation or even a 5k "fun run." There is a clock and by the time you are done with whatever the distance, you will have a time in place, forever stored on athlinks :) It's only you out there (unless you are doing a relay of some sort) and the only person to either blame, thank or otherwise, is yourself. No one can make that part easier or more complex.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
I rather like this part of racing. I was thinking about it the other day and I love how when we are all beside each other it doesn't matter what kind of car you drive, if your house is clean, if you have kids or a spouse or if you make a million dollars a year. The usual measures of "society" just don't exist on a race course. It's you, and it's the clock. Everything else really is pretty arbitrary.
One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
Where does courage bind us? That simple, it's the common thread between what it takes for us to start this journey in the first place and to agree on this date in 5 days, 2 months or 1 year we will be in this particular place, at this particular time, doing ____ THIS (whatever it may be). Sure, you can back out, but it takes courage to commit to the training to get there and it takes courage to step up to the starting line itself.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
To be quite honest, I don't think that part gets any easier with time folks. If you're anything like me, the goals just get loftier and the stakes get higher. That's the fun of it you see. Without that, you wouldn't need to muster the courage to get there...it would just come easy and who wants that!
When Branden, my MTV athlete, changed his goal within the first two weeks of our training I kept asking him if he told his parents. This went on for a full day or two until I finally got to the root of it. Telling someone else made the goal real, and once it was real, there was a fear involved that he may not reach it. That fear came from the fear of disappointment. For the first time, Branden realized that this is the fear we all face as athletes and that it will never change. If you don't invest in that dream or goal, then there is no real hope of achieving it. The courage to tell someone, to invest is what makes these goals possible.
All I know is that this journey of Ironman Hawaii really started in 2009 when I was trying to force the issue and ended up having a horrible season that ended with a broken collarbone. In 2010 things started to turn around, but yet it was not my year to stand on the starting line. After qualifying at Ironman Cozumel in November of 2010, I knew on October 8th, 2011 that I would be standing in Kailua bay in Kona, Hawaii to do one thing, and one thing only - to race my heart out.
Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.
What I didn't know would be the journey that would take place in between. Where I would face plenty of lows this year, train at a new level, face many more fears and learn so many more things about myself and why I love every dang thing about this sport. It took courage to hit the register button and it takes courage every day to get out there at 5:00am and attempt to make my dreams come true. I'm inspired by other peoples courage all around me... it wells up in me when I see an athlete do their first triathlon because I know just how much courage that takes. When my Aunt Dena looked cancer in the face this year and used her faith to beat it down with a stick, always believing, always knowing that she could beat it.. and then, one day she did. That's courage my friend.. in the flesh. When I watch athletes just like me crash and break ample bones and the world build them up and they recover to doing what they love... once again, I'm amazed by their courage.
Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.
It's no small feat and it's one of the reasons I just smile when people make fun of me or tell me that I'm just wasting my time investing in this sport and everything to do with it. Courage can't be bought, it can't be quantified and I find it because I believe in this journey and what it can do for me and for others.. it's worth it to me a million times over and if I had the chance, I'd do it all over again.
So many people I know are racing this weekend. It's time.. Stand up and be courageous. Be thankful and most of all, enjoy every last minute of what you are about to do because so few have the courage, fortitude and health to be able to stand at that starting line. Now is your moment - capture it.