Ironman on Tivo

Norman Stadler 2006 IronmanI just re-watched the NBC Coverage of the 2006 Ironman World Championship. What a truly amazing event. I am always moved whenever I watch one of these races. Before I finished my first Ironman, I used to think that I would be less moved once I had completed my own… I assumed it was the mystery that made the race coverage so dramatic and compelling.

Obviously there are many more people who have watched an Ironman on television than have actually completed an Ironman in person… clearly the human drama of the event is understandable and compelling even from afar. Is it more compelling for those of us who are “in the club”… those of us who are also Ironmen? Or is it somehow less compelling once you’ve done it yourself… once you can say you to know what it feels like?

Well for me, I am moved equally today as I was before I had completed my first Ironman. I think the reason for this is that I don’t really associate my Ironman experience with the experiences I am paying witness to while watching an Ironman. Of course that may seem obvious… there’s a big difference between watching 1 or 2 hours of TV and being out in the elements racing your heart out for 12 hours.

For me though, there is something else about it… something much less tangible… and at the same time much more real. It is the memory of the experience and the sensations that separate it from other memories. I can remember every kick, every crank of the pedal, every hill on, every mile, every sip of water, every step of my Ironman. They are filed away in a part of my brain reserved for the very few memories are cherished that much.

I can’t explain it. It’s like the first time I held my new born daughters. Or that instant that I knew I loved my wife completely and I had to marry her. Or the first time I played my guitar in front of a live paying audience. Or the first time I saw swam with a shark while scuba diving. It may seem odd to compare these things, but I guess that’s how my brain works.

You don’t have to complete an Ironman to have these kinds of profound memories. Of course, I don’t think you even have to do it through physical endeavour… but I do think there is something profound about the way our human bodies experience intensely physical accomplishments. My wife recently experience her first endurance event, when she walked in the 3 day walk for Breast Cancer Awareness. I’m sure she has similar feelings about her experience.

If you haven’t tried to complete an event like this… your first 5K run, your first marathon, your first triathlon, then what are you waiting for? It’s a life changing experience.

If I can do it, then anybody can!


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