Saturday, December 19, 2009

Inspiration in the dead of winter

As I mentioned yesterday, we realized we were training for an Ironman instead of a Half Ironman. Training at this time of year is a challenge, because Timberman seems so far away. Doubly so when you're training really hard, as we had been. So far, the only thing we have officially scheduled between now and August is a 10k road race in Lowell, MA on New Year's Day. We'll be scheduling more races between now and then early in the year. But for now, August might as well be 5 years from now.

To say we're on the lookout for inspiration and motivation is an understatement.

There's nothing more inspiring than seeing someone do something you want to do. And by inspiration, I mean pure unadulterated jealousy. This afternoon we watched the "Made for TV" version of the 2009 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. The race was actually held in October, and we watched a live feed on Universal Sports that day.

There's something special about the packaged versions of the races they show on TV. Part of it is the music, part is the melodrama in the scripted voice overs, but most of it is the ability to highlight the stories of particularly inspirational athletes. There are the stories that inspire across the spectrum: a double amputee doing his first race, a man in his 50's or 60's finishing his 20th consecutive Ironman, and the Naval officers who trained on a frigate and a submarine. Then there are the stories of all the folks who either couldn't finish in time, or just couldn't finish at all.

While it's heartbreaking to watch the people like the heart transplant patient who missed the swim cutoff by seconds, or the 76-year-old, 10 time Ironman finisher who had to surrender 2/3rds of the way through the bike. Even more heartbreaking is seeing the people who are able to conquer the distance but fail to do it within the 17 hour time limit.

One such person was Matt Hoover. If you recognize the name, but aren't sure why, he was the winner of season 2 of NBC's The Biggest Loser. While he lost a lot of weight on the show, he's still not what you'd call thin. Matt was able to conquer the distance, finishing the race in 17:03. Just 3 minutes outside of the time frame that would have allowed him to call himself Ironman.

Even though Rach and I had put in 40 minutes on the track and another 20 on the bike today, watching the race recap really made me want to go out and run. Even more, it made me want to be sure to be ready for Timberman. The distance is half an Ironman, and we have only half the time, 8 1/2 hours or less.

I am going to be ready. I may not be an Ironman, but I will be a Timberman.

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