LAST SEPTEMBER I took a motorcycle trip to Montana. The trip was set in motion by a couple of friends from work who ride bikes, and they’re particularly fond of one stretch of road just outside Missoula. They left on the Wednesday, and I, still not committed to going at that point, said I’d try to make it out on the Thursday or Friday. Between lots of races in June and July, and between spending most of the summer in Kelowna with my Mom, I hadn’t had a single weekend to myself.
Indeed, the bike trip sounded kind of exhausting. While Jim and Andrew could put their bikes in the back of Jim’s truck and drive to Missoula, I would have to ride my bike down on my own, and back again. So, I kind of wanted to stay in Calgary and just do nothing for a change. But, with summer winding down, and the fact I really hadn’t spent much time on the new bike, and the fact I think part of me just needed to get away from everything, I decided late on the Thursday night that I would go.
House Mix (recorded September 2013)
Starts slow, a little progressive, then gets funky and soulful early on…
“You’re the laziest athlete I know,” my friend Ryan often quips, and in certain respects, he’s right (e.g., I’d rather drive to Cowtown Beef Shack at lunchtime than walk the 700 yards). And whereas I should have been writing race reports after every race, just like my coach tells me to, it’s now mid-October and I’ve managed only one report all season.
So for the benefit of the one or two people who might read this, allow me to indulge in a little stream-of-consciousness reporting, to try to make sense of this year. It’s been a curious year, this—though, come to think of it, not as curious as 2010, but high up on the scale nonetheless—and I’ve been acquiring mental post-it notes along the way, but I haven’t yet tried to assemble them so as to come up with a coherent narrative.
For what it’s worth, I know where it starts. It starts where every good narrative starts: the breakup.
It was in the early 80’s when I first got the idea in my head that, someday, I’d like to do an Ironman. Triathlon was relatively new back then, the first “Ironman” having been held in Hawai’I in 1978. I had loved endurance running probably from the age of 8, and back then the thought of someday doing just a marathon seemed, to me, the ultimate endurance event. Then I caught TV coverage of one of the Hawaiian Ironmans, and immediately it garnered top billing on my—excuse the cliché—“bucket list”, the ne plus ultra of (what I thought at the time to be “purely”) physical achievement.
Over the years I got caught up in different things—martial arts, mountain biking, girls, drinking (heh)—but I never completely forgot about this goal, and whenever, perchance, I happened upon some triathlon event while channel surfing, I was glued. Continue reading “Ironman Canada 2010 (my first)”
The last ten seconds of the race—when the finish line came into view, the crowd started to cheer, and I began to sprint—made it all worth it. If I could somehow unpack the elation, the feeling of invincibility, the Las Vegas style lightshow of neuro-chemical activity contained in those last 10 seconds, I could easily spread it out over every training session during the last year. And I’m pretty sure it’s registered on some sub-conscious level, because thoughts of future training and future events keep bubbling to the surface. Your body craves more.
Early last year, a client gave me a small plaque with a quote on it. The quote, from Scottish mountain climber W.H. Murray, reads thusly:
This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I’ve pondered the significance of this quote many times since. This notion of commitment, this idea that it engages some universal system of levers and pulleys, I find endearing, and apropos my circumstances.
I decided to run the Calgary Ironman 70.3 triathlon last August. However, I hadn’t really “committed” at that point. Sure, I had mentioned it in passing to a few people at my firm, and I had exchanged emails with certain Tri-Club staff regarding classes, but at that point there was no focus, and I could have easily dropped the whole thing. In fact, I almost did. Continue reading “On Commitment”