I’ve been fortunate to be able to start and finish each Ironman Triathlon I’ve attempted. In between the start and finish line is 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running. However the real race is won before I even started and after I’ve finished. In between is just an experience.
At my first Ironman in Arizona on April 15, 2007 I didn’t realize this truth. It was horrible the few days before the race started. I had major anxiety and didn’t sleep very well at all race week. I don’t think I slept but a few hours the night before the race. I didn’t realize that I had prepared sufficiently starting eight months before and that in between the lines was just another mile repeated 140.6 times. I had went that distance several times each week in preparation.
I’ve since discovered that the Ironman is only 140.6 miles in between a start and finish line. It’s just the finish of a learning experience; neither good or bad.
Your race begins; like any worthy endeavor in your life, by making a choice to arrive at the starting line. Many people fail to even get this far. The race begins by having a desire to go the distance because at the finish line is a prize that you want. The preparation you put into your race before you get to the start line is an act of faith. You have to have faith, based on your belief that if you put in the work and effort, you’ll be rewarded in the end.
I train over 4,000 miles of combined swimming, biking and running and at least 50 hours of strength and flexibility training before the race. The race is then only 3.5% of the total. Its the last 3.5% too.
After I cross the finish line I receive the reward. Many may think the reward is a finisher’s medal. While I enjoy receiving the medal, the real reward is what I’ve learned about myself and life and that is far more valuable than a medal.
It’s like hiking up a tall mountain and finally arriving at the top only to realize that there are more mountains you didn’t even see before. That is the reason for the finish line. It’s signifies you accomplished the standard to qualify you to learn more about yourself and life. Just like the mountain top is to allow you to be able to see more challenges and dreams ahead.
I admire anyone who accomplishes what they set out to do. I realize that they, just like I’ve done in my life, desired something bigger than they were currently capable of doing. They exercised faith and worked toward achieving the goal. Then I know how they feel when they finish. There is a glow in their eyes!
The people who seem to accomplish a lot in their lives just repeat this process over and over again. They get to the mountain top, i.e. the finish line, see more mountain tops and begin to climb them again.
I’ve learned that you can’t see past the finish line until you’ve crossed it. You can’t have the final experience unless you get to the start line.