What I learned from the Ironman that changed my life

The Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride ending with a 26.2-mile marathon run. What went on from the very instant I decided to attempt it to finally finishing the race taught me more than I could have ever learned from a college degree of study.

“It was like anything that has ever been worthwhile in my life; it was hard, painful and memorable.” Michael Lantz

It was like anything that has ever been worthwhile in my life; it was hard, painful and memorable. I learned a great deal about the conflict of my body hurting and wanting to stop and my mind playing tricks on me, tempting me to quit.

If I had to sum up the top three things I learned about myself it would include these.

Commitment

I learned that my level of commitment is equal to the importance I place on my goals and dreams. When I decided to do my first Ironman on April 15, 2007, I was all in. I was not going to let anything get in the way of crossing that finish line. 

Ever pick up a rattlesnake and not be bitten?

The Young Brave and the Rattlesnake

One morning a young brave was walking through the mountains on the way to his village and came across a rattlesnake on the path.

The rattlesnake spoke to him, “Please my boy, I’m so cold from the snow that fell on my home last night. I need to get down to the warm valley so I can survive. Will you take me with you?”

The boy answered, “No Mr. Rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you’ll bite me and I’ll die.”

The rattlesnake replied, “Little boy, if you do this thing for me I will forever be in your debt, and I promise I won’t bite you. We’ll be friends from here on and I’ll let you pass in peace whenever we meet again.”

The boy thought about this and answered, “Mr. Rattlesnake, my grandfather is very wise, he’s the chief of my people. He taught me to never touch the snake people.”

The boy and the snake a​​argued back and forth, with the snake flattering the boy, telling him, “To be the grandson of  the chief is a great honor, and ​I’m sure ​
you must be very wise and brave. I can tell that one day you will also be chief of your people.”

“Please do ​a very small thing for me then,” begged the snake, “please just carry me the short distance to the river where I can sun myself on the smooth warm rocks. Can you do that small thing for me?”

The snake was very persistent and very persuasive and the boy finally gave in to his pleadings. He picked up the snake with a stick and began walking down the mountain towards his village.

After just a short distance the snake began pleading with the boy, “My boy, my boy, this is a very wonderful thing you’re doing for me, so kind and generous. I will forever remember you. But I am still so cold and this stick is hurting my ribs, can you put me under your deerskin coat and keep me warm until we reach the river?”

The boy seeing that so far the snake had kept his word, took the snake and tucked him next to his body.

Finally at the river, the boy reached into his warm coat and carefully removed the snake and placed him on the rocks. As he pulled his hand back the snake reared and struck a fatal bite on his wrist.

The boy screamed out in shock and pain at being betrayed by the snake. “Please,” said the snake scornfully, “don’t act so surprised that I bit you. You knew exactly what I was when you picked me up.”

Native American parable

Seeing that which no one else sees

I’ve had my kids try and explain certain things to me that they could understand but I couldn’t. “Oh, dad!” they’d exclaim.

I understand things that I wished my kids would let me teach them. “Dad, that’s old stuff!” they’d roll their eyes back in their heads.

I’m sure you totally understand certain things that you wished everyone could see as clearly as you.

When I finally understand a truth it’s really a blessing to me. I’m sure you feel the same way.

I like the quote, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

It seems to me that the key for me to teach the truth to my children is recognizing when they are ready to be taught. Usually I know they are ready when they ask me for advice or help (I like it when they tell me how smart I really am when they learn to deal with their own children). At other times when they may be struggling and I have knowledge that will help them I’ll simply ask, “I used to struggle with that too. I don’t anymore. Would you be open to learning what I did?” Almost always they will say yes.

I’m sure why you see things that others don’t is that you were once the “student” who was ready to learn. You either found a teacher or the teacher somehow found you.

Now I know why blind people can see better than those with sight. It’s that “ready to learn” pair of glasses.

Just be who you are

Life can be hard…….and even harder if you try and be someone other than who you are.

Life can still be hard when you are being true to who you really are but at least you have peace.

Life can be hard being authentic but at least it’s your hard on your terms doing it your way.

Be yourself. Life’s easier that way.

 

Your Setbacks are Really Setforwards

Setforward

Ever had a setback that you couldn’t have lived without?

I’ll bet you’ve cursed at a few.

Ever think of them as “SetForwards?”

We have all had setbacks in our life. If you’re like most people you’ve had more than one and probably many. Some may have been really big ones too that took time to overcome.

There is one thing for sure; you’re going to have more.

However hard a setback is the truth is that they are really setforwards in disguise.

What is a setforward?

A setforward is the opposite of what many think a setback is. A setforward always changes your thinking and changes your attitude about life. Setforwards teach us valuable lessons that we might not have ever learned without the challenge associated with them. Most people who have had a setforward as a result of a setback usually are grateful for the challenge. Setforwards propel us deeper into what we desire and at a faster pace than what we were previously experiencing.

Why do we all have setbacks?

It’s a truth that every adult alive today has had one or more setbacks. A setback is an experience that usually has some form of pain attached to it; either physically, emotionally or spiritually. The event that caused the setback is usually not planned and is totally opposite your expectation about the direction of your life.

Why are setbacks really setforwards?

Because most people are not actively looking to make discoveries about life that would actually help them achieve more out of it. But because they have big dreams, need to have events that shake them up to learn how to achieve them, even if they are not actively seeking it. What better way to shake up a person’s thinking and learning genes than by having a setback? Those with an attitude of openness to learn more about life will be receptive to the education a setback offers. Those with a closed attitude will view themselves as a victim of the setback. They will think life is conspiring against them to stop them and turn them away from their dreams.

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For those who play the victim card as a result of a setback will continue to move backwards and never forward. They will leave life up to their own limited understanding about how it really works. The Universe though, or some call their Creator, will forever conspire to give us what we desire. A victim who doesn’t think they are responsible for their future, subconsciously desires to be a victim, will continue to receive setbacks from the Universe to remind them of what they already believe.

However for those who are open to learning from a setback will continue to receive them in some form as a way to learn more about how to move forward. The Universe will conspire to help them move forward just as much as it does to help the victim stay a victim.

What I’m grateful for with my recent setback

Recently I had an unfortunate and very painful and costly setback that I’m actually grateful for. Some history is in order to set the stage.

The goal of every triathlete that races the Ironman distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile marathon) is to race in the mecca, the Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii. Because of my past participation in the sport of Ironman I was able to apply for a Legacy slot to race this October in the World Championship. I applied for the slot last November and would be notified of either my acceptance or denial on March 17, 2015.

On January 17, 2015 I had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and  fix some damage due to arthritis. That surgery was my first setforward. From the knee surgery and subsequent rehabilitation I learned what caused this to happen and now became stronger than ever before in the legs and that would allow me to run faster and pain and injury free going forward. That was a huge setforward that would have never happened had I not been injured.

I was moving along with my rehab nicely when I was notified of my acceptance in the Ironman World Championship! I was going to Kona!

Because of my surgery I started to read a lot more about training methods and discovered a masterful coach, Dr. Phillip Maffetone DC,  who wrote extensively about the body and it laid out for me why I was injured and how I needed to train for Kona.

My before and post surgery xrays.
My before and post surgery xrays.

On May 8, 2015 I had another major setforward. I crashed on a training ride due to a freak accident and I fractured my clavicle. On May 12, 2015 I had my second surgery this year and now have 13 screws and a plate in my shoulder. I will have to wait 6 weeks before I can begin to really rehabilitate the shoulder. This was not at all in my plans.

From Dr. Maffetone, DC I learned about training in heart rate zones to create better health and race faster. Basically I had to slow down to gain better health in order to go faster.

With the shoulder surgery I’m only able to walk and ride my stationary bike.

However this is where the setforward applies.

During my walking I’m now able to make the transition into better running shoes. Had I not had had the crash I would still be training in my old shoes. With the new shoes I’ve actually gotten stronger and I’m walking faster and faster each day. My sport’s injury doctor, Robert Braden, DC was never for these new type shoes however with the results of my walks is all in favor of them now and even says it will help me substantially with my knee issue.

On my stationary bike going slowing I’ve improved my power output at the same heart rate by a whopping 41% in two weeks! Again, had I not crashed I would have never slowed down to this new heart rate and thus would have never received the benefit of this 41% increase.

I believe I will race Kona and hopefully have a personal best there. All because I’m now armed with the new knowledge that I gained from my two setforwards this year.

Now for you

I can’t explain how the Universe or our Creator knows what our needs are. I only know from many experiences of having setforwards that setbacks are for our benefit. I hope you’ll look at your next or even past setbacks as setforwards and begin to Achieve More Out of Your Life™.