Swim 2.4 miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.2 miles. A physical, mental, and spiritual journey of 140.6 miles. When you conjure up thoughts of an Ironman triathlete you perhaps envision a picture perfect sample of a lean, mean muscle popping, veins pumping, adrenaline junkie who possesses a strength and power that is supernatural and unattainable. This is an accurate description for elite professional Ironman triathletes, however there is another kind of Ironman triathlete worthy of discourse.
The Human Interest Ironman. This is your everyday, average-bodied individual tussling with a personal demon determined to stare FEAR in the face. They come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and abilities. Willing to tackle personal obstacles, insecurities, doubt and sucky life circumstances, The Human Interest Ironman triathlete is hungry for a challenge that serves as a testament to their ability to overcome anything.
They say if you believe it; you can achieve it and this ordinary individual is inspired to fight the inner voices that keep them swimming in the pool of the apathetic comfort zone.
Grappling with cancer, battling divorce, tackling the burden of excess weight, struggling with a lack of confidence, brawling with addiction, wresting with the loss of a limb, enduring a chronic health issue, avoiding an unhealthy relationship, this is the Human Interest Ironman. These triathletes possess a similar internal drive, determination and commitment as the svelte, cut, picture perfect elite athlete; however they may not fit the external mold one would imagine an Ironman to possess. The Human Interest Ironman boldly chooses every day to endure the pain and struggles of training for a physical and mental feat with a specific goal in mind. Unlike top elite professionals who are racing to win and beat their opponent, the Human Interest Ironman is in a competition with self. They are not racing to WIN, to podium or to beat others; they are in it to cross the finish line with a goal that is more than just a physical and mental passage.
In the journey of 140.6 miles to the proverbial Ironman finish line this triathlete enters this physical and mental sport with a sense of spirituality that feeds the inner desire to overcome life’s obstacles. As a Human Interest Ironman myself, I can attest to the heartfelt experience of those fighting to cross the finish line. These brave men and women are racing at the back of the class and are faced with the challenge of completing the race within 17 hours. It is in this space, where athletes shuffle along pushing the limits, while sharing stories with one another about WHY. The support received along this grueling journey unveils stories that will bring a grown man to his knees.
As I prepare to participate in Texas Ironman on May 14th, I am reminded of this powerful human interest experience that is more than just a test of your physical endurance. I am modestly reminded of my reasons for enduring this extreme race and with every mile I am reminded of addictions I have overcome to find a balance between the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life! In life it is not about winning; it is about trying. WHY? Life is short. So, why not TRY?