I don’t like it when people say they will give 110%. As any grade-schooler knows, 100% is everything … all of it … the whole shebang.
Logically, 110% isn’t possible. But I understand it emotionally.
Yesterday, my son Brian participated in the Subaru Ironman Canada triathlon in Penticton, BC. He had run half-triathlons before but never a full Ironman. He swam 2.4 miles in a field of 3,000 thrashing and kicking athletes, then biked 112 miles — much of it uphill on one of the hottest days of the year — then ran eleven miles until his legs locked up on him.
He walked the twelfth mile stiff-legged, unable to bend his knees or relieve his cramping. The aid worker who treated him suggested he stop. His body temperature was low. His blood pressure was low. His heart and soul told him to run the final 14 miles … but his body told him he just plain couldn’t. So he got on the bus and rode back to the finish line.
I knew something was wrong around 9 PM. I was tracking the progress of Brian and his friend Mark online. According to the RFID chip the athletes wore, Mark had completed the first half of the run course at around 8:40 PM. I kept pushing the “refresh” button, hoping I’d see a time for Brian.
Finally, around 10, Jon and I walked to the event center and met Brian, his girlfriend Dennise and Mark’s girlfriend Sara. Brian was in remarkably good spirits. He talked about the challenges of the race while we waited for Mark to come into view. He ran/walked by us around 11:30 and smiled as we cheered him on for the last mile. Around 20 minutes later we watched him cross the finish line and become an Ironman.
“I was hoping you’d finish,” Brian said to Mark later. “Because I know if you didn’t, you want to try it again next year. It was fun and all but there’s no way I’d do this again. Ever.” He said it in jest but I knew he meant it.
We’re all very proud of Brian for his 126.4-mile accomplishment. There’s an old saying that it isn’t the destination that’s important, it’s the journey. And that’s 100% true.
Well, I am off for Ironman Canada. During this year long journey I have been asked frequently what it takes to prepare for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile hilly bike, and a 26.2 mile run, so here is what it ended up taking:
– First and foremost, it takes a very patient girlfriend
– It takes missing out on hanging out with your friends from time to time (dreading that long bike or run you have the next morning)
– It takes a lot of hard work. Since I signed up for the Ironman in August 2010, I have swam 94,401 yards (58.67 miles), biked 1886.1 miles (about the distance from Boston to Santa Fe, NM), and run 717.9 miles (about the distance from Boston to Charlotte, NC)
– It takes a flexible training plan. Even with all this training, I traveled frequently enough to manage to achieve US Airways Silver Preferred by April. Just didn’t want you to think all I did was train!
– It takes a lot of calories. Since I signed up I have lost over 22 lbs (I am now 173lbs) and all without dieting. In fact I often felt like I could not eat enough as, during my peak training, I was burning roughly 7000 calories per weekend.
– It takes getting prepared for any situation. I have swam in the heat, in the pouring rain, and fog so thick that I can’t tell where I am headed. I have biked in the near 100F heat as well when a 40F day and even an 80 mile ride where it rained start-to-finish. I have run in the snow (Hyannis Marathon in Feb 2011), run in the near 100F heat, and run through such pouring rain that the minuteman path had puddles that went halfway up my calves (no exaggeration). I guess I feel mentally ready for whatever happens.
In case you are interested (or bored) come this Sunday (August 28th) @ 10am EDT (race starts at 7am PDT), the steps to follow us online:
1. Go to http://www.ironmanlive.com/
2. Find “Ironman Canada” under the “LIVE NOW” banner, click on it
3. It should open a new page that shows a few tabs on the top, one of which is “Tracking”, click on that
4. Enter our BIB #s to find us (Brian Greensmith, BIB #: 660; Mark Huber, BIB # 730)
It’s gonna be a long day,
What harm could a Governor from Texas do?
Yours truly and the incomparable Jan Weissman