I’ve been an active guy for about thirty years now: skiing, running, biking, mountaineering, kayaking and more recently Ironman length triathlons. I’ve completed two Ironman races, neither one without at least one cracked leg bone, and quite honestly I don’t know how many races my creaking and groaning skeleton has left. My goal is to complete at least one Ironman totally healthy, to lay it all on the line and to see where I measure up. Where do I measure up exactly? What is that measure of success – Kona? Obtaining a slot for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, would require shaving at least two hours off of my PR, an obviously impossible task – right? The events of yesterday morning caused me to question this previously obvious conclusion.
Every Friday morning Stephanie, Amy and I meet swim instructor/coach Ty Rudolph for what we call “swim lessons.” Ty is unorthodox, to say the least, and at first he had us doing strange, yet surprisingly fun, drills – nothing too taxing. I actually kind of looked forward to these sessions as a kind of play time. Well as of yesterday play time is over. The workout that Ty pushed me through was one of the hardest physical experiences I’ve had, including races, since my high school wrestling days.
I learned two things yesterday: the first being the discovery of untapped potential, doors that I have yet to open. I wasn’t even one third of the way through this workout when I started thinking up excuses to get out of the pool: my head hurts, I have to take my mom to the doctor, the list went on, but somehow each time Ty yelled out I pushed away from the wall and went at it one more time. He kept yelling “get out of your comfort zone, get out of your comfort zone,” my comfort zone was a distant memory. I thought I was dead tired, that the well was dry, but each time I simply concentrated on getting to the other end of the pool, making the turn and getting back, that’s all I focused on and that’s all I did.
The second thing I learned was the real world concept of leaving nothing behind. Stephanie and I are compatible swimmers, neither great nor shameful, middle of the road, but yesterday she kicked my butt. It wasn’t because she has impeccable form in the water or that her fitness level so exceeds mine; she dusted me because she worked harder, it was as simple as that. For the past two years I’ve been kidding myself, plodding through week and after week of half-assed workouts. It’s time for a change and I might as well start now.