After I competed in the Ironman North Carolina 70.3 a while back, I realized that these races are about so much more than just crossing the finish line.
When I was doing a practice swim a guy came up to me and asked if I could give him some pointers. I said, "Sure, have you swam in preparation?" "Maybe a couple of laps," he said. "Oh well ok, 👌 you’ll be fine," I assured him. Not that I believed it.
But the story gets better as it turns out he was in jail seven months ago. He had OD’d six times and signed up for this race several weeks ago, which in turn has saved his life. I gave him as many pointers and tips as I could, telling him how important it is to finish a swim so you can finish the race and experience what the finish line is like.
The next morning as I was walking towards the transition area I happened to run into him again. I helped him get set up, body marked etc., and he gave me a ride down to the start line with his wife. He asked me if I minded him saying his morning prayer with me in the car. It was a pretty intense experience. The Ironman saved this man's life and gave it new meaning.
When it was time for his swim wave to start I helped him get his wetsuit on. I told him I would see him at the other side. Although I struggled with my own demons during the race, I found myself worrying more about how my new friend was doing and hoping that he would finish.
To make a long story short, he came in about an hour and 20 minutes after I did and said it was the best feeling in his life to finish the race. I learned that these events are more about personal struggles and achievements rather than competition, PR‘s, and all the hype that goes into it.
Whatever drives you...don’t stop pushing your limits!