“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
I suppose to call yourself a "triathlete" or a "marathoner", it helps if you've actually participated in an triathlon or marathon. But all you need to do to call yourself an "endurance athlete" is make a commitment to being one. This commitment probably didn't happen the first time you laced up your running shoes or got on your bike. In fact, your first run or ride may have been miserable. But you did it again, and did it again. And at some point, you committed. You may even remember the exact time and place it happened.
I'm not what you'd call a religious man, though I've recently become very spiritual, and as a result I believe in a higher power. Betting the farm to make a 180 degree turn with your life can do that to you, I suppose. I'm not sure what "power" pushed me into endurance sports, and in fact it could very well have been a direct call from the sports themselves. But I don't think it matters, because either way my life is better for it. And I hope it's been contagious.
Yesterday, I went on an incredible group ride. The weather was perfect, the route was just right and the company was remarkable. However, it should be noted that I live in California, where the weather is known for it's consistency. It should also be noted that I ride the same route with the same people every Sunday.
What does this mean? Well, for the first time in my life I'm content. It took 41 years and the same bike ride every Sunday to realize it, but it's true. It's not just this particular ride that makes me content. Though it doesn't suck to have found the ability to enjoy living in the moment, every swim, bike and run mixes together into a "secret formula" that works 24 hours a day to keep my world in balance. Is it a perfect world? Of course not. But that's OK. Because I realized a long time ago that anything that looks, smells and/or tastes perfect is always anything but. But since for the longest time I never took my own advice, I kept looking for perfection anyway. This ended up being a big mistake.
I made my commitment to endurance sports in August of 2008. I had just finished up a phone call which ended my partnership in a business (which was good), but effectively left me unemployed. My first reaction was to freak out, which for me could easily lead to more dangerous and irrational behavior. Old habits die hard. But then I realized that though it was OK to be concerned about the welfare and security of my family, there was nothing I could do about it at that exact minute. So I went for a run instead. Running was something that I had just recently picked up again after years of spending most of my time freaking out and indulging in other irrational behavior. And though this may sound overly dramatic, when I finished the run (2 miles was probably all I could muster at the time) I came home a different person. Not a changed person, because that took time. But I was different in the sense that a change in my perception of things had just taken root. There was no doubt that I had to get some things in order, but this time I was going to go about it much differently.
I'll probably never know exactly what happened that day and why. My regular runs where feeling pretty good by then and I looked forward to them. What was different that day, though, is that some "i's" got dotted and some "t's" got crossed. I came home with a much clearer picture of what needed to be done. It was a very broad picture, and of course the devil is in the details. Yet I knew which direction I needed to go, and that was a good enough start.
If you are reading this, chances are you already know what I'm talking about. But if you are new to endurance sports, I can pretty much promise you that you are about to have the time of your life. And it doesn't matter if your goal is a 5K or an Ironman - a commitment is a commitment. You just have to believe.