I can’t remember all the details of my first marathon on that cold autumn morning, but there are certain elements I’ll never forget. Like passing my good friend Lance at the halfway point and deciding, I must have been running too slowly. And then there is that truly enjoyable sensation saved only for the uninitiated where you, and I, subsequently run headlong into that infamous wall. And, of course consequently being asked by the paramedics, "are you okay?" To this day, I wonder just how shattered I must have looked.
But what I’ll never forget is the feeling that existed once I crossed the finish line. Not the immediate jubilation and relief, but what stayed with me was the hunger to do it all again. I needed to try something greater. I wanted to fill up my memory banks with a new exotic experience. Later on that month, I signed up for what would be my inaugural Ironman race. The humour, or stupidity depending on your point of view, is that I’d yet to complete in any triathlon.
Almost fifteen years, a few hundred races and a million miles of training later and I regret very little of what I’ve done. But it wasn’t until recently, and I’ve yet to decided the exact catalyst for being able to see more clearly, that I’ve been able to reflect upon my athletic endeavours with new light.
Arguably, if you strive to reach your goal, what you achieve is not the golden fleece. What I discovered was that reaching my goal was great, but then what? Another Ironman? More recently, another marathon? Perhaps another goal, something bigger. And then another. And it isn’t until now that it has become clear that what I love is the process, the journey, the search is what counts.
And what a long, strange trip it has been.
Just like that old advertisement, “there is no finish line”, in my case, only a series of mile markers. And so having said that, I admit freely to having mapped out a plan for the rest of this year… and I might have continued through to May 2011.