Why do it?

Lately I’ve been thinking about why I choose to participate in endurance sports. I guess it was brought on by people asking me “why would you do that to yourself?” or saying things like “I could never do that.” The easiest and most obvious answer would be, well, because I like it. But there’s so much more than that, and to be quite honest, I don’t always like it, and sometimes I wonder myself why I do it.

I signed up for my first marathon in early 2003, having never run more than 5 miles in my life. And that was only once, and it was hell. I received a brochure in the mail for Team in Training. It promised to coach me to my first marathon in exchange for raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. I had never really thought about running a marathon, but something told me to sign up for the informational meeting. I did, and at that meeting they showed a video. It was so inspiring, I signed up that very day, never mind the fact that it involved running 26.2 miles. Throughout the next months, I trained with a group of people who all had the same goal as me, and it was awesome. To this day, those early Saturday morning runs with the TNT crew remain some of my fondest running memories. After months of hard work, I completed my first marathon in Anchorage, Alaska in 4:07:47. I was hooked.

Since then, I have completed 5 other marathons, and now I am branching over into the world of triathlon. To me, it seems the next logical step. I have always been sort of a tomboy, very athletic as I was growing up. I did everything from gymnastics, to softball, to basketball and soccer, and I excelled at most of them. Team sports always came along with great friends, fun trips to tournaments, and the thrill of being part of a winning team. Running is different for me. I do not excel at it. I will never be the fastest in my age group, I am a true middle-of-the-pack-er. Yet it is somehow more fulfilling. The accomplishments are more satisfying, because I got there on my own. Sure, it’s great to have training partners, and I have some fantastic ones, but in the end, it is you against yourself. If you don’t do well, you only answer to yourself. Letting down the team is no longer a motivation to perform well, you need to have a strong desire from within. This, to me, makes each personal victory a little more sweet.

Along with all of this are the obvious health benefits. When I am at the peak of training, I just feel good. My body craves healthier foods, my clothes fit better, and I just feel good about myself. In 2007, I did not run a marathon. By the end of the year, I felt like crap, and lacked motivation to do anything more than the occasional spin class. I am glad to get back on the horse and start training again. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I am already starting to feel better, more like myself.

So why do I want to do Ironman? To prove to myself that I can. Me vs. Me.

Oh, and I want the tattoo:

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