Well, to be literal, I took a plane from Denver to DC, a train to NYC, and a rental car to Lake Placid, NY, for the deferred 2021 edition of Ironman Lake Placid. But planes, trains, and automobiles are not how you make it to your first or tenth Ironman race.
As the old joke goes about making it to Carnegie Hall, it takes "Practice, Practice, Practice."
Nobody finishes a full Ironman by accident. Long-distance triathlon is not so much a sport or an event but an ever-present factor in your daily life? You must prepare yourself to devote anywhere from a few months to a few years to a weekly regimen of biking, running, swimming, stretching, resting, recovering, eating well. So how do you get to a place where you are prepared to make the time commitment for training for an ironman distance event and the emotional investment to reach that finish line?
Where will the drive and determination come from? I found the answer while walking around NYC today from this quote engraved on the side of a building from Jennifer Lee. She is best known as the writer and director of the Disney hit childrens' film "Frozen."
We all need to find the things in life that give us joy and spark the passion for pursuing them. Unfortunately, it's a privilege and a luxury to indulge in an expensive, time-consuming hobby like triathlon.
The first prerequisite is to work hard to provide sustenance for ourselves and our family. I used to think the qualities that made me successful at work, persistence, and perseverance, were all I needed. But I have learned that if you have passion and find purpose in your work, not only are you happiest, but you will be more successful.
I have embraced my Ironman life because it gives me purpose and meaning. Maybe your family and children are your joy and passion. I know mine is! But someday, if you are fortunate enough, you can look inward to find a pursuit that is solely about you.
It's not selfish but a necessary step in your personal development. Ironman makes me better at so many aspects of my life. I am more energized and creative on the job after a hard workout. I have learned disciple and mindset skills that I use all the time. I use them to inspire and mentor others. I believe my lifestyle has made me a role model for my children and wife.
Recently some dude who calls himself the "Iron Cowboy" (I raced with him once in Upstate New York) completed 100 ironman distances races in 100 days to raise awareness and funds for a charity for child-trafficking victims. So what possesses someone to do 1 ironman or 10 or 100 or run 50 or 100 miles. Why do we do these things? When is enough not enough and too much never too much?
We create these artificial goals that test the limits of our bodies and mind. We subject ourselves to so much trauma and suffering. Why go to such extremes when running and training for only a marathon or half-ironman will lead to an active, healthy lifestyle? What is the allure that drives some of us to keep testing the limits of our endurance and capabilities? Is it just a thrill seeker getting that "runner's high" taken to an even higher level.
Guess what? You can throw out all the cliches about pain and suffering and the "machismo" or "masochist" stereotypes that endurance athletes or junkies like me are tagged with. After decades of Ironman triathlon races and an adult life spent honing my endurance chops, I have found the secret to what makes us "crazy people" tick.
I used to think you had to embrace the pain and suffering or enjoy it. But looking back, the preparation, sweat and motivation, and commitment to this goal probably came from somewhere else deep in my psyche and past.
Persistence and perseverance will get you up in the morning to punch the clock. But without passion and joy, chances are you will not excel or reach your ultimate potential. That passion and joy come from finding the things in life that give you personal meaning and purpose. You must find the goal that literally "set your soul on fire."
If you want to see what it's like to set your soul on fire, then come to the finish line of a full-distance Ironman race. But don't go early in hours 8 or 9 when the fastest pros finish. Don't even show up at hours 10 or 11 when the strong and fit amateur athletes bag their first or tenth finish. Instead, please show up 14 hours into the race with the regular Joe's, stroll down the finishing chute. Better yet, wait till the last hour from 11 pm to midnight. That is when the last competitors struggle to make the 17-hour cutoff and hear the magic words from Mike Reilly "You are an Ironman." Look at the joy in their faces as they jump, roll, or crawl over the finish line. Listen to the stories of those that conquered cancer, lost 100lbs or a limb, battled depression or addiction. That is the joy of Ironman and the meaning of life. So how will you get to your own Lake Placid?
This is Alex Cooper. You can find and follow The MindsetCEO on LinkedIn or YouTube. Visit our website and book a call to see how I can help you on your journey from Founder to CEO.