A wise man once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt). For some reason, this quote has resonated with me recently. I believe the human nature to ‘compare’ is as innate as is our propensity towards survival. We are social beings. And in being social, especially in the world of 2017 where we’re constantly barraged by media displaying peoples ‘perfect’ moments and ‘perfect’ lives (or at least the perfection they choose to present), it’s easy to look at our own situations relative to others. It doesn’t make us bad or weak; I think it is simply natural to do so. But given that things are rarely what they appear, I believe it to be unhealthy to let ourselves be drawn towards comparison. And I don’t mean only comparison to external things that can negatively affect us. We often compare to ourselves; what we have once done, where we’ve been at some point in our lives. While it is good to have standards and healthy to strive to achieve things, I think there is also great beauty and necessity in living in the moment, appreciating the journey and staying grateful to what we have; which at times, means to even to embrace struggle, challenge and disappointment.
I believe it to be part of life’s natural rhythms to realize that at different times in our lives, priorities shift. What may have been extremely important to you a few years ago you find is of little immediate concern today. Along with this, I find that outlook and attitudes can change as well. When you spend many years being a competitive athlete, and when this becomes your ‘job’, it’s natural to, despite staying focused on the process, realize that the outcome fully matters. It matters in terms of achieving goals, gaining or maintaining relationships in the industry, sustaining a ‘living’ at what you’re doing and ultimately it is the fruit of your labor; we can all work very hard, but we always want to achieve ‘success’ in our own right. It may be hitting time standards, crossing a finish line, qualifying for a specific event or becoming a champion. Despite having had a very long run of competing, I still seek to achieve goals; I still have that hunger. It helps drive me in the day to day; keeps me focused on the process, and motivates me to get the most out of myself physically and mentally. Yet no matter how focused we may be, how driven; we are all human, and we are all susceptible to emotion; as we well should be. While I went into Ironman Boulder with focus and confidence in my ability to perform well, I fell short of my goal of a Top 3 finish and a very strong run; however when I reflect, I view this past weekend as one of life’s very tough lessons and I feel proud to have finished what I started.
This was my fifteenth Ironman. I’ve never been one to get obsessed with numbers. I never track my total hours/miles/yards per week/year, and I couldn’t even give you an estimate of the number of calories I eat in a day. I have no idea how many triathlons I’ve done in my life or my maximum miles run in a week. But I have acknowledged this because…well, that is a lot of Ironman races. They’ve all been memorable in their own ways, and I’m quite proud of the fact that they’ve all been under 10 hours (another random fact I realized). I guess that means I’ve never really blown up or given up. While I aim to remain as relaxed as possible going into events, I have also found over the years there are times that we need to really know why we’re doing this. We need to stay engaged; not just go through the motions. If we are really investing our heart and soul into an endeavor, it helps to know your why; know what is driving you. I’ve found this can change from day to day, race to race, year to year. When I think back on Ironman Texas, I realize what is driving me after 15 years of racing is the simple concept of possibility; defined as “something that can be done or achieved; something that might or might not happen or exist.” Now please don’t confuse this with the somewhat hackneyed phrase ‘Anything is Possible’. There are decidedly many things that will never be possible. However, I firmly believe this. When we prepare our bodies and our minds; when we dedicate ourselves to a mission that is important to us, and when we are willing to take risk and put ourselves on the line to accomplish great things; therein lies magnificent possibility.