Inspiration

Jul
11

Posted by Coach Mark

 

I was pretty happy with my performance at Ironman Texas this year.  I executed my race plan almost perfectly: smart and tactical swim, strong bike and solid run.  It was only my run on the last 7 miles that failed me.  But I learned why after the fact, and it wont happen again.  I received wonderful support and congratulations from family, friends and athletes after I grabbed my slot to Kona with a 4th place finish in my age group.  This was my 10th Ironman, and I both respect and appreciate a race like this.  But this was not my highlight of my day.

 

In fact, the real highlight occurred after I had finished.  Some hours later, as I sat in the dark on the course waiting for an athlete to come in, I thought about how disappointed this athlete must be.  He had set high goals for himself on this Ironman – his second – and now seemed to be 3 hours slower than expected.  It obviously had not gone well.

 

He had spent many weekends training hard and many weekdays training late.  And he missed a lot of time with his family.  In fact, he had traveled to this race in a caravan with us and had to leave the family back home.  So he was out there truly on his own.  It was dark on much of that run course.  What could be going through his mind, I thought? Maybe he dropped out?  It would be hard to keep going with disappointment, pain and loneliness that seemed to fill the air at that moment.

 

And then I saw his familiar frame emerging from the darkness.  I got up and hobbled over to him, matching his slanted and painful-looking walking speed.  He was ¼ of a mile from the finish.  “Hey!” I said. “You’re incredible!” He looked up at me as if awaking from a dream.  His blank stare turned to a smile as he said, “Hey coach, thanks for coming out.  Not a great day for me, but you know…” and he looked right at me with intense focus, “I wasn’t going to ever quit.”

 

He gave me a big smile and a slap on the back and started running to the finish.  I stood there for more than a few seconds as emotion seemed to sweep over me.  Damn, I thought, that’s just about the most inspirational thing I’ve ever seen. 

 

We can do more than we can ever imagine. Superior performance doesn’t always reveal itself as PRs and podiums.  That’s what I will always remember about Ironman Texas.  Thank YOU, my friend.

 

 

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