I've mentioned before that I'm not ready to tackle Ironman, yet. I believe there will be a time for me to take my training to that level, but it's not now.
And looking ahead to that time when I will inevitably face a long day of hard work . . . looking even beyond that to when I have that day--whether it be twelve hours or seventeen--behind me . . .
I wonder what comes next.
After rising to what is arguably the greatest challenge of our age--the most demanding, the most grueling, the most gut-wrenchingly humbling--after conquering that, what's left? Where do I go from there?
I think I go back to whatever it was I did before I started running.
I don't mean running in a literal sense. I mean that there were things in my life that I was confronting before I got into this whole triathlon thing. I faced pain. I suffered. I uncovered wounds I never knew I had. I wrote angst-filled poetry. For some reason, all of that got pushed to the background after my first triathlon. Well, not immediately. It sort of faded away. I've been thinking that it's a result of moving into the workforce, that it's because I have a full-time job and don't have time for the angst, the philosophy, the exploration of my own self and soul. But maybe it has more to do with sport than I realize.
Far be it from me to describe sport as escapism; that word is entirely too pejorative. No, it's more like sport provides a training ground for me, a temporary place from which I can safely step back, observe the world, and learn. It's teaching me discipline (self-control), endurance (perseverance), and the virtue of carrying on through suffering (or, as Wil said, carrying a cross).
Maybe that's why some athletes feel compelled to run double- or even triple-Ironmans (Ironmen?) . . . they just need a little more training.
Thanks to Wil for the insight and inspiration. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.