In every sense of the word.
Two Ironman finishes already under his belt, and I know he's got more than that in him. Amazing.This friend trained diligently for months and put in an amazing, almost untouchable amount of volume in preparation for this race.
This friend shares knowledge and has already helped me out in my Ironman training immensely--and I'm sure will help me even more as the day gets closer. His sense of humor, realistic approach to training, and encouragement is something I really value.
This friend swims--swimming really isn't the best verb--GLIDES faster than anyone I've ever seen. The epitome of technique and power, he flies through the water and makes it look effortless. That's why this friend finished 18th out of 2000-odd swimmers in Saturday's Ironman at Couer d'Alene. Unbelievable--a feat and an ability that I can only dream of attaining.
After that, my friend had a blazing fast bike split, even despite slowing down a bit on his terms due to the almost 100 degree heat on the course. This friend hydrated and took as much sodium as he could. In T2, my friend had a bike split that I can only imagine on a downhill, tailwind style course.
But for some reason, my friend cramped up on the run.
It got so bad that my friend got violently ill and had a major decision to make. He decided that it wasn't worth risking his health as he got sicker and sicker.So he made the decision at Mile 16--and I can only imagine the frustration in this decision--that after 3 IV's in the medical tent, he had to do what's best for him and his body, and call it a day.I respect him so much for this--it takes a great deal of courage and maturity to know that finishing might be possible, but might hurt you long-term, and it's the more courageous thing to do to step back and say, "Not today."
I hope I have that kind of courage in me.
As I heard his story, I couldn't help think of my own personal IM-year quote:
"THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD, WHO STRIVES VALIANTLY, WHO ERRS AND COMES UP SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN, BECAUSE THERE IS NO EFFORT WITHOUT ERROR OR SHORTCOMING, BUT WHO KNOWS THE GREAT ENTHUSIASMS, THE GREAT DEVOTIONS, WHO SPENDS HIMSELF FOR A WORTHY CAUSE; WHO, AT BEST, KNOWS, IN THE END, THE TRIUMPH OF HIGH ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHO, AT THE WORST, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST HE FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY, SO THAT HIS PLACE SHALL NEVER BE WITH THOSE COLD AND TIMID SOULS WHO KNEW NEITHER VICTORY NOR DEFEAT." --Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910
The more I hear and read, the more I realize that this is a very different kind of beast I'm taking on. This is, really, the first time in my life, that I am throwing my heart and soul into something that, despite that--despite all my hours and good intentions--I might not achieve.
There are so many factors beyond my control, that it amazes me that anyone completes this race. It scares the hell out of me. Ironman is not a warm, fuzzy teddy bear cheering you on. It is a beast to be reckoned with. It doesn't give a shit how hard you trained and planned or how nice of a person you are and all that stuff. Sometimes things get out of your control, and sometimes you can roll with it, and other times, if you have the courage, you step away and tell it you'll be back.
My friend is an Ironman. He displays the persistence, skill, and courage that it takes to bear that name. I hope and pray I can someday share that title with him. The fact that I don't know that I can keeps me going as, little by little, I do everything in my power to get to wear that badge.
He is in every sense of the word.