Have you ever seen something on television then said to yourself, “I can do that.”
Watching the national news one evening, Brian Williams aired a piece on a NASA memo in which a NASA staffer wrote the entire memo around a single sentence down the left margin summarizing the memo. The first sample of acrostic poetry I’d ever seen.
I said to my better half, “I can do that.”
He laughed. “Can’t wait to see it.”
It’s that kind of attitude that gets me into trouble.
In 1983, I watched the coverage of the Hawaii Ironman competition. I don’t remember the names of the competitors.
One woman lead the race. Near the finish she collapsed. Collapsed but determined, she crawled over the finish line. If she hadn’t collapsed she would have won.
Why would anyone torture themselves to that extreme?
The image lingered in my mind.
Seventeen years later sprint triathlons gained traction.
In Barnes and Noble on the top shelf of a book case buried in the center of the store, a white paperback glowed amongst the books with dark spines, ”Triathloning For Ordinary Mortals,” by Steven Jonas.
The image of the woman crawling across the finish line re-emerged.
I’m not a swimmer, but I swim. I’m not a bicyclist, but I cycle. I’m not a runner, but I run. I pulled the book from the shelf.
Yes, the influence of a book.
I said those four words, “I can do that.”
Wearing nothing more than a Speedo swim suit and cap, and walking into fifty-six-degree water, the color draining from my face, lips. My heart felt like a high velocity punching bag about to burst against my ribs.
The gun went off.
I gasped for air. My heart beat my lungs so hard I couldn’t force air into them.
I’m going to drown.
Just swim—you can do this.
The full orchestral version of the Rocky theme song burst into my brain—calming me. Redirecting the adrenaline.
A half mile later, I climbed out of the water.
A decade after my first triathlon, I convinced some friends to join me.
It’s a new year. What goal have you set for yourself? Are you on your way?
You’ll never know until you “Tri”.
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In keeping with Special Edition tradition, how about some music? Like the I’m-in-over-my-head-and-don’t-want-to-drown, but-will-keep-going-anyway inspirational music from The Rocky Theme Song.
P.S. Indoor triathlons are much warmer. 😀