Craig and I grew up together in Westville. I think we may have met when we were 4, but I don't have my photoalbums to look for evidence. It was before I can remember. Perhaps there would have been more Black & White jokes but I think Craig got spared by the fact that another of our class mates was Trevor White. I remember Craig as a very active guy. Although we were on a few rugby teams together, when I joined the swimming team late in high school, the only reason I was close'ish to him in the training pools was because they were only 25m long. He was a machine. I bumped into him a couple of years back in Cape Town jogging. He is definitely not one of those guys who let himself go as the years passed by, and that is no accident. Craig is an Iron Man, and this is his story...
When Trevor first asked me to write a guest post about my experience of achieving one of my goals I was a little taken aback. For me it was no heroic, or certainly not a unique feat. Humility is also a quality I attempt to follow. I was simply pushing myself beyond my comfort levels to achieve one of my personal goals. Hopefully sharing my experience will encourage others to push themselves to achieve difficult goals.
Although completing my very first Iron Man was a journey in itself, a few years ago I too had begun to explore the life of happiness and attempt to live a more "wholesome" life and try step away from the so called "rat race". One of these lifestyle changes to try fulfill this crusade has been to set very clear annual goals and to ensure I go out and achieve them as best as possible. One of these was to become an Iron Man.
My journey started 9 months away from the event date. I joined a coaching group of beginner triathletes with the aim to complete the 70.3 (Half) Iron Man 1900m swim, 90km cycle, 21km Run and to one day maybe try my hand at a Full Iron Man 3800m swim, 180km cycle, 42km run. Each week we were give a programme to follow which involved a set amount of swimming, cycling and running per week slowly increasing our distances and building up to small races in between. The training is rather time consuming and involves lots of social and family sacrifice. Yet on the other hand it is truly encouraging to meet so many other like-minded people each with their own reason on why they too would like to be an Iron Man.
I quickly became the fittest I had been for a very long time and was chewing through the required mileage on a weekly basis. Before I knew it I decided that if I was ever going to attempt to complete an Iron Man this would be an ideal time and entered the race. I had a very good 70.3 where my race day couldn't have gone much better, giving me the confidence I needed for the "Main race".
Two months later the big race arrived. The feeling of standing on the beach as dawn breaks listening to the national anthem is a feeling I will remember for a very long time. All the months of training and preparation, each person with their own story all about to begin a very long day of setting out to achieve a personal goal. The one great thing about Iron Man is that each person from the winner to the last finisher at 24:00 that evening all get the same medal and have worked equally hard to get it. The day involved many different emotions of joy, sadness, pain and triumph, and was a day of personal reflection. After exercising for more than 12 hours non stop, it's amazing how resilient one's body and mind is. People often ask me, "Did you at any time want to give up". The answer is an unequivocal no. That was never an option. I just needed to think about those close to me who had endured so much more than what my temporary pain was. This was a perfect spoon of medicine to ease the pain and keep the wheels going.
I finally crossed the finish line about an hour after the sun went down to the words "YOU ARE AN IRON MAN". Crossing that line was an emotion nobody can explain. The 9 months journey had culminated into this euphoric and emotional experience.
I will be back to complete another Iron Man one day. For now, I have new and exciting goals in place for 2015 hopefully pushing me that little bit further to "Enjoy the moment".
In writing a blog about several topics in which I admit to being a complete beginner, I am going to have to rely heavily on the people I am writing for who cumulatively know most of what I am likely to learn already. I would love it if some of you found the time to write a guest post on the subject of happiness or learning. The framework I use for thinking about these things is what I call the '5 + 2 points' which includes proper (1) exercise, (2) breathing, (3) diet, (4) relaxation, (5) positive thinking & meditation, (+1) relationships, (+2) flow. Naturally if you would like to write about something that you think I have missed, I would love to include that too. If you are up to doing something more practical, it would be awesome if you did a 100 hour project and I am happy to do the writing based on our chats if that is how you roll. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org