Friday, September 30, 2011

You gotta want it

In triathlon, you gotta want it. You have got to want to succeed, and that means putting in the work.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going. They know they have to Do the work. And that Miles Make Champions. Sometimes you just have to shut up, and then HTFU. When in doubt, Stop Whining and Knuckle Up. I could throw endless cliches at you (and I have!), but at the end of the day, or rather the beginning, that means getting out the door, dragging your ass out of bed when you'd rather just sleep for like 24 more hours. Over my 12 years in the sport I have come to learn (the hard/slow way!) what is required for success and what it takes to keep moving forward, and hopefully, to have success of some measure more often than not. And since I started coaching in the last year, this intangible quality of inner motivation, that fire, wanting it, can easily be seen in some and is noticeably absent in others.

Wanting it is heading out for a 6 hour ride when the weather forecast calls for a 92' day with high humidity and a code orange air alert. Wanting it is heading out for the umpteenth century ride this month, this year, these past couple years with a case of never ending saddle sores. Wanting it is keeping your ironman training up between your 5th sinus infection of the year, that you just learned has been primarily caused by a deviated septum. Wanting it is heading out on the bike for an 'easy' 72 mile spin when you have a quadricep tendon rupture because that is the only activity that feels good, and because you have the biggest race of your life scheduled in 6 weeks. Wanting it is counting down the days to getting back to your end of season build after a sudden diagnosis of, and then excision, of skin cancer. To many, these examples may just seem to be proof of obsessive or unhealthy training practices. To others though, and to those of us that have lived through these cases of adversity, we know this is what it will take to reach our goals. The seeming "madness" of it all, and those daily decisions to keep pushing on is balanced with a keen knowledge of our bodies and what they can handle.

Some live their whole lives and never know what is possible and how much they can push themselves. Others come to discover this maybe after a major life shift or scare and the realization can come like a lightning bolt. My dad recently ran in his very first 5K at the age of 63. If you asked him 5 minutes before the start of the race if he was adequately prepared, I think it is safe to say that the answer would have been a resounding no. If he was certain that he would finish, still, quite possibly no. He didn't know that he wanted it, but somewhere over the course of the 3.1 miles he started to push himself more than he ever has before, and learned that he too wanted it.

Ryan Ballou was born with DMD and has not had the opportunity to push himself in the athletic sense that I am writing about here, but has pushed himself more emotionally and in a physical sense than most of us will ever know in our lifetimes. Because Ryan wants it. Every day he faces struggles and extreme adversity, just taking on some of the daily tasks that most take for granted. But Ryan has an infectious optimism and drive of which I could only hope to possess a fraction of. Ryan wants it, he wants to live his life to the fullest and to help others with DMD to have the same hope and the same incredible quality of life.

Wanting it is a state of mind more than anything else, and while some people have that capacity to drive forward and persevere, others sadly have not or cannot tap into this ability. One week from Saturday, myself and five of my Ballou Skies teammates will be competing with 1700+ of the world's best triathletes in Kona, pushing ourselves to levels we never before thought possible. You have to want it. You have to try before you can hope to succeed. We do, and we will. Join us.