On the face of it, endeavoring to complete an Ironman is extremely selfish. It is extremely expensive, requires long hours away from family to train, and drains so much energy that you end up sleeping a significant portion of the time you could have with family. So the question is why am I doing it and why is my family allowing me to do it? The second question is easy to answer. I have an extremely supportive wife that is willing to sacrifice all of herself to make others (especially me) happy, despite the additional hardship and work that will undoubtedly be in it for her. It is one of the first of the endless list of qualities that made me fall in love with her. It is also a quality that she has instilled in our children. Not only were they willing to be supportive of me in this journey, they encouraged it, despite knowing that it would impact our family profoundly for over a year.
The second question is harder to answer. Over the last few months I have read many responses to other athletes answering this question. It is, in fact, a standard question on the entry for for the Ironman race. It is an obvious question to ask when someone tells you that they are going to try and swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full marathon all in the same day. "Why are you doing that? Are you crazy?" tends to be the most common response. What I have found that is most interesting, however, is that I have met a number of people whose response has been, "That's great! I completed an Ironman back in...." This always floors me. I guess it is because I anticipate that when/if I can call myself an Ironman I am going to make sure everyone knows about it. Or at least I did when I started this journey.
My brother in-law Mike is a two-time Ironman and he is the one who convinced me to give it a try. I didn't think about it for even a minute when he suggested it, I almost immediately knew that it was something I had to do. A few months later as I was watching the Ironman World Championships on televison, I began sobbing uncontrollably watching the montage of people finishing the race. I actually had to physically remove myself from the house and went out in the back yard where I cried harder than I had in 25 years.
I believe in fate, or at least something that we as humans call fate. For the purposes of this discussion, let's just call it fate and save that larger discussion for another day. I have believed in it ever since I met my wife and knew in an instant that we would be married, despite a number of contradicting factors that indicated otherwise. My belief has been confirmed through a number of other experiences since that time and I have learned to trust the feeling I get when I know that fate is calling me to something. So here I am, knowing that this is something I am supposed to do but grappling with the reason why.
The thing about training for any sort of endurance sport is you get to spend a LOT of time with yourself. This time has provided me with ample opportunity to reflect on and think about an answer to this question. What I have found is that there are many answers. Some of the answers I think I know, there are many that I hope to know in the future and more still that I am sure I will never know, but will have a profound impact on my life and the lives of those around me.