The thing that I have always loved about sports is what they have to teach you about life. Many of my greatest lessons and role models have been as a result of my participation in athletics, either as a player or as a coach. One of my first memories is of my father coming to wake me up early on Saturday morning, long before the sun came up, to take me to hockey practice. Not only did I learn dedication, sacrifice, hard work and teamwork from those early mornings, I learned how to be a father. I learned how to be an effective leader by watching and observing the many coaches I have had throughout my life and when it came my turn to coach I learned that serving others is the only true path to happiness.
On Saturday I will be racing in the St. George half Ironman. I have thought a lot this week about what this experience will have in store for me and the lessons that are to be learned. I had hoped to be better prepared for this race. As I was training, I developed and injury in my knee that has kept me from running consistently for the last three months. The longest I have been able to run is about six miles and in the race I will have to make it through 13 miles after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles. The swim and the bike I am prepared for and have trained very hard for. It is the run I am not prepared for. My greatest fear is not being able to finish the race. In a half-Ironman distance race I only have 8.5 hours to finish. If you are not able to finish in that time, you are disqualified and taken off the course. Without my injury I would be able to make that time with no issues. Now, I simply don’t know what to expect.
I have lived my entire life with anxiety issues. Over time I have learned how to manage these, but it requires daily effort and focus. Sports have played an integral role in helping me deal with my anxiety in a number of ways. First, they help take my mind off of all my worries and allow my irrational mind to slow down for a while. Second, they have helped me learn how to turn fear into action and how to confront my doubts head on. Finally, they have helped me learn how to turn failures into motivation, rather than allowing them to shut me down.
So as I go into this weekend I have to admit that I am scared to death. I will be so nervous on Friday night that I won’t sleep and Saturday morning as I stand in Sand Hallow Reservoir ready to start my swim my anxiety will be at a fever pitch and nearly uncontrollable. But when the gun sounds I will go. I will give it my all for those 8.5 hours and if I am meant to cross the finish line in that time, I will. And if I don’t, it will be because there was an important lesson for me to learn in failing. And when I am in the water in Arizona in November, waiting to start the swim for my full Ironman, I will be ready and willing to accept the lessons that will have to teach me as well.Check back next week for my race recap and I will let you know how it all went!