Monday, October 23, 2006


In the pursuit of excellence, I have discovered there are many things in life at which I am quite average.

I was an average soccer player during youth soccer league. In many situations, I was among the best players on the team. In others, I barely got onto the field. In the same manner, I was an average football player in high school. I played four years, and spent a great deal of time warming the bench. I could hold my own on the field, but there were many others who were far better.

I spent many years acting in high school and college. My performances helped earn some scholarships, though never enough to cover all the costs of tuition. I was in debate for four years and forensics for one year. My speaking ability got me to state once in those five seasons. I took third.

In the Navy, I advanced quickly through the ranks. I was a good sailor, and a slightly above average electrician. Again, there were many who seemed to live and breath nuclear and electrical fundamentals.

And in marathons and triathlons, I am a middle of the pack participant. Co-workers routinely ask about qualifying for the Boston Marathon or the Kona Ironman Championships. I point out that I'm much more likely to win a mohawk contest (sorry for the visual joke, I'll consider posting pictures, later). I'm fairly average when it comes to these events.

There is one thing that I believe sets me apart from the average person. It is what sets many who toe the line at events such as these. That is dogged relentlessness. It is the drive to complete a task, regardless of skill and ability going in. It is the determination to complete a sprint triathlon despite being unable to complete even a single lap of freestyle swimming. It is the motivation to pursue excellence in any task undertaken, regardless of the likelihood of becoming truly "competitive."

A relentless spirit is what gave me the confidence to complete a half marathon having never trained for it (that, and sheer ignorance that led me to run 13.5 miles to see if I could run 13.1 miles). This same determination led me through 26.2 miles in my first marathon. And it took the same amount of drive to finish a 220 yard swim in my first triathlon. And yes, in many ways, that 220 yard swim was more challenging than the full marathon.

Only time will tell if this force of will can carry me through 140.6 miles in Louisville. It has allowed me, a completely average athlete, to accomplish many tasks I would have though impossible five years ago. And every year, many things previously seen as out of the question become possibilities to be attempted.

What is your "impossible?" Whether a 5K road race, a 200 yard swim, a century ride, or an Ironman triathlon, the task can be achieved. Drive, determination, and relentlessness can assure your success.


Deb said...

what a great post!!!!! I've been having a tough time lately...not feeling like much of a contender in anything. Or maybe just wrestling with the fact that I'm o.k. where I'm at. Who knows, but I love this post!

Tri-Dummy said...

I agree determination and dedication are often the most difficult things to share with another person. Luckily, INSPIRATION is often something you share with someone on accident...after you've shown them YOUR determination and dedication. Keep on inspiring, brother.

Cliff said...


Keeping this comment short.

No skills. No talents. Just heart. :)

Ladyrunner said...

Excellent post!!

Lance Notstrong said...

I was telling someone the other day I just took up swimming because I want to equally suck in three sports. But I intend on finishing anything I start.

Lisa said...

Two years ago, I wrote a paper for my running class about Ironman Wisconsin. I said that I would never be able to do it. Now, I'm dreaming about and beginning to train for IM in 2008.

Fe-lady said...

Yeah for "relentless"- it helped me get through the day of having to pretty much "take over" the classroom of kids with autism as there still is not a full time teacher hired...AND I ran/walked this A.M. and lifted for a good 45 min. after work!
(I am now doing laundry, cooking dinner, preparing lunches for tomorrow and have to write a report!)
See how much we "relentless" people can get done in one day!
Love it! :-)
Sure feel good at the end of the day!

Kewl Nitrox said...

:) We seem to have A LOT in common.

I sucked at football too (ok, not really football but soccer - always last to get picked).

The army (instead of navy) went pretty good for me too. Like you, I discovered that just pure grit & determination is a virtue in the military. It cuts between those who want to get things done and those who are not really sure why they are there.

But that's where it stops. I have no ironman ambitions. That is my "impossible" right now. :) I will just focus on doing a O.D. and maybe a middle distance next year.

Wendy said...

Pol, for much of my life I have said "other people are stubborn, *I'm* determined"! Oddly enough, people sometimes fail to see the distinction! ;-)

Bigun said...

If it were easy, what would be the point? You've hit the nail on the head with what makes triathlon so cool - someone with a dogged determination, like yourself, can compete and have fun and do things others (like those star jocks and brainiacs) would consider impossible. Stay tuff for Louisville - your'e all over it!

Curly Su said...

i know exactly what you mean, and i can assure you that you will be fine in louisville...there is a saying in the endurance sport world...'it's about the head and the heart'...if you've got those things (and you do), you've got it!

triathlonmom said...

Thanks for the inspiration.