One of the first things I learned when taking up endurance events was respect. First, and most obvious in this category was "Respect the distance." One of the biggest mistake any endurance athlete can make is failing to show proper respect for an upcoming race. Whether it's a 5K charity run, a full marathon, or an Ironman triathlon, the distance must be respected. Many an athlete has crashed and burned after shorting the training needed to achieve a goal.
Then, there is "Respect the successes of others." In the same manner, everyone deserves respect for their accomplishments. An "elitist" attitude won't serve anyone well, and it might just turn someone off from the sport. If someone is a confirmed couch potato, we should celebrate with them when the complete a walk around the block. And we should continue to affirm their accomplishments as they occur. Walk around two blocks. Walk a mile. Jog a quarter-mile. Complete a 5K walking. Run a 5K. Swim 200 yards. The definition of "long" varies from person to person. And everyone deserves respect if they are pushing to improve themselves.
This weekend, I will attempt my first half-Ironman. While I haven't yet hit the full court press of nervous energy, I have maintained respect.
I certainly respect the distance. The bike and the run are little concern, except they come after a 1.2 mile swim. And that is something I truly respect. I still have difficult time getting my head around 1.2 miles in open water. If it doesn't hit me before, I KNOW that getting into the water in my wetsuit on Sunday will bring it home. That and being unable to see the final marker bouy.
I will also get to meet several people whom I already respect. And we haven't even met. Each of the bloggers and Team raceAthlete members heading into town has accomplished a great deal to get to the starting line. In addition, there are dozens of new Tri Foxes competing in their first triathlon. For that, they all have my respect.
Finally, I respect my wife for allowing me to take this journey, and for being there every step of the way. I could probably be a marathoner and triathlete without her support, but it would be much more difficult and much less fun.
This weekend, I continue on a journey down a new path. And I will venture further down that path than ever before. Tonight, it is too early to truly have a healthy fear of the race. But I will always have respect for everything surrounding it.
Oh yeah, just for the record, here are my goals/predictions for the race:
Swim - 45 minutes
Bike - 3 hours 7 minutes
Run - 2 hours 15 minutes
Transitions - 8 minutes
Total time - 6 hours 15 minutes
And my "Wow, that exceeded my wildest expectations" goals:
Swim - 40 minutes
Bike - 2 hours 40 minutes
Run - 1 hour 55 minutes
Transitions - 6 minutes
Total time - 5 hours 21 minutes