I have been trundling along on my training program towards to the Gold Coast Marathon in July 2011 doing things reasonably well and not too unhappy with my progress. Diane (who is embarking on her very first competitive run in July) asked me the other day how I can possibly enjoy running for hours on end?
Now I have to admit there are times when the training is tough, monotonous and the very thought of getting out of bed in the dark when it is cold and wet outside to run for a few hours can make you question “why?” But I still remember my poor time and the discomfort of the last marathon and I’m determined to do better than I did last time – so I guess that is part of my motivation.
Also, I’m running for a fantastic cause for Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria to raise funds for the Fight Dementia campaign – and that commitment keeps me motivated. Especially as my Mum is living with dementia and I now fully appreciate the importance of supporting Alzheimer’s Australia and want to help them.
But if I ever wanted to see what motivates endurance runners, triathletes and ironman competitors (other than good causes), I saw it late yesterday at the the conclusion of the very first Ironman Competition in Melbourne.
First leg, 3.8km swim off Frankston; Second leg, 180km bike ride across Melbourne along the Eastlink; and the final leg 42.2km from Frankston to St Kilda.
A good friend of ours John was competing in his first Ironman. We saw him during the bike leg and then went down to the finish line to wait with his family as he crossed the finish line.
Watching the competitors come in to the finish line with the cheers from the crowd, the high fives from friends, hugs and kisses from loved ones and the support and camaraderie of their fellow competitors was incredible and inspiring. The strain of basically half a day of hard work and testing their bodies limits momentarily faded from their face to be replaced by huge grins, tears of joy and exultation as they crossed the line – winners.
Forget the time – not important. They had conquered their mind and body celebrating weeks, months and even years of training and preparation to complete this Ironman.
Some crossing the line were hardly able to remain upright and when they crossed the line almost collapsed – some did. Others were so pumped up they jumped over the line fists punching the air with screams of joy… At that point I envied each and every one of them and wished I could join this elite club.
While a marathon is such a small feat in comparison, I remember the feeling when I saw the finish line, heard the cheers from the crowd and could see a major goal of mine within my reach. All the horrible training sessions, the aches, the pains the distress are all forgotten and the finish line is all that matters and the joy of completing the race.
And I could see it in the face of every single person crossing the finish line of the Ironman… and I think that’s why people train and compete – the sense of accomplishment and achievement and that oh so joyous moment when you cross the finish line.
John ran a great race, completing the race in a shade over 12 hours and 30 minutes. As he ran down the red carpet to the finish line we cheered him on and watched him celebrate an extraordinary achievement. Totally impressed and inspired.
So next time I think about complaining because of going for a long training run, or speed intervals or racing up hills – I’ll think about the faces of the people I watched crossing the line at Melbourne’s Ironman and how much they completed and just how good that “crossing the finish line” feeling is.
A quick update on my training. A half marathon in a shade over 2 hours on Sunday. A pretty good run and body feeling good – time to lift the intensity. The run is detailed on Endomondo below:
Next week is a 14.4km race – The Run For The Kids. Will be good to have some race conditioning (and not to have to run with a camelbak) as it is completely different to training by yourself.
My top 5 running songs from Sunday’s playlist are:
American Idiot – by Green Day
ABC – by Jackson 5
Kidnap My Heart – by The Click Five
I Want You Back – by Hoodoo Gurus
Higher Ground – by Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Special thanks to my son Matt for updating my playlist!
So now I need to start a bigger training program…. that is if I’m ever going to give myself the opportunity to consider competing in an Ironman.
I agree…there is something quite inspiring about watching the finish line (and crossing it!)