Sunday, October 19, 2008

Desire. Dedication. Determination.

Everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE the NFL. As a result, my favorite TV network is the NFL Network. The "It's Football Season Year 'Round" channel has been running a series this year called "The Missing Rings". It is about the greatest teams that NEVER won a Super Bowl. There are some heartbreak stories from these teams. I've been learning some valuable lessons from these episodes and highly recommend them to those are don't know a touchdown from a home run.

The show about the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, who went 15-1 and then lost in the NFC Championship game AT HOME, IN OVERTIME to the Atlanta Falcons had an underlying theme that was communicated by their coach, Dennis Green. Here it is:

Desire. Dedication. Determination.

That is what it takes to make a champion. And, I must add for the context of this blog... an Ironman.

What do you want people to say about you? What is it that you want? I want to be an Ironman. Of course, I already am an Ironman but I just want to make sure there is no doubt. Earlier this summer, I was with a group of triathletes getting ready for an open water swim and it was revealed (not by me!) that I was the only Ironman in the group. That was a great feeling. Being a TWO TIME Ironman... I think that would feel pretty good, too. I have a strong desire to capture that feeling.

A lot of people have a desire to be an Ironman. But are they willing to pay the price? And there is a price to pay. Nothing worth having in this world comes for free. Becoming an Ironman requires a lot of sacrifice. Food. Friends. Family. Income. Time. Physical stress. Mental stress. I think it can be summed up in a paragraph I read in a book about the Army Rangers. "There are two kinds of officers... those that are are Ranger Qualified, and those with excuses why they are not. Well, cadet... what's it gonna be? Ranger - or EXCUSE?" In my mind, there are two types of triathletes... there is the Ironman... and then there is the excuse. Is this arrogant? Perhaps... but as soon as I started doing triathlon, I was hooked. And when I found out about Ironman, there was no way I was going to do this triathlon thing without becoming an Ironman.

Vince Lombardi had his own way of putting it... "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."

Life is not ponies and rainbows. It isn't all candy and cake. I have found it to be often nasty and brutish. For two male relatives, it was also short. One died at 44... the other at 52. Life can throw you a safety blitz and you can take a sack... or you can dodge the pressure and complete the throw... maybe even for a touchdown. The true test of a champion is how you handle adversity. The hurdles will come... you need to overcome them.

My personal quest for two time Ironman status has been very different than the first go around. The first time was pretty smooth. This go around... my training partners have shifted throughout the season... I have not had as much time as was allocated in 2006... I was laid up for three weeks... and I feared that I might lose my vision. But, I am determined to reach that finish line. There are still 13 days left to go and who knows what will happen... what will the weather be like? To be honest with you, at this point, I am EXPECTING the unexpected. Am I determined to handle it? I'm envisioning that finish line right now. There is really nothing like it... that I know of.


Kirsten and Chad said...

You should be out training rather than posting blogs about training. Real Ironmen don't have time for anything else ;) Your love for this sport is second to none and we'll be anticipating your trot across that finish line when we watch the feed from IMFL ;)

TJ said...

I'm so dedicated... I'm going to wait until it's at least 50 degrees before I cycle today.


The Lazy Triathlete said...

Great post today. You hit the nail right on the head.

I can't wait to be sitting in front my computer watching you come across the finish line.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Thanks for the Vince quote.

And, yes, crossing that finish line is fantastic.

Great post!