On May 1st 2022 I completed my first Ironman Triathlon!
This was a two year process that culminated with a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km marathon. This process has taught and reaffirmed so many lessons for me, and I would love to share just a few with you here.
A day in an Ironman race is very comparable to life in general. Just as in life, there are ups and downs. There are very high points and very low points. There are times that you are completely present and in your happy place, wishing for this to go on forever. There are also times you wish for a short cut and that things would just get easier for a while. I had to remind myself many times in training and in the race that I don’t actually want it to be easy. If it were easy, the finish line would not mean as much.
Since completing the race there have been two questions I have been asked the most.
1. What was the hardest part? No single leg felt any more difficult, so I would say the hardest part was the sheer length of time I was out there. There aren’t many things I have ever done for 14 hours straight other than a flight to the USA!
2. Did you ever feel like you wouldn’t finish? I have done a lot of work over the last few years to build belief in myself. I have visualized that finish line thousands of times. I always knew in myself I was going to finish. There was however, many times the little voices in my head tried to get in and ask the “What if?” questions. Thankfully I had learned the tools to quiet that voice.
Everybody has their story of why they are attempting an Ironman. There were people of all different shapes, sizes and athletic ability. It was inspiring to hear their stories throughout the race. From people on a weight loss journey or in honour of a lost friend, to overcoming cancer or raising money for a daughter’s medical bills. These people understand that their body is capable of much more than we are led to believe.
As a Chiropractor, it is my mission to teach as many people as possible just how amazing our bodies are. We teach vitalistic principles on how to live a natural, full, healthy lifestyle. We teach people to learn to trust the innate wisdom of their body and that they are wonderfully unique.
My reason for doing Ironman is simple – “When I am more, I can give more” This is my continuing motivation for training the long hard sessions. The person I had to become to complete an Ironman holds the values and disciplines of the best husband I can be, the best brother, son, friend, business owner and Chiropractor. I considered every training session to be training for life, and for work. The discipline required for Ironman is not hard, in fact it is easy and that is what makes it so great. It is a lot of little things that are easy to do, and very easy not to do.
The key to completing the training is the discipline to start each training. Sessions themselves may be hard work, but they are not hard to do. Anything good in life takes time. Whether this be weight loss, up skilling, education, business building, fitness and healing. Shortcuts are an illusion. The key to me seems to be in consistency and persistence. Trusting in the process of time while remaining disciplined enough to never lose momentum.
For myself, Ironman has been a process of personal development. It all started with walking over hot coals and a 3.5 hour sauna at a seminar, where I discovered first hand that what we think is impossible is a trained thought rather than reality. This led to the challenge of a “sprint” triathlon. The pattern that followed is still happening to this day – The next level up seems so far away, decide to try it, jump in the deep end and achieve it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
My biggest lesson so far from Ironman has been simply this – If you want to make a change, decide to do it and make a start. Stay disciplined to keep the momentum and your life will change around you relative tp that goal. We are capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe!
~Dr. Jay Smyth