Are you an Ironman? Are you an Ironman all the time??? I'm trying to break the habit of being an Ironman all the time. What does that mean? It means that as a triathlete, we tend to let everyone else know about our conquests. One of the greatest accomplishments a triathlete can achieve is completing an Ironman.

An Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. Training for an Ironman is a minimum commitment of 6 solid months. You get up before your neighbors, you run in the dark, you have a bicycle setup in the garage on a trainer, you leave work early so you can swim in the afternoon, you’re putting in 2-3 workouts in a single day, and you could be logging 10, 20, or even 30 hours a week. It’s quite demanding and literally consumes your life. And with this consumption comes a desire to seek validation and recognition.

When you’re making your way through the day, your brain is eavesdropping on conversations. It is searching for key words… triathlon, triathlete, swimming, biking, running, Ironman, endurance, etc. As soon as you hear one of those keywords, you spring into action. Why? Because you’re the expert on everything related to swimming, biking, and running. You’ve been training for months, you know everything and you must tell everyone. You overhear someone telling a friend how hard their workout was because they spent 30 minutes on the treadmill. You interject, “HA! You think that’s hard, I’m training for Ironman and I’ve logged ONE MILLION HOURS on the treadmill this month.” And this continues day in and day out because we are consumed in every aspect of our lives by this commitment.

If my wife wasn’t the most loving person in the world and also a triathlete, I think she might smother me in my sleep. I Love You Honey!

What’s worse than someone training for Ironman? Someone who has completed an Ironman! It doesn’t really matter how fast; it’s the fact that you’ve done it. Forget about the fact that the guy who wins will finish around 8 hours while the rest of us have another 9 hours to get across the line to hear the words: “You are an Ironman!” Yup, that’s right; you have 17 hours to complete the distance.

Last year I had the opportunity to take a look in the mirror. The reflection was someone who had also completed an Ironman. This person was loaded head to toe with Ironman gear. You see, once you complete an Ironman, you get to buy all of the gear so you can let everyone else know without actually having to open your mouth. It was at that moment, I decided I would try to go underground. Upon personal reflection I’ve discovered, it’s not the accomplishments that make the man, it’s the actions. Think about the race between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Both were competing to prove who was best. In my opinion, Bill Gates won the contest hands down. But not because of what he was able to achieve through the large success of Microsoft. It’s what he’s been able to do with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

So as I am sitting here writing this, I’m trying to decide what is my real goal. You see, I’ve decided that rather than have the focal point of my training and completion of Ironman be about me, I would prefer it be about a cause worthy of telling people about. What’s the cause? Athlete’s for a Cure. I think the number is $10,000. That’s a greater accomplishment than another finisher’s medal, another hat, or another 6 months or swimming, biking, and running.