Monday, September 5, 2011

Louis - Ironman Canada Reflection: Everything Happens For A Reason

Louis just completed his 4 Ironman in 13 months and now he is a 5 time Ironman Finishers. Huh? What? Few years ago, no one (including myself) know that I will do a marathon, let alone an Ironman. No one will ever guess that I will camp on snow, repel off a water fall, and climb Mount Shasta (a dormant volcano) with crampons and Ice Axe.

I probably said this in another blog entry. It started a few years back when a hiker I met told me about the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course, which got me into backpacking. I finished the course (I thought I was going to die at snow camp) and met a group of wonderful people. I was never fast or strong, but I keep on doing what I do. Sierra Club Trip is great for people with different abilities because there is always a leader and a sweeper and everyone is in between. So even if you are slow you are not alone.

I started doing crazier stuff with one of my friend Katie. Next thing I know I was doing stuff I didn't think it was possible for me. I think if you spend time with inspired people you get inspired. The trip up at Mt Shasta is still the toughest thing I ever done (Well I didn't train 10 months like I did for Ironman, I need to revisit this mountain again to see if is still the toughest). In 2007 I learned about Team In Training from Katie's friend Grace. She was fundraising for her first marathon. I was going to donate to her but I never got to it. It never cross my mind to run a marathon but one thing lead to another I signed up with Team In Training to train for the 2008 LA Marathon. Thanks to the support of my friends and families I had no problems with my fundraising. I did a few marathons after LA. I wasn't fast or anything, but I keep on doing them for fun. I guess I like running on closed street. In Sept 2008, things wasn't going well for Cancer Survivor Tyler (He's only like 4 at the time). For a while I thought he is not going to make it. I wanted to do something for the kid so I signed up for an Half Ironman with the LA Ironteam. I didn't know how to swim so this is going to be a challenge. Of course Arkady (I think it's him) told me I can do the Full Ironman, I believe him and I switched from the half to the full.

During Vineman 2009 (swim 2.4 mi, bike 112 mi, and run 26.2 mi), I know I am going to become an Ironman when I passed the 17 mi mark on my run. Funny thing is I didn't think it was that hard. Yes, when you go slow, it gets a lot easier!

Honestly, I never feel like I accomplish anything with my first Marathon or my first Ironman. I just finish something that my coaches told me I can do. So I signed up for another Ironman just because I want to do another one. I wasn't really try to PR, I just want to do another and see how I feel. Funny thing is, while my time get slower and slower, I feel more solid every time I do an Ironman.

During my second Ironteam season (oct 2009 - aug 2010) weird things started to happen. People around me started to join Team In Training especially the 'Asian'. The Asian Triathletes, we are not only good at math, was born. A few of my friends end up doing Half Ironman and Ironman. And in Oct, a bunch of them are doing the Texas Half Ironman!

I think I am like a poster child for triathlon because I am
a) I can't swim, and I still can't swim well
b) I am not fast
c) I am a little chubby (in Hong Kong Standard, my friends and relative always tell me to lose weight)

Yet I am pretty good at doing Ironman. I am not fast, but I finish them. And when I tell you this Ironman/Marathon is something you can do, I really mean it. (Funny thing is, when I told Jennifer she can do an Ironman months ago, she thought I BS her... until she ran passed like mi 22 at her event). I guess the thing is, my culture tend to tell people... 'no', that they can't do something. This is dangerous, it's not good for you...etc. When I go on a hike my parents will tell me to be careful because someone got robbed last week...etc. It's just the way they show how they care. So growing up I hear a lot of 'no'. So for a while I have a difficult time believing my coaches that I can actually do something, like running a marathon, swim 2.4 mi...etc. When you are 'not fast' at marathon it's hard to believe how you can run a marathon after 2.4 mi swim and a 112 mi bike. But I believe in them and I did what they told me... things that I am capable of.

As I train for my Ironman, take pictures for the team, and run around as Pikachu, I focus on believing myself. Yes I have a good job, Yes I run Marathon and does Ironman, Yes I inspire people to break their barrier in my own strange way, I am generally a nice person, and yes I am healthy. But deep inside I have very low self-esteem. I can lose more weight, I can swim faster, I can run faster, I want to do this but I don't know if I can do it. Sometime the best way to protect myself is not to do anything. If I don't try I won't fail right? I should not try this because things always end bad. Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe I am just broken. When you are being compared with weird things, you get weird.

I use endurance training to improve my mindset. Accept who you are, and I did. Don't afraid to try something. If you did not make it the first time, try again. Who were to tell you you fail something if you didn't get it right the first time. Appreciate who you are, we all came a long way. If I worry about my Marathon/Ironman time and won't try until I get faster, I will never run 11 marathons and do 4 Ironman. Believe in yourself. And when someone believe in you, don't brush them off. Trust others like how you would like to be treated. Use any opportunities you have to grow. Cherish the good, learn and grow from the bad. You maybe in a very bad situation, and it's easier to fight than give up. But keep fighting. Anything is easier than dealing with chemo. Don't let the past haunt you (rather it's an injury or something else), you can move forward. I don't know what your other goals are. But if you read this far, you can run a marathon, you can do an Ironman. You don't have to force people to do/believe anything. Just keep doing what you are doing (and talk about it). When people are ready they will come to you.

This is what I learned from Team In Training. This is what I learned from my coaches. This is what I learned from the list of people in my bad ass list. This is what I learn from my teammates and friends. These are the things that I got out of from doing Ironman.

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