By Bryan McMurry
One of the greatest joys in life is doing something that you were not sure you could do. Overcoming uncertainty of our ability or a general lack of confidence is an achievement in personal growth and leads to a new plateau in the journey of life. You are never too old to step up and challenge yourself. Fortunately, we don’t have to go it alone.
A little over a year ago, in a conversation about running and staying in good physical condition, my friend Michelle Misko suggested that I look at participating in a Triathalon — a three-event sport that involves swimming, biking and running. I thought it looked interesting and fun, but at the same time I was uncertain and apprehensive. The fear of the unknown caused a general lack of confidence. I was intrigued, so I began learning as much as I could and started training for what is called the Sprint division. Because of the shorter distances involved, the Sprint is where most participants begin. In general, a Triathlon Sprint is a .25 to .5 mile swim followed by a 12 to 15 mile bike and then a three to four mile run. Needless to say, I was not sure I could do it since I’d never done all of them in tandem. My biggest fear was that I would drown during the swim and not get to either the bike or the run!
My apprehension was probably not at all unlike any fear. The challenge is rarely as tough in reality as it is in our minds. In fact, that is where the battle is waged, and won or lost, in our own mind. Whether you think you can do it or not, either way you are right. The answer is simple, but not easy. You must believe you can do it, learn all you can and then prepare with a vengeance. And don’t forget to ask for help, you’re never alone. That is what I did.
Michelle gave me many ideas, support and encouragement. I went online and learned all I could about the sport and training regimens. I attended a seminar for first-time triathlon participants and got some great ideas. I was beginning to build a network, but still had doubts. The information flowed. I found a new wet suit that would normally cost $250 for only $50. I would have used the mountain bike that I train on in the race, although it’s slow in comparison to a road bike, but my friend Mike Laughlin loaned me his road bike and took a genuine interest in my effort. I got great advice from people I didn’t even know. Everyone I talked to wanted me to succeed.
I guess it hit me as I topped the last hill with half a mile to go in the run; I was going to make it. At that moment my legs no longer burned, my rhythmic breathing became more relaxed. My brain was beginning to produce endorphins; the stress seemed to melt away. I was on a high. Those last few hundred yards were surreal. My mind was completely devoid of thoughts other than that I was about to accomplish a goal several months in the making. I was snapped backed to reality by the shouting of encouragement from my daughters Megan and Erin. Then all of a sudden it was over and a volunteer was removing the ankle strap that holds the radio frequency ID chip while another was patting me on the back and congratulating me.
As I was walking away from the finish line trying to catch my breath, an important reality came to mind. All of the encouragement, support and help from others made that moment possible. Regardless of our own important doings, we need a team to get where we want to go. We aren’t always certain how we’ll get somewhere, but if we’re clear on where we want to go and solicit help in the effort, we’ll get there. You might be surprised at how many people want you to succeed. We truly are not alone.