Here’s food for thought . . . Pain hurts. Quitting is worse.
I competed in a triathlon known as “Vineman” last week, a 70.3 Ironman-distance race in Sonoma County.
A half Ironman distance triathlon consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike race and a 13.1-mile half marathon. Having competed in the Vineman half Ironman for 12 of the past 14 years, it has become a favorite. But even our favorites can be unforgiving, and last Sunday proved to be a tough day for several reasons:
- First, I fractured my right foot four months ago, and was only able to resume running four weeks ago – not enough time to earn back either the endurance nor speed needed for a half marathon run at the end of a half Ironman.
- Second, half-way through the bike ride my bottle filled with my nutrition flew out of my bottle cage while cycling down a steep descent. No nutrition in a long race can make for an even longer day.
- Finally, by the fifth mile on the 13.1-mile run, I could feel the blood blisters forming – and then popping – on both feet. Before long, my shoes were stained crimson-colored from the bloody wounds underneath.
Decision time . . . Competing against the other racers was long over, as I suffered along the course. The only competition left was between my mind and body, my head and my heart, as the demons within raged whether I should quit – or at least slow down and walk – or keep doing my best to fight and finish.
Mental check list completed with one question . . . “Am I risking my life or serious injury?” “No.” The pain hurt – lack of nutrition, dehydration, fractured foot and blistered feet – but quitting would hurt worse.
Five hours and 37 minutes later – a long half-hour past my normal time the past four years – and the finish line, and my family, were wonderfully in sight.
Finish what you start. It might not matter to anyone else. But it will always matter to you. Pain is temporary. What we gain though tough times is permanent.