Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Quest for Fitness

I have just returned from a 2 week trip to the states to see a mate. My mate Richie is a bit of crazy bastard. He does Ironman Triathlons. He loves Ironman so much that he quit his job and applied for a pro license from Triathlon New Zealand. on the 31st of August he had his first start as a pro in the Kentucky Ironman so I decided to head over and support him. For those of you who aren't aware, Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run. As I said, he is a crazy bastard. Having lived away from New Zealand for 6 years now, its been a while since I've seen Rich race. He has been racing for as long as I've known him (16 years) and it was pretty special to be there for his first pro race.

Now if the thought of a 2.4 mile swim leading into a 112 mile ride followed by a 26.2 mile run is frightenting, consider doing that in 33 degree heat. Thats what the 2500 people who lined up at the Ohio river that morning were facing. As I spent the day watching people of all shapes and sizes struggle with the ordeal I was really inspired. Apart from the pros who do several of these events every year, there were loads of people doing their first and likely only ironman. Its an amazing commitment and really got me thinking about my training for everest.

Speaking to Rich I was amazed that he was doing around 30 hours training a week. Ok so he doesn't have a full-time job and can manage that, but its an amazing commitment none the less. Kinda made me realise exactly how much I would need to put in to get really fit. I knew I had to do some work, but this made me realise that a couple of big runs a week isn't going to get me close to where I need to be.

Richie finished the race in a bit over 10 hours, an hour over his personal best, the heat having really taken it out of him. As Rich was heading in to the finish line, there were people still heading out on the start of their marathon, which must have been a pretty rough feeling for them. The spirit and fight in these people was amazing to watch, but there were two moments later in the night that really touched me.

The first moment was watching a 75 year old man cross the finish line in just over 17 hours. I could hardly believe it, the old fella still had the energy to dance a little jig as he crossed the line to the cheers fo the hundreds of people who were still watching and supporting at 11pm at night.

The moment that really made me think though occured about an hour later. Like any race with a large number of competitors, in Ironman, there is a cut-off time. If you don't cross the finish line within 18 hours your result doesn't count. We were standing watching over the finish line as the clock hit the 18 hour mark just as a man entered the finishing chute. He was only about 200m from the finish line but could see that the clock had passed the 18 hour mark. This guy had been busting his balls all day to get to the finish line, collect his medal and be able to say he was an Ironman. He missed out by a minute and instead of a medal ended up with a DNF. I can't begin to understand how devastating it must be to train for something for so long and then work so hard for 18 hours only to miss out by a minute. I'm determined not to let this happen to me.

I want to make it up the mountain and be able to play cricket.

Guess I better go for a run then...

1 comment:

Curry said...

Nice. Those guys are properly nuts. I've got a mate planning to do one next yeat