It was a miserable, miserable day at Ironman Ireland, Cork. Nearing the finish line, I was tremendously grateful that it was over. Yet, a few days later I began to taste a sweet twist of lime that I had missed during the 11+ hours of heavy rain and wind.
The pelting downpour, cold temperatures and poor logistics management by the race organisation were challenging, to say the least. However, the continual outpour of well-wishing and support from the spectators was heart-warming; for them, I kept digging deeper.
The Youghal and County Cork residents are perhaps the most wonderful people I’ve experienced at any venue. It was 100,000 times or more that I heard “well-done lads”. And after the race, as I walked through town in the sunshine, the love continued to flow. People stopped me on the street to offer congratulations, shake my hand and talk with me. Shopkeepers invited me in to hear about my day. Store windows had bikes, wetsuits, signs, flags, and messages in celebration of the event. What’s more, I learned that, on race day, residents had taken in participants to feed and warm them, dry their clothes and care for them. It’s the goodwill that I experienced that would bring me back (with different gearing for my bike, and more clothing options.)
During post-race discussions with a friend, I reflected upon what I felt at that finish line. In fact, it points to an answer about why I would continue with these races. It doesn’t feel like I was expressing gratitude. It feels like thankfulness and strength were being allowed to flow through me.
My ultra-endurance journey this year has been far less about the physical development and much more of a deep dive into the internal, spiritual realms. I shared in two recent posts (Dark Night, Unravelling) that my training has been hampered the last few months due to an ankle sprain and ongoing medical condition (the latter may, in fact, have been an underlying cause to the former). The fitness foundation is solid, especially the cardiovascular system. But the strength and durability for my desired Ironman pace aren’t there right now. So while the pilot light is strong, the gas supply can’t keep up when the burner is turned higher than medium heat. Underperformance is disappointing. However, it is peacefully soothing that in the face of difficulty there is patience and calm, which has developed this year thanks to daily meditation and internal inquiry.
A question I often revisit is why I continue to train full-time and race. The answer, I’m discovering, is that it’s a path of learning, exploring, and expressing. It’s a soulful sojourn. A journey of development and de-layering.
As I’ve previously written, it’s the subtler, deeper layers that are the most interesting to me. I could continue to train without putting myself through the crucible of races. But I sense that doing so wouldn’t hold me to the same level of accountability, nor the depth of seeking, experience, or expression. There are a few other things I want to manifest in my life again. But the awakening light that’s arising for ultra-endurance racing calls for co-existence with these other wishes. The point isn’t to prove anything through a lot of effort; instead, it’s to investigate with intention, to burn away the layers, to become more authentic and live more deeply. This insight adds a sweet citrus flavour that I’m trepidatiously excited to embrace.
✌️ ∙ 🌱 ∙ 🙏