Thursday, October 17, 2013

Addicted to Suffering?

Monday night at swim practice, Coach John asked me if I read the chapter on suffering in "Iron War". Since I read the entire book, I answered "Yes". However, I've read a lot of triathlon stuff in the last year, so I was a little fuzzy on the details of the suffering chapter. He suggested I go back and re-read it.

Later that evening with my Kindle in hand, I searched for the chapter on suffering. Chapter 4 is titled
"Pain Community" so I confirmed with John that this is what he wanted me to revisit. He told me to "skim through until the part on suffering".



I read the chapter and tried to decide what John was getting at. Does he think I'm some kind of endurance, pain junkie? Interestingly, as I was re-reading the chapter (on my phone this time), I noticed something I had highlighted the first time through...
"People are really tired of living a sore of dull, boring, and sedentary lifestyle. Most triathletes have white-collar desk jobs. They don't use their bodies. They use their minds or their voices all day, and they really like the physical aspect of doing something grueling like a triathlon."
Hmmm... interesting and true, but I don't think this is what John was getting at...so I re-read the chapter again and this passage really struck a chord...
"But in today's real world, triathlon is one of the best ways to demonstrate toughness and courage, and the finish-line feeling is one of the best feelings imaginable. There is nothing like it. It is a deep, warming satisfaction - an embracing healthful pride - a moment of well-earned self-love. People weep at triathlon finish lines. Strong grown men who shed tears nowhere else do so openly at triathlon finish lines. People lift their arms and faces to the sky and shout at the top of their lungs. Some speak in tongues. At triathlon finish lines people allow themselves to do things they never do in the rest of their lives because they feel something they never feel in the rest of their lives. Something that not only rewards all of the suffering, but makes all the suffering rewarding."
I'm not sure that I'm addicted to suffering, but I am definitely addicted to that finish line feeling. I cannot express the emotion of crossing the finish line at Barb's Race. Every time I come across one of my mementos from the race (my cap, my race number, photos) it takes me right back to the finish and I want to do it again.

Ultimately, I know I will do a full Ironman race, but for now, I will continue to cherish my memories of Barb's Race and look forward to doing it again...my next fix.