This week's guest blog was written by Andee Woodward, a new member of the Red Kite Triathlon Team. We hope to have more of these to share in the months to come.
Why is the question I am asked almost every day when I tell people I am training for an IRONMAN. But as much as I am asked that by others, I ask it of myself even more. The training required to compete at the IRONMAN distance is hard. It hurts. So why do I do it?
Why do I wake up at 4:45 AM, drive in the pitch black to the pool, and finish my swim before most people are even awake? Why do I pass on going out to lunch with my coworkers? Or try to limit how much I have of my favorite foods and drinks? When I have already been on the trainer for two grueling hours, what makes me hang in there and tough out the final hour? Why do I keep going when I am only 10 minutes into a run and realize I was so focused on staying within my heart rate zone that I forgot to bring gloves and my hands are going numb?
Before I get into the possible answers to those questions, I want to give you a little background about me. Starting as a young kid and going all the way through high school, I played baseball. Although I enjoyed it a lot, the most running I ever did was the time it took to run around the bases. As a result, I was always pretty fast, but only in short bursts.
My initial introduction to cycling happened when I met my future wife and her family. Although she moved to the US at a young age, my wife was born in France and inherited the French love of cycling. Watching the Tour de France and talking to her dad about his childhood cycling camps piqued my interest and I bought a hybrid bike and signed up for a cycling class in college. Riding several times a week, I realized I was starting to love it. The class ended with a 50 mile ride, which at the time seemed insurmountable, but I was able to do it. Once the class was over, I started riding less and less and by the time I graduated and started working full time, I had given it up completely.
My reintroduction to cycling came about a year after I started working. I realized I was getting almost no exercise working a desk job and started to gain a lot of weight. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed and one of my coworkers, Josh Lewis, was working his way up the road racing categories. I began to talk to him about cycling and it brought back the memories of riding in college. This time I wanted to be serious about it so I bought a "super expensive" entry level road bike. I rode around town and did a few short charity rides over the next couple years, but it never really took off until I started doing weekly group rides in 2014. It was during these rides I realized that what I thought was fast wasn't really fast at all. I had a long way to go. I continued the group rides and joined a race team the next year. I did a few crits and road races and finished my first 100 mile ride. In order to get faster for future races, I tried to keep up with the fastest guys in the group and eventually began to train with them more and more. They had weird bikes and no sleeves, but they were fast. While training, they would talk about the swims they had just finished and then at the end of the rides, when I was completely spent, they would throw on shoes and go for a run.
After the racing season was over, I figured I might as well go for some runs too, just to see what it was like. Long story short, I am now signed up for three 70.3 distance triathlons in 2016 and if all goes according to plan, I want to finish a full IRONMAN in 2017.
That's my history. So back to the original question.
Whenever I am asked why a few different answers come to mind. Maybe I do it for the adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment after finishing a challenging workout or race. Maybe I do it for the fitness and health benefits. Maybe I do it to make my friends and family proud. Maybe I enjoy when other people say I am crazy. Or maybe I am actually a little bit crazy. (Probably the latter.)
In truth, it is a combination of all of those things, but mainly I do it for the adventure. To find out what I am capable of doing. To really push myself outside of my comfort zone.
My answer to the question is really pretty simple.