The Ironman is actually a big metaphor for life. In my opinion at least. From the time we decide to do something, whether it’s a goal or a task or just something we want to have completed on our bucket list, there’s this decision. There’s a choice that we make to move forward, to stay where we’re at, or to maybe even regress or go backwards. Training for a triathlon, let alone an Ironman, is one of those undertakings. Over and above the actual training and the sweat and the time and the commitment and all the things that go into it, it’s truly really symbolic and has a direct correlation to how life goes. There are ups, there are downs, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and Ironman, or triathlon training, in general, really has the opportunity to show us what we’re made of.
I started my Ironman Training back in summer of 2013; it’s when I decided I wanted to do one of the long distance triathlons, the endurance race. I had done triathlon in the past, but Ironman was a whole new animal. So, just like in life, we face things that push us back. There are days that we wake up and we don’t want to do stuff, and it was no different. Just like life, sometimes my long training days were just long and I didn’t even want to get up out of bed because I knew that the day was just going to be awful tough… I just felt like it was going to be an awful, long, tiring day.
There are often days in regular life, I’m sure we all experience, where we don’t want to get out of bed. We see a post on Facebook or Twitter or wherever about how we just want to curl up with our warm blankets and stay in bed. The day doesn’t look nice, but for whatever reason some folks choose to get up and charge into the day and some folks don’t. There were days that I didn’t want to go out and train. There were days where I was just too sore, or I was feeling a bit broken from training the prior day. But we get up and do it anyway.
One of my coolest moments in my training I recall, was as the year progressed and I was actually on the starting line of IronMan Lake Tahoe in the fall of 2014… and this is what happened: I’m at the starting line, I had been preparing for a year for this race, this was the target date. We actually got into the water to warm up the morning of. I had friends there. It was a beautiful day. Lake Tahoe was cold, but the water was crystal clear, you could put your head under water and you could see just as far as far can go. There was just no cloudiness, no murkiness it was just crystal clear…it was gorgeous. There were several thousand triathletes there that prepared a long time, some had traveled a long distance, from all over the world. There were professionals there because there was a prize purse for the pros. As the clock ticks down and we get closer to start time everybody gets out of the water and we get into the start corrals. Then out of nowhere, right around start time, the announcer who’s on a podium raised up about 8 feet off the ground overlooking the lake and the whole scenery, gets on the loudspeaker and just announces that the race was cancelled. Then he went on to say that the fires in Northern California (and there were a lot of fires!) were just blowing too much smoke into the Tahoe Valley where the race was and it had been deemed by California Air Quality Commission, or some governing body, unsafe for human consumption.
So the race was cancelled, not just the swim, the entire race. There was a palpable collapse in the air. Not like a balloon popping, but rather like a big hole in a balloon where the air just rushes out, (whoosh!!) and everybody felt it including myself. The interesting thing is that there was then a whole bunch of emotion and then reaction, including in myself. There was disappointment, there was sadness, there was disbelief, all kinds of things, but what I saw next was the most interesting thing. This isn’t to say anything bad about fellow athletes, but this is really just to talk about how humans react to stuff and how it really applies to something as simple or as grand as training for a race. You see, because, within maybe 30 seconds a gentleman walks up to the podium. He wasn’t an athlete, he was probably the husband of an athlete and he started yelling, just very irately. He made Jon McEnroe look like child’s play, yelling at the announcer and a lot of expletives and curse words about how they’d destroyed several people’s hopes and dreams and who are they to cancel the race and it’s not their decision. And it just went on and on and on. It was at that moment that I decided I had a choice. I could either be just like him and be angry and let that emotion ruin my day…or I could choose to be happy that I was alive, that I would live to race another day.
The thing is we get a choice, whether it’s in training or the day of the race, we have a choice on this journey, not only of racing but of life. Where we get to let the day bring us down and rule us, or we get to make a conscious decision to rule the day. I decided to rule the day. The mantra I lifted over my head as a smile just crept over my face and suddenly lit up my wife’s face and my friends’ faces was, “Guys, we get to go party a little bit sooner than we anticipated, so let’s go party!” That was really the beginning of my Iron Man journey. It was a huge disappointment; a huge let down there’s no doubt about it. But I’ve got to ask myself this question when I reflect back: was it really? Was it really a huge disappointment and let down? Was it really all that, or was it just one of the experiences in life, in training, in racing that we get this glorious opportunity to experience? On this Ironman journey.
It’s something to consider for you, as you move down this path of triathlon or consider racing or doing a triathlon, or just waking up each day and wondering: is the day going to rule me, or am I going to rule my day? That’s really all I’ve got to say. Thanks a lot.
~Rick Martinez | BINKologist | W: ProjectBINK.com
Side note from Coach Jen:
Rick and I met in 2010, when I worked at lululemon athletica and he was owner of one of the top CrossFit Box in San Antonio. We develop a relationship over the last years and stayed in contact as I moved on from lululemon to start my business and as he moved on from his CrossFit box and started Project Bink. Check out his story with Project Bink HERE. (FYI, I was at that weight lifting competition as an athlete).
Rick reached out to me for coaching and I coached him to Ironman – Lake Tahoe. I mean, Ironman Arizona. I remember getting that text from him telling me that Ironman Lake Tahoe was canceled and my heart dropped for him and all the other 2000+ athletes.
I value my friendship with Rick Martinez. He has a heart of gold. Would do anything for you and tells you how it is. I pick his brain for entrepreneurship tips and I got him to his Ironman. I say that is a “Win/Win.” Thank you Rick for allowing me to be a part of your tribe!