On becoming extraordinary…

We all come to the sport of triathlon for our own personal reasons.  My friends I’ve talked to have all manner of excuses for plopping down thousands of dollars on equipment, race entry fees, trainers, coaches and nutrition.  These reasons range from very personal to highly altruistic and selfless.  I come to the sport to battle the personal demons of my past, and to become a better person.

I’ve discovered that I’m a decently strong cyclist.  A friend e-mailed me yesterday, and said:

We already know you’re an excellent cyclist.  Now’s a good time to focus on your running if you want to have a good chance at being fast during Ironman.  Honestly, with your bike talent, if you follow [a particular running training plan], you’ll be much faster than all of us at IMC.

I’m not used to this.  I’m not used to being singled out as better than anyone else at anything.  It makes me feel somewhat overwhelmed.  I don’t feel like I’m worthy of this kind of attention.  I believe that the things I do are not any better than the things that anyone else does.  I have a lot of trouble accepting that I am any more extraordinary than anyone else.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been through ordinary.  I know that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is actually quite negligible.  The difference between someone who has accomplished great feats and someone who hasn’t, is nothing more than the choice to do these things.  I don’t think it could have been said any better, than how Jordan Rapp put it, in his speech to the 2011 Ironman Canada finishers the other night was poignant and summed up with:

But no one in this room has a burning desire to be, “typical.” That is not why you do an Ironman. You do an Ironman because you want to reach the stars. And you want to do it the hard way. Because that is what makes it special.

There is no easy way to reach the stars.  For me, even as comfortable as I am on the bike, it’s by no means easy.  An hour on the trainer sometimes feels like ten.  I have no patience for people who get in my way.

Playing to my strengths means focussing on improving my cycling ability.  I know that I can become a better cyclist, because I’ve been doing this for only a year.  I know that the difference between myself and Jens Voigt is that he’s been doing it longer than me.

Becoming extraordinary means you must first accept that you are an amazing human being, and that you have the innate ability to do extraordinary things.  Becoming extraordinary really takes nothing more than a choice to do something extraordinary.  And you will inspire me.

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