Viktor Frankl in his 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He discusses how the difference between life and death was being able to find something meaningful in your current situation. Those that survived had something to keep them going each and every day. I read this book while I was in college at George Mason University and it has stayed with me ever since.
While finding meaning in signing up for a mountain bike race or triathlon is by no means comparable to finding a meaning to carry on living while in a concentration camp, it does has a comparable meaning for me. As a former professional triathlete that spent years of my life focused solely on training and racing I truly believe I became addicted to the rush of endorphins raging through my body during and after a track workout or a 100 mile bike ride. After taking some time off from working out 30 hours a week to focus on spending time being a father to my newborn son in 2005 I soon noticed a few changes taking place and it wasn’t just the fat around my waistline.
No, I was starting to experience various signs of depression and was starting to feel pretty bad about myself. Where was the guy that crossed the Hawaii Ironman finish line just a few short years prior? Well, when I looked in the mirror he was hidden by a few extra layers of fat and didn’t seem to smile and laugh as much as he used to.
This went off an on for several years and I wasn’t the only one that noticed. Adrian was the most impacted as she saw me gradually come to stop working out almost completely and really gain some extra weight. She was always encouraging me to get back into shape, go out and ride and sign up for a race. She tried to stoke the fire that she knew was still burning inside me but couldn’t quite get it started again.
Fast forward to January 2015 and a simple text message from Adrian – Hey, I’m sitting on the indoor trainer next to Neil Tomba (an old friend and our church’s Senior Pastor) and he’s talking about doing something called the Triple Bypass – you should check it out.
Well, I did and by the time she was home from the indoor cycling class, I had signed up and paid my registration fee. What was there to worry about? A 120 mile bike ride over 3 mountain passes at altitude? Hey, if I can do the Hawaii Ironman 4 times and do pretty well, what’s a little 120 mile ride and a lot of climbing for some fat, out of shape guy. I was literally coming off the couch and out of “retirement” for this one.
What Do You Do Next??
After you complete an event like the Triple Bypass, or even before you actually finish it, your thoughts start to drift to what’s next?? If I can complete the Triple Bypass what should I sign up for next? If you have ever done a triathlon or multi sport event, you will know that they are kinda of like being addicted to a drug. Once you have a taste you just want more and more and more… It becomes all encompassing and you actually, not literally, begin to eat, breathe and sleep thinking about your next event. How you will get faster, how you can lose a few more lbs., how you can get some new equipment to make you faster. Yes, it’s obsessive but it also shows character and the ability to set a goal and go after it. One of the things that I found out about myself while training and competing in triathlons is that I am a lot tougher than I thought I was and I can take a lot of pain. I really think that this carries over into business and many aspects of my life.
In my next post… I’ll be getting into my thoughts on signing up for my next race – the Leadville 100.
Heres a short video about the Leadville 100 it looks like fun doesn’t it?