a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition, especially in sports
Great way to start a story; definitions, inspirational quotes, pretty much anything you would see on a motivational speakers book jacket or the line from a fortune cookie, that you slammed down after an illasvised order from your local Chinese takeout. Hm, oh the duck is fresh? I’ll take that…anyway back to the point. I usually look down, judge, or smirk smugly from ivory tower of fitness at those who need these things to keep striving for their goals. If you want it, take it. Persistence is really one of the few things I can point to in my life that I have always been able to draw from when I was feeling down. Grit, the grind, doing something just because it felt good to do something. Eating away everyday at something you thought was unachievable. We all have these goals in our lives and for me, my triathlon goals were lofty but achievable. Qualify for age group World Championships at the three major distances, Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman. I never stopped to ask why these were my goals, just that these looked good on paper and people would recognize my accomplishments. This thought came to me as I was flying through the first 20 miles of my bike ride at the half Ironman 70.3 in Calgary this July. It was kind of a bad time, I thought, to ponder why I was doing something when the hardest parts lay ahead of me but at the same time, it put me in the right frame of mind. Why did I spend all this time, money, and passion on this endeavour? Why did it matter so much to me to go to the world championship? And then it hit me, it was for all the wrong reasons. The real reason had been staring me in the face the whole time. I want the respect, admiration and amazement of those I cared about. It was not because I loved being in the outdoors, it was not because I loved racing at a competitive level, it was not because I loved pushing myself to my limits. It was vanity. “Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely” Adam Smith once said. I had fallen prey to the very thing I find the most annoying about this sport that I love. I was ” that guy”. From that moment on I dropped the pressure of qualification and just enjoyed the everlasting bliss of the moment. The hammer down in the last 10 miles of the bike, the taste of each gel, the feeling of weightlessness when I transitioned to the run. It all felt real, authentic, pain and pleasure. The turnaround point on the run were I about ran into a awesome volunteer, each cold sponge that I put on my neck, I was running on pure bliss. Till that hill at mile 11. Oh right forgot about that one. I still felt every wonderful step after that though, running on pure endorphins and sense of gratefulness. I was back baby. I realized why I did this sport. Why I signed up for that first race 4 years before that. I was hooked on that feeling. As I crossed the line to the shouts of some of the most important people in my life I felt an overwhelming sense of pride wash over me. Not because I had finished, not because I had set a personal record, but because, I had changed the meaning of the word champion to myself. There is a second definition that I have adopted for the word Champion. The verb of the word. I have become a champion for sport and the power it has to bring clarity, if only for a moment. So did I get the world champ spot, you ask? Yes, by default which was just apropos for the situation. I said no thank you, of course, I didn’t need that carrot anymore. I had the real deal.
This was not going to be a 2016 reflection but it turned out to be a great picture of what 2016 was like. 2017 will be filled with many races and many deadbeat moments. I can’t wait.