Thursday, August 18, 2005

The End of the Season and the Beginning of the Next

I’ve never worked harder athletically nor had more ambitious goals—athletically—than this year. Since January, I’ve trained to win my age group in the Chicago Triathlon—a race on August 28 that now has 7,600 participants, and probably 60 or so in my age-group. And my goal is reasonable considering that in the last couple of years I placed 7th then 5th in my age group. This year, I’ve had 3 firsts, and one fourth (I’ll explain) in my races. So with pretty consistent disciplin, I’ve run with a mix of tempo, interval, and long distance. I’ve been swimming in pools and in the lake. And I’ve been on my bike with some easy short rides as well as in groups that successfully challenged me to extend my distance to 80+ miles and pick up the pace. And then there’s the gym and a demanding trainer with a totally positive attitude that has really set the standard for all of this a couple of times a week.

It has all become the framework from which I look at everything else in my life—personally, professionally, and politically. Finally, it’s all about the core. And this isn’t the abs….its the attitude and determination.

Personally, the challenge is lurking wistfulness. Professionally, I’ve essentially created what could best be understood as a “software” company and been in a twenty-five year development stage—working on a product nobody understands or is asking for, but confident that what I'm creating has wide use and appeal once perfected and popularly understood. And now as I take my product to market, I face the challenge of competition from the mundane, as well as the challenge of growth—the business equivalent of adolescence. And politically, the professional description is apt.

I’ve never worked so hard in all the aspects of life. The easiest to understand and describe was a race three weeks ago-- the Racine, Wisconsin Half-Ironman. This was double my longest tri—1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run on a day when the temperature reached 105 and there were 30 mile per hour wind gusts. I took off my number three times trying to quit the race, but finally realized it was one mile at a time and I would make it, and that was worth it. And 1,000 others that day did the same thing. I ate and drank everything on the course, walked, and thanked all of the volunteers that hosed down the racers with their garden hoses. It really does take a village. And I enjoyed it all and like everyone else--described it as "brutal." After 7 hours, it was over and I went home to rest for a week.

But the persistence still seems worthwhile and better than the other options. Success in overcoming the big challenges in all the aspects of life seems possible. The end result seems well worth the work. And why not…

August 28 will simply be a measure of effort made, who shows up, and an affirmation that the journey is the most important and fulfilling no matter what the result.