This was a race I was never supposed to be able to do. It was 3:45 am in the morning. Maybe the earliest I've ever gotten up for a race. Over the years I've adapted to a 5 am routine (Please Read 'The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod'), but this was new territory, and my body begrudgingly made it out of bed. My mind, however, was ahead of schedule as I had already doused my face in cold water and chugged down about 24 ounces of luke warm side table water. Side note, 3:45 am was initially my bed time in my previous life (and by previous, I mean before I had a life changing epiphany 3 years ago that eventually brought me to this race, and not to a Champagne brunch on a Sunday). I had "gone to bed" the night prior at 9:30 pm in hopes of salvaging 6 hours of sleep. And as tired as I was, all I could think about as I watched the hour's pass by was "...wow, I'm really about to do this.." and my stomach dropped as the scenarios ran feverishly through my mind like Friends re-runs on TBS.
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb
Although I had trained for a solid 12 weeks using a training regimen by the Elite Athlete and Triathlon Coach Phil Mosley, and had done ONE previous triathlon before this mind you that was only a sprint distance (0.5 mile swim / 12.4 mile bike / 3.1 mile run), there was part of me that held on to a little apprehension that I couldn't do it, but also, a bigger part of me that used that apprehension to fuel my desire to power forward.
How did I get here? If you are new to my site and to my story, in a nutshell, me doing a 70.3 triathlon is nothing short of a miracle. A little over 3 years ago to the day, I was flaring from severe Ulcerative Colitis (see pic below. My entire intestine was lined with ulcers that bled out). I was bed ridden and out of work for months at a time, depressed, and physically out of shape. I was mentally and spiritually in a stagnant state and craved a revival desperately. I felt doomed, condemned to this new life; a prisoner to my autoimmune disease. After leaving the hospital and prescribed handfuls of medication that I was told I would be taking for the rest of my life, I had a moment of clarity that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I made a declaration to change my life, for my family and for myself. I wouldn't let it be a crutch. They say your greatest pain can be your biggest launch pad...if you let it. That day I let it. I decided to turn my life around and start from scratch.
So how did I go from Bed Ridden to finishing 19th in my division in a 70.3 mile Half Iron Triathlon with only 3 months experience under my belt? (see below)
These 3 things:
1). Taking Action. “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”
You, at any point of time in your life, can innovate yourself. It simply takes action. I remember fondly how badly I didn't want to be confined to my condo when I was sick years ago. So I put on a pair of air jordan's, and started to run. I ran as fast I could down the street until I could barely breathe. I made it about a mile and a half before I slowly walked back panting, which did mostly nothing but burn a few calories, but more importantly, it was my first initiative to get moving. from 2 days a week doing 1-2 miles at a time. To 3 times a week doing 2-3 miles at a time, I simply just made sure I took action towards a goal. My goal was to take steps to a healthier life. I was sick of being sick and running was the easiest and most logical way to start for me. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic. “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
2). Belief. "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." - Sir Edmund Hillary
I think our biggest barrier in life is ourselves. I was a prisoner of this mentality throughout my 20's. I let bad habits, self-doubt, and fear paralyze any significant progress and potential that hid deep within me. I was forced to take action when I got sick, which led me to better habits. And once I made a routine of those better habits, I saw results. And the results created a pattern of belief. I noticed my mile time getting faster, and my breathing getting easier. I went days, weeks, months without alcohol/caffeine and junk food; quitting them altogether. They say it takes 21 days to establish a habit. I was well beyond that point. I started to believe in myself and there was no turning back! From running, I carried that confidence into weight training, reading books, whatever I could do to make myself better; I became a self-development junkie. It all started with belief!
3). Conviction. "It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen." - Muhammad Ali
A conviction is a beautiful thing. Why? It overpowers a belief by linking emotional intensity to the idea. It will take you through obstacles. Belief makes you hungry. Conviction makes you ferocious. I can honestly say I woke up every day for the last 3 years with conviction because I was emotionally invested in keeping myself healthy for my wife and kids. I physically saw myself get healthier, more focused, more accomplished and activated towards my goals. It positively affected everything around me and changed my environment to support who I was becoming. Obstacles became easier because I knew the challenge would only fortify my character, so I took pride in facing them with conviction. It is an omnipotent feeling. Until this day I'm energized daily and it's because my beliefs have become so deeply rooted, they've woven into the fabric of my character, and have blossomed into deep convictions. And that inspires me and has slowly inspired others. What a blessing!
"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." -Thomas Jefferson
These 3 things carried me across that finish-line on Sunday for the race I wasn't supposed to make. All I did was make a decision to take action, which created belief in myself and empowered my conviction towards my goals. I'm certain my doctors wouldn't believe me if I told them I completed this race with the shape I was in. Especially without any medication :). I was able to beat that too. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING separates you from accomplishing your own endeavors. Whatever they may be. Find what motivates you, what empowers you, and let it fuel you towards where you want to go. I decided 3 years ago that I didn't want to settle for ordinary anymore. I wanted extraordinary. I wasn't going to let my autoimmune disease defeat me. I was going to battle back! You see, we're built with the potential to do the extraordinary. We just tend to doubt ourselves and not take action and fail enough to learn or adapt, and try again, to build belief in ourselves and let conviction take it from there. From bed ridden, to unstoppable, skies the limit for me. On to the next...