I’m huffing away on the treadmill. The whole of my stomach feels bloated and each breath is far more ragged than it should be. I’m sweating. The twelve minute miles are far more of an effort than they should be. I’m staring with complete disbelief at the screen on the machine. The numbers seem to be mocking my efforts.
It is the winter solstice. This is where I am: twelve minute miles feel like they are at the edge of what I am capable of. I am an age away from where I need to be next July if I am ever going to be completing Ironman. And yet I don’t want to complete Ironman; I want to go sub twelve hours. This means running the marathon in something like three hours forty. I have work to do. It’s a good job that the days will eventually get a little lighter.
I truly believe in the power that lies in each of us to step out from the shadow of who we are and into the light of what we could be. There is so much potential hidden away in each of us. I think that much of our collective frustration comes from an inability to meaningfully connect with our secret stash of greatness. Instead, in the words of Thoreau, we often ‘lead lives of quiet desperation’ and turn outwards to whatever brings a temporary relief from the inherent discomfort of facing up to whatever is troubling us.
It is endurance that is troubling me at the moment. Having spent the last eighteen months struggling with a chronic Achilles tendon problem I’ve become unfit, overweight, and generally out of shape. With total rest, this has settled down to the point where my daily life is pain free, and where twelve minute miles on the treadmill causes me no pain other than the searing discomfort that is burning through my legs and chest. I have work to do.
The summer solstice in 2023 is the week before Ironman. A perfect six months. Having made the decision last year to do another Ironman, I feel that I’m ready to commit to this. My foot feels great. My legs and lungs less so. But that’s ok. The lightness will return.