Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dear world this is about more than my ego

About two weeks ago, I was at the dentist’s office. Now it is no secret that I am a HUGE wimp when it comes to making the trip to see the dentist. I think bad experiences that I had as a kid, coupled with visions of scenes from The Little Shop of Horrors have scared me for most of my childhood and early adult life! However, I like every responsible, albeit reluctant adult, had to go. I had to get work done and I found if I brought my black berry, with my Bose noise canceling headphones, I could get lost in that horrible chair.

On this particular day, I had come off a workout and was really in the mood to look at Ironman videos. I have watched those videos a million times I can assure you! I can probably recite the introduction to every NBC Kona Ironman broadcast from 2004 to the present…ok, not really, but I digress…. Anyway I was sitting there while the dentist was getting ready to do whatever they do to poor, innocent patients! The assistant asked what I was looking at and I said the Ironman. I explained that I am training for one to raise money for an orphanage. Of course she asked what the Ironman was! At about that moment the dentist reaches inside my mouth and I was rendered speechless!

He said “It’s a swim, bike, run; a triathlon. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon. The follow-up question from the assistant was one we have all heard… “Why would someone do that?” And the dentist’s response?????

“So they can say they did an Ironman.”

That’s it? To say I did it? Is that why I train 15 to 20 hours a week? Ride a bike for as long as some people’s workdays? And run with legs that are on fire long before I ever even take the first step?! To say I did an Ironman?

People jump out of planes to say they did it. (I did by the way)

People bungee jump to say they did it… (never did that)

People visit New York, Paris, London to say they did it… (did that too)

You ride the tallest rollercoaster in the world to say you did it. (nope, not interested in doing that)

People don’t subject themselves the reality of the Ironman for up to 17 hours just to say, “I did it” !!!

But then maybe there is some truth to his statement. Maybe there are some people that do an Ironman just to say I did it. But I think there is something more that they (we) want… something bigger than just an ego boost, as the dentist seemed to be saying. Something inside us that wants to, as John Collins the founder of the Ironman stated, “find what we are made of”. It is often stated that if you can do an Ironman you can do anything. Maybe there is uncomfortable uncertainty inside us that wants to know the truth about ourselves. Whatever it is that drives us, I will argue that it is bigger than an ego boost.

I bet he has never watched an Ironman finish. I bet he has never seen people cross the finish line and collapse. Not because they physically couldn’t go any further, but because it is difficult to cry uncontrollably, while standing up, after traveling 140.6 miles. I have watched hours of Ironman finishes via and I don’t see egos when people cross the line. I saw the answers to questions.

One question in particular. Can I? That is the toughest question anyone can ask themselves. It is a scary question because it requires a lot of honesty. One I myself am sometimes afraid to ask. The Ironman tri-athlete asks themselves this question all the way to the finish. The finish; the place where all the questions are answered. Can I finish my degree? Can I be a good husband, or father, or mother? Can I really do anything I set my mind to? Can I really be sober…for the rest of my life? The Ironman is impossible. So if you can do the impossible, anything IS possible! A logical fallacy??? I don’t think so!

I am not an Ironman, yet, but I draw from my half ironman experience and the interactions I have had with so many Ironman tri-athletes. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be an Ironman. I will let you know November 28, 2010 just before midnight.

I just hope when people see Ironman tri-athletes, they see more than an ego. I hope they see the truth in what these athletes have accomplished!


  1. Great post Hassan! and thanks for directing me to the I am Tri Cozumel group!

  2. Don't be afraid to ask that question Hassan. That's what differentiates you from people like the dentist :)

  3. Hassan, where's your race report from your super fasty HIM a few weeks ago....hmmmmmm? :)