Ran into one of those book store/coffee shops one night while working out of town....I like books and coffee and certainly the two put together. I like to check out the bargain racks to see if there's a steal in there somewhere. I also like to check out the latest "Inside Triathlon" magazine to see if there's anything different in that publication from the "Triathlete" magazine to which I subscribe.
Anyway, I ran across this small coffee table book from the "Life is good" folks. Each page had a drawing and a "Life is good" snippit of philosophy on the opposing page. I read each one and enjoyed them all. One stuck out above the rest, however.
"The pursuit is the reward". In no circumstance is that more true for me than my journey to complete my Ironman. Looking back now I clearly see that my reward didn't occur for me when I crossed the finish line. My reward occured after I swam 4000 meters for the first time during my training, rode 95 miles on my bike for the first time, fearing the "Cado" loop ride because of "THE HILL" but feeling confident after grinding my way to the top, surpassing the 18-mile mark on the run, bonking on one workout but getting back out there and knocking the next one out of the yard! All those things were incredibly rewarding.
Tackling little fears along the way and building confidence after each one was the reward. Setting a goal, building a plan and seeing it through to completion was the reward. Understanding what it took to do something like that and then doing it was the reward.
I distinctly remember several times throughout the day on raceday feeling rewarded and a smile crossing my face: When I climbed out of Lake Minona after the swim, when a stranger ran along side me banging a drum trying to help me keep my cadence up as I battled the third of three tough hills, when I entered the spectator lined streets of the small town of Verona, when I saw my family for the first time on the run coming out of T2, when I started the second of two loops on the marathon, when my wife told me all the people who called her cell phone that day in support of me and when I knew I was going to finish. All those things were more rewarding than actually crossing the finish line 13-hours and 18-minutes after I started.
To me the reason the pursuit is the reward is because of what you learn, what you experience and how you grow as a person along the way. Isn't that true of most things in life? Sometimes it's difficult for us to stop and realize how we're being rewarded when we're smack-dab in the middle of it....but it's there....
...Plato schmato, who needs that when we have "Life is Good" philosophy!