Posted by: Joe English | December 10, 2013

Commentary — Ironman Now Lives in the Realm of the Possible

running-advice-bugI remember when the Marathon was something that seamed somewhat daunting and unattainable. People were running them of course, but they held the distance in a sort of reverence. It was something that was still a lofty goal. You didn’t take the Marathon distance lightly. It was, in fact, common when I first started coaching to have to sort through the length of time between Marathons and measure that calculation in months. That was back when the Marathon lived outside of the Realm of the Possible.

Coach Joe "conquering" Ironman Australia 2013

Coach Joe “conquering” Ironman Australia 2013

Somewhere, I’m going to say between five and ten years ago, the Marathon just suddenly moved into the Realm of the Possible. The conversation became less about how difficult the Marathon was and rather focused on how fast, how quickly could one qualify for Boston (in their first, second, third Marathon maybe?), how many could be run in one year, how to run one in all fifty states, and so on. I now routinely talk to people that are running multiple marathons on back-to-back days. I talked to several people this Fourth of July that were doing four marathons over that holiday weekend. A friend of mine this week, at a play date with our kids, casually responded to a “what are you doing tomorrow?” with a “I’ve got a Marathon” as if it were a coffee date.

While the Marathon may still be daunting for many, especially first timers, it has simply moved into the Realm of the Possible. It is something that people can do. This I realized some time ago. But the Ironman Triathlon (140.6 miles combined distances), in my mind, lay quite secure in its place in the Kingdom of Painfully Difficult. It lay far beyond the secure borders of the Realm of the Possible. There was a measure sort of awe in the faces of those that asked if I had “ever done an Ironman?” It was a shock for me when, this month, I had to re-look at my map and move the Ironman into the Realm of the Possible. There it now lies.

The signs were there for awhile. I read a note that a certain Ironman was now considered a “bucket list” race, one that “every triathlete should put on their list.” I heard a spin instructor tell our class that he was doing his fifth Ironman OF THE YEAR that weekend. An e-mailer yesterday casually told me that he “really wanted to break nine hours in the Ironman” this year, formerly something only the Pros could do. People are doing them old and young. People do six or more a year. People are collecting the set, so to speak, of whatever geographic list of Ironmans they are working on.

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