With Ironman Canada roughly 10 weeks away, and with training and racing taking up almost all of my time, I have had many hours in the water, on the bike and on the feet, to contemplate a number of topics and issues.

One question I have found myself asking a few times in the last 2 months is, "Why are you actually doing this race?"

At first glance, it seems to be a pretty simple question to answer, and at first attempt I seemed to come up with an answer that seemed to be completely acceptable and satisfactory.

Except, as I mulled over the answer I had come up with, I realized I was not being 100% honest with myself.

My initial answer was that I wanted to take part in an IM becuase it was one of the most challenging single day sporting events 'round. I had done all of the other "run of the mill" endurance events, Marathons, 200 mile bike ride, Half Ironmans and Adventure races etc.

Of course there is some truth in this answer, but it was not the full truth!

With a little more introspection, I soon realized that the part of the answer which I was leaving out was that I wanted to do something that almost none my friends, collegues and peers had done (or even considered doing).

I wanted to be that guy training for the Ironman, while everyone else was training for the Half Ironman. I wanted to be that guy who was always out training, or sleeping to recover from the training. I wanted to be that guy who spoke of epic training sessions that left the hair on any non-Ironmans neck standing up straight.

The question is now where this motivation came from and exactly what does it mean?

Perhaps it is a way of getting attention, or being the centre of it. Perhaps I just want to be "ahead of the bunch" in terms of extreme races done - how many people do you know have done an Ironman? Perhaps I am more competitive than I like to admit, and just want to out do everyone else. Perhaps I like being the exception to rule! I do not know!

The second part of this story began when I started my journey to IMC and made the decision that once IM was completed I was going to take a hiatus from training for the longer distance races, and go back to the shorter stuff - 5km and 10km running races, Olympic and Sprint distanc tri's etc.

Ironman would be my final push toward the pinnacle of triathlon racing. In a way, this was to be my farewell to the long stuff!

What scared me though was that I was actually excited about this change! I was really looking forward to it.

I was excited about not having to spend 20 hours a week training. I was excited about not having to wake up at 4:30am to run for 2 hours. I was excited about being able to watch a movie in the evening - and not have to record the final hour on our PVR because it went on past 9pm (our bedtime).

So as you can see, I have these 2 conflicting emotions inside me, one glad to be the guy training and doing Ironman while those around me are not, and on the other hand, looking forward to not having to be the guy who is always in training for a big race.

Mixed emotions for sure!

And then it hit me - Ironman is such a huge challenge, such a long and difficult journey, from a physical, mental, spiritual, emotional (and financial) point of view, that it can only bring out mixed emotions.

It is virtually impossible to definitively answer the question "Why are you actually doing this race?", in a single sentence or paragraph.

There are just to many emotions and feelings connected to the journey. And they can change at the drop of a hat. So the best I can do is to persevere with the journey, and perhaps upon completing it, things will become a little clearer for me, and few of my questions will be answered.

Rest assured, you will hear the answers when I discover them.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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