From that day I watched my first Ironman race in Louisville, I was hooked. But it seemed so strange — 3,000 people putting themselves through what seemed like torture. There must be something more. Why? What was going on here?
The deeper I got into my own training for Ironman, I began to realize the stranglehold it can have on you. It literally changes your life and dozens of friends have told me what I was doing motivated them to start running or get a bike or get back in the pool. The lifestyle is contagious.
And Ya know, sometimes you just get the feeling you should be doing more with your life.
This morning I woke up way before the alarm and got out of bed naturally. The first thing I laid my eyes on was Twitter where I saw a link to a story about Bob Babbitt who has been involved with Ironman for 35 years. They had me at hello.
Babbitt grew up in Chicago as an outdoor lover, got tired of the winters and moved to San Diego. He started a gym class in one of the local schools, and became good friends with Tom Warren, who won the second Ironman in 1979. Babbitt decided to compete the next year and essentially dedicated the rest of his life to bringing triathlon to the average guy. Along the way he also co-founded the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which he says is, “his proudest accomplishment.”
He also was the co-founder of Competitor Magazine.
When I read stories like this, it touches a place far deeper than I can explain. It’s about purpose and passion, not simply going from point A to point B. Babbitt spent many of those early years around Ironman covering local races for free, but he got far more than money can ever deliver.
It’s more than times and racing up and down roads, it’s a vibrant approach to living. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I started Creative Pig Minds. I had a dream and nothing would get in my way. I “worked” 15 hours a day and was completely engaged. It was hard work, but incredibly Zen, “in the moment” kind of stuff.
That is exactly how I would describe my first Ironman experience. Completely in the moment for 11 hours and 58 minutes. I was flooded with purpose. I knew exactly what I was doing and literally lost myself in time. To me, that is the epitome of living.
When we trudge through life with jumbled thoughts we are bound to be unhappy. Our subconscious doesn’t like to be thinking one thing and wishing it were doing another. It’s a recipe for conflict and a perpetual flight mode.
Babbitt went with his heart and created a lifestyle he couldn’t resist. He embraced a direction that was engaged and filled with purpose. It sounds simple, but going where you really want to be takes a lot of courage because most people, including yourself, don’t want you to leave.