Mt. Washington Road Race---Transitions

So….I work with this guy.  He wants to do an Ironman Triathlon.  I know if I see him walking down the hallway, he’s going to ask me about it.  He comes to my office to ask advice…he has my old bike….he’s researched races…I want to be at his finish line…he wants my help to get ready for the starting line.   He swims.  He bikes.  He runs.  He wants it.  The thing is, he hasn’t signed up for one. 

Last week he asked me, “okay, what’s the hardest part?”.   Without blinking, I told him….transition. 

In the tri world, it’s referred to T1 and T2.  It’s the time between the swim and the bike and the bike and the run, respectively.  It’s those few moments when you are not actively racing, but must prepare for the next third of the event.  The clock still runs.  You are not allowed any outside help.   You don’t have time to think about what you’ve done.  You must solely focus on what you need to do to carry on.  And, then you are off.  No turning back.  There will be setbacks.  I know I will forget something.  But, it’s about getting yourself ready to handle the unknown.    

Transition:  “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”.  It’s hardly unique to triathlons.

I spent a considerable amount of time this past weekend sitting in my car, traveling to and from New Hampshire to run the Mount Washington Road race.  I added a bonus trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts to visit my family.  I had time to think about transitions. 

I thought about loved ones transitioning from sick to healthy; job changes; family additions; couch potato to active; one hobby to another; new adventures; high school to college.  Catching up with my family, I often heard them say:  “I’m going to…”, “I'm thinking about…”, “I want to…”, “I am…”.  Embracing change.  They want it.  I want it. 

Mark often calls my approach to life, “ready, fire, aim”.  He tells me (usually while shaking his head) that I get an idea, go for it, and figure out the details along the way.  It’s a strategy that works well for me.  I know I coach like that.  When asked for advice, one of my favorite things to say is “Sign up, Show up.  See what happens.”.   Now that I think about it, I do see a lot of shaking heads. 

I’m not afraid of transitions, even though they can be scary.  I’ve been told that change is good.  Without it, how could new experiences ever happen?

Professionally, athletically, and as a parent, I am in transition.  I’ve learned that just like T1 and T2, I sometimes, I need those few minutes when I am not actively doing something, to prepare for my next event.   Sometimes, albeit not often, I need to sit on a decision, maybe for a moment, maybe for a week, before I fire.  The clock still runs, but then I’m off. Facing and embracing the unknown.  Making relentless forward progress.

I had the unique opportunity this past weekend to stand at the top of Mount Washington; the highest peak in the Northeastern United States.   According to Wikipedia, it is known for it’s “dangerously erratic weather”.  It held a long-standing world record for highest wind speed.  There was snow.

 I got there by moving my own two feet.  It was a rugged climb, but as the race boasts, it only had one hill.  As I stood at the summit with my son, we could see the Adirondack Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.  It was breathtaking.  I looked at Noah, who is making his own transitions, and thought about the whole world right in front of us---ours for the taking.  The climb may be hard, but reaching beyond what is just in front of you offers beautiful rewards, that we would otherwise never see.

It made me think of one of my favorite quotes:  “Dear past, thank you for all of the lessons.  Dear future, I’m ready”.

And, to my future Ironman friend…it’s time to pull the trigger.


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