Power of Belief
Let me tell you a story,
12 (ish) years ago I decided that I would try triathlons. I did not know how to swim and owned only a mountain bike that I picked up for $100 from a girl who won it at her work in Seattle. I started out by running two miles then biking 10 miles on my mountain bike (but on a paved walkway) near my sister’s house in Huntsville, Alabama. I got used to the rubbery legs you get when transitioning between biking and running and thought that it was time to learn to swim and buy a real bike. I had moved to Kansas City at this time and signed up at the community gym that had a lap pool. My first goal, make it to the other end without stopping. I failed. The next several times I went to swim I only did it from 5-6PM when there were so many kids in the pool that nobody would see me drowning.
After a few months, I could swim the ~400 or so yards you need to swim to do a sprint-distance triathlon. I signed up for my first event. It was in Hutchinson, Kansas and I survived. Frankly, not only did I survive, I really enjoyed it. Fast forward two years and many sprint and olympic distance triathlons later (one of which I placed second) I needed to move to Tucson, Arizona for work. When I got there I decided that I was ready to do the Ironman.
An Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run (a marathon). At that time in my life I had only rode 100 miles once (and thought I would die). I had never swam more than a mile and had never even ran a half-marathon (13.1 miles). Yet, what I had plenty of was belief. I had gallons and gallons of the Power of Belief. I got a coach, completely changed my diet, bought a real road bike and dove in head-first. For the next 6 months the only thing I did was prepare my body and mind for the race.
Halfway through my training, I looked at the topography map of the race and realized that I would essentially be climbing mountains in both the run and bike. As an aside, the race would eventually be called the “most gruelling full distance triathlon on earth”. That is not fun! I didn’t give up, I changed my training to compensate. Every Saturday and Sunday for months I would swim 3 miles, bike up the largest paved mountain in Tucson and run the foothills. It was gruelling for sure.
I remember one very hot morning on my run looking at a small flower that was somehow surviving the hot Tucson summer and thought, that is all I have to do, bring the strength of that small flower into my training and I too can do anything. I never worried about my body failing. I never worried about diet. I never worried about the weather. I was blinded by the power of belief.
I competed in the race and completed it in exactly the amount of time I had hoped. My training had been perfect. The irony; however, was that the real race was every week prior when I pushed myself to a new limit, a new distance, a new elevation and a new weight. The actual race was just a replay but this time with a bunch of people around.
I did not realize at the time how amazing and powerful that self belief is. I was just a clueless guy trying to go a really long way. Today I see the need for the power of belief in almost everything I do (and don’t do). When I am able to embrace the power of belief I am once again able to embrace the hard work in exchange for my goal by exercising perspective in ways that my “I am not sure I can do this” brain could ever figure out.
Unfortunately I can’t always tap into that belief. In fact, as I get older, my body reminds me more than I would like it to that I can’t do it. These days, I think of the Navy SEAL 40% rule: when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done.”
Take that sore knees. And calves. And neck. And ego.
Here is to great stories (and the other 60%).