Missed Connections

13 Jun

Please forgive me, as I’m going to use this medium as a place to store my thoughts. Imagine yourself coming into my room, tripping over what looks to be a journal with a broken clasp, and you (being the nosy person you are) proceeding to read what you just tripped over. Don’t worry, this is a win-win: I get to use this forum as a substitute for a therapy session (saving me a $52 copay), and you get to be the voyeur you’ve always wanted to be. No one gets hurt.

As an extrovert, I’m starting to recognize the opportunities that I’m NOT having by doing this Ironman thing. This has become more and more evident over the past few weeks, most notably when Anna and I have attended social obligations, family functions or I’ve been at large work meetings. You may be thinking I am referring to the time I am training when I could be doing something else. And you may be right to think that, but not just that.

Even more things I am missing out on!

I’m also referring to opportunities to learn about people, have meaningful conversations about what they’re doing or simply ask them “what’s new?” Instead, it seems the conversation lately has always led to “You’re doing what?!” and “Why?!” I get it. An Ironman is a big undertaking,  and most people don’t know or think about it. But I’d like to talk about it the way someone talks about a 5K running race. It’s a race, it’s taking X amount of time to train, and I’m looking forward to doing it; now let’s move on with the conversation (without you looking at me like I just told you I have a Pauly Shore tattoo on my back). I don’t say this to be humble, but to point out that there are other important and conversation-worthy topics to discuss. This is especially true at weddings, where you may not see someone regularly and you’re trying to catch up on one another’s lives. Depending on who I’m talking to, I’ve been using this line: “Enough about me, let’s talk about your new job/baby/Bible study/house/tattoo/girlfriend/black eye/bike.” Come to think of it, using at least one of those nouns covers 90% of the people I know…most of the time.

I will be the first to admit that doing something like an Ironman is a selfish endeavor and I recognize this is the lot I’ve chosen for myself, so I shouldn’t vent. But I talk and think about the race enough in my own head that when I have opportunities to connect and engage with others, I’m not interested in talking about it more. This may spark some controversy from readers, but I’d go as far as to say most any ultra-events of this nature are selfish endeavors. There is nothing noble about doing an Ironman. Unless you’re simultaneously raising awareness or money for a cause (which I am not), it’s not like I’m saving the world  or making the world better in any way. I’m helping myself. And I don’t feel guilty about this, because it’s a one-and-done ordeal. I can do my part saving the world later. And this goes beyond just the “helping humanity” scenarios, because there are other hobbies

I could be doing too. Here’s a list of other things I’m interested in doing post-Ironman (i.e. things I now daydream about while I’m training): learning Spanish, woodworking, renovating the downstairs bathroom, nothing, eating doughnuts with bacon on them, completing my manifesto about the conspiracies within Trader Joe’s, alphabetizing the shirts in my closet, working more, creating ironic t-shirts, calligraphy, going to trivia night at Linda’s, podcasting and memorizing all of the lines in “Encino Man.”

And there is a more obvious set of missed opportunities too. The training time is truly limiting my ability to hang out with people I care about. Luckily, there is less than two weeks of this crazy journey left and Ryan and I are in full taper mode. Anna and I went to visit my parents last weekend, and due to my high maintenance training needs, we had to renegotiate the time spent with them. In doing so, I missed seeing my sister and our overall time was cut short. There are numerous stories like this that have happened lately, but I recognize it’s not uncommon to every one of us about making trade-offs and figuring out what we do with our limited amount of time on this planet. If only I am lucky enough to be frozen in a block of ice, buried in a spot where people of the future will find me while attempting to dig a swimming pool and reanimated, I could get a lot more done.

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2 Responses to “Missed Connections”

  1. Cousin Bill June 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    I used to think that all my training was entirely selfish as well. But I’ve found fairly recently, that from posting about it on facebook, some of my facebook friends have been inspired to get in shape, get back in shape, get in better shape. So perhaps you are making the world a better place in some small way? Good luck with your IronMan!

    • ryan&tim June 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Bill, Thanks. That’s a good way to think about it. Since you wrote that, I’ve got my whole office on board to do the equivalent of an Ironman as a group…so I guess I am influencing others to get in shape.

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