Everyone likely has heard the phrase “the cost of doing business.” The basic premise of the phrase is that, in order to participate in a particular marketplace, a business or organization must incur certain costs (both good and bad).
Take, for example, a company that makes the decision to go public and list itself on a stock exchange. The benefit of doing so is that the company may now raise funds from the public sector, which offers much more money for investment. However, the cost associated with going public is that the company is now responsible for completing numerous filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and those filings typically incur massive legal expenses. In other words, those filing fees are a cost of doing business as a public company.
As medical research continues to develop and the full ramifications of my heart condition have become clearer, I have discovered that my disorder has tremendous health consequences beyond the immediate risk to heart function. My condition is not limited to its impact on the heart; other bodily systems, such as endocrine function and hormone response, are also dramatically affected. As a result, despite my best efforts to do everything in my power to control and stabilize my health, things still occasionally get out of whack and, on some days, I simply feel awful. And, for better or worse, there is nothing I can do about it.
Faced with this knowledge, I had a decision to make: Should I continue with professional triathlon or not? After all, it is hard enough to compete at the highest level in this sport, much less when your own body also becomes an opponent.
Despite a very difficult decision, I chose to continue for two reasons:
First, professional triathlon allows me to pursue a true and ultimate passion. Each and every day, I have the opportunity to do what I love and to try and better myself as an athlete and a person. It is a constant pursuit of the perfect race and getting the absolute best out of myself. Having been an attorney prior to becoming a professional triathlete, I have experienced the grind that can exist in the corporate world and know how it feels when not wholeheartedly passionate about a pursuit. Therefore, to me, this opportunity is an absolute privilege.
Second, my progress in training and experience when things are going right with my body have revealed that, on a good day, I am capable of competing with the very best in this sport. Unfortunately, a good day is not as likely as a bad day given my health struggles. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the potential for a good day exists spurs me to continue to truly see what I can achieve.
Therefore, I chose to continue with the sport, but did so knowing that I would have a cost of doing business – namely, the risk of those very bad days falling on a race day. And Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant was one of those days.
I could tell when I woke up on race morning that things were “off.” Due to the frequency with which bad days occur, I have a familiarity with the sensations and sluggishness that exist on days when the body isn’t working properly. However, to be honest I rarely feel all that great, so I simply focused on my pre-race routine, getting in a very good warm up and preparing myself mentally for the race ahead.
When the starting gun went off, my body had nothing. There was no energy, no speed, no coordination and no power. Early in the race as my competition quickly swam away from me, I began to wonder if I would even finish the swim. My ups and downs in health status always seem to impact each discipline differently, however, so I remained on task and, despite the disastrous swim, remain confident (naively or otherwise) that I could salvage the day.
Unfortunately, that proved not to be the case, as the bike was an absolute slog. I continued to feel awful, and my ability to generate power was virtually nonexistent. Truthfully, I debated about calling it a day and throwing in the towel over a dozen times during the 56 miles, but I kept reminding myself that these types of days were simply a cost of doing business.
I made a deal with myself when continuing with professional triathlon. I know my health will lead to days like this one, and the only option I have is to simply accept it. Acceptance is not easy; it is very difficult to have such little control over my health. A typical training progression does not work for me, and a standard taper does not apply. That is simply the way it is.
More significantly, pushing through four hours of race effort when the body is a mess is an all-consumingly awful task. But it is one that I signed onto, and as long as I feel that I am not doing significant damage to my short- or long-term health (which actually is sometimes the case), then I suffer through the day because it is the choice I made when electing to continue this pursuit. It is my job.
Nonetheless, my objectives in those instances have to soften. When I am no longer in the mix from a racing standpoint, I have to turn my attention to smaller goals. Coming off the bike, that goal was simply to run all 13.1 miles without walking. Clearly, not the ideal perspective, but it did provide me with something on which to focus my attention.
In the end, I am not even sure how I finished, let alone holding onto 7th place. For suffering through such a difficult day, I am pleased. To have more competition than just my fellow athletes, however, and to be actively fighting my body, is incredibly difficult and frustrating. But that is the way it goes. Accepting such days is my cost of doing business. I do not have to like it, but I do have to deal with it.
Now, it is onto Ironman 70.3 Vineman and, perhaps, a good day.