Ironman Louisville: Why do triathletes do it? - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Ironman Louisville: Why do triathletes do it?

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WAVE 3 News anchorman John Boel is an avid triathlete who wrote this essay in the days leading up to the Aug. 24 Ironman Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's the closest thing one day can come to one life.

You can do everything right to prepare for your life. Learn discipline. Attend the right schools. Put the time in studying. Get straight A's.

[IMAGES: Ironman competition tests Louisville's top triathletes]

But when you launch into life, no matter how well trained you are, you never know how it's going to turn out. You may achieve beyond your wildest dreams. You may cruise uneventfully. You may just tread water. You may bonk.

That's exactly what you face at the start line of the Ironman Triathlon. No matter how well prepared you are, anything can happen.

You know you've trained all year, at least 15 hours per week, but there are 140 miles ahead of you today. And no one does a 140-mile training day.

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It's everything you can do to relax in the 2.4-mile swim, like the training manual says. But there are 3,000 people thrashing all around you. Nothing like swimming in your lane at the YMCA.

The 100-mile training day you did on the bike helped your confidence, but 112 miles after the exhausting swim is 100 times tougher than you anticipated.

And starting a 26.2-mile marathon, in the heat of the afternoon, after 8 to 10 hours of paddling and pedaling, teaches you more about yourself than anything you've ever done.

But it's the .2 at the end of the Ironman Triathlon that makes everything worth it.

No matter how deep the knives are plunging into your hamstrings.

No matter how many times you've gotten sick, not caring who watched.

The .2-mile gauntlet at 4th Street Live leading to the finish line, filled with cheering spectators, is the closest thing to heaven's gate we'll ever experience on earth.

Magically, all the pain goes away.

Mysteriously, the bounding stride comes back.

Pose for the legendary finish photo below the Ironman sign.

Swear you'll never go through that again.

Then sign up the next day for next year's Ironman.

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