It’s 35 degrees, the sun is scorching against your skin and it feels on fire, along with the fire burning in your heaving lungs, pounding feet and heavy legs. You’re 5 kilometres into a 10 k tempo and every bone within your body is telling you to stop, puke and collapse in a pool of your own sweat. There is an inner turmoil within your brain, half telling you to keep going, half telling you enough is enough. It’s that point in the workout when you have to dig deep and go to a place to find even the tiniest bit of inspiration to just keep going and to keep on pace.
This is the inner battle of going above and beyond and breaking through. Most, if not all, athletes go through it and how you come out the other side is how you choose to face that battle, and sometimes a little inspiration goes a long way.
My inspiration starts with my friend who has Multiple Sclerosis. She struggles with pain, debilitation and exhaustion; that’s her daily fight. Whenever I get to that breaking point in my workouts I think of her and I remind myself how fortunate I am to have the ability to even chase the dream of competing in an Ironman race. It really is a gift to be healthy and able bodied, and it’s something to never forget. No matter what pain I face in a race or a training workout, there is someone, somewhere facing a much greater challenge, someone like Kayla Montgomery, the runner from North Carolina, who is defying all odds. I stumbled across Kayla’s story the other night and was instantly moved to tears. Despite being diagnosed with MS, Kayla is one of the best young long distance runners in America. Her story is remarkable and simply inspiring. She embodies discipline, hard work and determination. Watching her collapse at the finish after an incredible performance on the track is gut wrenching but amazing. She is chasing a dream, because she still can. Because of her disease, there may be a day when she can longer compete, yet along walk, so she’s doing what she can while she can. It’s something we should all remember – just how blessed we are to have the ability to do what we do. Suffering through the grind is just a part of the journey, and we should embrace every pain that comes along with it, because it’s better than not being able to run at all. Being in good health should never be taken for granted because you never know when that might change. As Kayla said, “I hope to run to as long as I can and to make the most out of it as long as I can. When or if I’m not able to run at some point down the road then at least I can look back and know that, when I could, I gave it my all.”