For those who may have missed it, West Hawaii Today rolled out a major spread in Sunday’s sports section dedicated to Ironman celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
I wanted to share one more little story.
I used to be a cynic when it came to the sport, a hater to the highest degree.
Beer changed that.
And with that, my life.
It started when I made a promise to a buddy that if he signed up, I would too. We were in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2012, a proud racing town, and drinking suds from the sidewalk watching bikes whiz by our front yard.
“We can do that,” I said.
I went to bed, woke up, forgot about it and was surprised when, later in the week, he’d signed up. Beer talk promises, for those unaware, most always result in zero follow through. I was stunned. I still am, really.
Steven was his name. He guilted me when I dragged my feet. I was hoping the race field would fill up. Eventually, I signed up.
I used to make fun of the sport quite a bit. I used to joke about the expense of the equipment most of all. I used to say the sport was the invention of wealthy people who wanted to buy the rush of feeling like a professional athlete. I made other snide comments.
I learned later that was a defense mechanism.
It’s difficult willing yourself to take on daunting challenges. It’s easy not to, and easier still to feel safer mocking those who branch out and do.
I remember a lot from the race. It was all a joy.
My neighbor back then was a young engineer with long hair who didn’t wear shoes when he drove his Volkswagen van and owned a beautiful, green parrot. He was watching my dog that day and I jogged passed them all sitting in the grass as happy spectators, parrot on my neighbor’s shoulder, my dogs ears up as he scanned the trotting field. The big old golden ran on the course when he saw me.
And I remember crossing the finish line that night. The noise was deafening. The floodlight blinded me except I could see a friend’s face as she reached down to try and slap my hand. Her smile was one of jubilation.
It all caught me off guard. It was as close to a sporting feeling I’ll experience that a professional quarterback must feel throwing a high-stakes touchdown.
“Ah,” I said. “I get it.”
There’s a reason Ironman has been so successful the last 40 years — I’m only one who has converted. My friend, too, he finished 8 seconds behind me.
Here’s to 40 more years of success.
From the editor’s desk is a column by Tom Hasslinger on a collection of thoughts and musings lighter of heart than West Hawaii Today’s Our View editorials. He can be reached at email@example.com or 930-8600.