Tuesday, September 19, 2006

White Belt

In triathlons, I'm a beginner. My marathoning and martial arts (MA) background help me with the physical and mental side of training but they do NOT make me a triathlete. A triathlete needs to be able to swim, bike and THEN run. An ironman triathlete needs to be able to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and THEN run a full marathon (26.2 miles). What good am I if I cannot do the first two?

I remember the times when new students who had earned black belts from other schools joined our dojo. They were given a choice: stand in the front wearing their black belt or stand in the back with the other white belts wearing a new white belt. The best new students were usually the ones who traded their hard-earned black belts for a new white belt.

So around the start of 2006, I emptied my cup. I took swimming lessons, bought a tri bike and began my ironman training in earnest. Swimming has been very difficult for me, but at least I no longer worry as much about drowning. Cycling has been easier, except I sometimes fall because I can't snap my bike shoes out of the pedals, but at least I'm no longer terrified of riding on the roads with cars whizzing by me.

The training has been pretty challenging so far but I've been able to apply many of the same principles I learned from my MA training (courage, perseverance, balance, patience, respect, indomitable spirit, etc.). Indeed, it seems that this road is very similar to the one I was on 9 years ago when I was a White Belt.