The Thrill of the Challenge

Would you rather complete an Ironman triathlon, an ultra-marathon or run with the bulls?

This is a question I asked a group of friends last weekend.  We had just watched Shaun complete a 5K, followed by a half-marathon the next morning, a combo appropriately called the I-challenge (we were at the University of Illinois).  As we walked back to our hotel, we started talking about how tough it would be to run a marathon, which led to sharing stories of friends and acquaintances completing ultra-marathons in the Sahara Desert, the Disney Goofy Run (a 5K, 10K, half-marathon and full marathon over 4 days), Ironman triathlons and running with the bulls in Pamplona.

While we were discussing this, part of me wondered if I would ever attempt any of these things.  The other part wondered why anyone would.  The only answer I could come up with is the thrill of the challenge.  We push ourselves to do the impossible, so we can face our fears, show ourselves we can and prove the haters wrong.  (Yes, it’s childish, but admit it – you’ve done it too.)  And in doing so, we grow and move to the next challenge.

So, do I challenge myself to do the impossible?  Yes, only in different ways.  While I don’t enjoy running (my motto is I only run if someone’s chasing me with intent to harm), I’m forever trying to perfect some crazy pole move.  Why?  There are certainly other forms of exercise that I could do that are easier on my body.  But none of these are as fun, and none of them push me the same way.  And I don’t stop at sports – I started a business because I wanted to see if I could succeed in an area fraught with failure.  I think most of us push ourselves past our comfort zone, just to see what we can accomplish.

So, back to the original question.  We all chose none of the above.  Although later we all committed to meeting up next year and at least running (walking) a 5K.  Alcohol may have been involved (it is a college town after all) but I have everyone on video, including myself.  So, I guess we’re all going to run next year.

A few days later, we were talking about the bling – the medals you get when you finish a race.  I mentioned that I would only get one medal, since I was not about to run a half-marathon (see: running, hate).  He responded by saying, “maybe you’ll run the 5K and then decide you want to challenge yourself and run the 10K as well.  Then you’ll get the medals.”

It’s so cute that he thinks I’ll enjoy running enough to do a second race the next day.  Then again, three medals are better than one.

How about you?  Which would you choose?


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