It sometimes blows my mind how quickly time fly’s and the older I get the faster and faster the ride seems to go!! This past month flew by like a night’s sleep that was way too short! I find myself on an air plane once again feeling like I just woke up from that short sleep and the dream I was having has been interrupted but I must wake up and carry on with the day’s task. My trip to Asia has been cut short by 2 weeks due to the massive flooding that occurred in the South of Thailand. I was to race the inaugural Koh Samui Triathlon on April 24th before heading back to the U.S. to compete in my first Iron Distance race of the season in St. George, Utah. Instead I am heading back to California where I will finish preparing for Ironman St. George.
It’s been a bit of an up and down training camp for me as once I adjusted to the time change and heat, the floods came, then I was hit with a stomach bug, but finally in my last week the sun came out, my strength returned, and I was able to finally enjoy my time in Thailand! I don’t think I realized I wasn’t’ ready to leave till it was too late and I was on my way to the Krabi, Airport. As we pulled away from our temporary home at The Tahwantai Hotel, I wasn’t ready to wake up!! Yes it was a hard camp, sometimes it was border line torture but that’s pretty much why I love our first camp of the year, the suffering that goes on reveals so much about the person you are! It tests not only your physical capabilities but it also brings out your true character as a human being. Your patience is tested as you struggle to deal with the slowed culture we are immersed in for weeks at a time; the small little bugs get on your nerves, especially when they are in your bed, the wet bathroom floor, the same meals repeated day after day, the crap movies that are repeated on the movie channel, the nasty smell that the palm tree farms let off…. See we don’t stay in some posh hotel on the beach, nope; we are in the jungle hanging with the locals. The same locals that we visited last year that seemed as if they were fighting off tears as we pulled away… All these things begin to get on your nerves after a while, combined with the hours upon hours of training in the hot humid weather. The complaining begins and you start to day dream about the months ahead when we have the luxury of training in the Swiss Alps. Day in and day out you feel like all you are doing is suffering. But that’s what we love isn’t it? To suffer…That’s what Ironman is, suffering!! It’s an entire day of it! We are drawn to this sport because we like to feel the pain; we like to work through tough times, to be tested! It makes us feel alive!!! But is it real suffering? It’s mostly self-inflicted pain. Why do we choose to give it to ourselves like we do? Because it gives us perspective! And that’s what I love about training in a hard place like Thailand, it give’s me even more perspective and come race day, when the pain creeps in all I have to do is think back to all the” so called” suffering I went through in heat camp!
See I call it “so called” suffering because it isn’t real world hurt! Yes, it can be painful at times but the real suffering is out in the villages we ride through and this year in particular we were exposed to some of the most painful suffering there is. People’s lives were destroyed! When the rains came for nearly a week straight and we were complaining about missing a swim session or having to ride the trainers rather than being out on the roads or the night us lads played poker under a dry roof before returning to our dry air conditioned rooms to find the water that was pouring into our bathrooms. All the while, people were drowning just up the road. Many peoples homes with all their belongings were washed away and while I sit here and write they are still cleaning up the mess….While I was pissed about having to walk down stairs to get another roll of toilet paper because mine was soaked, AGAIN….Fifteen people were killed, people that would have been very happy to spend the rest of their lives calling the Tahiwaintai their home! They would never complain once about the mosquito’s biting their face while they slept! How’s that for perspective?
So once again I return to the western world, the land of endless choices! We have some many choices sometimes you can’t even make a choice! But part of me is sad because this year camp was too short for me, just four weeks, last year it was ten, and maybe that was a touch too long from a performance standpoint but not from gaining a perspective standpoint! I don’t think I have gotten my fare dose of exposure to real world suffering this year. When I go to a third world country I feel guilty because I am so fortunate to be living the life I have been given? Is that why I yearn to go back each February when I start to become complaisant or discussed with the gluttony of the developed world? I have just been woken up in the middle of the dream and now I must go back to the real world….Or am I the one dreaming, and those left behind in the Thai jungle are the ones really living? Maybe the ride isn’t so fast for them???
Here are some of my favorite photos from camp…