April 14, 2006

The Tale Of The Boiling Frog

It's about time I told you the Tale Of The Boiling Frog. Truth be told, and consider yourself told, the tale is a perfect analogy for the sport of triathlon in so many ways. So scurry yourself into bed. Cuddle up between the warm sheets and pull that blanket up to your chin. It's story time, boys and girls.

We start our story with everything and its purpose in life. (Hey, I never said this was a light-hearted story.) Every being is made with a purpose. Thanks to either God or Darwin, depending on which side of the fence you plant your daisies, all living things are highly intricate beings, each molded for survival. Whether it be the quills of a porcupine that save the ugly little critter from untimely demise, or the human eyelash that protects our vision from random particle intrusion, we have been perfectly molded to interact with our surroundings.

The frog, for reasons that I have yet to comprehend, has a discerning survival instinct. More specifically, the frog's instinct is only triggered by sudden, abrupt changes. And this is where our little story begins.

Let's say you have a live frog in one hand and a pot of water in the other. Let's also say you put the pot on the hot stove and wait until the water is boiling. If you then place your helpless little frog directly into the boiling water, he will jump out as quickly as he can, doing anything in his might to escape the danger. (As for you, you should feel ashamed of yourself. But that's another topic.)

Now let's take scenario number B. Let's say you've got that same, now slightly cautious frog in the one hand and a pot of cool, pleasant water in the other. And let's say you put the little feller in that cool water. Well, he'd be swimming around as happy as a frog in a pot of cool water. Now that we understand how sinister you are, let's say you ever-so-slowly turn up the heat on that water. Here's the catch - your little pet frog won't notice. To the contrary, the frog will enter a pleasant little stupor, a smile upon his froggy little face. In fact, the little critter will not be aware of any danger until it's too late and you're left with a pot of boiled frog and perhaps a little extra guilt on your shoulders. Frog killer.

And therein lies the Tale Of The Boiled Frog, which isn't necessarily a tale but it's about as good of an analogy as you get for Ironman triathlon.

You see, when you start training for Ironman, your workouts are nice and easy. It may be a 2 hour, extremely slow bike ride on one day. Perhaps a 30 minute aerobic run the next. Maybe it's a 1500 meter slow swim the third day. All simple stuff. And the easy training continues on and on until you're lulled into your own private sense of safety and security - just like that frog swimming in the cool water.

But then things begin to change. You think you notice the change, but you really don't. Every week you gradually increase that level of exercise. Maybe the 2 hour ride is now a 2 1/2 hour ride. And then the 2 1/2 hour ride turns into 3 1/2, and that turns into 5, and that.... And so it keeps building and building until you wake up one day and - WHA-BAM!!! - you realize you are smack dab in the middle of a boiling pot of water. And you have absolutely no clue whatsoever how the hell you got here. Maybe you just finished a 100 mile ride followed by an 8 mile run. Or perhaps it was a 3000 meter swim followed by a 15 mile bike followed by a 15 mile run.

And then it hits you.... you realize that this is how ordinary people do extraordinary things. And this is how you know you will make it to the finish line - because of that poor little frog in the boiling water who gave his life for our accomplishments.