Here is your opportunity to read Jordan Rapp's closing remarks from 2014 Ironman Arizona's opening ceremony. Maybe his best since, "When the Shite Gets Brown."
What do you say to a group of remarkable people who are about to undertake something remarkable? I think you all need nothing more than a reminder that you are remarkable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
Before every Ironman - but especially before our very first, for those of you undertaking this distance for the first time on Sunday, I think doubt is normal. Even after the successes I've had, I question myself. Those disappointing races are the ones that stick with me. I know the guy who has come up short. I recognize him. I feel like he's the guy I see in the mirror everyday. That guy who crossed the finish line in first? Who even crossed the finish at all? He seems like someone else. A bard or a sage. Of a sort anyway. Not me. But a stranger.
I think that we all can understand other people having good races, great races even. The person who trains so much. He doesn't have kids. Doesn't have a wife - or a husband. She doesn't have a job that takes it out of her physically and mentally. Or who does but seems to be able to juggle it all anyway. A superhuman while the rest of us are mere mortals. There are all those reasons in the world why someone else should have a great race.
But what about us? What about all of us who are here? Not the person sitting next to you. Not some other person. But you. What about you?
How many of you have crossed that finish line after 140.6 miles before? …
Remember that was you. I think it's normal to reflect on those moments with, as Emerson said,
"a certain alienated majesty."
I think we can all feel like we were someone else on that day. Maybe you were someone else, in a sense. The man without that new job. The woman who was not yet a mother. The woman without that new job. The man who was not yet a father. But in spite of what may have changed - or what may not have - that you still didn't get to swim/bike/run enough in training, that you still haven't figured out how to open up a Perform bottle without spilling it all over yourself, that you still haven't found a gel flavor that you really like - does such a thing even exist? What matters is you are here now. You are here not only to be a part of something special, but to do something special yourself.
And what about those of you for whom this is the first time? Do not dismiss yourself either. Do not dismiss those thoughts you had that compelled you to believe, "I can do this." You can do this. You too are here. And that is something remarkable. The courage that you showed in even just signing up. The fortitude to believe in yourself enough to undertake this challenge. That belies the strength that you have inside of you. The strength that will carry you from that small dock on the southern shore of the lake through that finish chute on Mill Avenue. Anyone brave enough to sign up for an Ironman has what it takes to finish one.
All of you, recognize that gleam of light in your own thoughts, the thoughts that - at least for a moment - that you didn't reject. The thoughts that let you to believe - truly believe, "Anything is Possible." Those were not the thoughts of someone else. The genius in this case is you - even if swimming, and biking, and running 140.6 miles seems ludicrous right now.
Believe in the training that you have done. The hard work that you did when no one was looking. Those moments when you wondered, "can I do this?" and then you discovered you could. I think most of you probably had those moments in training. I know I did. Reflect on the work that you did in anticipation of Sunday. That was you. Not someone else. But you.
And for those of you who may not have had those moments, or who may have faltered or even failed in training, or at races, don't believe in yourself any less. But if - and when - you need to, draw on the strength of those around you. And if - and when - you are able, share your own strength with those around you. The best part of this race is that you are never alone. This race exemplifies the idea of community. Of camaraderie. In those dark moments, there will be someone ahead of you to chase, someone behind you to spur you on, and - most often - someone next to you to share the journey with.
Ironman is something we do ourselves, but we do not do it alone. And we especially do not do it alone at this race.
I will close with another quote of Emerson's, one that speaks to the character of every single man and woman that is here tonight.
"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."
Thank you and have a great race out there.