Here we go! Now hurry up and wait…

27 Nov

So as of November 22, 2010 I am officially registered to race in Ironman Arizona next year. What a strange, long and winding road it’s been this year to get to this point. Between you and me, it’s not exactly the way I would have chosen to find this point in life, but being what it is, I’m happy how life is shaping up.

Why am I really signing up for an Ironman. It’s two-fold really. Primarily, it’s to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Team in Training. It’s a cause that I’ve been involved with in the past and one that I believe benefits many people battling blood cancers. It’s my way of giving back. I’ve made many lifelong friends because of Team in Training and continuing to be involved is my way of saying “Thanks”. More selfishly though, Ironman a challenge to myself. To see what I’m made of and to push myself in ways I never thought possible and maybe even find a little deeper meaning in life.

To say 2010 was a challenging year would be an understatement. For those not in the know, here’s a little history on how I came to the decision to train for an Ironman.

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe created the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale which many of you are familiar with even if you were not aware it was an actual scientific scale.

Their top 10 most stressful life events and their “life change units”:

Life event Life change units
Death of a spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Imprisonment 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Dismissal from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain a new family member 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to different line of work 36
Change in frequency of arguments 35
Major mortgage 32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Child leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Spouse starts or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in working hours or conditions 20
Change in residence 20
Change in schools 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Minor mortgage or loan 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in number of family reunions 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Christmas 12
Minor violation of law 11

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.

Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score 150-: Only have a slight risk of illness.

Lot of red in there. Total points, I don’t even dare add them up. All of which began early in the year and snowballed from there…

Some people turn to work or drugs or alcohol or food to cope. Since I was out of work, that wasn’t an option. I’m not into drugs, so no help there. Alcohol just made me feel lousy and I had no appetite so eating was no consolation either.

Working out seemed to ease things and ironically a postcard from Team in Training showed up in the mail talking about various races, one of which happened to be the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C.

I’ve never been a swimmer. Could barely tread water and at the beginning of the Summer, couldn’t swim the length of the pool without struggling. I hated swimming. What the fuck was I thinking by signing up for a triathlon?

Although the first sessions in the pool were horrible and the open water swims were near death experiences for me, thanks to my amazing coaches, it did finally “click”. I survived my first triathlon and swam .9 miles, biked 26 and ran 6.2. (And I didn’t hurt myself in the process)

Because of this experience, the journey over the course of summer training, I am hooked. I am totally addicted to swimming and still enjoy biking and now tolerate running (completely due to a change in running form/foot strike). But beyond all the training, beyond all the miles, I have found lifelong friends who love to push themselves to their limits physically, emotionally and I dare say spiritually. Friends who enjoy all the ridiculous nuances that go into training. Friends who understand life can get rough, but there are those who have it much rougher.

So with that, I decided to join the first ever IronTeam in Georgia and will be raising money for and training with Team in Training again to prepare for the 2011 Ironman Arizona. In less than a year from now, over 50 of my teammates and I will be Ironman Finishers and will have raised upwards of $250,000 dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I may not have a rock star finishing time. I may not even have a decent time. But I will finish and I will cross that finish line to hear those words: “Kevin Leung, YOU are an Ironman”

“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails,the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life…Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him.”

– Viktor Frankle “Man’s Search for Meaning”




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