The Weight of “Iron”

The Weight of “Iron”

posted in: Determination, Kona | 0

 

TeamAgar-Jeff with tractor tire working out

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Lou Holtz, one of Notre Dame’s most beloved coaches and a person who I admire greatly, is quoted as saying that. I thought a lot about this quote this past Sunday when I was doing a training walk with my Aunt Janet and Uncle Chris. I was looking forward to getting back out again on the pavement to increase my endurance and work on my stepping and foot placement for my journey to Kona. What I didn’t count on was the extreme humidity outside. 100% humidity, well let me back up, it felt like 100% humidity to me, it may not have been, but the air was pretty thick.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

I went out really doubting whether it was even possible for me to walk. As soon as I stepped on the pavement I could tell that this was going to be a really tough workout for me.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Then I thought about how Dad has never complained about any of his training. I thought about the countless times he has to wake up at 4:30 AM to be able to get an open lane at our local YMCA by 5. I thought about him practicing his swim drills to work on his form and increase his speed in the water; swimming for an hour and a half to two hours, than be to work by 7 AM.

I thought about how his day is spent at work, providing for our family, working until about 6 PM and than goes straight to his weight training class (a class where when he went the first time, he thought he was going to puke)

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

I thought about the long swims in open water pulling me in a boat with a harness attached to him, or the 100-mile bike rides he pulls me in,  or the marathon runs he pushes me through. All of this training in order for us to get ready to compete in the Ironman World Championships.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

I knew I had to bite the bullet and do it. It was one of the toughest training walks I had ever had in my walker. I was going slower than I had ever gone before with the humidity making it hard for me to breathe. The air was so thick it felt like I was walking underwater. I was taking a lot of breaks and gulping from my water bottle. My aunt and uncle were encouraging and attentive to what I needed, but all I kept thinking about was my Dad and the struggles he is going through in order for me to have a shot at becoming #OfficiallyAnAthlete in Kona.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

I tried to stay focused on my foot placement, controlling the movement of my foot with each step, keeping my hips forward so I don’t lean on my arms too much, and concentrated on shifting my weight to allow for better control of my legs.

With every struggle I faced, I knew that my Dad was facing the same struggle. We were in this together, and that gave me strength. He gave me strength.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

My Dad has taught me well how to bear the weight of challenges. Having cerebral palsy has been a challenge all my life, but my Dad has taught me, through his example, how to take those challenges and turn them into learning experiences that will make me a better man. Hard work is hard work. You can complain, you can whine, but what does that get you? Dig down deep. Be tough. Don’t complain. Appreciate the character that hard work brings out of you. Appreciate what you have. Be thankful. Those are the lessons I want to carry with me.

Training for this Ironman World Championship is a big load to carry….Iron is heavy. Hopefully I will carry it the way my Dad is – with a positive attitude, strength, resolve, thankfulness, and a determination that is awe-inspiring.

I think Lou Holtz would be proud.

 

Taking On Life One Step at a Time,

Johnny

Leave a Reply