The Connection Runners + [training]

29,035

29,035 feet. 8,850 meters. That is the height of Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world.

Called Chomolungma in Tibet and Sagarmatha in Nepal, Everest is the symbol of the ultimate challenge.

I've always been intrigued by challenges. Big, bold ones. The kind that inspire, leave you awestruck just thinking about what it would be like to actually achieve them. So audacious you don't even want to mention them to others, for the initial fear of scoff or ridicule.

When I ran my first 5k, I have to admit the moment I crossed the tape I was thinking marathon. Can I do it? When I crossed the marathon finish line, I was thinking ultra. Can I do it? That's just how I'm wired.

Despite the fact that I still have four more marathons to go to finish my 12 in 12, I have been thinking about what's next. Attaining my black belt in Taekwondo is an ultimate goal, and one that I will continue to work towards, but I still have a very long way to go - realistically I would say I'm still a good three years away. I am confident I will get there, but it will demand just as much patience as discipline.

So as I've been reading about people who have taken on big challenges, I learned about Sean Swarner. This clip from Livestrong is a must watch:

So here is a regular kid from Ohio - could be your friend, neighbor, or brother - who beat cancer.

Twice.

He's believed to be the only person ever to be diagosed with both Hodgkin's disease and Askin's sarcoma, and the chances of him surviving were so miniscule he had a better chance of winning the lottery - not once, but FIVE times.

So what does he set out to do? Become the first cancer survivor to climb Everest. With only one lung.

Then, Sean decided to take on the Seven Summits - climbing the seven highest peaks on all seven continents. It took him three shots to make it to the top of Denali, but he did it.

So Mrs. 12 marathons is probably reading this and saying to herself, "Oh no, he wants to climb Everest. How about planting the azalea bushes first? Or putting that bench together?"

Well no, I am not about to hop a flight to Kathmandu and climb Everest.

But after completing the Seven Summits, Sean set a new goal for himself - to become an Ironman. And on October 11, 2008, he completed the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, HI with a final time of 11:44:15.

So before I ever even heard of Sean Swarmer, the theme of this post was going to be that I've made the decision to go for Ironman.

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 run.

I've circled Ironman Mount Tremblant on August 19, 2012 as the race. I am giving myself a full year to train, because it's not enough to want to do it. As famed marathoner Juma Ikangaa said, “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare."

So prepare I will, with equal parts intensity and diligence. I admit wholeheartedly that I am a bit daunted by the distance. The swim is the equivalent of 77 laps in an Olympic pool - but with 1,500 others thrashing about. My swim, at the moment, anyway, is somewhere between a labrador retriever and a cinder block. But I will get there. The ride? Unrelenting. The most time consuming part of the race, and I will have to get comfortable with being on a saddle for so long. But 26.2? I've done that distance before. Like anything, it is breaking it down into manageable parts, and relying upon your training. A finish time under 17:00 earns you the title "Ironman."

As a kid, I remember watching Mark "The Grip" Allen and Dave "The Man" Scott battle one another, and the course, in Kona. Each has won the Ironman World Championship six times, and I can vividly recall watching the "Iron War" on ABC Wide World of Sports in 1989, considered the greatest race in Ironman history.

Ironman is something I have always wanted to do. It is my Everest, if you will. Something I fear... respect... admire... want.

"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."
-Sir Edmund Hillary

What is your Everest?