A few years back, I was "just" a marathoner. And while I was confident in my ability to finish a 26.2 mile race, I had a lot of room for improvement. Despite several years of running and two full marathons under my belt, I remained a mid to back-of-the-pack runner of only moderately decent health.
Then, a now infamous group of 8th grade boys challenged me to complete a triathlon. Really, they indirectly challenged me to complete an Ironman, but I only accepted the triathlon part. It was during this discussion that I realized that OTHERS did see me as a runner. The kids' response to my saying I was running the Chicago Marathon was, "So, you're a runner. You've run lots of marathons." They didn't see the me that I saw. They saw someone entirely different.
Six months later, I crossed the finish line and completed their challenge. I had added "triathlete" to the list that included runner and marathoner. And I added a few more things to the "needs vast improvement" pile. Namely swimming and biking. Being a triathlete did not make me a swimmer. At least there was cycling. I have a lot of experience on bikes, so it was easy to pick up the mantle of "cyclist," again.
Along this entire journey, I have had another goal. Get others involved. Taking a cue from George Schweitzer, I've tried to get at least one or two new people involved in endurance sports each year. With marathons, it was extremely difficult. With triathlons, success has been much more frequent.
Just who is this Iron Pol?
A former out of shape sailor, who became a marathoner, then a triathlete, Ironman, and ultramarathoner. Now, life has pushed me into short track speed skating. More important than the titles is the lifestyle, and sharing it with others.