So last Sunday, my awesome brother-in-law, Fuzzy, finished the Madison Wisconsin Iron Man competition. (You can read about it in his own words here.) This is a huge accomplishment. What that means is swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, then ran a marathon of 26.2 miles in just under 16 hours. It is a grueling competition that requires serious training and commitment. According to my sister, Fuzzy would sometimes train 6 hours a day. His accomplishment is quite inspirational. Many people have expressed this same sentiment.
Let me tell you why Fuzzy inspires me. When I think of Iron Man competitors, I think of big, bulky musclemen, a description that very well may be the case for some of the professionals that were competing (one of the winners finished the entire course in about 8.5 hours, the other in less than 10). These guys do this kind of thing for a living.
But here’s the thing: Fuzzy's not a professional athlete. Fuzzy is just a guy. Now, he's a great guy. He is athletic and is in really good shape. But he’s just a guy. A guy that made a commitment to do something hard, challenging, draining and risky, because after all that training, there was still the possibility that he wouldn't pull it off. He could have failed. And he took that risk.
And he did it!
He finished the course in just less than 16 hours. And it inspires me much more so than the guy that finished the course in 8.5 hours. That guy? Professional athlete. Can't relate. However, I am inspired by Fuzzy because Fuzzy’s just a guy. Because I’M just a guy. It impresses me to no end at what he has done, because he's not some superman- he's my sweet, shy, super-nice, super-cool brother-in-law. You know, a normal person.
Fuzzy’s accomplishment gets me thinking that maybe if I put my mind to something, maybe I can accomplish it, too (maybe something like, I don't know... learning freakin' Swahili?). Katie and I are embarking on some new work projects here in Tanzania that will assuredly be challenging. When we hit a rough patch (we will), when we feel we are bombing out here in the mission field (a fairly regular occurrence), I will without a doubt think of what Fuzzy has done and say to myself “If Fuzzy can do an Iron Man, I can certainly do this.”
So to Fuzzy, I say congratulations on your amazing accomplishment. But even more than that, I want to say thank you. Thanks for setting such a high bar and for showing us that while it’s high, it’s still attainable. Your example to us- and especially to me- is priceless.
Photo of Fuzzy by my sister, Erica.