Atonement Day

Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, began last evening and continues through tonight.  It is the traditional point in the Jewish year where Jews pause their life to reflect on how they're living it.  As we look inward, we try to be honest with ourselves on how we've treated others.  Have we done enough for others?  Have we lived to our true potential as a person?  Where can we improve and how might we do it? It can be difficult for some to look inside and take time to make those assessments.  For me, I tend to do it all the time.  There's a lot of time to think when you're training for an Ironman.  Or when you're taking a recovery day to attend synagogue, as Stephanie and I are doing.

And what have I observed?

I've observed that Ironman training takes up a big chunk of my free time. Which has been a convenient excuse for me to limit my philanthropic efforts.  I can definitely improve there.

I've observed that Ironman training is an incredibly selfish pursuit. I'm often racked with guilt that I don't spend as much time as I'd like with Stephanie or my family and friends.  Or my co-workers, who must be frustrated at least occasionally with my flexible schedule.

I've observed that I'm a competitor.  I've always known this, to be fair.  But I've been in touch with it even more over the past year, especially since joining the Fortius Racing Team.  I fear being the slowest of my group.  And I detest losing. I hate losing in practice.  I hate losing in a race.  It doesn't matter if it's my own teammates.  I hate losing.  I want to win.  Period.  While that kind of obsessive drive helps me push myself harder both on the course or in the office, perhaps it can rub people the wrong way.  People who enjoy the more social aspects of the sport or maybe don't have the same competitive streak.

I've also observed that even when I try hard to avoid it, my pride may take over.  There's a fine line between pride and vanity.  I've crossed that line a few times this year, at least in my own mind.  I'm embarrassed when that happens.  There's no way to take it back.

What's nice about Yom Kippur is that it's a day of forgiveness.  A day where old promises and decrees are declared null and void.  So long as there's an honest intention for fixing our foibles in the future.

During the course of my passionate pursuit of this Ironman goal, I'm sure I've hurt others -- at least unintentionally.  I've never tried to harm anyone on purpose, that's for sure.  And when I have bothered someone in particular, I've done my best to apologize immediately.

So to those who have been frustrated my actions -- on the race course, at practice, at work, at home -- I'm truly sorry. I will try to do better this coming year.  I will try to keep my competitive streak in check, especially my temper.  I will continue doing my best to juggle family time and training time.  I will try not to let my ego get the better of me when I'm feeling good about myself.

And I will fail.

But I will always give my best effort to be my best.

That is one promise I know I can keep.

62 days and counting.