The Natural

Among sports purists, there's often heated debate about the greatest sports movies of all time.  Some of my favorites include Field of Dreams, Remember the Titans, Rocky (all except Rocky V), and Hoosiers. None surpass Rudy though.

I realize I'm not listing many on the list.  Including the Robert Redford classic, The Natural.

What's this got to do with triathlons?

It's simple, really.  This past Sunday, my college friend and fraternity brother, Rusty,  completed his first triathlon.  It happened to be a Half-Ironman, in New Orleans.

His time? Six hours, two minutes.

The Natural. Enough said.

I saw what the man ate before the race.  Po Boys.  Fried alligator.  French fries.  If it looked unhealthy, Rusty took a photo and posted it on Facebook before devouring it.

And then he chewed up his first tri and spit it back out.  (While keeping the fried food down, miraculously.)

I'm about to participate in my 10th triathlon and I wonder if I can come close to breaking six hours at my first Half-Ironman this July, Vineman.  That is, if I make it into the race -- I'm currently on the wait list.

Aside from seemingly breaking every culinary pre-race rule, Rusty trained really hard right up until the final week of the race.  Taper?  Nah, not really. And Rusty did most of his training on his own.  No coach.  No team.  No tri club. Just him, basically.

I'm incredibly happy for my friend.  He has been on a similar journey as me, even blogging about his training experience.  And he designed a sweet race kit to match his blog brand, Season One Racing.  Yet, while Rusty is The Natural, I'm closer to Rudy.  As the movie quote goes, I'm "five-foot nothin'.  A hundred and nothin.  And not a spec of athletic ability."  I need the coach.  I need the team.  I need the help just to keep up with faster, stronger, bigger, badder athletes.  Always have.  And Lord knows what would happen to me if I ate a bunch of fried food in my first triathlon, let alone a Half-Ironman.

I'm in awe of Rusty's accomplishment.  Wondering if I can approximate his success.

I can tell you one thing, it serves as motivation.  Just like Rudy trained even harder in moments of doubt or failure, I will be using Rusty's performance as my own fuel.  If he can do it, I can do it.  It started this morning in the pool.  I missed a workout yesterday to attend the Dodgers game.  I could have skipped it since my training allows for one skipped workout per week.  But, that 6:02 is burned in my head.  And I know if I let up one bit on myself, the clock will continue to tick away. Mentally, I'll see myself getting slower right then and there. Can't do it.  Can't have it.  Won't accept it.

So tomorrow, at 6 a.m., you'll find me in Sherman Oaks at the local pool. Then, I'll be on the trainer for an hour-plus cycling session.

I may not be the fastest.  Or the strongest.  Or the biggest.  But I will work the hardest.

Rusty, I couldn't be more proud of you.  You have done something I can't wait to experience for myself and you absolutely crushed the time.

Not bad for your first time out!

I can't thank you enough for the added motivation, either.

219 days and counting.