By Adam Turner
I’ve never been an Iron Man.
Though I’ve long considered myself Superman (and given my tendency to wear red, white and blue-branded clothing, friends often call me Captain America), I have never had the steely resolve or determination required of a true Iron Man.
And by “Iron Man,” I refer to the grueling worldwide triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. EKU’s Fitness and Wellness Center recently hosted their own “Iron Man Challenge” where they stretched what is traditionally a day-long event across the entire month of October. Participating students were able to track their daily distances at the front desk of the gym, where numbers would be totaled at the end of the month. Only a select few men and women would complete the challenge and emerge victorious.
One of my many New Year’s resolutions of 2011 was to improve my health by working out more and getting in shape. Original, right? And though I do actually take my resolutions seriously, after a strong start last spring semester, a lazy summer without easy access to a gym and a job at a pizzeria undid most of the visible progress I had made. I was discouraged and depressed, with only greasy, sizzling pepperonis to fill the void left by my treadmill, which in turn left me more discouraged and depressed. A vicious, delicious cycle.
Still, the piece of paper enfolded up in my wallet titled “Resolutions” bound me to a promise I made to myself at the beginning of the year, so when the fall semester rolled around, I was eager to get back into the swing of things. Right as my sporadic workout visits began to develop into a regular routine, I began to notice fliers and banners promoting the latest and greatest challenge on campus: The “Iron Man Challenge.” I soon enough decided to give it my best shot and signed up for the competition.
Now, my tale is certainly not the most inspiring out there. I don’t have cancer. I wasn’t born blind, deaf or missing any major body parts. I’ve never weighed 350 pounds. This was no underdog story; I was never fighting for my life. I was simply a tall and skinny kid looking to gain a little endurance and a little muscle.
However, I can’t deny that I felt an undeniable sense of accomplishment and pride last Thursday as I swam my last lap in the pool, with an all-consuming chlorine burning through my eyes and my muscles throbbing from head to toe. It had taken gallons of sweat, dozens of water bottles and weeks full of pain and exhaustion, but it was done. And maybe I was still a bit delirious from all the miles I had traveled, but for a moment as I finished, anything seemed possible. My long list of resolutions didn’t seem quite as daunting anymore. As corny as it might be, perhaps Rocky was right as he addressed the Soviet Union at the end of Rocky IV: “I guess what I’m trying to say is…if I can change, and you can change…everybody can change!”
And even if it wasn’t a real, full-blown Iron Man triathlon and even if it was just a minor change, I did change. Because yesterday, I was Adam Turner.
Today, I am Iron Man.