We are tribal by nature. We wear the colours of our team or sing the songs of our club and country. People attend church and political rallies and are indoctrinated into disliking or not trusting competitor companies. Many have sacrificed their life in the name of tribalism. I now find myself part of a new tribe and it has forced me to have a deeper think about why and how this happened. My new tribe is the gaggle of people I train with on the weekends. The people I slug it out with for hours at a time in the pursuit of the perfect Ironman. It (being part of a tribe) is a primitive yet imperative part of out survival and evolution as a species. Being part of a tribe meant that people could have different jobs within the group so we all didn't have to be concerned with collecting food and staying safe. Being part of a tribe is to be human and important and perhaps many of societies ills are a result of people feeling disaffected and not belonging to any tribe. These people are left on the outer. These are the people who may wish harm on themselves or others - the bullied becomes the bully.
I remember seeing a BBC doco about cooperation with chimps. The study found that 2 chimps would solve a problem and cooperate to get the booty (banana). This worked each time until only one of the chimps got the banana and the other missed out. The chimp that missed out refused to help the next time around - a single event which resulted in one chimp missing out on the reward was enough to condition that chimp into not helping again. The author concluded that this is where humans evolved and chimps didn't - humans would still help for the good of the tribe and chimps would always require the extrinsic motivator. And this is where the doco and I parted agreement. Perhaps it is right in many cases however I suspect we still carry this legacy of our distant ancestors. We all turn up each Saturday knowing that the group helps each of us and when it doesn't serve our needs we do our own thing. Today I did my own thing and hence became the lone wolf in a lone wolf pack. I hope this doesn't go against my record and I can still wear the club colours at the ironman!
The last couple of weeks have been the usual turbulent 'days of our lives' journey towards Port. Only 3 days before my last big hit-out before the Ironman I was getting blood taken from me and put into vials for testing. I was left completely depleted and virtually unable to move for a few days following a Saturday session. This wasn't just a matter of being sore or tired it was more like systemic inflammation, leaving me with asthma and soft tissue and joint pain. Like the half ironman my ITB was as tight as fat person's jocks. I tried to go for a jog on the Tuesday before, only being able to get to a canter for a couple of k's before being reduced to a slow walk. Things slowly improved and on the Saturday I was able to get a light jog and ride in. I was not expecting anything great from the next day's race which doubled as the 'Australian long course championships'.
My race wasn't actually that bad in the end. I was still flat which mainly affected my swim and ride, and somehow I perked up for run (thanks caffeine!). I ended up in 28th place. Initially I was somewhat disappointed however upon reflection I realised that what I have done is fantastic. I have come from hell a year and bit ago. I have lost 28kg. I have retrained my mind and reshaped my body. I have prepared to complete my first Ironman and in the process taken 28th place overall in the Australian long course championships (2km swim, 83km ride, 20km run). And with that, I got on a plane for Port Douglas and spent the next week on conference and training in a tropical wet season.
This weekend's training was virtually the same as everyone of the last 12 weeks - heaps of it. I have 28 days to go so my priority is to get and stay healthy. Nothing stupid - just take the K.I.C. approach (keep it corporate) and keep my head low. Until next time - au revoirre.