The ‘why’ question (closely related to the ‘are you mad?’ question) occurs almost always in the following conversation:

Friend: “So how far is it?”
Me: “It’s a 2.4 mile swim”
Friend: nodding (because 2.4 mile swimming doesn’t seem that bad)
Me: “then 112 miles on the bike”
Friend: grimacing
Me: “then you run a marathon”
Friend: “26 miles?”
Me: “yeah”
Friend: pause. “Why are you doing it?!”

Sometimes it gets rephrased as “what is wrong with you?”, “are you crazy?” It seems to have many variations. You get asked this a lot – from friends to family to colleagues to anyone who has heard about it. You dedicate a good portion of your time to training for it, thinking about it and reading about it, so lesson number 2 is:

Have a good answer to why

I’m sure I’ll revisit this post in future because I think the why can change as you go on, but right now the reason is pretty simple.

Because I quite like running and cycling and that.

Which as you can see is a rubbish answer. It’s not satisfactory at all. So why am I doing it? Well, that’s a good question, thanks for asking. Let me expand on that…

Well, first up I like the challenge. I’ve loved training for marathons over the past few years. Actually, let me correct that, I’ve loved the feeling of finishing runs over the past few years, I haven’t always been running with a smile (mostly I have) but I have always loved the feeling you get of completing the hard runs, the hungover runs and the runs when it’s pouring down with rain. The runs that make you remember the old Neil who wasn’t a runner and would still be sat inside with a beer (damn him, that sounds good).

I love the idea of taking something seemingly impossible and then setting a plan for how to get there, then doing it. Once you have your target and the steps to get there then it’s just following them one by one. Each day, each session is just one small step of a bigger plan – to finish a race that 6 months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of entering. If I can complete an impossible triathlon in just seven months of training, well, what else is possible?

It’s not been some life long goal to do this race, I’ve only really got interested in the past 12 months, from talking with a colleague in the US who is about to do her third this year, to reading Chrissie Wellington’s book and finally being convinced I can fit in the training by the Be Iron Fit book. I was prodded into signing up by a friend and then finally pushed over the line to apply by Philippa (who doesn’t love or get the appeal of these events to me, but encourages and supports me like crazy anyway. Seriously, if you are doing Outlaw in 2013 I can tell you right now the crazy loud one, shouting and screaming support for everyone doing the event, will be Pilla).

So, it’s not inspirational or some huge plan, it’s just because I want to. I think.