There are so many ways in which we make our triathlon training easier - train with friends, train with an Ipod, train indoors so that we do't have to face the elements... It has become almost like "instant TV dinners" - all the (or most of the) benefits of training but quick-and-easy-and-comfortable-without-all-the-actual-trouble. But man, when you're out there facing the elements on your own (no friends around you, no music in your ears, no shelter from the elements) - it's just you and Mother Nature. And the two of you have to sort out your differences - and let me tell you, Mother Nature always has the upper hand. She is stronger, more powerful, more supreme than you ever imagined. She decides on the tides of the ocean, she decides how the wind blows, she determines if there will be cloud cover or if the sun will beat down relentlessly on your back....she has the final say. You have to be humbled by her. You have to realise that you are part of her immense creation, and that it is by her hand that you are even allowed to breathe. So you do your best to prepare for what lies ahead - train, make sure your nutrition is good, put on sunblock, wear the right gear - and then you prepare to face her in the race. But there is a secret in facing her - and it lies within your heart and mind. You're not going to fight her, or tackle her, or see her as the opposition. You have to embrace her, breathe her in the wind, taste her in the salty sea water, feel her in the pain in your legs on the hills... And when you learn to embrace her and really experience her "aliveness", her immense power, her diversity, her beauty....you will realise that you are part of her, that you belong to her, that you are one with her. You will feel fulfilled and satisfied, because she has humbled you and made you realise that you are part of something bigger. And you had nothing to do with your being here. She did. She is the reason you are here, that you can exist, that you have breath. And it gives you a serene sense of peace knowing that you can exist in this vast expanse of this thing called life because you were put here by her, Mother Nature, and that she will sustain you and nuture you.
And I prefer to call Mother Nature, God.