The Genesis of A Decision

I completed the Ironman race in 2014. It was a 5 year journey to get there, having made the decision to do it in the late fall of 2009. I remember the moment I made the decision. I was just coming off a knee injury from martial arts. My doctor had told me to stay away from any sports that required twisting or torquing if I wanted to grow old with my knees. So I was in search of a new life goal. One, preferably, that was physically demanding.

The need for a new physical life goal was becoming urgent. I had stepped away from martial arts training, I was gaining weight, and I was getting bored with my routine at the gym. I needed something new. And fast.

I was at the gym on a late November evening when I decided to do the Ironman race. I was on the treadmill. The decision was quite easy. I simply said to myself, “I am going to do the Ironman.” That was it. The decision felt right.

The first thing I did when I got home that evening was google, “What is the Ironman race?” I knew it was a triathlon. And I knew that it would be demanding. But I didn’t know much beyond that. When I saw the distances involved I remember thinking to myself, “That’s going to be hard.” Hard indeed. I didn’t know how to swim. I didn’t own a bike. And I hated running. I had my work cut out for me.

Fast forward to my decision to cycle across Canada. One of my colleagues put the bug in my ear during lunch one day in July. I was lamenting that I would never be able to do another Ironman race. His reply was simply, “Why not choose a new goal…like bike touring…all you need is a bike and a credit card.”

I didn’t think much of his suggestion at the moment…but soon after I watched the Barkley Marathons on Netflix. And I was inspired. Not to do the Barkley Marathons…that would be ridiculous. Nope. I decided to cycle across Canada. How did this decision come about? Well I had a dream about it one night and woke up with the idea in my head. And so it had been decided.

The question is, Is my decision to cycle across Canada a rational decision? I teach Probability and Decision Theory, so I have some opinions on the matter (I think my decision is completely rational), but my late friend Ken Chung (he passed away last month) thought my decision was completely irrational.

One of us is wrong.

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