You can achieve anything, with hard work and motivation.
Who would have thought I would be here, even just a few years ago? Not me.
Finishing an Ironman, my dream for so long, taught me that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to - with the right amount of hard work and motivation. I truly believe that anyone can do anything, but if you aren't motivated to do it then it probably isn't for you. Not everyone WANTS to become an Ironman, or even race a triathlon, and that's completely fine. However, do not say that you CAN'T because you can, especially if it is something that you really, really want.
Training for an Ironman is hard, the race is even harder.
While Mike and I had an amazing training cycle for our first Ironman, there were times when it didn't feel like everything would come together for race day. But, it did. Our schedule included 2-3 days of swimming, 3 days of running and 3 days of cycling. Our long runs got up to 20 miles and our long rides got up to 103 miles. We trained in the pool, on the trainer, on trails in the snow, in lightning storms, in extreme heat and wind. So much wind (the winner of Ironman Louisville said it was windy, I invite him to come to Western New York and say that again).
Right when it was getting tough
The race, while at times seemed effortless (and much easier than I thought it would be at certain points), also brought challenges. Luckily, we raced a 100 mile triathlon during training so we had somewhat of an idea on how swimming, biking and running that long would feel, but we were Ironman newbies. Swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles is HARD. I even said to Mike the second time that I saw him on the desert-like run course, "this is hard".
Just because it is hard, doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
The race, really the entire experience, was the most rewarding thing I have ever gone through in my life. Other than our wedding day, it was the BEST day of my life. Sure it was difficult, it is supposed to be and if you think it isn't going to be - you are going to be in trouble. Seeing everyone out on the course, working toward a common goal, is the most amazing thing ever. The man who helped me fix my chain, the people that I talked to on the run course, all of the participants, spectators, volunteers and race officials - they make the race and the experience so worthwhile.
It's hard to describe the feeling, I'm still working on it but just trust me. Worth. It.
You will have haters.
We didn't experience any "haters" in regard to us finishing our Ironman, those people probably just kept it to themselves, but we did during training. Training for an Ironman requires sacrifice, some sacrifices that are hard to make, but are necessary for us to be successful at what we are pouring our body, mind and soul into for 6+ months (and that's only officially). Would I have liked to have been able to go to everything that we were invited to while we were training for an Ironman? Sure! Was it realistic? No.
There were negative comments made about some decisions that we made while training, and I chose to ignore them for the most part. Does it hurt me that people don't understand that what we were doing was a big deal? Yes. Does that make me feel bad about what we decided to do? No.
At one of the few things we did go to, and we left really early because we had an 18 mile run the next day
In the end, we just have to move on and know that what we did was right for us. This next year, with somewhat less training, we hope to be able to do more of the things that we didn't get to do this past year.
We also know, that we won't always make everyone happy and that those people aren't really a part of our life anymore for a reason.
At the same time, some people will go above and beyond.
The support that we had from some people, during training and the race, was phenomenal. We had people willing to train with us all the time, I don't think a week went by without at least someone coming to one of our workouts with us.
Just some of the support we had during our race
So happy to have my family there, the first triathlon they saw us race in!
Not everyone may get WHY we do this, but a lot of people cared enough to support us regardless. An Ironman is a confusing thing, people don't get why you would put your body through something like that for hours and hours. However, knowing that we had people behind us, no matter what, was enough.
And finally, it re-confirmed something that I have known for awhile:
I love this lifestyle.
I can't see my life without some form of triathlon, endurance racing, training, running, swimming and cycling in it.