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Taking Chances

Posted Aug 07 2013 9:34pm

When I originally signed up for Ironman Lake Placid last July, the odds were against me. It was almost scary. But as Phil Collins would say, it was a chance I had to take.

Triathlon? What?

Triathlon? What?

I didn’t own a road bike.

I didn’t know much about cycling…besides knowing how to do it. That whole “you can’t forget how to ride a bike” thing really helped.

So you're saying I'm going to be attached to the bike?

So you’re saying I’m going to be attached to the bike?

I pretty much knew nothing about bicycle maintenance.

I had only recently started swimming again – before that, I hadn’t done a real swim workout since high school. Unless you count swimming to the raft I fell off of in the ocean.

Does lounging count? I'm IN the water...

Does lounging count? If I’m IN the water? No?

Even more worrisome, I got a stress fracture a month into training.

All huge red flags, right? I know. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea. And I’m sure my family and friends were more than a little skeptical and maybe even nervous.

accomplishment quote

Not that this was one of the “world’s greatest feats” or anything…not even close. But maybe it seemed a little reckless initially. Did you think it wasn’t smart? ADMIT IT! I know it seemed that way.

But did I respect the distance?

Yes. I think I did. I knew how hard I would have to work and every time I felt like skipping a workout or cutting it short, I reminded myself…”you have a lot of work to do.” I pictured myself in the race unprepared – and that was an extremely scary thought. So I put in the work. I researched. I read books. I found extremely knowledgable coaches. I found a team of equally crazy people. I asked questions. I did everything I could do to finish my first Ironman.  I knew I could do it.

And I did.

Check that one off the bucket list.

Check it off the bucket list!

I’m not saying this to sound boastful, I’m saying it because I want others to feel empowered to go for their goals. Once you do, it’s the best feeling ever.

I knew I had the common sense and determination to get over those obstacles safely. I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could figure it all out, persevere through the training, and finish the Ironman. And knowing myself, I knew I would love the journey. I just knew it.

People will always tell you you can’t do something. They always have a reason to give you; an excuse for why you can’t.

CHEESEBALL ALERT: In your heart, you have to know the reasons you can. If your heart says it wants something, JUST DO IT. Even if logic gives you a million reasons not to fight for what you want, focus on the one reason you should…because you want to. Because you love it. Because you’re doing it for someone else. If it’s positive and safe and healthy, do it. Whatever your reason, do it. Do it now.

You may be thinking…”yeah, it’s easy to say all that now that you’ve finished”. But the thing is, I finished because I stayed positive and believed in myself. If I could give everyone one gift, it would be that. True self-confidence. This happy feeling that makes me want to be a better person. 

So now, we move forward.

(I have no creative transition into the next section of this post, except to say…”now I’ll answer some of the questions I’ve been getting”. I know, I know, you totally come here expecting proper writing skills. Sorry folks!)

How do you feel?

Physically, I feel great. Like, too great. Sunday night I was hurting, obviously. Monday my muscles were just tight. Tuesday I felt pretty good. By Wednesday I felt back to normal. There has to be some kind of physiological reason for the lack of soreness. Physiological, or I was just pretty dang slow. I’ve been taking my recovery very seriously (AKA not working out and drinking beer) but I’ve done yoga, biked, and went on my first run back yesterday. Legs definitely felt a little heavy.

I’ve been waiting for the past week to get sick. You know that whole “ your immune system goes down after a big race ” thing? I was certain I’d catch a cold. I always do. I do after marathons. I did after my half ironman. But this time? So far so good. I am continuously AMAZED by what the human body can do. It’s incredible. Although I probably just jinxed myself by saying it.

Hardest part?

Of the race? The last 11 miles of the bike and the last 13 miles of the run . Of the training? The long bike rides (5,6,7 hours). Leaving to train when Brendan was still sleeping. Reorganizing my schedule around training. As “they” say, training is 97%, the race is 3%.

How was the training? How did you find the time?

It was tiring and there were times I was cursing the word “Ironman”, but I never for a second hated it. I didn’t dread training. Plus, I think my emphasis on sleep helped me feel continuously energized – I typically get 9+ hours of sleep every night. Regardless, I found the time because I truly love it, as always happens when you enjoy something. It made me feel strong and gave me a lot more confidence in myself. I’m happiest when I have a big goal to work toward.

I definitely had some days that made me question everything, and it was tough, but overall the experience was just FUN. Don’t hate me, but I’m one of those annoying people who genuinely loves exercise – most people think this makes me certifiably crazy, but hey. Fine. I’m crazy. (I don’t love it every day…but the general trend in my brain is toward YAY FUN EXERCISE as opposed to UGH F YOU EXERCISE. I have the running community to thank for that!)

Even more fun when you have friends!

Even more fun when you have friends who love it too!

Will you do another Ironman?

Yes, yes, a resounding yes! (Oops…I mean…Brendan…would you mind?) It wouldn’t be for a year or two and I’m not sure which one, but maybe Mont Tremblant in Canada, Madison (Wisconsin) Couer D’Alene (Idaho), Colorado…OMG THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS…I would also absolutely do Lake Placid again. I plan to volunteer next year – gotta give back!

Thank you volunteers! Couldn't have done it without you!

Thank you blue-shirted volunteers! Truly couldn’t have done it without you!

Post-Ironman blues?

Yes. I always feel down after a big race. I’m super crabby. I’ll let you know when that’s over.

The crabbiness started at a young age...

The crankiness started at a young age.

What’s next?

The recurring question in my life. I’m hoping to do a one or two more sprint/olympic tris this Summer if I can find some that work. I’m running the NYC Marathon for the second time this November, and I would love to do another half ironman next Summer. On my wish list is Ironman 70.3 Kansas because it’s in Lawrence, KS, where I went to college. (ROCK CHALK BABY!) I can’t think of a more perfect location. Oh and Hines Ward did it last year , so there’s that. But for at least another couple days, I am fully embracing the recovery period.

What do you want to do? What’s on your bucket list?


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