What The Ironman Taught Me

I hated running my entire life.  I was the girl that would try my best to avoid school on the day of the mile in gym class.  I once actually threw up on the school field right next to the cones after attempting to run the mile.  I would watch all the healthy kids that loved it and was so amazed at how their bodies worked and that mine didn’t.  Running was just never something I thought I would get into. I was so wrong. 

Toward the end of my freshman year of college at a small school in Ohio, I realized I needed a DRASTIC change in my life.  I had adopted some pretty self destructive habits and I was fearful of what the future held if I continued on.  

I decided to take advantage of a student exchange program where I could go anywhere for one year and still pay in-state tuition.  I basically closed my eyes, moved my hand around a map and decided to go wherever my finger pointed. 

I moved to Montana and decided to have a fresh start. I also decided to be healthy and to adapt to a completely new way of life, as the previous one wasn’t working. I wanted to get to know the area so I started walking and riding my bike everywhere. Then slowly, I started jogging, then running. Before I knew it I signed up for my first 5k “The Run for the Trees” and was addicted. 

The 5k turned into a half marathon and eating healthy and sleeping well became my priority so I could have a good run the next morning.  

One day at the gym when I was running on the treadmill when a man and woman walked in and were talking to the front desk staff. The man was so sweet bragging about his wife – “she just became an Ironman,” he said while looking at her with a huge proud grin.  At that moment I decided I wanted to do that.  I wanted to be an Ironman.  

So I did.  I trained hard- at times for four hours in the morning and another four at night.  I took up swimming- which I was never really all that good at.  I surrounded myself with information and people that had also completed the 2.2 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26 mile run. If they could do it, I could too. 

The day of the race came.  My alarm went off at 4am. It was time to get to the water for the early morning start and open water swim. The sky opened up and down came the rain.  The downpour started at 5am and didn’t stop the ENTIRE day.  The open swim was crowded and intense.  I was pushed under many times by other more qualified swimmers.  I saw Jesus a time or two :p The bike course was super hilly.  I did the Lake Placid Ironman which is one of the hilliest and most challenging bike courses there is.  Add a day of rain to it and the course became super hilly and dangerous.  The run was incredible.  I loved getting to the run as I knew it was just me and the road.  I didn’t have to worry about getting a flat tire, or slipping and running into other cyclists.  It was just me, the road and my mind. 

I started in the dark, I ended in the dark and after 14 hours, I finished. Here is what I learned along the way of those 140 miles.  

Completing an IRONMAN, like MANY other accomplishments is ALL MENTAL.  Sure, you need to do the training, but when you pass a certain point and your body starts to want to break down, the challenge becomes solely in your mind. 

I spent many of the miles working on my self talk as well as anyones who passed me (and there were many).  Everyone would say “It’s GOT to stop raining at some point, right?!” 

So many of us were sooo discouraged by the rain.  It literally didn’t stop for the entire event.  But with every stroke, every pedal, every step of every mile, I reminded myself that I had a CHOICE.  I could choose to HATE every bit of it, or I could CHOOSE to go IN and truly realize how powerful and capable we ALL ARE.  

We have the ability to KEEP GOING no matter what we are experiencing.  

We have the ability to push past the limits of what we think our bodies are capable of, by working on our minds. 

Ironman is not about physical accomplishment.  It’s the mental one. 

We all have the ability to overcome obstacles and do GREAT things, HARD things, IMPACTFUL things, FUN things, ALL THINGS.  

We have the ability to CHOOSE to rise above and push past our limits in EVERYDAY things just as much as we do in the BIG things.  

Every morning we wake up and have a CHOICE.  We can CHOOSE how we want to live this day, this moment, this week, this month, this year.  We can train our MINDS to help get us through.  

Our MINDS are so incredibly powerful and like any muscle, need to be TRAINED so we can get through the challenges more easily.   Would you like to know more about how to TRAIN your mind? 

I’d love to share!