There is something about Ironman… You push your body, mind and spirit for up to 17 hours through a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike ride followed by a full marathon of 26.2-miles (42.2 km). The day is a roller coaster and it will at times feel incredibly hard…but the run towards the finish line is the most magical feeling ever. It is so hard to put in to words.
My coach likes to say that Ironman is a day of problem solving. It is not if something will go wrong but when something will go wrong. How do you handle that problem and how do you turn things around?
My journey to Ironman Canada in 2010 was a two year endeavour. Once the triathlon bug bit I knew Ironman was my end goal and I spent time building up my endurance and confidence to get to it. I felt really strong and fit on race day, however by the time I got out on the run course my heart rate would sky rocket every time I ran. To keep things under control I walked most of the marathon. I finished, but I didn’t believe I had the race I was capable of that day.
After the race I was burned out on training and I stepped away from the sport for awhile. I gained weight and it was harder and harder to get back to being that fit person I used to be. A large group of my friends signed up for Ironman Canada in 2012 and I eventually signed up with a community fund spot so that I could race with them. I struggled with motivation through training and I definitely wasn’t as fit as I used to be. I learned that you can’t sign up for a race just because your friends are doing it…you have to want it for yourself for another reason too.
I finished that year…slower than in 2010…but I believe I had the race I deserved based on the preparation I had done. In some ways I think I was lucky that I was even able to make it to the finish line at all.
Thankfully after the race I was more motivated to get my fitness back, but it still took me a long time before I could contemplate another Ironman again. I had declared to my coach that I was retiring from Ironman distance racing because I just wasn’t very good at it. Then when I heard there was going to be a new race in Boulder in 2014 I changed my mind and decided to give it another go.
I loved the race in Boulder. The swim in the Boulder Reservoir was really nice and I’m a big fan of the single loop swim. The bike was hard… I wasted a lot of time having to stop and stretch out my cramping legs and mentally I was in a rough place.
There were tears on the run, but then I finally pulled myself out of my dark hole and started running again.
I finished my fastest Ironman, but I had the feeling I could have improved my problem solving ability.
Shortly after the race I knew I wanted to come back and race Boulder in 2016. Neil was 100% on board. He loved visiting Boulder and was keen to go back. I mentally tossed around the idea of Arizona instead since my friends loved racing there last year and are thinking about going back in 2016. As I learned before though, you have to race an Ironman for yourself and I knew Boulder would be the right decision for me, even if it meant training for it and racing it on my own.
I’m excited for 2016…with St. George and now Boulder on my calendar I know it is going to be a fun and challenging year.