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Ironman event was miserable — and I loved it

November 26, 2018

Eleven hours, 39 minutes and 29 seconds after jumping into the Ohio River on Oct. 14, I crossed the finish line of the Louisville, Ky., Ironman triathlon.

I could write about the strong current that caused officials to cut the swim course short, or the delayed start that allowed time for bodies to tighten from stress and cold.

I could talk about the hypothermia symptoms I felt biking in 45-degree rain, shivering with clothes soaked, clinging to my numb skin.

I could ramble about the stinging feeling in my feet as they came back to life when I started to run, the muscle cramps in my quads and the ache in my left ankle that I lost count of how many times I urinated on myself or the sick feeling that came with consuming solely processed energy gels and salt pills for a day.

I could go into all the miserable aspects of completing my first Ironman. But the thing is, that day was also among the most rewarding, fulfilling and inexplicably awesome days of my life.

The sport of triathlon, in many ways, helped saved me from myself. It’s reignited my faith in God and re-established a trust with my heart.

It redefined the term resiliency, and challenged me to strive for more than I think I can do.

It taught me to never give up and inspired me to lean into the uncomfortable and aspire to greater potential in mind and body.

Some takeaways:

• Failure is part of the process. Try and try again.

• Your heart and brain are much stronger than your legs. Believing in yourself is key.

• Silence doubt and judgment. Surround yourself with positive people, and don’t forget to be one of them.

• Sometimes passion looks an awful lot like obsession. Admit when you’re becoming one-dimensional and never prioritize your selfish dreams over your loved ones. You might lose some friends doing what you love to do, but know when it’s OK to let go.

• There’s a difference between giving up, and being honest with yourself. If you detect an injury or feel there’s real risk involved, it’s OK take a step back.

• Breathe. Stretch. Hide your phone.

• Stop comparing yourself to others. Another’s success isn’t synonymous with your failure.

• Silence ego. Yes, feel proud of yourself, but don’t put yourself on a pedestal.

• When it comes to sports, it’s not about how fit you are, how old you are or what your background is. It’s about your grit, your goals, your determination. Don’t let anyone label the value of your dreams.

• Take care of your body. Make sure you’re giving yourself the things you need to feel rejuvenated.

• Come up with a mantra, talk to yourself and pray. With faith, you are never alone.

I woke up on the morning of the marathon unsure if I could cross the finish line. I asked myself, “Am I really ready for this?”

I played out everything that could go wrong in my head: drowning, a flat tire, a muscle spasm, a bike crash. But, I snapped out of it, pushed the negativity aside and prayed like crazy. I leaned into the pain, and fought.

I learned a lot in the 12 hours it took to complete my first Ironman, but I learned so much more every day leading up to it, and have continued to learn every day since.

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