Written by Ann Brennan
At the beginning of the summer I found myself thinking about my trajectory since completing Ironman in 2012. How high I had felt after completing the distance, but more importantly, how strong I felt after all the training. And how quickly I was deflated. How far I fell after my depression and eventual hospitalization.
As I thought, I realized why the task of “getting back into shape seemed so hard.” I had, without realizing it, made the task bigger than it needed to be. I was aiming for that Ironman conditioning. I wanted to be that strong again and I knew how much work that would take.
That day I gave myself a secondary goal. I did not have to get in Ironman shape again. I just had to find Ironann. I had to find the person who could become Ironman again. I had to find the confidence and the drive I had lost over the previous two years.
Thankfully, I had already taken steps in the right direction. This was not going to be a matter of starting from scratch. Meg and I had been training since January for our 24 hour walk, an epic feat in and of itself. At that point we had completed walks up to 15 hours long and we were confident in our ability to cover the 24 hours we were aiming for. I had registered for the Annapolis Striders’ Championship Series and had already completed two of the races. And I had signed up for the Annapolis 10-Miler with my oldest son, Blaise, as well as the Patriots Half Ironman. I was setting goals. I was reaching Ironann already, all I needed to do at that point in the summer was to keep moving forward and to find the strength and confidence I had lost along the way.
Coach Jeff is constantly pushing consistency. Consistency is the key to success. I put that idea to the test this summer, I went back to my favorite quote, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time and I forced myself to get every single workout in. Even in the week after completing the 24 hour walk with Meg in July, I ran with Blaise, just to make sure I did not lose momentum.
Over the past few weeks I have noticed I am stronger. I could feel it when climbing uphill. It was clear to me when Blaise and I started pushing our mileage higher with less effort than I expected. But it was not until this weekend that I realized I had found the other part of the formula. I had found my confidence.
This weekend, as I completed the Patriots International* Distance Triathlon in Williamsburg, I found myself struggling. I had not put in enough swims over the summer so a good day in the water would have been tough for me. Unfortunately, I did not have a good day in the water. Just as we turned the corner to head back for the final half of the swim, a storm came in. The waves kept me from being able to sight. I drank far more river water than I would like and at moments I felt like I was swimming on a treadmill, making no progress whatsoever. In other words, I had the worst swim of my life.
When I left the water I was gutted. I wanted to cry. Worse yet, I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. Because you eat an elephant one bite at a time and because I love the next bite of the triathlon. I pushed on. It was after coming off the bike that I found Ironann. After leaving everything on the bike course, my legs were shot. I began the run by walking and again, almost crying. And that’s when it happened. That’s when a little voice inside, said, “It’s an hour, Ann. Not 24 hours. Not even two hours. Just an hour.” And suddenly I found myself running and better yet, I found myself enjoying the run. Enjoying the fact that I have a body that can carry me through the waves of that river, along that bike course 3 miles per hour faster than I have ridden all summer and finally through this hot and humid run.
Along that course I found that old confidence. The belief in myself that pushed me to try Ironman in the first place. Along that course I found Ironann.
*I stepped back from the 70.3 distance because of my work schedule.