I Am Not Crying, Yet – Injury Woes

I spent a good portion of the morning at the doctors office having xrays done of my right knee. Not quite a year after originally writing this post I am once again struggling with a knee injury. Once again I am worried that my fall goal will not happen but once again I am reminded that it isn’t time to cry yet.

Written by Ann Brennan

 

It has been a week and I am cranky.  Actually I am using cranky as a way to keep from crying because crying is the first step to giving up, giving in and admitting that this Ironman is not going to happen and I am not ready to do that.

 

It has been a week since I woke up with a small niggle in my right knee that gradually, over a couple of hours became a full blown, cannot-deny-it injury.  With the Ironman only nine weeks away I went straight to a doctor and received what sounded like great news.  If I rest it for seven to ten days I should be fine.  It should get better quickly and I shouldn’t lose much fitness in that period of time.  Plus, resting meant no running but I could still ride and swim.

 

Except, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t ride because bending and unbending the knee was beyond painful.  On a scale of 1-10 it was a ten and worse yet, the knee just would not unbend enough to move the pedals.  Swimming seemed like an option though.  But after two days of swimming I came to realize that even that was making it worse, not better.

 

I am trying to take comfort in the fact that it IS getting better.  For the past two nights I have actually been able to sleep without waking up every time I move.  The mornings have gotten a little easier and I even made it through the grocery store yesterday.  Any other time these would be great signs.

 

But not when I am in the middle of Ironman training.  Yesterday I had a 17-mile run on the books.  Seventeen miles.  And walking through the grocery store was an accomplishment.  How in the world am I going to go from being happy that I could actually walk through the grocery store to covering the kind of distance I need to cover?

 

So, I am not crying yet.  But I am heartbroken and scared.  My husband told me yesterday that I need to be patient.  It is advice I have offered others dozens of times. But I don’t have time to be patient.  I don’t have time to wait this out.  My Ironman is eight weeks away and I am scared.

 

I have put so much into this Ironman.  I have worked so hard and come so far in my training and now I am waiting, waiting for some sign that the doctor really is right.  That I really will get better.

 

I am one to preach that endurance sport is 90 percent mental.  And I do believe that.  But that scares me as well because this injury, at this time, is taking a mental toll.  This injury is knocking me down a few pegs and leaving me with doubts just when I was beginning to feel like I “had this Ironman thing.”

 

So, I am not crying.  I am waiting.  I am holding back the tears and I am waiting.

It Is All in the Perspective

Written by Ann Brennan

I inadvertently made a fellow swimmer angry yesterday.  The lanes at our pool were full and she stood on deck waiting for a lane to open.  When I came up for a breath at the end of a set, she asked me if I was almost done.  I quickly glanced at my workout sheet and told her yes, I was.

 

The problem is that my perspective is messed up these days.  In my mind I was almost done.  According to my sheet I had three more sets to go.  I didn’t add up the yardage because I don’t do that.  I just knew that the bulk of my swim was done.  A little while later I noticed she had found a different lane that had emptied out and to be honest I didn’t give her a second thought, until she entered the locker room while I was blow-drying my hair.

 

“You said you were almost done and you went on and on and on,” she complained.

 

Even then I was a little confused by the matter.  I had been almost done.  It was not until I came home and put my workout into Daily Mile that I realized why she had seemed so angry.  My “almost done” has changed.

 

Yesterday’s swim was 4600 yards, 2.6 miles.  It was a big swim.  When I told the other swimmer that I was almost done I still had 1200 yards to go.  I really was almost done.  All of my hard sets were behind me and I was coming into the home stretch.  But of course, her swim was less than that 1200 yards and I hadn’t thought about that at all.

 

The situation reminded me of those “you know you’re a runner” jokes.  My perspective has changed. You know you are training for Ironman when 1200 yards is “almost done.”

 

This isn’t the first time I have noticed a chance in my perspective.  Last week was an easy week – three swims, two strength workouts, and three days that included both runs and rides.  But they were all shorter than I have been doing and thankfully they all felt easier than what I have been doing.

 

There are days when I doubt my ability to complete the Beach to Battleship Ironman.  Funnily enough, those are the days of a five-hour ride followed by a run, the days when I go longer than I ever have before.

 

The days the doubts seem to subside are the short days.  When I go out for a two-hour ride, followed by a 30 minute run and it feels easy, I suddenly realize that the training is working.  I am changing and that isn’t just perspective.

 

I am learning so much through this process.  I am learning how to cope with tired legs, how to push on when I just want to quit and I am learning that everything in life is depends on your perspective.

 

Ironman training is not easy.  I am not sure I will ever attempt this again but the lessons learned, the funny little stories and the experience I am gaining have given me something I wouldn’t trade for the world.  They have given me perspective.

I’m Back

I am feeling a bit like a drama queen after my last two posts.  Going back to read them I see just how much panic had taken over what I thought was my mental toughness.  The fear of losing all of this training, not finishing Ironman, maybe not even starting Ironman completely took over.  I was one big walking ball of fear for two weeks.  Then one morning I woke up, stood up and realized that the pain was just gone.

 

Though I hate to admit it, it turns out that listening to doctors and coaches might have some merit.  It seems as though my husband was right.  What was needed in that crazy situation was a little patience.  I can’t say that I performed admirably, as I spent most of the two weeks biting my nails and making everybody around me miserable.

 

But that is behind me and I am running, riding and swimming again.  I am feeling confident once again and although I am still worried about what completing 140.6 miles will actually feel like, I am beginning to really enjoy this process.  I am beginning to trust in the training and trust in my own body and I am beginning to see a difference in how I perform.

 

Even this glitch has become a learning lesson.  I have faced the fear that something might happen and I have survived it.  So maybe I can leave that fear aside.

 

Of course, that makes room for a million other little worries but I am going to take Coach Jeff’s advice and not think about those. I am going to be like Scarlett O’Hara and not worry about that today. I will think about it tomorrow.

 

Today, I am going to focus on what is going right.  My run is not as fast or as effortless as I had hoped it would be but I am beginning to accept the fact that in the Ironman a run is never effortless and that running without effort now would not be preparing me for what it will feel like on race day.  I am beginning to accept that each time I go out there with tired legs I am one step closer to knowing what it will feel like to come off that bike knowing there are still 26.2 miles left to go.

 

In two weeks I head to North Carolina to ride and run the course.  I will cover 100 miles of the bike ride on Saturday, come off the bike and run for a mile or two and then head back out on Sunday morning to complete one loop of the run.   I am looking forward to this.

 

It is amazing the difference a little rest, patience and time can make.  Two weeks ago I was a miserable mess, convinced that my dream of Ironman was over.  Today, as I face a build-week in my training, I know the dream is alive again and I am ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Loving the Stepback

Never in my life have I been so happy to see a stepback week.  Last week was the first stepback week I have ever embraced with open arms.  It was also the first stepback week that was as important physically as it was mentally.

 

In the past a stepback week, a week in which my training was lighter than the previous three weeks, would give me a chance to catch my breath, catch up on work and family obligations and take a little bit of a mental break.  But physically, I have never felt like I needed it.

 

Last week though, after three weeks of intense Ironman training and specifically after a weekend that included an 85 mile bike ride in which I was almost overwhelmed with heat followed by a thirteen mile run the next day, my body needed the step back.

 

On Monday morning I had a swim scheduled.  Swimming is the easiest of the three disciplines for me.  I generally feel like swimming should almost count as a rest day.  But last week even as I lowered myself in the water, I knew my body did not have what it would take to complete 3400 yards.  I fought through for 1600 of it and finally just gave in, got out, showered and spent most of the rest of the day eating and resting.

 

The rest of the week included a few easy runs and rides, no two-a-days and even a full out rest day and I took complete advantage of them.  By Friday I began to wonder whether I should have pushed harder on the workouts I did have.  Had a lost something?  Was the rest worth it?  Did I really even need it?

 

Saturday morning though, I knew Coach Jeff had been right again.  Saturday morning I had a two hour ride followed by a fifteen minute run.  The ride was incredible.  Seventeen miles an hour on a hilly course and I didn’t even feel like I was pushing.  For the first time since I started the Ironman training I thought maybe this won’t be my only Ironman. Maybe I can handle this training.

 

As I rushed in the house to change my shoes and grab my water bottle, I was on cloud nine but I didn’t expect a lot from my run.  Running has been the hardest part for me recently.  My legs have felt heavy and I just haven’t felt like a runner at all.  But Saturday’s short run felt just how it should have – short and easy.

 

Sunday’s one hour run was much the same. My legs were almost happy, none of the droopy feeling I had felt on the previous week’s run, just a nice run in the park.

 

Was the stepback worth it?  Did the rest help? Beyond all my wildest dreams, yes.

 

Resting isn’t easy.  When you are pushing towards a goal, its hard to back off and let things settle down before continuing the push but I am sold.  Heading into this week, mentally I am prepared.  I am not the same cranky, tired person I was a week ago. Instead I am ready to take on this week that consists of four two-a-days and a few swims. Thanks to the stepback week, I am ready, physically and mentally to take on a week that I know will be one of my hardest yet.

A Fortunate Coincidence

I did not plan it this way.  When I signed up for the Beach to Battleship Ironman Distance Triathlon I didn’t know my son would be attending West Point – The United States Military Academy.  I didn’t realize that he would begin Cadet Basic Training (Beast Barracks) just as my training ramped up.

 

By the time I put the two life changing events together I began to think that maybe my workouts would give me a way to commiserate with him.  Maybe I would be able to say to him that I got a little bit of what he was going through because I too I have to rise early and do workouts I don’t always want to do.  I too have to keep pushing even when I want to just lie down and give up.  I thought maybe this would help him, maybe it would boost him up a bit.

 

And maybe it is.  Maybe knowing that his old mom is working hard towards a goal gives him a little inspiration to keep pushing forward.  But the coincidence has triggered something I didn’t expect.  It is helping me.

 

I have wanted to do Ironman since I was 13 years old and watched Julie Moss crawl across the Ironman finish line. I have dreamed of and dreaded this time in my life for a couple of decades.  But now that it is here it scares the hell out of me.  Every morning I wake up and think, “Do I really want to do this?”

 

If Blaise were not going through Beast Barracks, if I didn’t know that he has to rise early every morning for PT, then rush through a day being told what to do every single second of the day, if I didn’t know he would suffer through the House of Tears, maybe I could give up.  Maybe I could just decide this was not that important to me.

 

But he is.  He is going through Beast Barracks.  He is learning how to live a life completely different from anything he has ever experienced and he is doing it because he knows that in the end, it will be worth it.

 

So this morning, when the alarm went off for my 6am ride and my first reaction was to throw the phone across the room, I thought twice.  I dragged myself out of bed and I put on that oh so attractive spandex and headed down the stairs.  When I started thinking that maybe I should take it easy today, because after all I am pretty tired, I thought about Blaise with his commanding officer shouting, “Is that all you have New Cadet Brennan!” and I changed my attitude.  Even at the end of the ride when I thought, “Well that was faster than I expected,” I pushed a little harder because I knew that is what will be expected of Blaise.

 

I did not plan it this way.  I did not plan to be going through one of the toughest challenges of my life at the same time Blaise faces one of the toughest challenges of his life.  If I had, if I could have worked it out to fit my plans it would be the opposite way around.  My challenge would be fueling his efforts.  My work would be boosting him up.  Instead, he is boosting me up.  He, my son, my New Cadet is pushing me to be better, to be stronger, to be the best that I can be.

Different Strokes

My son and my husband amaze me.  Sit down and tell them how something is done and they can completely get it.  The next time they go out they will apply the principles you spoke of and get it just right.  Not me.  I am a visual person.  If I don’t see it, it is not going to sink in.

 

So when my friend David Wendkos asked me to stop by his swim studio for a demonstration of his new endless pool and video system he did not have to twist my arm.

 

The studio David has created is one of only a handful on this side of the country and the only one in any of states adjacent to Maryland so this was an opportunity I was not going to pass up. I was doubly sold on the idea because David was the one who pointed out a major flaw in my form last year, showed me how to correct it and in that one ten minute conversation helped me to improve my efficiency by leaps and bounds.

 

Although I grew up swimming in the ocean, everything I know about form I learned from watching other swimmers and from reading books on technique.  Needless to say, I knew I had additional form issues.

 

I met David at his studio for an hour and a half session just before we left for our two weeks in Maine.  The thought was that I could then take the lessons David taught me and apply them to my open water swims in Beech Hill Pond.

 

From the very first stroke in David’s endless pool I knew why this was going to work.  Before he even showed me the video taken from different angles and slowed down to take it frame by frame, I could see some of my flaws in the mirrors set on the bottom of the pool.  Just seeing myself swim as it was happening was a huge help.

 

But as I said, I am not an expert.  As I stood beside David watching the film of my stroke and listening to his explanation of how I could make it better I was amazed. I knew, without a doubt this was going to change the way I swim.  For me it is not about getting faster.  If I get faster that is great but what I really want is for the swim to become effortless leaving me with enough energy to bike and run afterwards. Using the video, David was able to point out ways I could do that.

 

Over the next two weeks in the lake, I noticed several small changes to my form and two big ones.  First I had always thought it was important for my hand to go in the water basically just above my head, but watching the video I could see that by doing so I was having to come back out several inches before I even began to get any grab on the water.  Now, that I have corrected that I can literally feel the energy savings with every stroke.  This was huge.

 

In addition, by watching the way I came up for breath in the video David was able to give me some tips for being more efficient. As a lateral breather, this is really important.  But there was an added benefit.  His tip helped me to realize why I have not been a bilateral breathing and now, although I don’t do it all the time, I am noticing that I can go longer breathing bilaterally than ever before.

 

This week I returned to the pool.  There were no waves and no currents.  There were no dead floating fish or jet skis to avoid. And although I had practiced the techniques David showed me while I was in the lake, I was not able to fully appreciate the difference until I returned to the pool.  Without the distractions I can see the changes and appreciate the gift David gave me.

 

To see the system David used visit Endless Pools and click on the swim studio video on the right side of the screen.

Lessons Learned at Eagleman

Last year when I decided I wanted to enter back into triathlon with the end goal being to complete by first Ironman, I knew that it would be a journey of learning.  I knew that I wanted to take two complete seasons to prepare for the race, using each workout and each new event to learn lessons that will help me across the finish line at Beach to Battleship. Yesterday’s Eagleman Ironman 70.3 was chock full of lessons.

 

In 2004 when I trained for Ironman Austria, I trained on my own.  I read every book, watched every video and talked to every person I could talk to but still I passed out during the bike portion of the race and never crossed that finish line.

 

This time I am not doing it alone.  This time I am doing it with the help of Coach Jeff Kline from PRSFit.  That was the first lesson.  Learning to work with a coach took some getting used to.  But with Jeff’s patience I have finally gotten there.

 

Yesterday was the best proof I could be given that working with a coach works.

 

For two weeks before yesterday’s Eagleman Ironman 70.3, the weather was unseasonably cool.  We enjoyed days with the windows up, I wore sweaters in the evenings and my son’s lips turned blue at each of his swim team practices.  But a few days before the race, I checked the weather to find that temperatures would be a blistering 93 degrees on race day.

 

Coach Jeff stepped in with a plan.  As usual he gave me goals for the swim/bike/run but he also gave me advise on staying cool.  He reminded me to put ice under my hat, in my sports bra and in my wristbands in order to keep my blood cooler.

 

Thank God that he did because though the official temperatures showed 93 degrees, the temperature on the road during my bike reach 102.  On the run it was even higher with not a bit of shade in sight.  And though my run was not pretty at all, I did not end up in the medical tent.

 

Every race seems to come with its own set of new lessons, but Eagleman may have set a record for lessons learned.  Besides learning how to handle the heat I discovered –

 

  • Waking up relaxed and ready to go is not a bad thing.  When I awoke yesterday morning I was completely relaxed.  I took my pre-packed buckets to the transition area and didn’t fumble around worrying about whether I should lay things out like the other triathletes. Instead I trusted in my planning.  I verified that the buckets were okay with the race officials, filled my Speedfill bottle, headed back to the house we had rented just a block away and had breakfast with the family.  Being relaxed then, meant I went into the water relaxed and swam without the panic I have had in the past.
  • Knowing your body is key. I had a strange experience coming out of the water.  Although I had a PR and felt great in the water, as soon as I stood up I felt dizzy and nauseous.  My first thought was that it might have something to do with the heat. But I trusted my knowledge of my body, walked to my bike, took some deep breaths and trusted that the heat had not had an affect yet. I was good to go.  And boy was I good to go.
  • I am faster and stronger on the bike than I knew.  I averaged over 19 miles an hour for the 56-mile course.  This is incredible considering I only averaged 17.5 miles an hour for the last 16 due to the headwind.  The lessoned learned here is to trust your training. I know based on this ride that I am going to be getting faster and faster and I look forward to that.
  • Mental preparation is huge.  I had mentally prepared for this race. I knew that the heat was going to be stifling but I knew I could push through it if I did it in a smart fashion.  I also knew that I needed to give myself some “no’s.”  On the run, the rule was no walking except as planned (this mostly worked).  On the bike the no was no going below 17 miles and hour.  That worked except for a short piece when I turned into the wind and it kicked my butt before I remembered my no and pushed through it to get back over 17mph.
  • Work the plan but be ready to adapt.  Jeff and I had prepared for the heat.  I had also trained with a plan of running a mile, walking a minute.  But because the heat was almost a full 10 degrees more than we expected and the aid stations were not every mile but more like every mile and a half, I walked a minute at the mile and still walked the aid station while using two cups of water and a cup of ice to cool my body.  I also took two Endurolytes every hour during the bike and every 45 minutes during the run.
    • Find the positives. The run was miserable but I made it through it.  And I was so pleased with my swim and bike results that the positives were easy on this race.  I didn’t end up in the medical tent and I feel pretty good today.

 

In addition to the more serious lessons, I learned that on any given day I can out perform a professional athlete.  One of my all time favorites, Mirinda Carfrae was not feeling it on the bike so she did not finish, meaning I beat her, sort of.

 

And on an even less serious note, I discovered a new way to pee.  As I was running past a competitor who was sitting in the shade messing with her shoe I asked it she was okay.

 

“Yes. I am just fixing my shoe,” she said before hesitating and adding, “and peeing in the grass.”

 

As a girl who is very jealous of boys who can just pull over to pee, I am thrilled to have made this new discovery.

 

The lessons are learned and I am just over four months away from Beach to Battleship. As Jeff said, this morning, “Now its time to get serious.”

Moving Forward

By Ann Brennan

 

On July 4th, 2004 I did something I never thought I would do. I DNFed

A week before heading to Ironman Austria someone asked me what I would do if I couldn’t finish. I was speechless. Not finish? That wasn’t an option.

But it turns out it was.  Although I had trained well and had done everything in my power to prepare for the heat, I found myself lying in the back of an ambulance connected to a bag of fluid knowing that all of the work had been for nothing.

After my DNF, I was gutted. For almost a week, I wore sunglasses so people couldn’t see my tear rimmed eyes. For months, I couldn’t even think about racing without crying.

The following summer I completed one triathlon. It went better than I could have hoped but somehow that didn’t matter. Although I had been training for two years before my DNF and continued to train afterwards, I no longer felt like a triathlete and I did something worse than DNF. I quit triathlon altogether.

Last year, after a seven year hiatus, I returned to triathlon, completing one Olympic Distance, one Half Marathon Distance and one full Ironman distance Aqua Velo (the Ironman minus the run). All three of these triathlons went really well. My run and my swim both continue to improve but my bike times were where I really excelled. My bike times were better by far than anything I could have imagined.

The season should have been encouraging. It should have helped me to gain the confidence I need to take on the Ironman again. Logically, based on my training and my results, I understand there is no reason I can’t complete an Ironman.

But the season taught me two things I didn’t expect. First, I am not over that DNF. It is still hanging there, haunting me.

But beyond that, I have coming to realize, I don’t want to just complete Ironman this year. I don’t want to go in with the idea that getting around the course is the best I can do. Instead, I want to be the best Ironman athlete I can be.

I want to spend as little time in the saddle and on my feet as I possibly can. I want to set a goal and meet it.

When I talk to other athletes, whether they are thinking about completing their first 5k, taking on the challenge of a century ride or looking to become a triathlete, I always tell them that knowing what you want is the first step. Endurance sport is as much mental as it is physical so if you want something and are willing to work for it, you can have it.

This is what I tell other people. But somehow, it isn’t what I have been telling myself. Instead, I have been questioning my ability. Can I do this?

Yes, yes, I can.  I have committed.  Over the past several months I have trained for my first 70.3 of the season, the first race in a series of races that will lead to the Beach to Battleship Triathlon in October.

This weekend I will be competing in the Eagleman 70.3 and while it will help me physically to get through this course, the big step will be mental.  The problem I face with the DNF is not that it has been hanging over me. It has been hanging in front of me. It has been keeping me from moving forward.  With the training I have been doing, the focus on one step at a time, I have been able to push the DNF to the side.

By pushing it out of the way, I can now see the goal more clearly.  This is the first step, but there will be many more and without the obstacle of that DNF hanging there, there is nothing standing in my way.

You Know You’re a Runner If

You know you’re a runner if  –

 

  • you have more running clothes than regular clothes in your laundry pile.
  • you’ve lost a toenail. And you tell people, “It’s not that bad.”
  • you have a drawer full of medals and other race souvenirs that you’re not sure what to do with.
  • you go into Starbucks more often to use the bathroom than to actually buy coffee.
  • you no longer make fun of fanny packs because your running belt looks very similar (although cooler) to one.
  • you have a line in your budget for “race entry fees/race travel”.
  • you’ve used an old race T-shirt to wash your car, dust furniture, or clean something else.
  • your treadmill has more miles on it than your car.

 

About.com has pages upon pages of these. But if you are like me it took months, maybe even years before you would describe yourself as a runner.  In the beginning, I went for a jog, a shuffle or a fast walk.  I was not really a runner.

 

Eventually though, after months, I began to admit that what I was doing was running.

 

But I wasn’t a runner, not really. In my head running only two or three times a week did not make me a runner. It was still years before I would begin referring to myself as a runner.

 

But this weekend I started to realize that running and fitness has become such a part of my life that it is hard to separate from the rest.

 

We had a crazy busy weekend – graduation and graduation lunch on Friday, graduation party on Saturday and a New Cadet West Point Picnic on Sunday.  Although I did take Friday off, on Saturday and Sunday I was up by five and out the door for my workouts.  I knew that I would not make it through the day better if I did not get them in.

 

It is funny how this happened, the transition my running life has taken.  In the beginning I ran to lose weight.  Over the years my reasons have fluctuated from weight control, to overall health to mental health and back again.  But what running has really become is a part of my life.

 

The t-shirts joke, “Run, Sleep, Eat, Repeat.”  But when you become a runner, when it finally becomes a part of you, it is no longer a joke.  For me, the running, biking and swimming have become almost as much a part of my life as eating, sleeping and breathing.  It is what I do.  It is what keeps me healthy.  It is what keeps me sane.  And in the end it is what keeps my life moving forward in the most positive ways possible.

More Than a Race

by Ann Brennan

There is a lot of head shaking around me these days. My kids shake their heads when I head to bed at nine because I am so tired after a big training day. My in-laws shake their heads at the idea that I would willingly jump into a jellyfish infested body of water and swim over two miles while being thrashed about by 1500 other swimmers. My husband shakes his head at the ever-growing pile of laundry, left there because it was either my long run or laundry and the long run won out. And even my running friends shake their heads as I explain that I gave up booze as part of the training regime.

“It’s just a race,” their shaking heads say, “Why put yourself through all of this? What do you have to gain?”

And I get it. I have raced for twenty years. Although, I do use the term race loosely. I have run in road races for twenty years. I have completed everything from one-mile track runs to a fifty miler. I have even completed a handful of triathlons but I don’t really race and even now, as I prepare for the Beach to Battleship Ironman Distance triathlon, I know that I won’t be racing anybody but myself.

But I will be racing myself because this race is more than just another race. For me, this race has been a journey. A journey that started thirty years ago, when, as a thirteen year old I sat on the arm of my father’s Lazy-boy and watched Julie Moss crawl across the finish line of the Hawaiian Ironman.

I was not a particularly athletic or graceful girl. I had played softball but only half-heartedly and only for one season. I roller-skated every weekend but only because there was music and friends and, truth be told, a snack bar. And although I was a cheerleader I freely admit that I wasn’t that kind of cheerleader. I wasn’t particularly fit. I couldn’t complete astounding gymnastic feats. The only thing I had going for me was that I was vertically challenged and was not afraid to be on the top of any pyramid.

Even so, I watched Julie Moss crawl across that finish line and I knew I had to do that. I had to complete an Ironman. Deciding was the first step on my journey. It took ten years before I took the next step and had I not just married the love of my life and realized the danger being obese really was, I might not have taken it then. But I did. Actually, we did. Together we ran our first mile, signed up for our first race and began training in the brutal North Carolina summer.

Since that time every step I have taken has brought me closer to my goal destination. Over twenty years I have learned to love running, biking and swimming. I have embraced my inner child as I zoomed down a hill at breakneck speed on my bike, picked off the runners in front of me one by one to edge just a little closer to the middle of the pack and even learned to enjoy being in the midst of a pack of anxiety crazed swimmers in the open water.

But the closer I get to the final destination, the more important the goal has become to me. It isn’t just another race. It is the culmination of years of hope, training, and frustrations.

This ironman represents more than any race has before. If I can take that little seed of hope that was planted when I was thirteen years old and carry it through to the finish line at Beach to Battleship it says something about me. Whether it says something to anybody else isn’t the point. It says something to me. It says that I can. I can push through. I can keep going. It may have taken thirty years but I can follow through.