“You paid $650 to do a race?  What do you get for that?”

ironman wisconsin medal 2013

I heard those questions a hundred times when I was training for Ironman and always responded meekly with something like, “Well, a t-shirt, a medal, and the right to say I’m an Ironman.”  I knew I’d get a lot more, but it was hard to express in the beginning.

As I sit here today without a race on the calendar, it becomes a lot clearer.  It’s the first time since I started running in January 2013 that I have not had a firm goal on the horizon, and I can already tell how easy it would be to fall out of pattern.

Signing up for Ironman felt like the epitome.  I would do many races along the way, but that big gorilla was always hanging out in the corner.  I couldn’t escape him, and in a twisted way, I didn’t want to.

He was my nemesis and my guiding light.  He was the one I feared and craved at once.  It was a love/hate relationship for the ages.

ironman wisconsin finish line state capitol

There were many days I hoped it was a nightmare and others when it was my only dream.  Ironman is living on the edge.  It is exciting, painful, alive.

It’s a strange paradox because I believe humans were built to move, but we are also becoming lazy creatures.  We don’t have to write letters, we just roll over in our bed and type notes on our phone.  We don’t go to the bank or the library or the football games.  We make them come to us.

So what did I get for my 650 bucks?


Ironman doesn’t budge.  It just waits for you show up.  And you’d better be ready when you get there or it will eat you alive.

What did I get for my $650?

Great friends with positive attitudes

I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see the same people lining up on the beach at 6 am, three days a week to “practice” swimming.  We are not professionals, we pay to do this!  And we don’t get paid to ride 6 hours on a brutally hilly road in the rain or run hill repeats past aging couples holding hands on the Greenway.  We embrace the challenges because they are there.

What did that 650 dollar investment get me?

A better connection with the people that matter most

Like most, my Ironman declaration didn’t initially resonate with my friends and family.  I’m sure it was an afterthought, or at the most, “Mike’s got another crazy idea.”  But as time went on, they saw the dedication Ironman demands.  They saw changes in me.  Positive changes, physically and mentally.  They saw passion, determination, and commitment.  And it was contagious.

My Ironman training piqued curiosities and inspired change in others. I can’t tell you how many people told me, yes ME, that what I was doing inspired THEM.  More proof that what you do really does matter.  People really do care.  And when you break it down, isn’t that what we really want from our relationships?

What did I get for $650?

A memory of a lifetime

The first day of school, high school graduation, going to college, getting your diploma, your team winning the World Series, your wedding . . . then most start the cycle over by re-living those memorable moments vicariously through their own children.  We need those sparks to keep us going.  And, for me, the one without children, that’s probably why Ironman was so important.  It was a big, juicy reminder that life doesn’t have to fade away without memorable moments that seize every fiber of your being.

A couple hours after the race I finally got around to reading my text messages.  The first one I read said, “Congratulations!  You must feel dead!”  I replied with this simple line, “Actually I feel more alive than I have in 10 years.”

And that’s what I got for my $650.


$650 For Ironman And All I Got Was . . .



18 thoughts on “$650 For Ironman And All I Got Was . . .

  • September 27, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Awesome post and perspective. I’ve enjoyed reading about the journey the entire year and definitely look forward to joining the ‘club’ someday soon!

    • September 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks, Bob… I really appreciate all of your support and comments. You have been instrumental in my blog efforts. I really mean that and as far as I’m concerned, you’re already in the club. Thanks, man.

  • September 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Reblogged this on IowaTriBob and commented:
    Great motivation for those considering putting an Iroman distance race on the calendar next year for the first time.

  • September 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Brilliant 🙂
    Great responses to others that ask me ask I start on my own ironman journey.
    Will reblog as a timely reminder on tough training patches.

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks for the comment and reblog. I’m glad you found something in there and hope it sticks…. you will definitely get a lot of questions, but you will understand the answer at a deeper level for sure. Start kicking ass today!

  • September 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    This is beyond wonderful! Sounds like you got an outright BARGAIN! 🙂 CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      thanks, Sandra…. it was a pretty good deal! having it in Madison was a great bonus from a tourism perspective as well.

      • September 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm

        I just saw a video that listed the Wisconsin Triathlon as THE TOP Triathlon for beginners–mostly because of the amazing crowd support (and the venue). . . What a great report!

        • September 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm

          I haven’t seen the video, but would have to agree. Crowd support goes a LONG ways in Ironman.

  • September 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    And a finisher’s hat too, right?! 🙂 But, i guess it is completely bargain with all the intangibles! Congrats, Ironman!

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      yes, forgot the hat! and it I got the same one at Muncie! but, yes… complete bargain…. IF you don’t include all the gear costs… ha

  • September 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I always tell others that it is all you can eat and drink, for that price.

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      ha… that’s great… and so true…. i may have gotten my money’s worth in pizza and cookies.

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Great post! I am running Texas next May….you gave me food for thought.

    • September 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the re-blog… The process brings out so many amazing things… I take it this will be your first?

  • October 9, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Love this perspective – I’m registered for my first Full IM next year and your words crystallized so many things I think about but those thoughts hadn’t actually yet formed in my heart. Thank you and congrats on everything you’ve accomplished!

    • October 9, 2013 at 1:52 am

      Thanks, Kathy….. which IM are you doing next year?

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