Last night I had a discussion with a friend who is training for Ironman and having a terrible time with running because of an injury.  It is one of those situations where she really believes a marathon could cause permanent damage.  Is it worth the risk?

It got me thinking about the reason I did Ironman in the first place.  Why did I REALLY do it?  I came up with three:

1.  Tackling a challenge beyond the scope of my belief.

2.  To prove to myself, my friends, and family, I could finish the unthinkable.

3.  To shock my system.

The latter may have been the biggest force.  I craved disruption of my life patterns, and Ironman rocked my world.  Slowly but surely I was waking up at 5 or 6 am, swimming in a lake, riding on Natchez Trace, or running through the park.  A major departure and the adrenaline of it all kept me on track.  Which leads me to a hidden reason . . . I was afraid to fail.

I couldn’t sleep half the nights because I was thinking about how it would feel in that water before the race.  Or I was wondering how on earth I would run a marathon I had never come close to attempting, and do it after a 112 mile bike ride?

As I hit certain milestones, my confidence grew, but fear drove me the entire way.  Every piddly injury messed with my head.  A hint of exhaustion freaked me out.  Skipping workouts poured on the guilt.  But in the end, I was so consumed with finishing Ironman, my subconscious willed me to the finish line.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been in more pain than I was for that run at Wisconsin.  For 26 miles I was in agony, but something kept me going.  The brain out-willed the body.

I faced a similar pain at New Orleans 70.3 two weeks ago and started walking.  A lot.  I couldn’t dig up a reason to push through the pain.

Last year, we trained outlandish amounts and never came close to doing 140.6 miles in one day.  I knew I’d better have my mind right when I got in the water or Ironman would eat me alive.  Thankfully I was ready.  I had my reasons.  Rising to the challenge, not wanting to let myself, friends or family down, and an overwhelming desire shake up my life.

Why are you racing Ironman?

Why Are You Doing Ironman?



2 thoughts on “Why Are You Doing Ironman?

  • April 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Great post Mike!! I’m racing Ironman, because I know that I can do better than my last race and I want to. I am not looking for a “better” race experience. In 2011, I let my nutrition fail me and don’t remember the last 8 hours of my Ironman experience. I don’t remember the entire run. I don’t remember crossing the finish line. I don’t remember hearing my name called with the phrase “You are an Ironman” after it. I don’t remember my husband finishing the race with me (not that this will happen again). I want to have a better race day execution where I remember my race…especially crossing the finish line. I have my mind and body in a place where I am ready to push my limits and see where I can go on race day for IMWI 2014.

    • April 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Wow… that’s wild! No memory at all? I feel like I “lost touch” a few times, but certainly remember the end…. sorry to hear that. I need to figure out how I can convince myself to “want to have a better race.” It hasn’t been easy.

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