Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Post: One Man’s Journey to a Half Ironman

Today’s post is by one of my best friend’s and racing buddy, Long. This weekend he will be participating in his first half Ironman in Miami, Florida. A half Ironman race consists of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run. Having known about his journey personally, I asked him to put into words what it was like training for a race of this magnitude. I truly feel his journey is inspirational and worth sharing with you all! So, without further ado, here is his story:

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What a journey it has been. The past several months of endless bike rides, swim laps, and miles run will soon culminate in one triumphant moment of glorious victory. In just a few day’s time, I will venture out into the world of the ½ Ironman and while I eagerly await the challenge, I begin to reflect on my journey. It is said that the journey is just as important as the destination, if not more. Although I have not quite reached the destination, I can say this of the journey… it has been one of many small victories and great challenges for my mental, physical, and emotional capacities.

Wounded Warrior Half Marathon (Long and myself) – June 2013

Though I have competed in sprint triathlons for about four years, the leap in distance required a significant increase in my drive to success. I made completely unexpected discoveries such as the ease of swimming compared to biking after the bike distance reaches beyond 20 miles. I discovered that I can’t wait to feel hunger or thirst before I consume sustenance or it’s too late. Most importantly, I discovered that my drive to success should never outweigh my own internal capacity to enjoy training for the Ironman.

For two months, I trained with the single purpose of reaching a point whereby I could begin the Ironman training program. Every stroke, pedal, and step after the first month was a mental note that what I am doing will not get easier or less painful because I am getting faster, going further, and getting stronger. You could call my first steps into the Ironman training my first big victory amongst the small ones. In the first two months of my training, I had reached a fitness level good enough to sustain before reaching a truly new level of mental and physical exertion.

Cooper Sprint Triathlon – July 2013

Eventually, I reached a two-a-day training schedule that commanded a combination of either a morning swim and evening run, or a morning bike and evening run. What used to be a workout for one day had now become just half my new daily workout, and the last month and a half would push all my limits. Reaching bike distances up to 55 and 62 miles became grueling; no matter how well I planned, at such a distance, I would inevitably run into hills and head wind.

During the last month of training, I became emotionally charged and would feel anxious if I had to miss a training session. There came a time where, due to work, I had to miss one or both of my daily workouts, and I became deeply bitter. This is the point where I realized I had reached an emotional and mental tipping point. My drive to success had become negative and I was putting too much pressure on myself. Important as the race is, I couldn’t forget why I started – I started this journey because I enjoyed the challenge…to cross a finish line which only a handful of individuals in this world would ever even dream to attempt. This victory would be mine and mine alone forever; no one could take that away.

North Texas Bicycle Rally 100K – Oct 2013

From that moment, I have managed to balance myself out by focusing more on my vision of victory rather than the insecurities from missing workouts. To conquer this Ironman physically, I must first conquer it mentally! With just a few days away, internally… I am already a victor.

QOTD: Is a half ironman on your bucket list?

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