imfdonna.jpg (38035 bytes)Changed Forever

“Once you do an ironman you’re changed forever” that’s what my friend Bruce Allentuck told me. He’s right I learned many lessons on the ironman journey. For those of you not familiar with triathlons the ironman is the ultimate triathlon challenge. It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride and a 26.2 mile run. It’s been a year and a half since I did the ironman and the biggest change is the sense of calmness, the sureness about things, and the confidence I gained. I can’t think of much that would rattle me in training right now. Funny thing is I recall some of my swim mates teasing me after I had missed swimming for a few weeks. As I labored, they were giving me a hard time saying “Come on you’re an ironman.” They were right; I had conquered that challenge so bouncing back after an absence was achievable. The truth is you carry your ironman with you. I had a tooth removed and an implant installed, and I recall sitting in the oral surgeons chair tense being unsure of what the procedure would entail. I thought to myself, no problem, I did an ironman; this little tooth issue is nothing.

The great thing is that once you raise the bar and then reach that mark you have momentum in all other areas of your life. When you stretch and then achieve success you earn your self esteem. That is huge. The first time I ran a mile nonstop, then the first time I ran a 5K race, and then the first 10K run, each of these milestones changed me. I’ve watched people be transformed simply by signing up for a race, a big race that caused them to wonder “Can I do this?” Conquering this goal changed them forever.

This in a roundabout way brings me to my point. When you challenge yourself and meet that challenge you grow and you’re changed forever. Recently my friend Dee posted on facebook “Just finished watching The Biggest Loser!! How inspirational to see those people do the 5K. I know how they feel, I couldn't walk up 5 steps 2 years ago without being short of breath and my chest hurting, and because of the Biggest Loser I did a half-marathon and have lost almost 60 pounds!!! Anybody can do this if you really want it!!!” She has been changed forever and she can take that with her everywhere she goes.

Here’s the secret: you don’t have to do it. Nobody makes you set a goal, raise the bar, or challenge yourself. You can do what’s required, go home and call it a day. This isn’t even about fitness because some of you are artist, or you’re a musician, or a writer or you sew and you have gifts that you can challenge or simply ignore. But if you want to be changed forever, if you want the confidence that comes from raising the bar and meeting the challenge, well then you’ve got to get out there and give it a go. I really don’t have to say much more because you know what you should try.

imfjeff.jpg (40879 bytes)Now if you’re wondering what if I fail, let me tell you another ironman story. While at the carbo dinner for Ironman Florida I met Jeff. He was attempting his third ironman and he had two DNF’s (did not finish.) He told me that during the last one he didn’t make the bike cut off and around mile 90 the race officials kindly told him that he was done because he was not going to finish within the course cut off time. Can you imagine all the training he went through twice and didn’t reach his goal? Jeff told me that he had brought his tuxedo and if he made it to the run he was going to wear it. Ironman races have cut off times for the swim, and cutoffs for the bike and finally you must finish it all within 17 hours. Jeff finished in Florida with a time of 16:58:14 and he had a tuxedo on. How do you think he felt?

“Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves. It has nothing to do with how many times you win or lose. It has no relation to where you finish in a race or whether you break world records. But it does have everything to do with having the vision to dream, the courage to recover from adversity and the determination never to be shifted from your goals." – Kieren Perkins