Today marked the last long ride of my training schedule for Ironman Louisville. I'm now at the part of the schedule where my workouts are less than an hour. This week my full focus will be on mentally preparing for the race, packing my things, and finally going to Louisville to make this dream a reality.
Less than two and a half years ago I ran my first 5K on April 5, 2009. Prior to 2009, running never was a part of my life. I rarely did cardio work and the only time I ran was playing tennis or softball. I wasn't extremely out of shape, but I wasn't in great shape either. When I signed up for the OKC Memorial Half Marathon in mid-February 2009, I did it as a tool to get me out of a rut. I never really knew if it would stick, but one thing I did know was that it would challenge me and force me to be disciplined. My training started primarily on the treadmill. The thought of running outside was scary. I didn't know how to pace. I didn't know if I could reach the distance of my long runs. I was scared I was going to fail. Every day I got back out there and kept challenging myself to get a little further. I kept telling myself to go a little bit faster. With every passing day I gained more confidence. I knew I was falling in love with the sport. I knew I was becoming hooked. Running became my passion. Running become a huge part of my life. My free time that used to be filled with going to happy hours or watching mindless TV was spent on the running paths. I met people who inspired me and made me smile. I met people who I wanted to be like. I wanted to be that guy or girl who could run a marathon every few months. I wanted to be that person who ran every day. One thing I didn't want to be was a triathlete though.
Triathlons were even scarier. I couldn't see myself doing an open water swim. Heck, I couldn't even see myself swimming at all. I never took swim lessons as a kid and swimming wasn't something I enjoyed. As spring turned to summer and my first marathon came and went, I gained even more and more confidence. The marathon made me realize that I really could do whatever I wanted. Triathlons started to become a little less daunting. I took a leap of faith and attended a Team-in-Training info session on a whim in January 2010. I had no real intentions of signing up, but I wanted to at least leave the option open. I took a swim class at my work and got chewed up and spit out by the pool and the instructor. I left swim class thinking I was a year or two off before I could even think of doing a triathlon. I even told the Team-in-Training staff that I wasn't going to be ready to do a triathlon in 2010 and told them I wasn't signing up. Thankfully, the staff at TNT didn't let up and told me that I'd be fine. They reassured me that most people who sign up rarely can swim well and they'd make sure I was ready before I hit the open water. Thankfully I decided to join up with the TNT crew for the Capital of Texas triathlon. I never fully embraced the triathlon lifestyle until after my first triathlon. Triathlon made me miss running. I hated swimming and viewed it as a distraction from my running passion. I went into my first triathlon with nowhere near the zeal and fire I had for my first marathon. I viewed the Olympic distance race as a great way to end my training, but I didn't fall in love. I knew I needed something more to make me fall in love with triathlon. After CapTex, I decided to focus my efforts on increasing my bike mileage and run a couple of marathons to build my base. I had a goal. I had a goal to do an Ironman. I started thinking about the Ironman almost immediately after leaving the CapTex triathlon. Originally I had planned on doing it in 2012 as a way to celebrate turning 30. As the summer of 2010 passed, I grew more and more passionate about doing the Ironman. I knew 2012 was too far away so I decided that 2011 would be the year of the Ironman. I eagerly started scoping out locations and dreaming of where my first Ironman attempt would take place. I ultimately decided on Louisville due to timing and location. I pulled the trigger and signed up on November 16th, 2010, a little over a week after my third marathon. Since then, my whole focus has been on training and getting ready for August 28th, 2011. The last few weeks, people look at me and tell me they could never do it. They tell me they can't imagine doing 140.6 miles in one day. They say the could never swim 2.4 miles. They say they could never bike 112 miles. They say they could never run 26.2 miles. I look back at them and say "Yes, you can." I'm a firm believer that we're all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for. Now it's time for me to go prove it. Three years ago, I never thought I'd be doing an Ironman. Three years ago I was one of those people saying I couldn't do it. Now I can't imagine not doing it. Dream big. Work hard. Make it happen.