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Ironman Arizona 2011: Final Thoughts and Thanks - Geek Turned Athlete

Ironman Arizona 2011: Final Thoughts and Thanks

Goodness, I promise this is the last of the IMAZ posts at least for a while. I decided to purchase a couple of photos. The one below is a little crazy. I guess I started crying sooner than I thought. ha!


And, maybe a minute afterwards: I pulled it together to smile and pose.


The truth is: Almost ANYONE can do an Ironman. I’m living proof. Like I’ve stated before, I was the stereotypical “geek” in high school who could barely run a mile. I tried out for the softball team my junior year, but quit only 2 days into tryouts because it was ‘hard.” I didn’t make the swim team when they were taking just about anybody. I made excuses about really pushing myself. The perfectionist in me was afraid of failure. I was afraid of putting myself outside my comfort zone. I couldn’t face the “embarrassment” of failing. The only reason why I started working out my sophomore year of college was because I gained the “freshman 15.” Β Up until the last two years really, I never thought of myself as an athlete.

I wanted to finish an Ironman no matter how badly it hurt or how “hard” it was. I don’t know why I felt the need to prove to myself that I was mentally strong enough to pull off an Ironman. Yes, you have to physically train for these things as well, don’t get me wrong. That’s what training plans are for. But really, it is mostly mental. Why? Because these things are rarely painless regardless of your training. My legs really wanted to stop and were yelling me most of the run, but I told them to keep going. The fact that I could push through exhaustion and pain to finish an Ironman leads me to believe that I could truly accomplish anything that I put my mind to. And I don’t just mean sports-related obstacles. This knowledge transcends through all facets of my life– career, relationships, other hobbies, etc.

And to be honest, I had this in me my whole life. It is stupid that it took an Ironman for me to see it, but if you are stubborn like me, you might need to do something like this for you to realize how strong you truly are. Now, I’m kinda addicted. I want to cut a significant amount of time down on my next IM. I want to take it to the next level, and push myself a little more. I want to see how far I can take it. What would happen if I pushed myself a little harder?

I hate it when I hear people say, “You did an Ironman? Oh, I could never do anything like that!” YES YOU COULD! If you wanted it badly enough, anyone could. I saw old, young, paraplegics, teachers, grandmothers, fathers, students, skinny, overweight, you name it, it was out there on the course. I don’t know why anyone would put themselves down like that.

STOP making excuses for yourself as to why you can’t do something. Make up your mind whether you want it or not. If you don’t, that’s okay. If you do, research what you need to do to accomplish it, plan it out, and execute. Β And for goodness sake, stop bitching about how you want your life to be different if you aren’t willing to do anything about it. YES, it IS that easy. Stop living in a “what if” world. Twenty years from now, you will regret the things that you didn’t do WAY more than the things that you did do. Trust me on this. Life goes by fast. You don’t want to wake up one day and think to yourself: Why did I waste all that time on the couch (or whatever)?

Sigh. Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox. I’ve just been exposed to some negativity lately from others. The only thing that saved me from having a horrific Ironman was my positive attitude. I refused to let the negativity seep in and control my life on that day. I can’t say that positivity will always win against my negative thoughts, but I’m sure going to try to fight them off when I can!

Now, time for some thanks.

My beautiful husband. You are my rock. On those days when negativity bears its ugly horns, you make me laugh and realize that negative talk is crazy! Thank you for being my best friend, lover, therapist, cheerleader, sherpa, family babysitter, medic, photographer, etc.

My sister, mom, step-dad, nephews. My sister was 8 months pregnant out there cheering me on for 14 hours. My mom didn’t really know what she was getting into. Thank you for driving out to AZ to cheer me on. Now you know what being a triathlon spectator is about. I’d also like to add that they also ran around Paris cheering me on for my 1st marathon. Goodness. They must love me!

Team Blaze. Wow. I plan on doing a post about the benefits of joining a tri team because I’m hooked. I had someone to ride my bike with for nearly every long ride training for my Ironman. I had people encouraging me through the swim practices and runs. My team coach even cheered me on for my entire race. Team Blaze is like a family. They never let me think for one second that I couldn’t complete an Ironman.

My readers! Thank you for still reading and letting me vent about training!! Like I have said before, it isn’t always sunshine, but you always help me see the bright side!!

I know this post was kinda ranty, but it was what spilled out of me when I opened up my laptop. I have a fun running related giveaway on Thursday for you all!!

Are you afraid of failing? How do you step out of your comfort zone?

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Lisa December 20, 2011, 9:23 am

    That is so awesome! I am glad you have positive feelings about it and that you did it despite not being an athlete growing up. I got the same reactions from people when I was training for Hood to Coast. People would talk about how awful it sounded, how they could never run HTC, etc. Lots of negative talk. I ignored it because I knew I could do it!
    Lisa recently posted..Lentilles au Vin Blanc

  • Beth December 20, 2011, 9:29 am

    I love love love this! Congratulations on finding this in yourself! I agree, anyone who wants to commit to the training can do this. Its just very few people who have the right attitude and the willingness to push through.
    Beth recently posted..2012 Race Schedule

  • Jess December 20, 2011, 9:37 am

    LOVE this!! Love that you reminded us of your journey to here – you are a true inspiration to me, and to countless other readers, I’m sure. And you are absolutely right – you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to, you just have to trust yourself and GO FOR IT, just like you said and just like you did. I’ve been battling that demon in me that wants to say “stop, stop, stop” and instead, I’m learning to stop the “going halfway and stopping” thing I used to do with any challenge I’d face. Now I want to KILL every single challenge I face rather than half-assing it. That’s my plan for 2012 -give it my all, leap more before looking and just GO FOR IT (26.2 I’m coming for you!). AWESOME POST!!!
    Jess recently posted..A run-barre-rundate for one

  • lindsay December 20, 2011, 10:09 am

    gosh, what a journey! and can i say that i am super impressed with your time!! WOW! I love hearing about the trials you went through because in the end its all about the support and strength from within. Thank you for sharing friend.
    lindsay recently posted..Christchurch: A New Beginning

  • Katy Widrick December 20, 2011, 10:11 am

    I was JUST thinking of you today, and hoping for a final thoughts recap. So glad I got it.

    What’s your next goal?
    Katy Widrick recently posted..New Tool Tuesday: DailyBurn

    • Nicole December 20, 2011, 5:03 pm

      IM Lake Placid. After that, I have no idea. We shall see!!

  • Meghann December 20, 2011, 12:24 pm

    You. Are. My. Idol. Seriously. This is where I want to be in two years, in this exact same mindset after finishing my first ironman. I’ve loved following your journey and look forward to following many more races to come. GREAT attitude. Seriously girl! You rock!
    Meghann recently posted..Five Bamboo Giveaway

  • Alicia December 20, 2011, 12:31 pm

    I have loved your Ironman posts and am sad your done. This one was especially inspiring. I don’t know if I will ever do an Ironman but I definitely want to push the limits and conquer my fears in other aspects of my life. Quick question, how did you learn to swim and I mean really swim (to be able to race) not just for recreation?

    • Nicole December 20, 2011, 5:02 pm

      My husband has to swim for his job (military), so he worked with me for a while. I also read Total Immersion. It helps tremendously. Finally, I joined masters swimming!! Don’t be afraid of masters swim. All abilities are welcome. πŸ˜‰ Good luck!!

  • Emily December 20, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Wow. Congratulations. That’s an AMAZING accomplishment. Completing an Ironman AND kind of finding yourself as well!
    Emily recently posted..An early morning run + b-day celebrations!

  • Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl December 20, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I love this post! Nicole, you are truly an inspiration. I on the other hand am still trying to figure out how people surpass a 5K. lol. But none the less am working towards it. Between this, my friend’s TED speech I heard today, and finding some other cool adventurous sites I found… I am geared to knock 2012 down and finish on the high road. Thank you!
    Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl recently posted..Banana-Oatmeal Parfait (Take Two)

  • CaitlinHTP December 20, 2011, 1:42 pm

    you rock!

  • Sana December 20, 2011, 8:37 pm

    Only your amazing family could support you for 14 hours! We just read your recap from the comfort of our home πŸ™‚
    Sana recently posted..Mini Desserts Rule

  • Lisa December 21, 2011, 5:07 am

    Hello fellow perfectionist! Your fears of failure are quite familiar to me. I agree with your comparison of dealing with any obstacle once you’ve completed an ironman/marathon/whatever. Completing my first marathon in 2000 and now preparing for my 10th marathon in 2012 reminds me of how much my attitude has changed (for the better) and how I always think about those races/training cycles when I’m faced with something that seems to be unsurmountable.

    Never get tired of reading your posts! GREAT JOB!

    • Nicole December 21, 2011, 8:54 am

      It IS funny how our perception changes, the more races we do. I still get nervous before my races, but nowhere near as nervous as I used to get 3 years ago, 2 years ago, or even 1 year ago.

  • Alanna @ Blood, Sweat, and Cupcakes December 21, 2011, 5:56 am

    So proud of you! You did so awesome!
    Alanna @ Blood, Sweat, and Cupcakes recently posted..21 Day Vegan Challenge

  • Karen December 21, 2011, 6:49 am

    Couldn’t agree more with the “anyone can do it” sentiment! It is funny how your outlook changes. Going into an IM, the race seems like this big scary thing that only some kind of super athlete could accomplish then you get there and realize a lot of the people look completely “normal”. Yes, it takes a whole lot of training and determination but truly most anyone who puts their mind to it can cross that finish line. Love your recap and loved following your progress – congrats IM girl πŸ™‚
    Karen recently posted..of modems, psychics and soggy banana bread…

  • Trisha December 23, 2011, 12:03 am

    I am registered to run my first half-marathon in April!! I am very excited. I have always wanted to be a runner, always felt like I was too heavy, and finally decided to get out of my comfort zone and have lost almost 50 pounds, and now I RUN!!! And, I LOVE IT πŸ™‚
    Trisha recently posted..Thursday- a good day, indeed!

  • Kristina December 26, 2011, 9:00 am

    Great thoughts – thanks for sharing!
    I just signed up for my first Half, the Boulder 70.3, and it seems like a great way to mark the fact that I’ll be 40-years-old and still pushing myself to do new and challenging activities.
    I like that you mention the mental part, because I think that most of what I enjoy IS the mental challenge. I’m not naturally ‘athletic’, but I love being active and I love pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
    Kristina recently posted..Lazy days in Taos

  • steena December 28, 2011, 4:49 pm

    πŸ™‚ omg, pretty much greatest IM post-rant ever. Thank you for posting it! I’m someone who doesn’t have the courage for an IM because I’ve had 3 bad marathons, so I’ve got that IF weighing me down.
    Congratulations to you! I love that you the experience makes you want to go back for more too!

  • Shiryl January 5, 2012, 9:22 am

    From one New Ironman Finisher to another

    You are right, anyone can do it. My coach told me he could get me to the finish line but I would only be 10% ready. I thought he was crazy after all the hours of training.
    But he was right the day of alll day, the other 90% was all on me: The drive, the will, the determination to see it all the way through.

    I have ‘Team Shiryl’ there to cheer me on, and my coach to ‘coach’ me during different parts of the race.

    But no one can ever take that from me and you.

    We are Ironman Finishers!!

  • Brooke June 21, 2012, 3:20 pm

    Hello!! I just read your entire Ironman Recaps, and wow. You are amazing! CONGRATS! I am now SO INSPIRED to complete an Ironman in my lifetime! THANK YOU for that πŸ™‚

    On a similar note, really really enjoying your blog!
    Brooke recently posted..Morning Runs Make Me Happy

    • Nicole June 21, 2012, 4:15 pm

      Oh good! I try to be as real as possible. I’m no badass for sure. Thanks for reading! πŸ˜‰


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