People who have a strong reason to do something big or a challenging goal in their lives have a better chance at completing that goal. This reason is your "Why". Why do it? Why would you put yourself through it? Why do that to your body? Why take away so much time from friends and family? Why dedicate a year (or so) to your goal?
I find that the bigger the "Why" the stronger the commitment, the more consistent and the more passionate the person is to completing that goal.
In Ironman if your "Why" is because everyone else is doing it, I want the M Dot tattoo, or just why not? You may find yourself struggling to get through not only the insurmountable training, but you may struggle to find that finish line without a bigger reason.
As a Triathlete, it seems to be the natural progression of the sport. You start with a sprint, then work your way up to Olympic and maybe test your self on a Half Ironman to see if you like longer courses. I thrive on the blood curdling aspect of Zone 5 Heart Rates in Sprint races, and the short pacing of Olympic races. I love doing these short distance races because they push you to your limits of pain in a very short period of time. It's all about how hard you can go, how much pain (in the form of lactate acid, and high heart rates) you can handle before you explode and quit, slow down or finish. Once I started to do Half Iron distance races I started to enjoy that as well, but for a different reason. Strategy. The entire time you are racing a Half you are consistently checking in with your body to make sure you are not going too hard, but just hard enough to pull off a great 1/2 marathon. It's a game of cat and mouse with your pacing and nutrition. When you pull off a really great Half Ironman you won. (Whether or not you actually won the race).
If you asked me why I haven't done an Ironman yet you'd get a handful of excuses. I had plenty of reasons to NOT do the Ironman distance:
The first would be, because I don't want to race that long. I like short distance racing, that's what I am good at. Ironman is a really, really long day.
As a parent, I simply don't have time to train on the weekends with my son's sport practices and games, and all of the household chores that need to be done etc. There just wasn't enough time.
Third, I just don't want to be on a bike that long. I love riding my bike, but I have never ridden over 80 miles at one time and I really had no desire to do it. I wanted to continue to love riding my bike.
Ironman is expensive. Flat out, it's a pricey registration fee, then add in any travel, hotel, meals for the race weekend. Not to mention the months of costs involved with training. (More on that later). I just didn't have the money to spend on something like that for myself.
Finally, because I am afraid. I am not afraid of finishing, I know I can do that. I am afraid of burning out and not wanting to continue to do the sport that I not only love, but have built an entire career and lifestyle around. I am afraid, I'll get off my bike I love so much and not want to ride it ever again.
So, how did I find my "Why" to finally commit to doing and Ironman. My "Why" needed to be big, it needed to outweigh the reasons NOT to do one.
My "Why" is because It's time to challenge myself to a greater goal. The Half Iron distance race now seems (for lack of a better word)... easy.
In 2017 I will be 50 years old, doing my first Ironman will be a monumental challenge. I did my first Marathon the year I turned 40, so continuing the theme feels right.
My son is getting older and half of the time he doesn't even know if I am in the house or not. And now that he is a full blown teenager who will be driving in 2017 my excuses about spending time with him are growing thin as he is starting to have his own life without his mom. Not to mention he has asked me multiple times why I don't "suck it up" and do an Ironman?
As a coach with multiple Ironman Athlete finishes to my name, I believe I will have more credibility with my athletes if they know I have too suffered and experience what I am asking them to do. In the past I have always said "Siri Lindley has never raced and Ironman." It doesn't seem to matter to my athletes. They want to know I understand even though I still have empathy and the knowledge to get them through the race start to finish.
Finally, I want to bring my triathlon experience full circle. The first time I ever heard the word Triathlon, or Triathlete I lived in my home town of Santa Rosa, California. I did my first race just outside of Sonoma County, joined my first Tri Club, and hired my first coach there. My first Half Ironman distance race was Vineman 70.3. It was my home turf as I got to train on those roads and I knew all of the in's and out's of the course.
So for my 50th year on this planet, my 13th year as an athlete, I am returning home to Sonoma County and racing Ironman Vineman 140.6, 12 years after racing the 70.3 course, bringing me full circle to where I started.
I still have some of those worries I mentioned above. We'll have to see how they play out over the course of the next year. Crossing my fingers that I still love my bike when I cross that finish line.