The Race That Changed Me

Today I decided to look back into the IslandGirLoves2Tri (my old blog)’s archive. I found a post about a race I did last year on Mother’s Day; the Ladies’ Choice Sprint Triathlon.

If you are in Northern Virginia and are curious about triathlons, I highly recommend one of Tri It Now‘s sprint or super sprint distance races. They’re the perfect place to try out the sport and/or push yourself to new limits!

IMG_3715A lot has changed in the year since that race and it is all due to the things that happened during the race. If you would have told me that a short sprint triathlon would be the race that transformed me, I wouldn’t have believed you, but here I am;  I’m almost 10 lbs lighter, my training volume has multiplied significantly, I’m a sub-10 min/mile runner and that “elusive Ironman” is now just 3 1/2 months away.

I did not know it then, but looking back now it is clear that I made up my mind to do an Ironman on that day.

The Ladies’ Choice Sprint triathlon, that I signed up for on a whim, was the race that changed me.

Here’s how:

[Archives – May 12, 2013] Island Girl Loves to Tri : The Mental Game
While the highlight of my week might be that I have stayed below 160 lbs all week, the highlight of the day is most definitely my Ladies’ Choice Sprint Triathlon time. Remember I set a goal of just under an hour?

IMG_3676Well…(drum roll please)…I did it in 58:52 and most impressively was that I ran the 2 mile run at a 9:00 min/mile pace! I’m not a 9 min/mile runner especially not after a 400 yard swim and an 8 mile bike ride! Just a few months ago when I started running again I was running 2 miles at barely an 11 min/mile and that was on fresh legs! Now many of my training runs are below that and I’m setting my new goal to 10 min/mile and wondering, could it one day be 9?

If you’re not into racing, you might not understand my excitement or constant goal setting. But here’s the secret straight from the mouth of a behavior analyst: in order to get to where I want to go, I’m going to have to work hard and in order to work hard, I’m going to need to be motivated. Racing myself IS my motivation (although high-fives and cheers from spectators are pretty awesome too).

Meeting personal goals and recognizing that you are stronger than you thought, is a huge motivator and aiming for that elusive Ironman is the biggest motivator I could have.

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This race actually awakened something in me that I have never felt before. I’ve always known I was stronger than I thought and that I could push myself further than I expected, but part of me always disagreed, part of me always whispered you have limits.

IMG_3713As I fought with winds that made my bike move sideways while going up a hill and pushed myself to sprint to the finish, so I could beat my goal, I broke free from that part of me that I feel has been holding me back for months. Working out, losing weight, living life…it’s partly physical, but it’s also very much a mental game.

Today I feel like I have broken down some of the self-defeating words my mind feeds itself.

Yeah, I have physical limits, but today I realized my mind had set those limits way too low. Today, I stepped away from the notion that I could never be a sub-10 min/mile runner, that I could never place during a race (I placed 4th in my age group!), that I could never weigh 140 lbs or have a rock-solid body. Today I felt confident that I COULD become that person, that I could complete an Ironman AND look like one.


An Ironman might not be your dream, but we could all benefit from a battle with our own demons and trust me, you are way stronger than they are!

  1. Love this! I used to run a 9:00 min mile and then three years ago I had some health issues and then foot surgery last year, and I have not been able to get back there. Right now I am at a 11:00 min mile and I keep telling myself that there’s no way I can get there. Then I wanted to kick myself for putting up those mental obstacles. After all two months ago I was running at 14:00 min pace and I have improved significantly. But I would so love to get to the 9:00 min. mile again. 🙂 Maybe you could be my motivator, fellow FitPossible ambassador and island girl! 😀

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