From NEVER to Ironman – Achieving the IMpossible
From “Never” to Ironman – Achieving the (IM)possible
by Eric R.
It’s been 4 days and I’m still wearing the athlete wristband after my finish at Ironman Maryland. I guess it’s because I am still in awe and wonder of what I was just able to accomplish, perhaps thinking that this was some sort of dream. Nope, it was real! I crossed that finish line! But, it wasn’t something I’d ever thought I’d be able to do-finish an Ironman? Who? Me? No way, never, that’s impossible. If that’s where I was, then what lead me to being announced as an Ironman last Saturday?
I didn’t even begin endurance athletics by choice. In the late winter of 2011, my wife, Jessica, sends me an email at school (I’m a teacher) saying that she’s signed us up for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago and to get ready! Let’s put it this way-I was not thrilled. But, she and I began running together, and it wasn’t so bad. Training goes alright, or at least what we called what we did training, little did either of us know, and on to race day, we went. Well, I had a blast! I had the biggest rush as I ran through the streets of Chicago! The next day I signed up for my first half marathon, which happened to be taking place the day before I turned 30. What a great way to show that my fitness was improving as I was getting “older” (recognizing that 30 is by no means old).
As the early 2010s roll on, I sign up for a variety of races, 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, even 2 marathons! Did fine at each, all self-coached, even broke the 2 hour mark on my half marathons pretty early on (I’m really not that fast). The idea of attempting a triathlon creeps into my mind, but my goodness, those that do Ironman events must be crazy (well, we are, I just didn’t know that I was heading in that direction-yet) that’d never be me!
My brother, Steve, and his family spend much of their summers in Door County, WI, near where the Door County Triathlon is held each July. He announces late winter that he is going to be signing up for the 2016 sprint triathlon. He, Jeff, and I start talking, and think, how cool would it be if all of us run this race together? We do and have a great time, being cheered on by tons of our family and friends. I come back from that race super jacked up. You might be able to guess, I start investigating what the next distance would be. Discovering that Olympic distance triathlon really wasn’t that much further (especially the swim, that was the part that quite honestly scared me) made me feel confident in signing up for my first one the next year.
And as a ball rolling down a hill picks up speed, so did my desire to extend my triathlon race distance. Not long after finishing a couple Olympic distance races, I signed up for Ironman 70.3 in Ohio and followed that with Steelhead 70.3 in 2021. It was after Steelhead that I felt that it was time to go for it all-full Iron here I come!
As I went along this path, I began to realize that I was capable of more than I knew. As I would race longer distances and have success, I learned that I hadn’t yet found my limit. While each new race presented new challenges and hurdles, I was able to meet them head-on. But, I knew before I began Ironman training, I would need help. I was lucky enough to find Joe LoPresto of Experience Triathlon Coaching Services to help coach me in this endeavor, what I hadn’t realized was the amazing group that came with him! The fellow athletes in Experience Triathlon were as useful during training as the expertise from Coach Joe. Meeting all of these driven and dedicated people only deepened my own desire to get to that red carpet!
So I have now completed something that I swore I’d never be able to do. Hearing, “Eric Rauch, You are an Ironman,” will give me goosebumps for the rest of my life! What is my limit? I guess I’ll keep looking!