Whatever You are Going Through, Right Now is Your Ironman
by Christine K.
Last fall, I completed an Ironman triathlon after six months of training almost every day. I placed second-to-last in an age group of nearly 40 athletes, finishing with less than half an hour to spare before the course cut off. This year, I ran a single 5K this year without training. I placed first in an age group of ten runners, maintaining a sub-9 minute pace while pushing my 2-year-old son in a stroller.
Which race result brings me a greater sense of fulfillment?
In a certain sense, I can say both, because completing an Ironman and living my best life as a single mom are ultimately not that different. Both require the same basic elements: time, effort, consistency, resources, and community. Consider just a few major milestones in light of these elements… earning a college degree, securing a good job, buying a house, overcoming an addiction, getting married, raising children… While there are many other factors at work, most accomplishments boil down to these basics.
Like most athletes, I can say that the physical training needed to complete an Ironman is only half of my story. I deferred the race for a year after giving birth to my son, and I started training about six months postpartum. A few months later, I finally accepted that my son’s dad was not going to support me as a mother in the way that I had hoped. I was holding down two part-time teaching jobs at the time, and I texted several close friends in the final weeks of the school year to help me with dinner and bedtime; I was not alone for a single evening. I learned to rely on friends and family for everything from emotional support to childcare during workouts. I found Coach Christa with Experience Triathlon Coaching Services, and tasked her with creating an intentional but realistic plan for getting me across the finish line uninjured.
I am incredibly humbled when I consider that everything I went through in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the Ironman is only a blip on the radar among all of the hardships that people endure in their daily lives pursuing their dreams and trying to make the best of their realities. On race day, I felt like I was running the anchor leg of a relay, only able to run the final lap because of the efforts of those who had supported me in my training and preparation.
During and after the Ironman, I enjoyed the encouragement and admiration of friends, family members, and total strangers. But what impressed me the most as my goal became reality was a humbling realization that each person going through some sort of challenge in life, whether by direct choice or circumstance, is essentially completing their own Ironman, consistently devoting time, energy, and resources to overcome an obstacle or achieve a goal. When people say to me, “Wow! An Ironman? You’re such a boss!” I inwardly reflect on the fact that they too are a “boss” in their own way, in whatever obstacles they’ve already overcome in their lives or whatever goals they are currently working towards.
My life philosophy is that whatever you are facing here and now is the hardest thing you’ve ever done precisely because you haven’t accomplished it yet. Your homework load in 4th grade may have seemed like a veritable mountain, but in 8th grade you can look back and say, “That was SO easy!” Maybe you ran a marathon before, but now you’re training for a 10K after coming back from an injury or while raising three children. Maybe you’ve always felt confident and competent in your job, but now find yourself in a stressful work situation with colleagues or bosses who seem to be constantly putting you down. Maybe you previously enjoyed financial stability, but an unexpected change in your plans has left you barely able to make ends meet.
Yes, I completed an Ironman, but it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done; I’ve already crossed that finish line. Nowadays I am focusing more on overcoming the challenges of being a single mom, and that requires just as much time and dedication.
Whatever you are going through right now is your Ironman. Stay focused, keep going and get to your finish-line!