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You'll only ever have ONE first _________

Since Ironman, I have realized a few things and here is one that I find myself sharing with friends repeatedly, so I thought it my be best to share it here, too, since I think it is good advice/insight, and would like to share it with whomever will listen.

If you are a friend, and I have already told you this, sorry. See ya next post.

I ran my first marathon 9 years ago. I did what I knew to do (which wasn't much). I trained what I could. And I got through it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Luckily, I had some circumstances that had me sign up for another one-- which is where I got hooked.

A few years ago when I was living in Green Bay, my friend Marcie trained for her first marathon. She and I ran with a group of people and Marcie trained a different way. She got advice and support from us all. She learned what she needed to. Having a bunch of marathon-junkies around, she knew what to expect. Running a hometown race (it was the GB marathon she did), she had support from friends, family, running-buddies, etc. And it was just an AWESOME experience for her. I was SO HAPPY for her, and at the same time, sad I hadn't known to do the same for myself.

Going into Ironman, I knew this could possibly be a one-and-done deal. Ironman training takes a lot of time, dedication, money, energy. And not just from the athlete, but from their supporters as well. I thought that this might very well be the only opportunity to do an Ironman and how sad it would be if it were like my first marathon-- just getting through it. Right away, I knew I didn't want any regrets. The idea that I would only have "ONE FIRST" (possibly only) Ironman, and I wanted to treat it that way.

So this past year, I made a big deal of my Ironman. That isn't like me. Rarely do I solicit support or even mention what I am doing to most people. But I knew if I wanted to succeed in my goal of reaping the most of my experience, I would have to change, and I am so thankful I did. So here are a few things we did:
  • We hired a coach (priceless), so that we would have a source of knowledge to tap.
  • We joined a tri club (that we LOVE) and another source of knowledge and friends.
  • We reached out to others we knew doing the race-- made some AWESOME companions along the way. That we then shared pre-race, race and post-race memories with!
  • I had my husband to train with-- mentally and physically. Do not underestimate the value of training partners.
  • We invited family to races- believe it or not, I had never done this.
  • I started this blog to help get my family more involved in what we were doing-- I knew I needed their support.
  • I learned to love every bit of training-- especially the hard days-- for I knew they would prepare me.
  • I shared what I was doing with everyone I knew (who was interested), so that they, too, could journey through us.
So, that is what we did. And it worked. I enjoyed the day from start to finish. Sleep-deprived, food-deprived, energy deprived and I still smiled from ear to ear for 17 hours straight.

My main point is not to give you a list of things to do to prepare you for your first Ironman. That would be a much longer, lengthier post that I don't think I am even qualified to write.
My point is this: For any goal you have, to really wrap your mind and your training around the experience as a whole. To not just train for it solo, but to bring others in. Be it a 5k, half, tri, whatever it is that is a challenge and/or a goal for you. To embrace it. To love it. To not play it down because if it really is important to you, then it should be important to those around you as well. When you reach out, you will realize how much people want to support you. I am continually grateful to my friend Sonja who constantly invites us (her friends) along on her journeys. We can't run 100 miles, but we can run 6 (over and over again) or bike alongside her during training. It is a joy to support her in her endeavors.

YOU WILL ONLY EVER HAVE ONE FIRST ______, so make it great. Make it an experience you want to repeat.