First off, let me say how sorry I am to continue to drag this whole thing out. You all have put up with 3 posts just on the race, and now I’m still here talking about it. Every time I look at the readership of this blog I am shocked that so many of you tune in to read me babble along through these. Thank you! I tried to put in some pictures so at least you have something fun to look at while I mumble along.

These Ironman races are my love…MY LOVE (third to Annie and Troy). I have the pleasure of squeaking out two of them a year and they are two of the most cherished days of the year for me. I often think that maybe one year I’ll take a break from Kona, and from doing well at Ironman, and I will just race a ton of them. But to do well at them, you do have to limit them, and so, I get two precious days a year.

That being said, I will replay those two days a year over in my mind the other 363 days of the year. I think about these races, what went well, what didn’t, what needs changing, what worked, what didn’t work. I try to share some of that on this blog, and some of it is just too raw to throw out there…but I try.

I came into Cozumel on less than sure footing. For several reasons my life has had a few challenges in the past few months and it’s manifested itself in different ways. I have felt internal angst, but I have also learned things about my family, my husband, and myself through it.

I arrived in Cozumel ready for a month long nap, both physically and emotionally. I slept a lot those days before the Ironman. I even skipped the practice swim and a bike date with Sarah Piampiano on Saturday to sleep even more. I’m still sad about this. But I was tired, and whooped, and just didn’t want to move much.

I laid in bed and just wondered what I was doing with my life and whether doing what I love would be the demise of so many other things I love. I worried about Troy, about my family, about my friends. I train so much, I say “no” so often, and I’m tired when I’m not training. But I love it, and I live it, and Troy loves it, and we get to travel so much more than most.

After the race I left Cozumel full of life and joy. I was on cloud 9 and race day for me was an affirmation that of all the things I do in this world, of all the hats that I wear, besides being a mom and a wife, this Ironman thing is what I love most, and sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing I am truly good at. It’s funny how that can happen. Race day is supposed to exhaust you, but it was life giving to me.

Emotionally I understand now what happened to me at the finish, but it’s taken some time to admit to all this in my head. When we lose control in life, we aim to control other things. Most all people strive to have control in their life, after all, the opposite is uncomfortable. I think triathlon draws in a lot of Type A people because Type Aers like to control things and there are lots of opportunities with three sports and lonely training to be in control. Type A people don’t do motocross…to much is beyond control, and too much is high risk.

Setting the 10 hour goal was my way of trying to control my world when I was feeling out of control. Which is quite pathetic because of all the things I could “control” the 10 hour barrier was a lousy choice! Ususally I am the girl who just sets forth the “plan” and then I go about executing, keeping a rational brain about not setting time goals and not getting stuck on things I can’t control.

When I came across in over 10 hours there was a huge emotional release. I think that it was my way of lamenting the total loss of control I felt. I can’t make people that I love healthy, I can’t make people that I adore like me, and I can’t pick a number and race to it. In a stupid way, I kinda thought that if I broke 10 the other things in my world would be righted, or that I could at least get a handle on them. Or at the very least that me lacking a handle on them would suddenly not seem so bad.

Like most triathletes, when I struggle in other aspects in life, it’s really easy to disappear into the training. Training for an Ironman is a good excuse to stick your head in a hole.

We ultimately don’t have control of much. We go out there and we do our best, in life, in sport, in relationships. And sometimes our best falls short of what se set out for. But if we are grounded, willing to learn, to self asses, and if we can still smile, then we haul ourselves out of the medical tent, we walk back and get our deserved medal, we grab a massage and some grub, and we move on. We fall into the arms of those that never leave our side and we go grab a fruity drink.

It may not make a lot of sense to you, but it does to me now, and it’s my blog. Ha!

So, if you read this blog to learn something through my mistakes, I will say, let go of the time goals. Work on what you can, and drop the rest. Lose the expectations, not because they are unrealistic, but because having expectations doesn’t get you any closer to achieving them. Focus on the hard stuff that no one else will do, be calm when others have angst, rally when others are falling apart.

I say these things not because I do them, not because I have mastered them, but as a reminder to myself. After all, it’s my blog… HA!

In terms of this crazy sport called triathlon, I still have much to work on, but when I look at what I asked myself to do, and I look at how much I gave to myself out there, I am really pleased. I am not upset about not going under 10, but I am upset that I set that as a goal in the first place. I am beyond lucky to be able to race these races, I am beyond lucky to have the support that I do. I don’t take these days for granted. They are a gift. But I also realize that racing triathlon is most the time, the thing I do to feel in control of my life, my weight, my emotional state, and my health. It may not be the best, but I recognize that it is that for me right now.

I want to give humble thanks to the following:

My husband and daughter: I am both easy and hard to live with. They are both easy and easy to live with. They are the two people in this world that I would lay across a set of railroad tracks for. Thank you with all that I am.

Chuckie: Two years he has put aside his own goals and dreams to train me. Thank you for all that you have done for me, it’s been quite the education.

PIC: She really is my sister from another mother…and father. Thank you for being that listening ear, and that woman who really accepts me for me.

Kompetitive Edge: Thank you guys for all the pep talks, and all the gear, and all the support, and all the well wishes. You have become family to me this year.

Quintana Roo: Thank you for the bike! Seriously, I love my little blackjack. My QR loved racing in QR!

Punk Rock Racing: Ron Ron Ron. What can I say? Not only do you provide me with the best t-shirts ever, but with advise and friendship that I really value highly. I call you when I am nervous, and you always calm me down.

TYR: My body thanks you. I have no chafing…except from the gel wrappers I stuck up my shorts. I have the most wonderful training gear. I am so lucky.

Justins: I went through about 40 jars of almond butter this year. Without you, I would be really skinny…and would barely be able to stand up!

Love Grown: I went through 58 bags of your love this year, and had it not been made with love, I would have surely starved to death, and died of a broken heart. Thank you.

Nathan: The best hand held bottles and waist packs anywhere. There was many a run where I would have been left high and dry without your products.

Nuun: The new grape Nuun has single handedly saved me from many a delirious bonk. My body thanks you.

First Endurance: What can I say, the Pre Race has propelled me to new heights, and the Ultragen has been there when I dragged myself up on the porch, kaput from all the training. Your products work. Bottom line.

Josh at Tri-Massage: From the All Sports Recovery Club to Josh’s MRT, by body is healthy, happy, and ready for many more years of this. Thank you.

To everyone who reads and my extended family: thank you for coming on the journey with me. From twitter to Facebook, to this blog, to my email and phone, I always get so much support from others. I think about all the close friends I have made the last 5 years and I know that these have been the best years of my life.


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Family, First Endurance, health, Ironman, Justin's Nut Butter, Quintana Roo, Triathlon

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  1. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

  2. How did I miss this post??? I am a little choked up reading it. I could relate to so many of the sentiments. Thanks for the honesty and for giving all that you do to those of us who are lucky enough to call you “coach.”


  3. Sonja,

    Great post. So true to all that you wrote. Enjoy reading about your two days a year (and the rest of the blog posts) and look forward to reading more. Ironman races truly are special. As are other people/events in our individual lives.

  4. Thank you for your wonderful candidness. Training can be all-consuming and sometimes wreaks havoc on every other aspect of our lives, yet we grind through it. It becomes difficult to manage the priorities and remember why we do what we do – especially when we are tired and when the demands of everything else creep up. And then, that moment on race day reminds us why we go through all of this, the physical pain and the emotional toil. Nothing is impossible in this life. Ever.

  5. Wonderful, Sonja. I am only an ultrarunner, yet yours is one of my favorite blogs. Thanks so much for sharing what you share with us. Your writing always helps me think of my running and my life in a slightly different way. Marvelous. Marvelous. Marvelous.

  6. This post blows me away Sonja! Love it, love it, love it. You bring everything to life in such a real way and you really “put it out there”. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I am a follower but rarely leave comments (sorry:D)… I just want to say this post from you was amazing. It gave me a total ‘Ah-ha’ moment. I am such a control freak… and before I really got into my training, I was at such a low point in my life. Transferring that ‘negative’ control or addiction for a positive control and a positive addiction such at training has put me in such a happier place in my life. Every time things seem to be falling apart and veering towards those old bad habits I control my training a bit more and all is well again. It seem so simple, but I did not realize the connection until reading your post. THANKS:)

  8. Thank you for sharing your journey through honesty. Your struggles mimic mine in some ways and so I take this journey with you in some ways. That means a lot to me. And I will try and remember these words as well…

    “Focus on the hard stuff that no one else will do, be calm when others have angst, rally when others are falling apart.”

    Again thanks!

  9. i get so caught up in time goals, and get really really upset when i dont reach them. maybe they are lofty, but mostly they are realistic and it kills me to not get there. i need to learn to enjoy the day – and know that there are things i will never be able to control, like weather! i love this post sonja and am so glad to hear that you are relaxing and resting after Coz!

  10. I feel you on the time goals. I had my heart set on sub-10:00:00, too, and I ended up crossing the finish line feeling let down because I went 10:15:00. It was my first Ironman–I should have been psyched that I finished AT ALL! I had been looking forward to that jubilation for months, and then I didn’t really get it because I was so focused on the goal (sub-10) that I missed. It even wrecked the run itself; I spent three hours beating myself up because I knew that I was not running well enough to make the time (which, ironically, made me run even worse). There are just too many factors–wind, rain, course mis-measurement, scooters getting in the way, dogs, flat tires (see Kacie’s blog!)–that can affect your time. For you: second amateur, KQ. That’s what matters. For me: first one done. That’s more important than sub-10. See you in CdA! I know that Kacie is looking forward to being a super-fan with you and Annie! (And by the way, I saw Troy taking those pictures of Annie running while I was in the marathon. I thought it was really cute that she was pretending to take part. I didn’t realize until just now that it was your daughter that I saw! Ha!)

  11. Wow, did this hit home for me. At a very low point in my life when, like you, I felt like I wasn’t in control of anything, I became obsessed with achieving my next belt in Karate. (This was pre-triathlon.) Like racing to a time goal, although you can work hard and prepare the best you can, in the end, you have no control over when you get promoted to a rank so it was an equally poor choice.

    Not sure if that makes sense, but the short story is: I *totally* understand, because I have SO been there. *Hugs*

  12. “We ultimately don’t have control of much. We go out there and we do our best, in life, in sport, in relationships. And sometimes our best falls short of what we set out for. But if we are grounded, willing to learn, to self assess, and if we can still smile, then we haul ourselves out … and we move on.”

    This has been my mantra over the last several months, but its been hard to get to this point for whatever reason (but I’m happy I am finally here). Sometimes it takes big changes, sometimes it takes little tweaks (and pink umbrella drinks), but I’m amazed at how quickly you recognized it and motivated yourself to let go. It’s a challenge to let go sometimes of (quite often) inconsequential goals and ideals, to not be “in control”- whatever that means. But truth be told, we just have to do our best day in and day out, and all the rest will fall into place. What matters most is how much heart and soul goes into what you are doing (that’s one thing we do have control over, right?), and how you share it with those you love. You are doing it, girl, and that makes you a serious force to be reckoned with!

  13. By far my favourite post. The emotion, the honesty, the appreciation, the realism- that’s why I keep coming back for more. Thank you & Great job!

  14. I am really grateful for your posts, and I’m sure a lot of other people out there are too. Each post is inspirational, and I need inspiration. Like everyone out there who trains for ironman events, or other crazy long events, I juggle giving the right amount of attention to a bunch of things I love, family (husband, son, parents, 2 x cats, the list goes on) , full time job (sometimes a monkey on my back, but I do love it), fixing things around the house, and training. Training tends to sit at the back of my priority list, and gets done when I’m comfortable everything else is in order, but I aim to do 99.9% of the training, and with a good attitude. I have great program and swim coaches, and both set hard work. Sometimes it is difficult to get motivated to get a training set done, and my attitude slips, but reading inspirational blogs like this make me think, “I am not too tired to train properly, I can do this, other people are in the same boat and put in good training efforts, and the end result will be good”. So thank you for your help!!

  15. I loved this post…just loved it. I could relate to so many of the thoughts you shared. I did my first IM at IMAZ this Nov. and while my goal was just to finish, I secretly had a time goal. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as well as I would have liked and that time goal went out the window. I was fine with that, and am fine with it, but part of me still thinks…what if? I need to let go, and your post is helping me do that! Thank you!

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