What finishing an Ironman REALLY taught me about GOALS

What do you think it feels like to be done with a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run?

I imagined it would be a massive high, epic joy, pride, gratitude, and a sense of accomplishment like I had never experienced before.  To be honest, painfully honest, it was just a sense of relief that it was over and anything but the, “high” I expected.  I never had the courage to admit what I really felt.  I would like to unpack a few things about this experience to help you understand why it was doomed from the start.  My hope is sharing with you how I have grown from this experience you can avoid the trap I fell into and experience the joy you deserve from accomplishing your goals.

History:

I started participating in triathlons the summer of 1996 in San Francisco and was instantly hooked.  I started with a sprint triathlon then 0lympic distance, ran a few full marathons, and did many half ironman distances.  I loved the thrill of standing on the start line wondering if I could accomplish a new distance for the first time.  I completed the escape from Alcatraz triathlon and thought where do I go from here?  Was it time to go for the granddaddy of them all, the IRONMAN distance? In July 1999, I finished the Vineman half ironman and got on a plane the next day to Seattle to start a new job.  In Seattle I joined a cycling team and enjoyed bike racing for a few years.  However, the ironman distance was something I had not checked off my bucket list.  Ironman Canada had a reputation of being the ideal first time Ironman course so I signed up for the 2002 ironman Canada race and started my training.  This meant I could not race with the bike team because ironman training is specific and you are a team of 1 on ironman day.

My first problem was I did not work hard enough to find a triathlon training group.  In San Francisco I was part of a triathlon team and I undervalued how important the social aspects of training with a group can be.  I started to resent the training.  The most significant thing I did wrong was signing up for the race to prove to others that I could do it.  It was a bucket list item that was more for my fitness resume than something I wanted deep down.  It was a superficial goal and something I wanted to say I finished.  The third mistake was being disappointed in myself for not running the full marathon.  An ironman athlete I trained with once told me he was sick of the posers on the ironman course who had not trained hard enough to actually run the full marathon.  He felt the walkers were unworthy of the ironman title.  When I started to walk on the course, I heard his words in the dark spaces of my thoughts and at the finish line questioned if I really deserved the title.  I know, ridiculous but it is honest.

It was not until I achieved an audacious goal of becoming a Master Trainer for Schwinn Indoor Cycling in 2016 that I realized everything that went wrong with my Ironman goal.  I submitted my application to Schwinn because I truly wanted to serve other instructors and provide them with the confidence and knowledge necessary for success.  Teaching indoor cycling is my true passion and my intentions are 100% to serve others.  When I received the message that I would be the next Master Trainer I did not feel the need to post on social media that I accomplished this goal. I felt the massive high, epic joy, pride, gratitude, and a sense of accomplishment I hoped to experience from the Ironman.

My take away is audacious goals fueled by passion and service can be fully celebrated. I hope this message might inspire you to live out yours!

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