It was almost eight years ago when I crossed my first Ironman finish line.
I still remember every detail of IMFL 2006.
I had my bike-racing boyfriend (Karel) who I had been dating for 6 months, on the sidelines. He thought I was a bit crazy to want to do this 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run event but nonetheless, he was cheering me on for 140.6 miles. Somewhere in the last 3 miles of the marathon, Karel told me I was going to Kona. I yelled back "I love you!" It was the first time I told Karel that I loved him. Even though Karel thought that this sport was super crazy when we met, it's funny that now the Ironman is our sport of choice that has brought us closer and closer over the past two years since Karel stopped racing bikes as a Cat 1 rider and jumped into his first sprint triathlon in the summer of 2012.
My first Ironman was also special because my parents were dishing out support and positivity for me all day as their 24-year old daughter was about to embark on her first all-day endurance event. I guess some may think it was their parent-duty to be out on the course. But really, it was just normal for my mom and dad to be there for me (regardless if I was at a swim meet, swimming for 1-2.5 minutes or racing an IM for 11 hours) because giving unconditional support is just one of their great traits as great parents.
When I crossed the finish line, I knew that I had won my age group (18-24) and had received the one and only coveted Kona slot for my female age group.
With 9 Ironman finish lines crossed since 2006, the places and finishing times have all varied but the feeling of accomplishment feels better and better, year after year.
I remember seeing my dad when I crossed the finish line at my first Ironman. He had tears in his eyes and he just couldn't believe what his daughter had just accomplished. For me, it was simply a goal that I had worked really hard to achieve but for my dad, it was something more than me just crossing a finish line. My dad knew I had this goal and had put in the work but when it comes to endurance racing, so much can occur in long distance races and he was just so over-the-moon happy for me to have the day that I had worked so hard to have. My dad was the best at bragging about his kids and I am so happy that my brother and I have always been so focused in life with our goals to give my dad so many reasons to be proud of us. But really, he inspired us to dream big and to work hard for success.
The Ironman triathlon is extremely challenging not only because of distance that the body has to travel but because of the obstacles that arise before and on race day. It requires a lot of time, money and effort to just train for the Ironman but once the hard work is over to get to the start line in good shape with a healthy body, there is an entirely new journey that lies ahead,. A140.6 mile journey that is filled with highs and lows as the body continues to move forward from 7am until the course closes at midnight.
But what is so special about the Ironman triathlon is that it is a demanding, challenging sport that can change your life. It is a sport that allows big dreams to come true.
I find that I dream the biggest when I am awake. I do not lay in bed and think about what I want to happen in my life but instead, create big goals when I am awake and in the moment of life. I am so grateful that my body allows me to do the things in life that make me incredibly happy.
When I dream big, I smile. My dreams do not scare me but instead, they push me to work hard. Hard work brings me joy because it's not just about what comes at the end of the journey but also about what kind of person I become in the process.
Goals require hard work, time, patience and the ability to overcome obstacles. As you probably know, there are more components in this difficult equation to make your goals become a dream come true. But those dreams never come true if you give up when the going gets tough.
Over the past two years, Karel and I had a dream that not only drove us to train smarter to train harder but also a dream that we couldn't get out of our mind.
The dream of Karel and I, husband and wife, racing in Kona together at the biggest stage of triathlon endurance racing was more than just an idea. It was something that we wanted to experience together and something so special that we just couldn't let go of this dream.
Karel and I are firm on our philosophy of training smart so we knew that we would not sacrifice our life just to make this dream come true. Instead, we would spend the entire year planning our racing schedule and every phase of training so we could properly prepare for each race and peak appropriately.....without compromising our health and other things in life that make us happy. We refused to train more but instead, we continued to learn how to train smarter so that we could train hard and then recover even harder. We trained our bodies and mind for 3 key races, all leading up to IMWI as our ultimate race of the season. The last race of the season was the race when we both were willing to give everything for the possibility for the dream to come true.
No pressure, right?!?!!
The interesting thing about this year is that we never felt burnt-out from training or felt as if we sacrificed a lot in our life for our dream to possibly come true. Although we were 100% devoted to our dream, we only devoted every ounce of energy possible when we expected our body to make physical progress to help us move closer to our goal. In other words, if our day was controlled with a light switch, we turned on our switch before, during and after a workout and then turned off the training switch so that we could turn on the life switch. We were extremely careful not to blow a fuse by blending the two. Certainly there is some overlap (especially since our job is to coach and help fuel endurance athletes) but our continued excitement for triathlons thrived over the years because we felt equal, if not more, happiness from life......when we were not training.
Simply put, even with the biggest, most grand, perhaps impossible to achieve goal, we never made triathlons are life but instead, just part of our awesome lifestyle.
Karel and I are more than husband and wife but we are best friends. Although we have our differences, we have a lot of similarities.
One thing that we both have in common is that when we have a dream, it does not fade away. It is not a dream that is built on ego to be the best, most popular or even the most successful. But instead, it's a dream that gives us satisfaction. We work really hard, without shortcuts and we do not expect to ever reach for an EASY button (as an endurance athlete, I have learned that my easy button has batteries that always die when I need it the most).
It's the worst feeling to have a dream and to feel as if you wasted time, money and energy to follow a dream that was not possible. But if you have the courage to pursue your dream, consider it possible and do not give up. EVER. .
Your time to pursue a goal is never wasted. But it is extremely important to choose how to spend your time so that the energy (money and time) you dedicate to your goal, is used properly. Success doesn't come from simply putting in the work but instead, making the work count, being mindful of progress (or if lack of it, a need to change the approach to training) and finding fulfillment in the journey....a journey that makes you a better human being.
We all must believe that were put on this earth to achieve something great with our bodies and mind.
I believe that we all dream big because we are inspired by the success of others.
Whether it is in sport, career or with a family, we all have the ability to achieve greatness and to help, inspire and motivate others through making dreams become a reality.
Since a simple formula (if we could create one) for success is hard work, preparation and learning from past mistakes, it's not so much about the dream but instead, keeping the dream alive long enough that it can be achieved.
We both had one big goal going into this race so we had to leave everything out on this challenging IMWI course. We took some risks and we suffered mentally and physically. There were some highs but ouch, over 140.6 miles, there were a lot of lows.
No Ironman race is easy. We are quickly learning this as we continue to aspire to be the best endurance athletes that we can be. When it hurts so bad deep inside and you forget about your goals and just question if the finish line is even a reality, this is when you know you are really entering a place that only endurance athlete crave and outsiders do not understand (but yet, they get inspired by the suffering). It's not a pretty place to be in but it is a place that when you overcome that deep, dark place, you feel incredibly accomplished. So accomplished that even if you do not achieve the initial goal that you set out to achieve, you somehow feel exceptionally accomplished.
When we race against tough competition, it only brings out the best in us. Fast athletes make us push harder. Without them, we would never reach our full potential.
At 2014 IMWI, we dug so deep that there were many moments in the race that we both almost forgot about our dream. The Kona dream fueled the fire but the flame burned just long enough to help us make it to the finish line.
Thank you everyone SO much for your support, positive vibes and kind words.
A dream in the making just came true.
We did it and it was NOT easy.
Karel: 9:44, 3rd AG (35-39), 9th overall male amateur.
Marni: 10:44, 3rd AG (30-34), 6th overall female amateur.
2015 KONA BOUND!
What an incredible day for both of us, thanks to so many supportive Trimarni followers and screaming IMWI fans and volunteers.
I will be racing my 4th Kona and 10th IM with Karel in Kona Hawaii next October, for the 2015 Ironman World Championship!
My dad would have been so proud.
Thank you dad for inspiring me to love life, dream big and to never ever give up.