It was just over 3 years when I crossed my 6th Ironman finish line in Lake Placid. Although every Ironman finish is worth celebrating, this one was extra special as it was the very first time that I raced for 140.6 miles with Karel on the course with me, and not on the sidelines cheering for me.
It was so much fun for us to share our race day stories with each other after the race. For the first time in 6 Ironmans, Karel actually understood all the emotions and feelings that happen during (and after) and Ironman.
2013 Ironman Lake Placid was a special race for many reasons but in looking back on the day when I told myself that "I gave my best effort ever", in order to qualify for my 3rd Ironman World Championship (just 10 weeks later), this picture below shows me how far I have come in just 3 years.
Karel on the left, me on the right.
This picture popped up on my memory feed on Facebook last week and the first thing that caught my eye was Karel's time.
I remember after the race in 2013, in the evening, I told Karel how incredible it was that he almost broke 10 hours in his first Ironman.
In my mind, covering 140.6 miles in the low ten hours was something that I never considered possible for my body and the thought of my husband doing it was insane.
And Karel was just 13 minutes away from breaking 9 hours at IM Austria!
Five Ironman finishes later after Ironman Lake Placid in 2013, I am now a 11x Ironman Ironman finisher, including 2 more Ironman World Championship finishes (4 total) and I have a 10:06.54 Ironman PR.... which still blows my mind that my body could race that fast,, for so long.
Thank you body!
As an athlete, I feel it's important to never limit your potential as an athlete and to always believe that there is room for improvement.
If your sport ignites your emotions, fuels your motivation and keeps you hungry for improvements, there's no doubt that a breakthrough performance is coming your way.
You just have to believe it will come but you can't chase times, look for shortcuts or rush the process.
When you think about progress, it's not just the major breakthroughs that you should be wishing for but instead, focus on the small improvements that are necessary components in your personal athletic journey.
While you may be hoping for big gains in fitness so that you can get faster on race day, small steps in your development are important milestones and many times, they don't show as improvements in times (ex. faster times, paces, higher watts, etc.) but rather, it's something within you that makes you believe that you are improving.
It's far too easy to only be happy when you see a faster time but if you are constantly expecting too much, too quickly, you may find yourself not enjoying your personal journey and consequently, sabotaging a potentially great race day performance.
Every athlete is going to have setbacks and losses and many times, you are not going to see a faster time, despite making a lot of forward progress. But remember that it's the steps forward that accumulate over time, which help you become a smarter, wiser, stronger and perhaps even faster, overall athletically fit and prepared athlete.
I realize that every athlete is different in terms of fitness background, support from others, athletic goals, motivation, mental strength and work ethic, but I believe that to be a faster athlete, simply training with the mentality to get faster, is not a wise approach.
Many times this backfires with burnout, sickness and injuries.
I've accomplished a lot in the sport of triathlon with several best time performances, much of which I never thought was possible by my body, without training longer, training harder, chasing times, abiding by a specific diet/fueling trend or focusing on specific times, watts or paces.
Instead, I have directed a lot of my energy into training smart and putting a lot of my trust into the power in the following, which ultimately, has helped me take my fitness to that next level.
It only took 10 years but at 34 years old, I feel healthier, stronger, fitter, more energized and more resilient than ever before.
Using food for nourishment
Having a great relationship with food
Staying in great hormonal health
Committing to training
Stay present during workouts
Always warming up
Daily mobility work
Not skiping steps
Training and racing without expectations
Racing with a resilient body
Reaching out to professionals for help
Not being stubborn
Not giving up
Not wasting energy on what other athletes/pros are doing
Not being a trend follower
Accepting that setbacks are normal
Accepting that bad workouts are normal
Support from friends/family
Creating a strong body through year-round strength training
Getting stronger before trying to get faster and then getting longer
Selecting races appropriately
Planning/mapping out the season
Being willing to fail in order to succeed
Always feeling grateful
Never taking a day/workout for granted
Thanking the body - daily