Completing IRONMAN – A Journey in Itself

It’s done!  I completed my first IRONMAN race and feel incredibly humbled and grateful for all the support I received from friends, family and mentors.  I had a tremendous amount of support from my wife who also completed her first marathon on October 15th, 2016.

In the words of Don Williams Jr., our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.  I learned a lot about myself throughout this process – it taught me what I was made of and I was constantly bumping up against my own perceived limitations.  The good thing about limitations is they aren’t permanent.  With the right mindset and training, you can do anything – I have proved this to myself!

I started this journey in mid-January 2016.  Throughout these last months, my training required me to prepare for the “big day” by doing the following:

ironman-training-ironman-competition-what-is-ironman-aaron-zack

Swimming:  240,000+ yards (136 miles)

Biking:  3505+ Miles

Running:  923+ Miles

 

My Family, My Support, My WHY

Training for this past IRONMAN Competition also gave me plenty of time to “think” about why I was doing this, if I could do this, and what the silver lining was behind the sweat, sleep and deprivation.  If you have a big enough “why,” you can achieve almost any “how.”

Some of the biggest lessons I learned had more to do with me than my environment.  My family is the big “WHY” which pushed me forward.  My wife, my children, my cousins, my staff – every single one of them are my family members without whom this race would not be possible.

This is especially true of my wife.  If Connie would not have helped carry the load with our children while I was away training, this would not be possible.  It was hard on my physically, but it was a drain on her as well – regardless, she stood by me the whole time.  Beside every strong man is a strong woman supporting him.  I am endlessly grateful for her love and support.

Some Of The Mental Blocks I Bumped Into:

I like to think of myself as a positive person, but when you challenge yourself to do something new, you will begin to brush up against the end of your comfort zone.  That is exactly what happened to me!

  • “Can I complete this goal?”

When I started training, I didn’t know how to swim and I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a teenager.  The good news is you can have a negative thought and not believe.  Just keep pushing forward!

  • “What do you need to do to become an IRONMAN.”

Because I had no clue as to how to accomplish this goal, I hired a coach to provide the workouts, I joined a “masters” swim class to learn how to swim, and I leveraged on others who had completed the IRONMAN competition already.  I knew from the start I needed support, so I sought it out.

  • “Do I have to get up? Surely, one day of sleeping in won’t hurt.” 

There were many mornings where it was dark and cool outside, the kind of mornings where staying curled up under a mountain of blankets was much more appealing.  Lacking the desire to get up and go for a run, or ride, I knew if I wanted to be an IRONMAN there was no other choice than to get up, and get the workout in.  Some days I had to force myself to do it!  This was a massive mental block, but once I got up and put my shoes on, it was on!

  • “A lot of people didn’t believe I could do this, maybe they are right.”

If you truly care about your cause, do not give up no matter what other people tell you!  I can’t tell you how many times people came up to me and said I could not do this, my body would not allow it, I am an idiot, I need to take three years to train, not one…the list goes on and on.  Follow your dreams, and do not let others push you down.  If you have the will, and if you have a big enough “why,” you can find the way.

My family was my motivation.  Yes, I 100% did this for myself!  It’s been on my bucket list for some time and while this got me to sign up, what got me through the long hours and repetitive drudgery was thinking of my kids, nephews/nieces and cousins.  This was the silver lining, realizing how powerful family is, being grateful I am blessed to have them, and knowing that I can break down any mental or physical barriers I have is worth its’ weight in gold.  Dream big, make it happen and don’t let anything get in your way.  What’s your dream?

– Aaron

 

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