The positive things that Ironman has done for me in my life are incredible and not what I expected when, in 2009, I signed up for my first race. Had I known how hard that first race would be I'm not sure that I would have gone through with it but, as they say, "ignorance is bliss." The number one thing that I've gained is my health. The ability to run around and wrestle with my kids is the greatest thing in my life.
I am on a mission to compete at the Ironman world championships in Kona, Hawaii. For the majority of people this is simply out of reach, including me. However, because World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the owners of Ironman, understand that some athletes are unbelievably committed to the sport they introduced a new program last year to reward the people that put it out there day to day. The Legacy Lottery is a one-time opportunity for 100 people per year to race in the most important triathlon in the world. The criteria are:
1) You can NEVER have started the world championship race
2) Must have finished 12 Ironman brand full-distance races
3) Completed a full-distance Ironman brand race in each of the previous two years
Kona has become the ultimate goal for me. It defines almost every aspect of my life from my training to my diet and my personal relationships. Currently I'm 1/3 of the way to my goal having completed 4 Ironman races to date and have registered for 3 more. Obviously triathlon is not the be all and end all for everyone. But I believe that you need to have some big goal in your life to be truly fulfilled. Maybe it's a travel destination, a career or some other physical challenge, but you need to have something to strive for. That's your Kona.
Set your goals and be honest with yourself. I'm a high school teacher and the first day of class I ask the kids what they want to do. If they have no idea where they want to go, then they have no idea what track to get on. I liken it to getting on a random bus hoping it takes you to school. You need to plan out your route to get to your end destination. This is the same with any goal in your life, big or small. Reverse engineer it, where do you need to be and what are the intermediate steps.
Write them down! There's something about writing goals down that makes them a little more real and important. Research what it's going to take to get to there. Do you need more schooling? A part time job to pay for it? What's it going to take? If it's something that you genuinely want or even need out of life you will just make it work. I watched in awe as my sister upgraded her high school courses and then became a registered nurse while giving birth to and raising two children. There is no way that I could have done this, but only because I didn't want to. For Erin, it was so important that she wouldn't be denied.
Along the way you will almost certainly be disheartened, distracted and face setbacks. It's just a test of how badly you really want it. If a little bump in the road is enough to make you give up, you don't really want it.