As a kid, I had three goals: (1) to write Ralph Macchio’s biography, (2) to become Mrs. Ralph Macchio, and (3) to become the youngest ever Wimbledon champion. I didn’t accomplish any one of those goals, but I remain interested in writing, marrying and being an accomplished athlete. The specifics of my dreams have changed, but the spirit behind them has not. I am and always have been a dreamer.
In the summer of 2003, my dreams extended into the world of triathlon. I had always been a swimmer. I had done some running, including a couple of marathons in 2000 and 2001. But the bike was totally new to me. I had no understanding of how gears worked. The first time I hit a hill, I plopped right over despite my sister Marline’s instruction to “downshift!” I had no idea what that meant. Still, I stuck with it and eventually did a sprint distance race and an Olympic distance race. I had registered for but had not completed a half Ironman when I set my sights on Ironman. I wanted to swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, all in one day.
My friend Jeanie suggested in the summer of 2007 that we sign up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, which would take place on June 22, 2008. Was it absurd to think I could do an Ironman? Absolutely. At the time, I ran a twelve minute mile, and I biked an average of 14 miles per hour. I had a slim chance of coming in within the 17 hour cutoff to be an official Ironman finisher. No one would have looked at me and thought, “She must be an athlete.” I was an average person with a dream of crossing an Ironman finish line.
I started writing this blog in 2007 when I was training for Coeur d’Alene. Hence the name of the blog. There were five of us training together, and we posted our workouts and challenges for one another. Those four girls, my sister Caroline, and another faithful friend or two were the only people who read the whole training saga. After all, who else cared what my splits were or whether I managed to get in a brick on a Thursday evening?
In June of 2008, after training and blogging and racing my heart out, I finished Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 16 hours and 33 minutes, just 27 minutes shy of the cutoff. I remember taking those final steps towards the finish, seeing my sister Marline joyfully tearful on the bleachers near the finish, and trying to hold back the tears myself. In the moment that I crossed the finish line, anything seemed possible. I believed that, if I could finish that race – if I could accomplish something that seemed absurd for pudgy, slow me to even try – then I could do anything.
Since Ironman, I have tried to keep that feeling of belief close. I have moments of doubt. Sometimes those moments turn into months. But I eventually come back to the belief that anything is possible.
For me, Ironman Coeur d’Alene was always much more than a race. It was about my life. It was about the vision I want to have of myself and the hope I want to carry forward into whatever I choose to do. I want big dreams. I want to tackle what seems impossible. I want to shock myself again and again by overcoming the bits of doubt in my own mind and accomplishing my goals.
I always have been a dreamer, but my belief that anything is possible started with Coeur d’Alene.