- It's my time to train for Ironman Kona, the mother of all triathlons
- 140.6 miles to the finish line Oct 10, 2015
(CNN)Never say never.
When we make declarations about things we are not going to do, we only end up having to retract them and feel foolish inside our heads. How would one even know whether it's a good idea to try rock climbing, leave one job for another or go on a date with someone who's "not my type," unless first giving it a try?
That is the position in which I find myself. I have been a triathlete for many years and when someone would ask me whether I was going to do an Ironman I would say "never!" An Ironman is the longest distance triathlon in the sport: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon, in that order. I would give excuses: It's not for me. It's too hard. It's too long. No time to train for that distance.
Time to retract. I am training for an Ironman. That said, I am not just training for any Ironman, but have been invited through CNN Fit Nation to train for the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 10.
A win anyway it turns out
This requires a complete reset. When was the last time you hit the reset button? New Year's Eve? Your birthday? Maybe it was to stop a nasty habit, get healthier or just change your attitude.
Well, whatever it was, you know it requires courage, commitment and consistency. Though I have a lot of races under my belt, including half Ironman races, I am pushing myself way outside my comfort zone with this one. The discomfort comes mostly from fear of incompletion and fear of disappointing those in my corner rooting me on.
But is it really failure if we try and don't succeed? Isn't it about overcoming obstacles to put ourselves in the best possible situation for reaching a goal? That sounds like a win, doesn't it?
I am also wondering if I am setting a near impossible goal for myself. Can I really do it? There is definitely an adrenaline rush to conquer it. This excitement can be infectious and rub off on others and is perhaps why we celebrate huge victories for people achieving against all odds.
Diana Nyad comes to mind. She became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It was such a teaching lesson for me when those around her, supporting her for years on end, acknowledged that only Diana knew if she could do it.
So let's ask ourselves: what do we think we can do? What firsts have we been putting on the back burner time after time? How much of a life disruption is it going to be to turn "never" into "now?"
I began my full training just recently with Ironman professional and CNN Fit Nation coach April Gellatly. She outlines my weekly workouts and I am expected to fulfill them on my own, to reach my goal. For the next four months I plan on meeting, completing and competing to get to a place of fitness while I overcome nagging injuries and learn to manage the pain that comes with them. I have a destination that maybe inspires you to find something that you've said "never" to previously.
The pleasure of overcoming your fears
I am fortunate that I will be training along with the six CNN Fit Nation participants who have also pushed themselves outside comfort zones and have documented their own hardships and journeys for all to see.
Their support, in addition to family, friends and CNN give me the added strength and boost to push harder and farther then I have done before.
The first leg of the Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim without the benefit of a wetsuit. I have only done one race without a wetsuit and that was a .9-mile swim (Olympic distance) in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. When the Philadelphia race officials announced no wet suits, my heart sank. Would I be able to swim without a panic attack at the beginning when it's just a mess of athletes swimming all over me? Would I be able to control my breathing and keep calm, which has dogged me before? I did it and the accomplishment was made sweeter for overcoming my fear.
It all comes down being ready for whatever comes our way. My destination is Kona, Hawaii, and I'd love some company -- not necessarily physically, since there will already be about 2,000 others surrounding me in Kailua Bay -- but I'd like to know your destination, your journey.
What's pushing you out of your comfort zone? Say yes then deal with the rest. Tweet me @roniselig. Once you declare it, it's real.