On WHY I Am Competing In An Ironman

"A person with a why to live for can bear almost any how" - Nietzsche

It’s race day, I wake up at 4am, fuel my body with nourishing food, and walk over to look myself in the mirror and say, “lets go, T. It’s game time. Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, here’s the moment you’ve put hundreds of training hours into, here’s the moment and it starts NOW.” I put on my tri suit, goosebumps already forming, because nervousness and excitement are two sides of the same coin. I zip up my ironman bag, walk out the front door, and head to the start of the race.

This, as well as many other, images play in my mind day in and day out, and give me nothing short of chills and shivers and smiles. These visions fuel and inspire me to keep going and to recommit to my dream and goal each and every day even when resistance shows up. Even when my mind tells me to stop, I show up because my dream is bigger than my fear.

I get asked the question all the time, “Why are doing this race? Why would you put yourself through this?” More than anything, my WHY has been a feeling, something that I felt the first time I crossed the finish line of an olympic distance triathlon, but it actually goes all the way back to playing sports in middle school. I’d be running at a track race, right beside girls who were faster than me, stronger than me, but I showed up to that 100m dash with all I had,  with a will and determination far stronger than my physical body. So my WHY was a feeling long before I could ever put it into words. It was goosebumps and a quickened heartbeat; a euphoric smile, and an overwhelming sense of aliveness and purpose.

Backing up a minute, for those who don’t know, the iron distance is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon. That’s always the part that gets me, after 8-9 hours of exercise, it’s time for the marathon. That will most definitely be a “what the FUCK?” moment, and I can’t wait for it. My plan is to repeat one of my favorite mantras to myself, “This is the work and you asked for it,” and just laugh (or maybe cry...).

Ironman training is crazy: I have daily early morning workouts before the sun rises, I am exhausted by 7:30 pm each night, my right eye has been red for 5 months (everytime I leave the pool), I have a weird rash on my left arm that’s been there since November, I get chafing from long runs that’s so painful sometimes I want to cry, I jump into cold pools in the middle of winter, and bike ride for hours against the wind in Texas hill country, cursing myself for not knowing that it’s the windiest spot outside of Austin. Wind = EVIL when it comes to the tri sport.

These things are merely obstacles that are guaranteed to show up in some capacity along the path of training, accompanied by internal obstacles including fear, resistance and doubt. And yet, I keep going. I keep showing up to the training workouts, I keep recommitting to my dream and goal every single day. Why?

Here are four reasons that fuel my WHY:

  1. I get to be a leader of my life: One of my beliefs is that the ironman is a great metaphor for life. It’s all the work in action. There’s one thing to talk about doing “the work” and it’s another thing to actually do it. Training for this race is shaping my ability to be the leader of my life. It’s teaching me when it’s skillful to take action, when I need to to rest, how to work with limiting beliefs, and my fear. Most of all, it’s teaching me what it means to believe in myself, and to commit to a dream. As a leader of my life, I get to choose my own way. To me, this is freedom.

  2. I get to throw myself into the arena: Life happens in the arena, and I will not run from the arena of life, I will run straight into the heart of it. I will not stand on the sidelines of my life, watching it pass by, or sit in the passenger's seat, letting someone else take the wheel. I will be the driver of my circumstances, and I will falter, and I will get bruised, and I will feel pain, and that’s ok because it’s part of it. Ironman is a way for me to face life head on, with my fears beside me, and I may get tossed around, but like TR said, I will “ at best know the triumph of high achievement, and at the worst, if I fail, at least I’ll fail while daring greatly, so that my place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "

  3. I get to express my will and potential. It’s in the moments of discomfort, while in the arena of life, when I discover who I am. When everything is stripped away from me, but my will alone, my character gets revealed. I am competing in this race to see what I’m made of, and show up to my calling with resilience and courage. This race is a test of my will, my own inner fire. No one will get me across that finish line except for me. There will be people cheering for me, yes, and my family will be there to support me, yes, and ultimately it is my mind, my body, my will that will take me the distance. How far will I go? What am I capable of? What’s possible when I believe in myself?  It’s questions like these that make me feel alive.

  4. I get to be a source of inspiration for other women: Today, the day I’m writing this, is International Women’s Day. This is a pivotal and amazing time for women, where new opportunities and possibilities are opening up for us like never before. What an incredible gift. I want to contribute to the evolution and potential of women in our world by inspiring other women to call themselves forth, to stoke their inner fires, and pursue their dreams. I want to show women what it means to believe in themselves so fully that they DO things they never thought possible and BE someone they never thought they could be. I want to be a source of inspiration for women to be the leaders of their lives, to be trailblazers, to choose their own paths and create deeply meaningful lives.

So, why compete, you may ask? Because I believe that when I feel called to something, I can and will see it through. Because I value human potential and I refuse to leave this lifetime before I reach mine. Because it makes me feel alive. Because I want to inspire other women to live their purpose. Because I am the leader of my own life and I will dream big and I will do big. Who’s with me?

9 weeks until race day. I will cross that finish line, even if I crawl.

Talia Gutin