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The Hard Makes it Great

A League of Their Own is one of my all-time favorite movies. There are several quotes from the movie that are fantastic, but this one is my favorite. I'm pretty sure most of the great quotes from this film are made by the wonderful Tom Hanks. I thought of this quote many times when I was marathon training. Over the last few years, I hadn't thought about it much. I didn't want to, because in my mind it didn't apply to me anymore. I was at the heaviest weight I had ever been from remodeling a condo and moving into a new house while my husband worked seventy hours a week. Once everything was settled and the condo was sold I thought signing up for Ironman Mont Tremblant in 2023 and hiring a triathlon coach would kick my rear end into gear. It didn't, I felt horrible and exhausted. I had to choose to work out or do everyday chores because after an hour work out I would need at least a two-hour nap to recover.

I wasn't losing the weight I had gained no matter what I did. I could barely eat and the scale wouldn't move. I could have ice-cream every night and the scale wouldn't move. I researched my symptoms, and found a few things it could be. My primary care doctor waved me off and told me no it wasn't any of the things I had researched. My high cholesterol was genetic and I would just have to continue to be put on medications as I got older. I didn't dare bring up about how my weight was affecting my mental health for fear of being put on anti-depressants I know I didn't need. He suggested a sleep apnea test and to take some vitamin D for the fatigue. I declined the sleep apnea test as I knew I didn't have it. I tried to do everything everyone else did to lose weight and it didn't work. The worst part was my training wasn't showing any progress. I wasn't getting faster. I wasn't getting leaner. No matter what I did my workouts remained slow and showed no progress. I began to skip workouts much to the frustration of my coach. I wondered what the point was because nothing was happening.

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend two months outside of Mont Tremblant, Quebec last summer. We left for Canada and I was nowhere near the shape I wanted to be in for this race. In Canada, my fatigue became worse. I would be out in the beautiful countryside on a bike ride and I would have to stop and stretch, because I felt like I was falling asleep on my bike. Next my shoulder and hip joints began to feel like they were jamming into my sockets whenever I moved. I couldn't even sit, lay down or sleep comfortably.

I had to officially accept that 2023 was not my year to become and Ironman. Next I began researching help outside of a normal primary care physician. I was unhappy and tired of being tired and sore. By the time we returned from Canada, I had a plan to at least feel better. I was going to see a functional doctor. Functional doctors provide a more holistic approach and are focused on healing rather than just handing out medicine.

After visiting the clinic, I was put on thyroid medicine, given a B12 shot put on some natural supplements and given a nutrition plan. Weight loss has been slow, but I have lost 15 pounds so far and am keeping it off.

I was unsure of my triathlon future. I felt like I had lost all of the fitness I had worked so hard to gain pre-pandemic. It was gone. Everything was slow and I felt so weak. On top of feeling like I hadn't gained anything in the last year, I was returning from Canada humiliated. I had told many friends how I was going to be coming back an Ironman. Now, it wasn't going to happen and from the outside the truth sounded ridiculous. I told most people I pulled a hip flexor and was unable to stay on the bike for an 112 mile ride. It took me a month or two to recover from what happened in Canada.

Months have passed and I am continuing to visit the doctor for treatment and support. The best part is how much better I feel. I have energy again and want to go as hard and do as much as possible to get ready for my 2024 races.

So fast forward to a training day last week. It was my long run day after a long bike day yesterday. I felt great for the entire two hours and had one of my faster long runs. My legs felt great and I just went. Then I went for an hour swim workout after. I marveled in the run. It was one of those times I felt like I could have gone for days. My legs felt like they were striding.

As I cooled down, I relished in how well it went. It made me go back to August when I wondered if my body could do this. Maybe I wasn't meant to be an Ironman. Canada was almost the final straw. Everything has been a struggle. My weight has always been a struggle. Getting comfortable on my triathlon bike was a struggle. Returning after six months of illness was a struggle. Since I have gotten help, I have tried my best to have faith and stay consistent with my workouts. I have tried to make sure the scale at least stays the same. I have given myself grace and been kinder to myself. I enjoyed the holidays and for the first time didn't feel guilty. I have spent the last few months wondering if I am worth it. I finally feel like I am.

Today's run and swim brought me back to the days of marathon training in 2012. I'm sure there were bad runs but I don't remember them. I knew I had trained well. I had done 5k training, 10k training and half marathon training. One of the things I have missed was the excitement I had to

race. When I was running and had a race, the excitement started the Monday before. It was race week. My training was complete. The race was the celebration.

I am so happy to have found that love for the training again and spend the week of races excited again.

There will always be hard times and training won't always be the easiest, but I say relish in the good days, embrace the hard days and love every minute.


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