Dare to Ironman
My name is Katie, and I’m an ordinary 28-year-old girl living in Nashville, Tenessee. I grew up in Pennsylvania, where I played basketball and softball from middle school through high school graduation. When I left for college, I became a rower for an NCAA Division II school. I was lucky enough to go to the NCAA National Championships in my freshman year, and we took second place. Honestly, though, that year was the epitome of my sports career. I was too nervous to find my true potential and too shy to really find a place for myself on the team. I received a figurative smack upside the head during a brutal spring training week, which is when I decided to say screw it and try to give all that I had. My lackluster efforts in the first half of the year didn’t help me in the long run, but I was able to work myself up to be on the chosen reserve team that went to NCAA’s. I was proud of that.
Fast forward a few years - after a college transfer for degree purposes - and I found myself living in good ol’ Music City USA and graduating with my BBA. After that momentous occasion, I figured out the hard way that I mentally and emotionally need a big picture challenge to keep me motivated. Depression hit me hard after some unfortunate life events, and I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to change how I see my life. A friend told me about running as a St. Jude Hero for the annual Country Music Half Marathon. In my head, the scene went like this. “I need something bigger. This could be it. Also, it’s a free entry (free is key) and all I have to do is raise money for a fantastic cause. Even better and bigger.” So, I jumped right in.
From there, I ran race after race as a St. Jude Hero. I’ve never been particularly fast. I’ve almost always ended up injuring myself (IT band, stress fracture, calf muscle, etc). And I’ve come close to giving up more than once or twice. But you know what else? I found myself. I found just how much I can persevere. I found just how badly I can want something. I discovered the true meaning behind the phrases “hard work” and “patience”. I am admittedly still struggling with the whole “work/life” balance thing, which gets in the way of training.
However, no one is perfect. That’s why you’ll see me using the hashtag #progressnotperfection. I have it on a wristband that I wear constantly. There is no such thing as perfect. It’s an impossible word.
Now, progress? That’s one heck of a word. The progress IS the success. We work so hard for an end goal, and as brilliant as that end goal can be and feel, the true success and privilege is in the journey. You’ll also see me use the hashtag #strongnotskinny. Now, please note that I am not bashing anyone who is deemed skinny. You can be both strong and skinny. You can be just skinny. It doesn’t matter. You are who you are and that is a beautiful thing. I personally use that hashtag because I am not built to be a thin person. My body has thick bones and flabby all over. The point is one that an idol of mine, Kelly Roberts of She Can and She Did, tries to spread. Strength does not LOOK a certain way. It FEELS a certain way. You have to focus on how you feel and how you believe in yourself so much more than you focus on how you look or what that scale says or what those pace numbers say. Did you do your best? Did you work hard? Did you get up and try? Done. You are Strong.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned on this fitness journey involve personal strength and just how much I believe in myself and that strength. By starting this Instagram and eventual Vlog, I’m hoping to inspire others to see that in themselves. I’m not fast. I’m not thin. I’m not that model triathlete. I’m just a person trying her best and doing everything she can to work hard and be her own kind of success.
To this day, I’ve completed (keyword: completed... no times) 4 half marathons, 2 marathons, 2 sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic distance triathlon, 9 Ragnar Relays, 1 15k, many 5k’s, 1 Warrior Dash, and a bunch of virtual challenges. I like to do pretty much any water sport, hike and climb. I also like to hang out with my friends over a glass of wine and binge watch Netflix on my own. I direct, sell, promote, and manage an event space and catering for a company, as well as own and operate my own wedding planning business. Life is busy.
Over the rest of 2018, my goal was to finish 2 more sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic distance triathlon, and 1 Tough Mudder. Unfortunately, the stress and strain of an insane start to the year ended in me being sidelined for 6 weeks in March and April. I had increasing stomach issues, lost my only grandma, and became really sick. I lost a lot of endurance, a lot of muscle, and even more motivation. Workouts that used to be easy became difficult. It has taken me a few months to feel like I’m back in the right mindset, which is frustrating but understandable. My goal races for the rest of the year may not happen. However, I know this is necessary to make future goals happen, so I’m taking it slow. I have to recenter myself before I can make successful strides. I have so many physical race goals for myself over the next few years, but I’ll never reach them if I don’t figure out other things first. I’ve got work to do, and remembering to take care of myself first is so important.
Now, listen. When I say I completed a race, I don’t mean I always “crossed the finish line with my hands held high and the biggest smile on my face”. Heck no. At my last marathon, I crossed (read: barely hobbled across) the finish line with tears of pain falling and swear words leaving my mouth like word vomit. I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon as the last one out of the water and only after throwing back up all the swallowed ocean water during the run. See my point? No one is perfect. The point is that I did it. I completed it. And sometimes, that’s all we can ask of ourselves. We can have the time goals. We can have all the goals. Then there are the times when we just have to finish. And that’s okay.
Through this journey, I hope to inspire others to see the strength they have within themselves and to just try. Come with me as I train, learn, struggle, whine, live, laugh, hurt, and more. Then share with me how you did it too.
*For more from Katie, you can FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM.