Anyone who has raced an Ironman before will tell you that the toughest part of the day was the training leading up to it. Endless hours and miles, pre-dawn alarms for those early Saturday morning workouts, and date nights with a foam roller. Not to mention, more often than not, completely alone.
I went into preparing for Ironman Chattanooga, my 7th attempt at the distance, feeling more alone in the sport than ever before. I tend to be a lone wolf with training, as my schedule makes it difficult to coordinate training with others, and to an extent I really enjoy it. Solo long rides and runs are my therapy, a time to think and be alone with my thoughts. However, this year all I wanted was someone to share the experience. Someone who really understands what the distance take from you. I can explain to friends and family all day long what it feels like to question your own sanity at mile 130 of an Ironman day, but until they experience it firsthand it is still difficult to grasp.
Once race day for Chattanooga finally arrived, I was pretty defeated. I failed to make it through the training year unscathed, limping through the Athlete Village with a bruised heel bone due to stress and overwork, knowing that even though I was mostly ready for the day, my run would be less than stellar. I retreated inside my own head to that negative space that no one wants to be in, an especially bad place to be the day before a race, thinking that once again I'll be suffering alone for 10+ hours.
Of course, when we are at our lowest, fate has a way of reminding us what really matters. As I start the run, a pack of 10 of my closest friends are waiting for me to cheer me on. A mile later, a bunch from Podium Multisport, and a little later all3sports, is waiting doing their job as well. That boost of energy from a support network will save your day if it comes at the right time. I ran/walked the marathon with a smile on my face the entire time, and thoughts of negativity and of my pained foot faded away. When I finished and finally sat down to check my phone at the end of the day, I learned that dozens of team members from Podium, The Atlanta Rainbow Trouts, and Dynamo Multisport had all been keeping an eye on my day, constantly updating their feeds and tracking the 144-mile journey. It was enough to break me down into tears.
A huge factor about why I keep coming back to Ironman is the community: a solid group of people that get your crazy, and friends that truly understand why we do the things that we do. Team Podium has played a massive part in my community, and why I continue to love this sport race after race, through the ups and downs that all triathletes go through. The strength of triathlon comes through the people you encounter and the community you create, and I know now that even though loneliness will come on those long training days, my team is never far away.
Daniel's Favorite Things
Kit: I love my Team Podium Castelli Kit. It's the most comfortable kit I've ever trained in! (The Podium branded kits are only for our team members but you can purchase the same product without the team branding here)
Socks: Swiftwick socks - zero blisters for me!