WARNING: This is a very long post with no fancy pictures or graphics. I’ve been asked a couple of times how did you get here, with triathlon and Ironman, so I’ve finally decided to share my story and sort of give a training and race recap.
This is a story about a girl named Jennifer. Growing up Jennifer was not an athletic girl even though Jennifer’s parents encouraged her to try soccer, basketball, gymnastics, drill team, and dance. Jennifer could never finish the required 3 laps of the obstacle course in elementary school and Jennifer was always just a little “chubbier,” than the other girls, but Jennifer was always willing to try new things. Jennifer helped lead the singing in church and even entered a pageant and was 5th runner up! In high school Jennifer joined the marching band and was a drum major her senior year.
Eventually Jennifer grew up and decided to join Weight Watchers to lose the Freshman 15 + some that had followed her around after college. Jennifer started walking and then one day Jennifer decided she wanted to try running, but Jennifer was afraid to tell people that she wanted to become a runner – what if people laughed at her or told her that was a bad idea and who really spends $120 on a pair of running shoes anyway? But eventually Jennifer ran anyway and at first she only ran on a treadmill, running outside was unthinkable, what if other people saw her out running and laughed? Jennifer wasn’t a real runner, was she? Jennifer kept running despite the doubts in her head and one day saw an ad for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and ½ Marathon and Jennifer thought, “I’d like to run the half marathon someday.”
Jennifer eventually entered her first 5k and thought she would die at the end, surely she should nap for the rest of the day? But Jennifer finally decided to jump in feet first and signed up for the ½ Marathon in Kansas City. Jennifer very clearly remembers telling her friend Kristen that she couldn’t imagine ever wanting to run a full marathon, when the courses split during the race. After that race Jennifer finally signed up for the ½ Marathon in Oklahoma City the following spring and Jennifer ran it in the rain, wow!
Jennifer kept running and decided that maybe she did want to do a marathon and so Jennifer signed up for the Kansas City Marathon and ran and ran and ran all by herself, she could never run with a group what would they think of her? Jennifer finished her first marathon and made a new friend who was also running her first marathon. Jennifer was much slower than she had thought and it hurt, but she had so much fun, running marathons is awesome! After the race, several people told Jennifer to sign up for a training group called Runner’s Edge. Even though Jennifer was very nervous about running with a group she showed up and they turned out to be really awesome people that our now friends.
Jennifer kept running and even ran the full marathon in Oklahoma City. One day Jennifer moved to Dallas, but she ran the Hospital Hill Half Marathon first, and she decided to join the Dallas Running Club. Turns out running and training with people is really cool and the only way to train. Jennifer met more amazing people and has made lots of great friends in Dallas all through the DRC. Jennifer’s best friend even came to visit and was converted to running in Dallas after years of mockery of Jennifer’s “Cult.” Running really is awesome.
But what was all this talk of swimming, biking and running? Three sports in the same race, that was just crazy and bikes were expensive and while Jennifer took swimming lessons in elementary school she hadn’t swum in years. But then the DRC organized a talk at one of the tri shops and all of her friends were doing sprint tris and two were even doing Ironman events. Those people were awesome and answered all of Jennifer’s questions about triathlon and even told her she too could be an Ironman one day.
So then one day Jennifer had a bike and is signed up for her first sprint distance tri. Jennifer eventually signs up for the 70.3 in Galveston and has so much fun she signs up for a full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Jennifer trains and trains, probably not as well as she should have. Training and working is very hard and there are lots of nights where Jennifer cries and thinks about quitting, but Jennifer is still going to give it her all. Jennifer was fortunate to have shared her training with a group of fierce women who were also doing Coeur d’Alene and she wouldn’t let them down.
On race day Jennifer is very nervous and has a hard time believing that she really is an athlete capable of finishing this race. Jennifer feels slow in the swim, but keeps going even when it is hard. Jennifer finishes the swim well before the 2:20 cutoff, but knows that the math does not work in her favor for the bike cutoffs. The bike course is hard, one hill is 2.2 miles long at a 6% grade! Jennifer pedals and pedals and passes people on those hills. It is hot and windy and the hills just keep coming and Jennifer keeps pedaling, but finally gets stopped just 3 minutes shy of the 70 mile cutoff. Jennifer cries a lot as she walks her bike back to transition and the volunteers are very nice, Jennifer cries some more as she sits on the sidewalk trying to figure out what to do next. But Jennifer had already decided that this would not be her last Ironman, Jennifer already knew that even if today wasn’t her day, she still went further and faster than a lot of people and that she was an athlete and that one day she would be an Ironman.
So here we are, 10 months out from Ironman Vineman held in the Russian River Valley. Jennifer is setting new goals for the, “off,” season and reading everything she can about triathlon training. Jennifer knows she has a lot of work to do, but Jennifer is ready and can’t wait to hear, “Jennifer Fox, You Are An Ironman.”
There are so many people that have been a part of this crazy journey I am on; I can’t thank my Kansas City Running family, my DRC Family, my real family and my friends for your never ending support. You all share the best parts of yourself with me and I am inspired and motivated by each of you.