The first time I heard of the Ironman Triathlon was in 1982, watching the Wide World of Sports. I don’t remember why it was on or why my absolutely non-athletic self was watching it, but I will never forget what I saw. I had never heard of a triathlon let alone the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii, but there I was watching an unbelievable finish that I didn’t understand until years later.
Before I tell you about that particular day, let me explain the Ironman race. It begins with a 2.4 mile swim in open water immediately followed by a 112 mile bike race then finally transitions to a marathon adding another 26.2 miles to the already ambitious day. Now, there are Ironman distance races on every corner of the earth, but THE Ironman will forever be the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. The heat and humidity added to the challenge and set the stage for the grueling 1982 Ironman.
Julie Moss was in first place, and she was at the end of her energy. As she headed toward the finish line in front of hundreds of spectators and on national television, her legs started to tremble, and then she collapsed. She got up and started again, and moments later she fell again. It was painful to watch. She continued on falling and getting back up over and over again. When she couldn’t get up any longer, she began to crawl – resisting efforts from people to help her – and made her way to the finish. As she crawled using the last of her strength and moments from the finish, the second place woman passed her for the win. Twenty-nine seconds later she crawled to the finish, threw her arm over the line, and collapsed. Those final 29 seconds remain the narrowest margin of victory in the history of the Ironman.
I remember watching that so clearly and thinking I want to do the Ironman! Despite my complete and utter lack of athleticism, I really did want to do it. I didn’t understand why for many years. As an adult, we can look back on things from our childhood or past events from a different perspective. This fresh perspective of how a woman who has pushed herself to the absolute end of her physical limit but not the end of her mental limits meant something completely different to my adult self. It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted to compete in an Ironman.
I wanted to want something that badly.
We all want things but how many of us will push ourselves out of our comfort zones? How many of us will sacrifice comfort, safety, or health? Julie Moss wanted it badly and it wasn’t the WIN it was the FINISH. When Kathleen McCartney passed her, she could’ve just stayed on the ground. She didn’t win. That wasn’t the goal. She wanted to finish what she started. She continued to crawl for 29 more seconds until she did it. A half of a minute may not seem like long, I challenge you to hold your breath for 30 seconds to feel how long that can be!
When I look over my health and my weight through the years I could say I always wanted to be healthy… but did I want it that badly? I did for a while but never sustaining success. I wanted it but not enough to commit to it for the long haul. This could be due to my living and eating patterns that were so deeply ingrained in me, and I needed more serious assistance. RNY Gastric Bypass was the tool to begin that work. Focusing on movement, exercising portion control, recognizing food triggers and being diligent in my food choices continues the practice. Some days can be difficult and as we begin the Unofficial Foodcentric Holiday Season that starts with Halloween and lasts through April (which begins Unofficial Summer Body Creation Season), it can be more than a challenge to continue to focus on what you know… to resist what you want right now for what you want most.
Now that I’ve tasted what true physical health feels like I want to keep it. Training for a marathon was a great way to maintain consistent movement with a hardcore focus on nutrition. Running also provides a sense of peace and clarity. I hate getting out of bed in horrible weather and going outside for a run. It never mattered if it was raining, cold, or awful outside, by mile two I was always happy I went out. Training keeps me accountable, and I miss it.
I decided to look for an event that could provide me with a sense of challenge and put me back into training mode. I was looking up marathons, then thinking of a century ride (100 mile bike race) or an obstacle course race. The more I looked my brain kept going back to Julie Moss and her epic finish in the 1982 Ironman better known as the confirmation of her desire and dedication. Then I thought to Sister Madonna Buder from the Nike Unlimited Youth campaign AKA The Iron Nun, and I knew what I would do. It was time.
I searched for Ironman distances online, and I found one on my birthday! I can’t think of a better way to turn 47 then taking on Ironman Wisconsin! The next 300 days will be an adventure. I’m ready!
Want more information about Julie Moss? Read this article: Julie Moss: The Moment That Changed My Life
Who is the Iron Nun? Watch this video: Nike – Unlimited Youth
Want fun facts about the Ironman Triathlon Championship in Kona? 39 Things You Didn’t Know About Kona