Monday, December 3, 2012

I am (an) Ironman!

The final weeks before Ironman Arizona and the post-mordem period after the race were sadly lacking in the writing department, but this is my attempt to ease back into the ink-flow. A full race report for IMAZ is in the works; in the meantime here's what happened:

In case you didn't get the memo, see the skywriting, or here Brian Williams announce it on the evening news: I am an IRONMAN! 

I can still remember those first persuasive arguments about why I should triathlon and clearly recall thinking that I'd just do a couple of sprint distance races and call it a wrap.  Umm....yeah.  Not so much.  Even after those first few events (what with their agonizing, breast stroke-filled swims) I had no intentions of making the leap into long-course events.  It wasn't long though before I signed up for my first Olympic-distance race (which I'd ultimately have to skip because of a business trip) and then for Miami 70.3.  It was after I completed the half-Iron that I began to set my sights higher and had my first thoughts of taking on an Ironman. 

As the Tri Locos began to plan for Ironman Arizona as their big 2012 race I wondered whether I would be up for the challenge.  I was assured by Coach and the other Iron Locos that a year was plenty of time for me to ready my body for the monumental task.  I think it's fair to say that the year of training (6 months on a formal plan) for IMAZ was physically and mentally the hardest thing I've ever done.  It was also the most rewarding of my life.

As I reached the peak training phase I pushed my body and mind further each week.  My weekends consisted of grueling workouts (often by myself) and I made many sacrifices in other aspects of life.  Monday mornings though were filled with pride.  As I settled in to work each Monday, I couldn't help but think about the miles I'd logged on Saturday and Sunday.  Hardly removed from being a drowning, anti-runner, I had been reborn as a passionate triathlete.

I'll dole out some specific "thank yous" in my race report but in the meantime I'd like to throw out a general thanks to all those who helped me along the way.  Whether you were a training partner, someone who donated to my cause, a random runner on a trail who made me work just a little bit harder, a family member, or a friend, everyone I've come in contact with has helped me in some way.  Triathlon may be an individual sport but without all the help and support of those around me I'd never have heard Mike Reilly say: "Andrew Zitofsky, you are an Ironman!"

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