In the battle of endurance sports, you are constantly fighting a goal that nobody else sees.  Yet you can feel it with each breath, stroke, pedal, and step you take in Ironman 70.3 or 140.6.

Quitting has never been an option for me in these races.  I have done 3 half Ironman events and one full Ironman in Los Cabos Mexico.  But last week, while racing in Ironman 70.3 Eagleman, I was very close to quitting.  I couldn’t get past my wall.  I struggled to find the strength to hit the wall harder than it hit me.

I had an amazing swim; 35 minutes to complete 1.2 mile open water swim considering we had to battle jellyfish and a chaotic start based on age and gender versus rolling start by finishing times.  Swim starts based on age and gender only cause unnecessary panic at the start as it is inevitable to get “swam over", yanked from your legs, and hit on the face by younger and faster swimmers coming from behind or you end up doing the same with the slower older group that started before you.

My bike ride was solid, completing 56 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes.  But it all started here my errors, my failures, and my ego.  The course was hot and windy with only 3 water stops.  Somehow I skipped the first one as I thought there were more water stops.  First error = never get too comfortable and make time to learn the course.   By the second water stop at mile 30 I was already dehydrated.  By mile 40 I felt the first inner thigh  cramp and decided to pull back on my 20-23 mile per hour pace to a 17-18 mile-per-hour rhythm.   This hit my ego and I tried compensating by over fueling with energy gels loaded with caffeine, salt tablets, advil, and my infinite liquid nutrition.  Second error = you can’t fight dehyration once you are already dehydrated.  Third error = I over fueled sending my GI system literally into shits.

Arriving into Transition 2 (T2) I took my time as I was battling a fight against negativity.  I was feeling down on myself.  Feeling not good enough and not strong enough.   I left T2 fighting tears and forcing a hypocritical smile and a high five to my husband and my friends.   The last thing you want to do is make them worried as you leave for your final leg of the race.... the half marathon.

The first 3 miles of my run were hell.  I battled vomit, dizziness, and running to the bathroom;  I had to walk portions of it.  I could feel my ego getting stripped down to the bones.  When I just couldn’t go any further hitting my wall, I stopped and gave myself permission to completely fail and quit.  That is when I started listening to my heart and my WHY.  Someone recently gifted me this book “Man’s Search For Meaning” where the author explains that the human that has a WHY to live for can bear almost any HOW.  My WHY kept me going to the finish line.  It was my slowest half and yet I learned so much from it.

My goal was to set a new personal record (PR) and finish top 10 in my age group.  That certainly didn’t happen.  It was my slowest half Ironman finish in 5 hours and 59 minutes.  I have another half Ironman this year, at the end of August, and I am determined as fuck to get top 10 in my age group there!  

The moral of this story = learning never stops and I will keep dreaming big as I would much rather fail aiming high than crushing goals aiming low.


Esther Collinetti