The start to my Ironman journey…

Ironman ArizonaWhen I envision the swim start at Ironman Arizona on November 18, 2012, I get butterflies in my stomach.  I think about that race every day and can almost taste it. When I envision crossing the finish line I get goose bumps.  I hear them announcing, “SheriAnne Nelson, you are an Ironman!” I know that may sound really weird but, that is how I feel when I imagine what that day will be like.  This will be my first full Ironman, which is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 miles on a bike, and a 26.2 mile run. Does completing those distances sound crazy? Not to me. Not by themselves. But complete them together, one after the other, now that sounds a little crazy and daunting.  Just think about exercising for 11+ hours straight, the cut off time to finish is 17 hours.  You might be thinking why would anyone want to do that? I think, of course I want to do that.

I remember in 2005, the inaugural year for Ironman Arizona, I went down to the race as a spectator and thought, “Wow, the human body and mind is capable of so much.”  At the time, the thought never crossed my mind to do one; I was a new mommy and knew my focus was on my family.  I enjoyed watching people compete and celebrate what it was to feel alive.  Every year I would go down to the race to watch and be in awe.  In 2010, I met and befriended an Ironman and was very intrigued by his lifestyle.  I began to train with him and asked more and more questions. Soon, I realized I wanted to do an Ironman. I wanted to test my limits. Because of my competitive nature I knew I had to wait until the timing was right. After all, my three lovely children are my priority and I did not want my training to take away from being a mom.  In 2011, I decided to volunteer at Ironman Arizona to guarantee my slot for Ironman Arizona 2012.  On November 21, 2011, as I was standing in line to pay my registration fee I was thinking, “What am I about to do? I have a year to get ready to race 140.6 miles.”

When I registered for the race I was a proto-typical newbie, I did not even own a bike.   I knew I had my work cut out for myself.  My Ironman friend I spoke of earlier became my coach:  Toby Baum with Camelback Coaching.  He put a training plan together for me based on my current fitness level and we strategized about preparatory races to give me experience.  Now, I must tell you, I have a strong background in running.  I ran collegiately and have completed many foot races ranging from 5K to marathon distances.  Even through my three pregnancies I stayed physically fit. I’ve always felt it is important to take care of yourself as this is the only body you get in this life. Through my pregnancies and post-pregnancy I ran recreationally and used Beachbody workout programs such as INSANITY to stay fit.

In January I jumped into my tri training and loved every minute of it. As the weeks progressed I could feel myself getting stronger and loved regaining my love and passion for goal specific training. My Coach and I picked a local Sprint triathlon for me to get my feet wet and experience doing all three disciplines together.  I competed in Marquee Sprint and finished 3rd Female overall– I was shocked! The daily grind of doing workouts proved their worthiness on race day.

The discipline I have to get up every day and do my workouts has some people scratching their heads.  In fact, recently, I have had a few friends say to me, “You are a machine!”  I am not; I am a mother of three, a business owner, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a triathlete. I prioritize my life by putting my family first, my training next and everything else falls in where it may.  I know when I am not training someone else is and I dare not give them that edge on race day. Did I mention that I am a competitive person?

Even though I am competitive I am enjoying the journey. The process of learning what it is to develop in four different disciplines, swimming, cycling, running, and mental strength has been enlightening. The mental aspect of races and training plays a larger role than people give it credit.  You can read about each of my races thus far in my race reports. I share something I have learned each time.

One thing I want to be sure to convey is that no matter if your goal is to improve your fitness, race at a competitive level, or just check off an event from your bucket list, be sure to set that goal, tell as many people as you can and enroll them on your journey.  Doing an Ironman is more than just crossing that finish line; it is about all that goes into it and those that join you.

Stay tuned for more updates on my journey.

About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.