My Goal Was To Finish A Half Ironman - And I Qualified For The World Championship. How I Bought In And Found My Spark

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When I was 26, I bought a road bike with the big goal of finishing a 70.3.

I was 4 years into Corporate America and my life felt so uninspiring. I was succeeding at work, but felt like I was settling. I was fighting this confusing internal conflict while everyone around me kept telling me how great I was doing.

I had this relentless voice in my head screaming at me to go do something BIG.

I always dreamed of a life of physical accomplishment, mental creativity and impact. But somehow I became ok with selling something over the phone and seeing a paycheck hit my bank account every two weeks. I looked around and thought, "how did I let this happen?"

It was time to take action and create some new opportunity for myself.

The biggest thing I could think of was finishing a half Ironman, so I decided I was going to do it. The first thing I needed was a bike. My fitness investments up to this point were $50/month gym memberships and buying the occasional fitness contraption for under $100.

Just considering spending more than a few hundred bucks on a bike had me nervous, hesitant, excited and optimistic all at once.

I hadn't ridden a bike since I was a kid and barely knew anything about triathlon. All I knew was this: triathlons were exciting and my life was not. I decided to push all my chips to the middle of the table and create a spark for myself.

I went to the local Trek store and bought a road bike for $1,427.

I was overwhelmed and I loved it.

My head was spinning just trying to keep up with the gear I needed to ride. I needed a bike, clip-in shoes, padded shorts, jersey with pockets, helmet, sunglasses, water bottles, fuel and more.

It was never ending, but I leaned into learning about it all.

The combination of gaining knowledge (about something interesting to me) and challenging myself physically gave me a sense of purpose right away. I was learning, getting fit and simply loved riding my bike. My spark had caught flame and I was on my way to becoming a triathlete!!

Then I snapped my ankle 3 days before my first triathlon.

Tears streamed down my face as I sat helplessly in an Emergency Room wheelchair. My 2 months of training felt like they were for nothing. The entire effort seemed like a failure.

It felt like life was laughing maniacally at who I was trying to become.

I felt beaten and defeated. I felt like I was never going to escape this unfulfilling life I was trying so hard to claw my way out of. My spirit was shattered to pieces like a broken plate on the hospital's cafeteria floor.

2019 was now committed to surgery and rehab and my goal to finish a 70.3 was pushed to 2020.

The world had different plans, but I was not going to let my spirit be broken again. I capitalized on the 2020 lockdowns and spent every single weekend riding my bike through the winding and rolling hills of the Philly suburbs. The world looked different behind handlebars and I was addicted to the view.

The timeline on my goals grew.

My race registration deferred to Boulder 70.3 on August 7, 2021 - exactly 900 days from the day I bought my bike.

All the extra time let me work through hard-headed beginner mistakes. I hired a coach, was introduced to heart rate training and gained a ton of confidence (with data to back it up). I realized I could reliably predict times for the swim, bike and run on race day and the idea of not finishing was no longer on my radar.

I got more aggressive with my goals and thought: if I can finish in under 5 hours, I have a shot to qualify for the 70.3 World Championship.

Race day arrived. I walked through the swim chute and towards the starting line with silent tears streaming down my face. There was a magnetic force radiating from my heart that felt heavy and light at the same time.

I felt like I was about to do something amazing. But I also felt like I had just done something amazing.

It took me 900 days of not giving up to make it to a 70.3 starting line. In my mind, I had already won. I wiped tears from my eyes, strapped on my goggles and sprinted into the water.

I had a strong swim, the bike of my life and held on just long enough on the run.

I finished in 4:58:15 and qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah.

If you expand your timeline and don't give up, you will achieve more than your mind can currently comprehend.

I'm sharing this with the hope that you find your spark, stay in your fight and don't let life break your spirit.

If you can learn one thing from me, it's that not giving up will set you up to accomplish more than you can possibly imagine.