KATZY DOES LIFE
I totally, utterly and completely kick ass. Paralympic gold medalist, now para-triathlete training for Ironman. And, a reluctant inspiration.
Thanks to Challenged Athletes Foundation, I’m headed back to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in just a few weeks. They gave me the chance to write for their blog (cause, you know, I’ve pretty much stopped writing for my own - oops!), and here is the result.
Entry originally appeared on the CAF blog. Thank you, CAF, for helping all athletes chase their dreams!
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”
I saw this quote the other day and, as with most things that harbor some kind of fundamental truth, it really struck me.
It’s so simple, but it says so much. No matter what your goal – a sprint distance triathlon, a 5K race, the Paralympic Games or an Ironman – you have to begin the journey by deciding to try.
Four years ago, when I decided to tackle the challenge of Ironman, I had no idea where the journey would take me or how long it might take to accomplish my goal, I just knew I had a dream and I wanted to try.
Enter Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Through CAF I learned about the Ironman World Championships qualification process, was able to meet mentors who had been to Kona and were able to share their advice and experiences with me, and received an Access for Athletes grant which awarded me a new racing wheelchair.
With support from CAF I was set with the equipment and knowledge I needed to start on my Ironman journey.
To be honest, the more I learned and the more I raced, the more overwhelmed I became. Many of my first triathlon endeavors were less than successful – ending with crashes, mechanical issues, inexperience issues, nutrition issues…the list goes on. But, with each setback came a better understanding of what accomplishing this goal was going to take. And I as started to cross finish lines, I was renewed with a greater commitment to continue to try to achieve my ultimate goal.
I was also able to look around at the CAF community and see other athletes like me who were chasing their dreams, in spite of whatever obstacles they faced. I had mentors like Sarah Reinertsen, Trish Downing and Carlos Moleda who pushed me to keep going and keep trying, reminding me that dreams are not realized and goals are not accomplished on the first attempt.
I finally made it to Kona last October. I never would have gotten to that start line without having made a decision to try four years previous and I absolutely never would have been there without the support of CAF. I was proud of having gotten that far and was excited to realize my dream of crossing the finish line in Kona.
I had crossed the Ironman finish line in Louisville, Kentucky just six weeks before racing in Kona and it had been one of the most spectacular days of my life. Becoming an Ironman is by far one of my proudest achievements – right up there with winning a Paralympic gold medal. I thought my day in Hawaii would be much the same. A day to reap the rewards of all the hard work I’d put in over the past four years and enjoy the opportunity to race on this amazing stage. But my day in Kona did not unfold the way I had so vividly imagined. In Ironman racing, finish lines are guaranteed to no one and my finish line was not meant to be on that day.
I could probably write an entire blog about all the things that went wrong for me last October on race day, though the only part of the story that really matters is I came off the course more determined than ever to try to get back in 2012.
And try I did. With the support of CAF, my family and friends, I went back to the Buffalo Springs Lake Ironman 70.3 for a fourth time and raced well enough to earn my way back to the Kona start line this fall.
It’s been another summer of long bike rides, many hours in the pool and mile after mile in the racing chair. But, I know the time and sacrifices will be worth it when I once again have the opportunity to toe the line in Kona on October 13.
There’s no guarantee I’ll get to the finish line this time either, but I know without a doubt I will have done all the work I could possibly do to make it there.
All simply because I made the decision to try.
Sometimes, progress isn’t about the numbers. You won’t necessarily always go faster or further or have a measurable outcome that denotes the progress you’re making.
As hard as it is to stick with it when you don’t see the measurable feedback, the forward progress is still happening.
Then, one day, you notice the change or you feel the difference and that day is just as freaking awesome as the day you win or have a PR.
Today was one of those days.
Five weeks to go.
Wow, I really owe you guys a solid update. But, in the meantime, I got this email from my coach today and it pretty much sums up life at the moment:
There will always be days during the week that you wonder if you can do the workout. But, get on the bike, in the pool, etc and see if you can. Never know until you try. You might end up having a great workout (like last week), or it might suck. Good work, I’m so proud of you for getting after it.