Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Two weeks ago, I met Ben for drinks and apps at one of our local spots after finishing my first round of exams. We were each browsing Reddit on our phones, as usual, when suddenly I read something that made me gasp aloud. All I could say was, "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god." Ben looked at me quizzically and finally I managed the words, "Ironman is buying Beach2Battleship."

To backtrack a little, B2B was my first half Iron distance triathlon back in October. While I loved the whole race experience and would strongly consider going back for the full, I've always felt pretty strongly about hearing, "Tracy Schoenfeld, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" at the end of my first 140.6-mile journey, something that wouldn't be possible if I ever chose B2B as my first full. It may sound silly, and it probably is, but that is the only piece of the puzzle that was missing from the B2B full.

...Until a week or two ago. When I first heard about the buyout, it was just a rumor. A seemingly well-substantiated rumor, but a rumor nonetheless. The B2B camp was mum while these rumors were flying, except for an announcement that the "new registration platform" they'd been working on would open on December 14th. I counted down the days, and woke up last Monday hoping to find official confirmation. Instead, I got confirmation that Alyssa, Lisa, and I had won the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler lottery! While that was awesome and exciting, it wasn't news I was expecting. A few more days passed, still radio silence from B2B, and then the email came in: "PPD Beach2Battleship Joins Ironman Family. Registration opens tomorrow at noon."

The gears had been turning since I first heard the rumor, so my main tri group was already in the loop and weighing the options before the official announcement. After my experience registering for Atlantic City 70.3 (my first and only experience with the IM brand at that point), which was already halfway full after the first day of registration being open and sold out less than two weeks later, I knew we'd probably need to act fast if it actually came to fruition.

I knew I didn't have time to hem and haw over this decision, which isn't exactly how I wanted to feel before committing to a full Ironman. Plus, I had already decided that I probably wouldn't attempt 140.6 in 2016. I don't know anything about what my life will look like next October - where I'll be living (and training), if Wilmington will be a reasonable distance to drive to for race weekend, or where I'll be working (and if I'll be able to get time off for the race).

But at the same time, taking all the unknowns out of the equation, it made so much sense for me to do this race. Everything I've ever wanted from a full Ironman just fell into my lap on this one: I already know the area and the course - the only other two IM races I was considering were Louisville and Chattanooga, but having never been to either, neither one of them really called to me; it's the late in the season - another requirement for a potential IM for me since I need some reason to believe race day weather will be decent, and maybe even pleasant; the rest of my group is in - having people to share in the training and racing experience was hugely beneficial for me for B2B and I know there is no way I'm making it through Ironman training alone, nor do I want to be alone on the race course that day (even if the only place I see them ends up being at the finish line). And, obviously, IRONMAN!

The night before registration opened, I had dinner with my dad and our friends we raced with at B2B. We all agreed (well, most of us...my dad took some convincing) that we were in if the others were in, but wouldn't be heartbroken if we all decided not to do it. Talking out all the pros and cons helped calm our nerves (the margaritas helped too). By the end of dinner nobody had said it out loud, but we were in. It took a few days for us to all get the guts to actually register (and to get over the sticker shock of the $700 race fee), but yesterday, we did it.

I would like to say that I'm excited and, I mean, I am, but I'm also scared. And confused. I keep trying to figured out how I got here, how 5 years ago I had never exercised regularly in my life and didn't even know what an Ironman was and now I just registered for one. I am terrified.  My longest swim ever is 1.75 miles, and I have to make my way up to 2.4. I've only ever ridden my bike half of the IM distance, and that was only once, on race day at B2B. Some days I don't even feel like I can ride my bike twelve miles, let alone ONE HUNDRED and twelve. And I've run a marathon three times before, but 26.2 still scares me. It scares me as a standalone event - I have no idea how I'm going to feel when a marathon is my 3rd endurance event of the day.

This is the first big race I've ever registered before without really knowing deep down that I can make it through it. I don't know what makes me think, even a little bit, I can do this. I'm happy I have ten months to figure it out because, at this point, there's a big part of me that thinks I can't. But then I think about the part of me that has gotten me here, the part that got me through the first day of Couch 2 5k and has just been growing and growing ever since. The part of me I never even knew I had, but that I discover more of with each challenge I put myself through.

Last night I needed to tap into that part of myself, so I took my long run - not really an official part of Ironman training, but my first run as an official future Ironman nonetheless - back to where it literally all started. Back to the apartment where I lived when I first took a leap of faith and decided to start running. I started my official Ironman journey on the same brick sidewalk where I started my running journey. It was on those sidewalks that I quickly learned I'd need more than just faith in order to turn my plan to become a runner into reality. I needed determination, perseverance, and mental and physical strength - and now I'm going to need a lot more of it than I ever have before.

So here's to the early morning workouts and the early bedtimes. To never really feeling like the chlorine smell has left my hair no matter how many times I wash it in the shower. To spandex and neverending piles of laundry. To the social invitations I'll reluctantly turn down because I have to train. To weekends spent out on the road instead of at home with my family. To blood, sweat and tears.

The road to Ironman begins here.


  1. This is amazing! I'm so happy for you and can't wait to follow this journey! You will be an ironman!

  2. oh my goodness!!! This is such happy news!! I'm so nervous and excited for you!! I can't wait to hear all about your training. Good luck future Ironman!!

  3. The whole time I was reading this I was like you HAVE to do it!! (and you weren't kidding in your other post about race fees being crazy expensive!) I feel like it's all meant to be and I am so excited for you!!

  4. i am so excited for you! i can't wait to follow along. i can't imagine all the emotions you are feeling right now. you're gonna be amazing.

  5. Hah. Reading this made me remember an exchange we had pretty recently about how you were definitely making the right decision not going for Chattanooga or Louisville in 2016. Obviously no longer applicable. ;) (PS, I think I proved this year that Wilmington is a reasonable drive for B2B/IM from all the way up here in NJ, so you should be good from anywhere you might end up!)

    I am so, so proud of you for taking this challenge head-on. I know it's a long and uncertain road ahead, but I have never in my life known ANYONE I have more confidence in on this road than you. You have all that you need—motivation, determination, perseverance, and GRIT—in spades. I cannot wait to watch you flourish and be victorious over these next 10 months and on race day next October.

  6. Yayayayayayayyyy!!!!

    I am a little excited for you. Just a little! There's no doubt in my mind that you can do this. NO DOUBT! So here's to the next 10 months of training, of staying healthy, of crying and questioning what you got yourself into, and to crossing that finish line!

  7. Girl I know EXACTLY how you feel, and that first step of making the commitment by signing up is huge! I am so excited to follow your journey and I know you will do great!!

  8. HOLY CRAPY YAY!!! you are going to kill this; can't wait to follow along on your journey.

  9. I know that you are going to rock this!!! Cant wait to hear all about it along your journey :)

  10. I'm WAY behind in reading, obviously. But like. OMG. This seriously just fell into place for you, and I'm so excited! I can't deny, though, I selfishly wish you had chosen the one in Chattanooga. It's a relatively short drive from here, and I would have DEFINITELY been there to cheer you on! :P I can't wait to hear about your experiences working towards being an Ironman. :)