Is your goal to do one Ironman or have an Ironman career?

Deciding if they want a career out of Ironman or not is difficult for a first time Ironman competitor because they have no idea what to expect from their first race.

As a result most don’t know if it will be their only Ironman race or the beginning of an Ironman career.

The Ironman by its nature is so demanding emotionally, mentally and physically that there’s no way of knowing how some people will react once crossing the finish line for the first time.

A story in the aftermath of the 1984 Kona Ironman comes to mind.

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Kona bulletin board.

Apparently the day after the race one first time finisher tossed his bike from the pier into the ocean and was heard saying, “I don’t ever want to see that bike again!”

Rumor has it that about five locals jumped in the water to try and score themselves a bike for nothing.

In the days after the race I saw several notes on a bulletin board near the finish line offering bikes up for sale.

These people had obviously reached a decision and an Ironman career wasn’t in the cards and I suppose they didn’t see any point in hauling the bike all the way home if they there was a chance they could sell it in Kona.

There are those who know the day their training begins that they only have one season to give to achieving their Ironman dream. Plenty of sacrifices have to be made in order to prepare for an Ironman.

Social life becomes almost non-existent and at times there is little spare time for family and friends.

For others it may be an expense issue.

Regardless, they realize that this one year is possibly their only opportunity for Ironman glory.

Personally, my focus was on crossing the finish line. My goals at the time never went any further than that. I just knew I had to do this race.

I remember with perfect clarity the day I arrived back home from accomplishing my Ironman dream. I had a large storage room in my apartment.

Ironman career

Ironman Hawaii finish line

I shoved my bike in there and it never moved from that spot for almost a year.

Even after a year I couldn’t get the Ironman off my mind. It kept calling me. Exactly two years from finishing my first race, I found myself back in Kona.

From that moment on, the Ironman became the main focus of my life for the next twenty years and my Ironman career had begun in earnest.


I kind of compare it to how activities like golf and skiing really attract some people.

They give these a try and for some reason it gets under their skin and at every opportunity they’re out on the golf course or on the ski slopes.

I tried golf and spent most of my time searching the surrounding trees for my golf balls and soon gave it up. For some ten years now my clubs have been gathering dust.

I also tried skiing and found that I froze on those ski lifts and soon discovered that the best skiing days were usually at times when the roads getting there were in the worst condition.

My skis are parked beside the golf clubs. The Ironman however was always there–always beckoning.

The best advice I can give to a first time Ironman is to not jump to any hasty decisions the day after the race. You will be mentally and emotionally exhausted and every fiber of your body will most likely hurt.

Ironman career -kona harbor at sunset

Kona Harbor at sunset

The furthest thing from your mind will be getting on a bike or running even just another 50 meters. For sure this is not the time to decide if you want an Ironman career or not.

Take the time to bask in the glow of your amazing accomplishment. Wait a few months until the physical agony you feel has become a distant memory.

If it’s meant to be, the Ironman will call you back. There will be no mistaking it. Either it will or it won’t. You’ll know when the time comes.

That’s the time to decide on your Ironman future.


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