Friday, March 27, 2015

Ironman Inspiration - Jolene Diaz - Thanks to 7 months of Spandex

Jolene is part of my Ironman Arizona 2014 Facebook Group.  She posted a picture of her an her husband showing off their Ironman Arizona Medallion, and I thought about when I cross the finish line with my wife Irene at the New York City Marathon.  One of the things I love is when couple and families are able to enjoy doing something together and more importantly something extraordinary together is really special. Because, it is those times that I find are amazing snippets of life.  When we sting together enough amazing snippets we can call our life fulfilled. Jolene and Lou, you have set the bar high and I look forward to having my picture taken with my wife as well (probably 2018)

My name is Jolene and this is the day I became an IRONMAN, just after crossing the finish line with my 5X IRONMAN husband (aka “BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!”). When Noah asked if he could share my story, I thought “OMG, why? Who cares about my silly little story? Do I even have a story?” I’m so inspired daily by so many other people that have suffered, endured and overcome much more than I feel I have. But the lesson in that I guess is that we ALL motivate/inspire somebody in our own ways, sometimes without even knowing it. So, what I will say is that I have struggled with my weight/self-worth/body image my entire life. I have also secretly battled with social anxiety for as long as I can remember. It sounds like a silly thing, but it’s ruled my life for more years than I care to admit. When my husband Lou turned 50, he decided to become an IRONMAN and it’s been a journey that I have loved and enjoyed following him on. I am his BIGGEST fan. I found myself spending my Saturday’s couped up inside, tracking Lou online during his 100 mile rides and not really being able to wrap my head around what he endures out there. So, after some health issues in 2012 (chronic anemia, blood transfusions, surgery, etc.) and an upcoming 40th birthday, something in me just start visualizing that finish line I’ve watched so many times, thinking… “I want that too”... I thought it would bring us closer as well since, well, IM training is very time consuming and with full time jobs there isn’t time for much else.  I didn’t want to be left behind and I wanted to start my new life post health issues to be amazing. And what better way to celebrate 40, right? So that was it – I was going to be an IRONMAN. Arizona would be the place, 2014.

Post-surgery, I was cleared to resume exercise August 2012. I signed up for swimming lessons (because I only had a ‘dog paddle with life vest’ stroke and an incredible fear of having my face in the water) and completed my first EVER triathlon that October (Olympic distance). By March, I had done my first ever Half-Ironman and my IRONMAN training season officially started. What a journey. Ups, downs, highs, lows, gains, losses but most of all: FUN. Nothing can ever replace being able to share that journey with my husband. TRULY. AMAZING. I will treasure it always. IRONMAN Arizona was everything I dreamed of and more. From meeting so many friends online during training (something I NEVER would have done before this journey), only to actually meet them in person in Arizona and still call them friends to this day (and forever)… to having your husband surprise you 0.1 miles from the finish line (he waited almost three hours for me to get there) so that we could cross that finish line together. Start together, finish together. I am a changed person because of this experience. I am finally comfortable in my own skin (thanks to 7 months of spandex) and, although I still struggle with anxiety, I have really learned to open up more and am feeling so fulfilled as a result. IRONMAN Boulder is next for us both and we CAN’T WAIT! I’m going to enjoy this ride for as long as God allows.

If you take anything from this, just let it be this: Life is scary and things get in the way but if you are willing to take a leap of faith and put in the work, there is something AMAZING waiting for you on the other side. You are capable of ANYTHING you put your mind to. It’s life changing, I promise. 

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