Is It Selfish To Want One More Ironman?

When I was given the opportunity to race Ironman Lake Placid, it was too good to pass up. My husband and I briefly discussed the challenges of my training with two little ones, one of which I was still exclusively breastfeeding. We agreed it would be a “one and done” sort of thing. Check it off the bucket list. Be able to call myself an Ironman. 

But that’s not the case. I have no doubt that the Ironman distance is for me. While there were so many points during the race last Sunday where I was in pain, there was NO point where I hated what I was doing or wanted to quit.  None. Even when I was bent over in pain, I was loving every second.

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In so much pain at mile 24.5 of the marathon

If I were childless and had an endless supply of time and money (I keep telling my husband we need to plant that money tree in the backyard), I would sign up for 2x Ironman competitions a year. No question. It’s crazy to say, but I truly loved everything about the whole process.

But, I have other commitments. More important things to preoccupy my time.  Other things and little ones to spend our money on. We want our family to continue to grow.  We would love to have another child (in a couple of years).  Ironman training with two little ones is tough.  I can’t imagine trying to do it with three little ones…and it would be tougher for my husband who would watch them all while I train.

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Truth is, I know I will eventually have a lot more time to train for one down the road.  When the kids are all in school full days (assuming I am working from home or not working full time), I will be able to train freely during the week {I won’t be willing to sacrifice weekends filled with soccer, baseball, football, etc}. But, realistically, that won’t be for another 6-7 years (depending on when baby #3 joins the family). I am 100% okay with that.  I am a mom first.

But, the selfish part of me wants to do one more while we are still a family of four.  We aren’t planning on trying to become a family of five for another 18 months or so. Which gives me a little bit of a window to REALLY train for one.

I want to train hard for more than 3 months (I didn’t shift my focus to Ironman training until after the NJ Marathon in early May).
I want to train while NOT breastfeeding.  Or pumping in transitions.
I want to use a swim coach.
I want to have a personalized training plan.
I am completely aching to do another one.

But, I know it’s selfish of me.

Training for this past Ironman was extremely tough. It was WAY MORE than just me training.  My entire family was involved and affected.

Neither of my boys are in school yet so my long training rides, runs, and swims took place on the weekend.  My husband is incredible and loves his time alone with them.  But, those 6+ hour rides on Saturday and 2 hour swims followed by 3 hour runs on Sunday cut into our family time.  We didn’t even make it to the beach this summer until I was in my taper because every single weekend was filled with training. there was a HUGE part of me that felt GUILTY –  my ambitions were clearly affecting my family’s activities.

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Not to mention that early morning workouts made my time with my husband almost nonexistent. I was asleep most nights by 9pm.  There were countless nights we’d rent a movie only to have me fall asleep before the opening credits were over.  I am thankful that my marriage with my husband is so strong because there were some definite rough patches for us as a couple.  You basically have to eat, sleep, think Ironman. Which I did.  It’s hard on the individual training. But I’d argue that it’s harder on the significant other. Especially when there are little ones in the picture.

I tried my best to juggle housework, activities with the kids and staying in contact with friends/family via email and phone chats, but truth be told, they all took a backseat to my training.  Our house was not a disaster, but it was no where near as clean as I prefer it to be.  Some days I just didn’t have the energy to straighten up after the boys.  There were multiple occasions {too many to count} when clean laundry was just piled up on our guest bedroom bed and rummaged through when we were looking for clothes rather than folded and put away while they were still warm. We ordered out OR I relied on my husband to help cook when he came home from work more than I’d care to remember.

I don’t think I was a bad mother.  My focus was still the boys – but I didn’t have 100% of the energy I wanted to do all the little things I am used to doing with them, for them, or for our home.

I’ve been going back and forth since last Sunday.  Do I selfishly sign up for one more Ironman before life gets even more hectic with a 3rd pregnancy and baby?  Or do I put my ambitions on hold for 5-7 years?

After much discussion and scenarios with my husband, we have finally made a decision.  There will be one more Ironman for me before we try for baby #3 and life gets even busier.  Ironman Florida is in Nov each year.  It’s far enough away where life can be “normal” for 6-9 months or so before training really picks up again. 2014 Ironman Florida.  I’m coming for you =)

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    54 thoughts on “Is It Selfish To Want One More Ironman?

    1. Awesome!!! You will rock it!!! I think it is not selfish at all, but I know the feeling and I think it is the same balancing act that almost all of us feel at some time or another! I think it is awesome that you and your husband talk about it together, it says a lot for your relationship! I say that cleaning and laundry ect will always be there…do what you love :)! You also have time right now to focus on your family before you start your training so there is a good balance. I don’t know how you manage to do it, but you are awesome. My husband and I have a hrad enough time marathon training between the two of us with our kids…and our kids are older!
      Jen recently posted..A Bump in the Road…My Profile

    2. Beautiful post-thank you for keeping it real! I’m not a mom yet but I have been with my boyfriend for four years and I know that his dream is to get married and start up a family as soon as possible! Although I love the thought of having kids, I fell as if there are so many things I need to do before becoming a mom! You are the “you-can-do-it-all” living example and I admire you so much for what you have achieved so far… with two little ones! Yet, I don’t think I’d be able to be as good as you are… I’m currently marathon training and, although I’m loving each second of it, it makes me very tired and usually I hit the bed for a nap as soon as I’m done with my runs 😉 Imagine if I had kids…

      I guess all I wanted to say is that I don’t find you selfish, not even a little tiny bit, and that I admire you so much for your achievements. In my opinion, you’re doing the right thing and you’re balancing everything in the right way!
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    3. I’ve been following your blog for a while. I am in awe at your dedication to your training and your athletic ability. You have helped me stay motivated to stick with my fitness and to set new goals to better myself. You are an awesome athlete and have proven it many times, most recently with your terrific IM finish…SO impressed!
      However, I do think that wanting another IM is selfish. You so eloquently and honestly said in your post how much of a toll it has taken on your family, marriage and home. When we become mothers, I think we should strive to be selfless. Your sons will only be this age once. You will miss out on so many precious moments choosing to train for another IM instead of being there with them. I do think that a happy mom = a happy family. But is having another IM under your belt the only way you can be happy? I think waiting to train for another IM when your kids are in school would be a better decision for your whole family. You can still pursue your ambitions while not interfering with family/husband time.

    4. A tough decision but I think you should follow your heart (which means do it) because you just never, ever know what’s coming down the line for you later in life. You may feel so differently in a few years or there may be something else that prevents you THEN that’s not even on your radar now. If your husband is supportive of it, you can SO make it work. Plus, the learning curve of getting the first one done is over.
      Jackie@ MuscleUpMom recently posted..“How are you forming coherent sentences right now?”My Profile

    5. What a great and honest post. I was wondering if you would want to do another or if you’d be one and done. I think it is awesome that you’ve honestly put out there the reality of what training for Ironman takes and the sacrifices it requires. I don’t think you are selfish at all. In fact, I think your boys will one day look back when they are old enough and think what a positive role model and superhero their mom is. It is interesting how much more manageable a half Iron is than a full. There are moments when I’d like to take a full on. I think I’d be a one and doner, but I’m not sure my husband could take all the sacrifices we’d have to make on the weekends and all the experiences we would have to give up during those 21 weeks of training (and we don’t even have kids yet). I think it is great that you’ve made this decision as a family. Can’t wait to follow your journey next year! xo

    6. I think that’s AWESOME. As a mom myself, I completely understand the guilt associated with training (and anything that involves leaving the kiddos!), but I firmly believe that a happy, fulfilled mom makes the best kind of mom. You found a way to make it work the first time and I’m sure you’d find a way to make it work the next time. You’re an amazing athlete and I’d hate to see you sacrifice something you’re passionate about. You’re clearly a wonderful, conscientious mother as well so I have no doubt that you’ll excel in that role throughout your second round of training. Selfishly, I’m excited you’re doing another IM! I loved tracking your progress and I think you’re mama inspiration to us all! 😉
      Allee @ Griselda Mood recently posted..Run, Raise a Baby, Work, RepeatMy Profile

    7. Congrats on such an awesome finish at IMLP by the way!

      I’m not sure if I find training for an Ironman completely selfish. Yes, you are taking time out from the family — but, on the other hand, when you are around you are completely present. I think it would be worse for you to be physically present and your mind be aching for another Ironman and harboring potential resentment for not being able to fulfill your dreams. I am sure that your children, when they grow up, will appreciate that you followed your dreams rather than sacrifice every single drop of your soul to care for them. (I wish that my mom and dad were able to pursue their dreams too rather than sacrifice everything for me.)

      Also, since you’ve already done an Ironman (and did incredibly well!!!!), maybe you could take it a little easier on your training hours. You are fast. You will finish — that is a given at this point. Could you look at a minimal training plan that still allows you to participate in races while maximizing your free time with your family? There are plans that are between 10-12 hours a week with a few peak weeks at 14 and 16 hours.

      You’re an inspiration for us all!
      -Amara
      Amara Poolswasdi recently posted..Race Recap: Seafair Olympic Triathlon 2013My Profile

    8. Good for you! I think it is awesome that you are a mom AND a wife AND an athlete and allow yourself to have more than one identity, more than one passion and pursuit in life. Kudos to your husband for being so supportive, he sounds like a wonderful guy! I think you are setting a great example for your boys. I’m sure you’ll do great at IMFL, flat and fast!
      Caroline recently posted..Getting Back Into It. Sort of. Maybe Later.My Profile

    9. I can totally relate to the game of tug of war between family and training (oh, and working full time) and for me it’s just marathon training! Time is definitely hard to come by when you have 3 littles, but it is also important for you to maintain your sense of self by setting personal goals. In order to be the best mom you can be and the best wife you can be, you have to be the best YOU you can be first, right?? The key for Andy and I is to 1. Trade off (his interests are different than mine, but we trade time for time) and 2. Set aside and commit to family time when you are all together. That way you can ALL look forward to it. It gives the parent who is “on duty” has something to help them look forward to when they ask when the other parent will be back, and it gives you something to look forward to when you get done. I could go on and on but I’ll spare you, lol! Bottom line is it is so important to chase your goals, as long as your partner has the same opportunity (and he obviously does since he is next in line for an IM!).

    10. I think it’s great that you two decided together that you would do another IronMan – true signs of a great relationship! When I was training for my marathon I found that it wasn’t so much the actually long runs that kept me from my family but that drained feeling I would have afterwards where I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything. It’s so hard to say no to the littles even if you are tired :)
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    11. That itch to do another will never go away; you’ll always want to know how much better you can do! But you’re right, there is little out there that is more selfish than Ironman training, I’ve seen multiple relationships break up because of them. If you’re on slowtwitch.com you read about this – and the people who have it right keep their training almost invisible to their families and they’re able to continue racing and training because they love the lifestyle. It’s finding the right balance.

    12. You know, while following your training, I was always amazed at how you and your husband managed it all because I know what it’s like with 2 kids (and mine are older!) and how crazy training can be. I absolutely love that you love the ironman distance because it totally fits you. I think that if your husband is on-board and you have the support system (which is seems like you do), you should go for it. It does take a lot of sacrifice and teamwork but it’s clearly something that means a lot to you. I cannot WAIT for your next one!
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Getting MuddyMy Profile

    13. It’s not selfish of you, you now can take all that experience from you first ironman into the next one and will be even more prepared since you have one under your belt. I always tell people live life too its’ fullest since you never know what may come up or happen in the future. You are an inspiration to us all. One day I hope to do a full tri. But first I must learn how to swim; once I do I will start with small sprint tri and move up from there :)

    14. Wow, amazing. I think this is such a fantastic time for you right now. You are such a strong familial unit, you’ve learned a LOT so far from what you have accomplished and learned as a result of training and one more before any more kids etc sounds just right :)
      Jolene recently posted..Friday thoughts: where to go from here.My Profile

    15. if you can do it, and your husband supports you (and vice versa) then yes, go for it. It’s all about team work, so enjoy the journey. We’ll be there to follow you! and if you need a swim coach, come down to Austin!
      lindsay recently posted..24 Hours to FEEDMy Profile

    16. I can’t wait to follow you for this next journey of yours! While it is definitely a commitment for everyone for all of the reasons you describe above, you are able to show your children what it means to be resilient, dedicated, and to perservere. And that, to me, is invaluable.
      Kristin recently posted..Excuses, ExcusesMy Profile

    17. I think that sounds like the perfect plan! Take advantageous of being healthy and go for it. There’s always going to be something conflicting with your ability to train so you need to just think about the present. As cliche as it sounds, you want to be able to look back on this one without any regrets and what ifs; your family will support that !
      Jenn @ runnderlust recently posted..RuncationingMy Profile

    18. I will be graduating from college in December 2014 and likely won’t be startng grad school until fall 2015 so my plan right now is a summer 2015 Ironman. I know it’s a long way away but it’s the only time that I will have to dedicate to training without my relationships suffering. Sometimes I get frustrated and think that if my boyfriend doesn’t like all the training I’m doing then we shouldn’t be together but I also think that he has the right to want to see me more and not want me constantly spending my time training. As much as I want to do an Ironman I’m not going to do it if it will ruin our relationship
      Shannon @ Mon Amour recently posted..Culpeper International Triathlon Race ReportMy Profile

    19. Haha…oh man that didn’t take long :). Lindsey and I had similar conversations after Wisconsin last year but I decided that I was not mentally committed to grinding again so soon. I’ll come back to Ironman probably in a year or two…as I have some unfinished business to attend to with the distance. The race is funny…it always calls us back. Now I am just sitting around waiting for Lindsey to say she wants to do one. Only time.

    20. YES YES YES. I think a lot of moms feel the same way, regardless if they’re training for a big event or not. If you have your husband’s support, go for it.

      I followed along with all of your training on IG and was so impressed, but I kept thinking to myself “I wonder how much more awesome she’d be if she wasn’t breastfeeding?” Seriously, Michele, you deserve another shot when your body is solely yours. Somewhere around 9 months, breastfeeding really started to take it’s toll on me, and for the past year my runs have been pretty awful (it’s been totally worth it though to keep nursing). I have no doubt that you’ll dominate your next IM!
      Jen recently posted..Hit the Links with Disney GolfMy Profile

    21. That’s how I felt about training for marathon number two. Although we don’t have kids yet, my husband and I are involved in a lot of things, and I abandoned a lot of it for my first round of marathon training. The second time around I shifted priorities to try to find a balance, and I think I did. Although I was more tired than not, it was a fulfilling training cycle! Ironman training is SO different, but I kind of get your “one more” feeling!
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    22. I think what you’re experiencing is a struggle so many mom’s feel. Whether it is career ambition or athletic ambition we all ask ourselves: where is the balance? and am i being selfish? Thank you so much for being honest, for sharing your heart and the struggles. I’m so excited to see what you can do with more focused training and no pumping! And God bless the men who support us!!!!
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..How to Get Faster (in simple terms)My Profile

    23. Yay for Panama City 2014! I hope to volunteer that year and sign up for 2015.. My secret goal that is no longer a secret goal.
      Best wishes to your soon to be growing family and best of luck to your husband training for his half. I can wait to follow your training again!
      I have noticed that sometimes being selfish is OK. I can tell by your writing how difficult it was to make this decision and you are so lucky to have your family behind you. It also sounds this makes your family stronger, your time is precious and you use it wisely. I will have to take notes from you soon :)
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    24. Hi! I found your blog both in searching for IMLP 2013 recaps (I’m signed up for IMLP 2014) and saw your comment in Maria’s a running life blog. I can’t wait to read your recap but this one caught my eye first. I’m a mom of two children too (5 and 7). So the word “selfish” caught my eye. I completely relate to that inner voice that screams that you’re being selfish when you race or train or run or swim or bike or do anything other than be present with our kids. But it’s not selfish at all. Anything that completes you and makes you feel as good and as “you” as this crazy triathlon life that you (and I) have cannot possibly be selfish. You’re setting a tremendous example for your kids: showing them anything and everything is possible, that you don’t quit, that your life and your joy is more than your children. Sure your kids are the best things in your life, but I think it is so good to show them and yourself that you are more than their mother. You’re you. And you’re an ironman :). Can’t wait to follow your next journey and read about this past one!!

    25. I love this post – it’s so honest and real and shows a lot of self-awareness. My dad did his first Ironman (he did Florida too!) at age 66 and so much of what you wrote about reminded me of his experiences. Initially he wanted to do one and be done, but then as soon as he finished, he wanted to do another. But the training had affected my mom and it was a hard decision. He ultimately decided to post-pone the idea for a year and then injuries prevented him from doing it. I think you made a great decision and it’s awesome that your husband is so supportive!
      Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted..Route 66 week 4 recap & favorite Gu flavorsMy Profile

    26. I think you’ve come up with a great compromise! We ended up waiting a little bit longer to try for our 3rd baby and in the long run, it was worth it. The older kids are sooo helpful! I admit that having a third baby has rocked my world harder than I thought it would – but I’m also old. Lol. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will kick ass in 2014 and again after you have baby #3!
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    27. I love this post – it’s very honest and real and shows so much self-awareness. My dad did his first Ironman at age 56 and it was Florida. All the kids are out of the house, but he went through a lot of what you did with regard to how much his training affected my mom. At first he just wanted to do one and be done, then immediately after the race, he was eager to do another and worried about doing one too soon because he wanted to be fair to my mom. Injuries prevented him from doing another, but your post made me think so much about his experiences. I think you made a great decision and it’s awesome that your husband is so supportive!

    28. That is awesome. Your husband and kids rock as much as do for being such a great support system during IM training! So glad you get to be selfish one more time before baby #3.

    29. Wow! Your husband is amazing, and so are you! I’m in a highly driven marriage too, but I am more on the supporting end. One piece of advice which I’m sure you’re already doing. Whatever he wants to chase after, support him 100% without blinking an eye. It took my DH a little while to catch on but it made all the difference. I love that we can both pursue our dreams and feel so supported.

    30. Wow. I can relate and totally needed this. We have been going through infertility treatments for 2 years and I decided in January I needed a break and trained for my first marathon. I’ve now signed up for my 2nd and go back and forth between really hoping to be pregnant and really hoping I’m not so I can get my Tiffany’s necklace at the end of the Nike Women’s Marathon. These two marathons bring on more feelings of guilt than I ever thought was possible. And knowing that an ultra and possibly IM are goals in the future make me realize that I’ll always feel guilty about sacrificing the energy and focus for family-building (and hopefully our future children) and the slack my husband has to pick up, but that these sacrificed are temporary, needed for my sanity and overall well-being and ultimately short-lived compared to the rest of my life and time in between training. And obviously getting pregnant totally trumps that necklace! Thanks for posting.

    31. Michele,
      What you describe is simply the time constraints of a working mom! You’ve chosen to make your work full time training. My full-time work is a bit less intense :) Either way, we never have enough time. Michael takes on a ton (we take turns), helps cook dinner, is at times the primary caregiver, etc. We’re partners like I know you and your husband are. I know it’s not easy…I know. But you’ve already done the hardest part–made goals, identified the “hiccups” they cause, and had a discussion about how to make it all work. Good luck! I’ll be routing for you :)

    32. You are a rock star! I don’t see this as selfish. I see it as accomplishing your goals and setting a great example of determination for your kids. You’re showing them what hard work looks like and how it pays off. I love that! I, of course, don’t know the details and your day-to-day routine, but from everything I’ve read here about your training and schedule and the communication you keep with your husband, well, I think you’re doing something really right. You’re going to be awesome in FL!!
      Lindsay recently posted..what i wanted to say to all the runners.My Profile

    33. While I hate to hear of how hard it was to juggle everything to train, I am so GLAD to hear it. I read a lot of running blogs and I was just asking my husband yesterday…where do all these women find the time to train like they do? I knew sacrifices had to be made somewhere, but you really put it in perspective. Beyond that, while some of your family activities might have suffered, others are better with a confident, strong mom. I think family is a compromise in action. I’m in Florida, so maybe I’ll make it up there to root you on in November. The Panhandle is a beautiful part of the state.
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    34. Thank you for this beautiful and honest post. It is so hard to find the right balance between everything we want/love in life. I think it is so empowering for your boys to see you striving for such awesome goals — they will know from an early age what determination, strength, goal setting and attaining, and passion for life looks like. How wonderful you have such a supportive husband as well.

      You rocked this Ironman and I can only imagine how the next one will feel with the experience and without the breastfeeding =)!!

    35. I think most athletic pursuits are inherently selfish because we ultimately do them for ourselves, and they take time away from other things/people in our lives. You can’t add training for a big event into your life without giving something else up.

      However, knowing and accepting this, having an open dialogue with your partner, setting expectations, and deciding what areas of your life can suffer (cleaning the house) vs. which areas you aren’t willing to sacrifice (family time) goes a long way. You’re setting an incredible example for your boys by pursuing your dreams!

      I’m happy you’re able to take this time now. You’re totally going to ROCK your next IM. Plus, I need ALL of your wisdom & know-how when my time comes around!
      Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..4 Things That Are Adorable on a Child But Not an AdultMy Profile

    36. I am so glad to hear you get to chase your dream again before shifting your focus. Ironman is selfish but I think it’s good for mothers to have something for themselves. I can sympathize about how hard it is, I don’t have children but it does impact my time with family and friends. I am training for my second IM now and hope to get in a couple more before shifting my focus to other things, at least for a while. Can’t wait to follow your progress to IM Florida!
      Beth recently posted..Ironman Lake Tahoe Training – 10 weeks to goMy Profile