Ironmother Week: The Mind

Sorry for the f-bomb, but I had to lead with this one. Sense of humor is key to Ironmother success.
Sorry for the f-bomb, but I had to lead with this one. Sense of humor is key to Ironmother success.

So my body is idling, ready to shift into gear on Sunday. My glutes, the biggest muscle in my body, are ready to fire and fire and fire and fire. But the largest muscle that matters is the one on top, both literally and figuratively.

Oh, my brain.

I wish I could load up my brain with carbs, pre-race, and when the cannon went off, be confident it wouldn't betray me.

Because as badass as I may seem, my brain always struggles in a race. Sometimes from the start (a really bad day), but always when a race gets hard. I start making bargains with myself. "O.k., this is fine, but just don't let your splits drop any more." Then the splits drop. "O.k., just keep them here for the next two miles." And there they go again. And even when a race is going well, I still see things half-full. "I've hit my splits for 8 miles, but can I hang on for 5.1 more miles? Wait: 5.1 more miles left still? Seriously?"

SBS has an innate ability to rebound when a race gets tough; she can turn it around and still make it a success. She can also chew off bites of a race and not worry about what's left on the plate. I am not so adept at those skills. When things go bad for me, whether it's at mile .2 or 12.2, I fantasize about quitting and wish the race away. I tune out and mentally drop out. All I want is the finish line. (Which, truth be told, is partly why I haven't run a marathon in over 6 years. I can't stomach the mental effort.)


But Sunday is not just another race. Sunday is a bucket-list item, a race I want to remember for years to come for the good points—not just the struggles. Sunday has a different equation.

8 months of effort + hundreds of training hours + thousands of dollars = 140.6 miles I will NOT allow myself to wish away.

I had my pre-race pep talk with my coach Bri today. We went through all the details: whether I should drive the course pre-race (yes); how to seed myself in the swim (faster if necessary); how she's seen people put sausages (gross!) in their special needs bags that they get at the halfway point of the bike and run. My mood was light-hearted until we got to talking about the run. Then I got really nervous. "I just hope," I said with a quavering voice, "that I can get to at least two and a half hours into the run before I get that I-just-want-to-be-done feeling."

Her response? The run is the best part of the Ironman because you can interact with the crowd—Coeur d'Alene is an especially spectator-friendly course—and I'd be stupid to put on my blinders and not soak it all up. (She didn't say that last part; I ad libbed.) Plus, she said, the miles will go by quicker than I know. "Suddenly, you'll be at mile 20, then running down the finish chute, then wondering where the day went," she said. "Savor this. Just savor it."


Huh: a novel concept for me. Savor the race. Soak in every step. Even when I want to be done, continue to be present. That is my first mental race goal. I've used the mantra I am here now in the past with some success, and this is as good of a time as any to pull that baby out of retirement.

So I'll consider that goal one: to remember that I am here, in this Ironmother of a race, right now. Yes, it will get mofo hard. Yes, my legs will hurt. Yes, I'll get nauseous and uncomfortable. But I am here, in this beautiful Ironmother of a race,  right now. I've visualized being here for 8 months and so many miles. Dang it if I'm going to hope for the clock to tick any faster than it already does.

But I wouldn't be Dimi-tri if I didn't give myself at least one more goal. And Bri, helpfully, laid out some best/average/worst case scenarios for me.

I feel like I'm showing you my stretch marks and vericose veins: these numbers feel that intimate to me.

All along, I thought finishing under 13 hours would be a killer badass Ironmother success. Actually, I thought just finishing would be a killer badass Ironmother success, which it is.

But now I see this other goal—one possible based on my past performance and training times—that is an hour faster. Whoa there, friend.


My fastest marathon time is a 4:13, which was 6 years ago. Is a 4:22 is possible, especially if, you know, I'm going to savor the race? Feels pretty impossible.

I've sat with this new idea for a few hours, and I realize I like having the potential dangling out there. Maybe with the right mindset—this Ironmother race is mine to not only savor, but also to dig deep and freakin' thrive in—maybe I could do something totally out of my comfort zone. We'll—I'm including myself here—just have to stay tuned.

No matter when I cross the finish line, I know it will feel magical. It's up to my mind to make the rest of the day—and all the highs and lows it will bring—be magical, too.



69 responses to “Ironmother Week: The Mind

  1. wow, Dimity, you are awesome!! I just read your numbers and compared them to your chart…you nailed it!! Great day!!

  2. Followed you throughout the day and watched you finish live. Nothing short of awesome is what you are, Dimity. Savor your great day…you earned it!

  3. Looks like you’re in the beyond Great day category with your swim time!!! I hope the rest of the day is fantastic! The mental game is the toughest but I’m you’ve got what it takes. Go the distance !!!

  4. Simply Thrilling…and Inspiring. This post and mindset is such a great parallel for motherhood.

    “Savor the race. Soak in every step. Even when I want to be done, continue to be present.”

  5. This post brings tears to my eyes — thank you for sharing this journey with us. May your race this weekend be filled with magical moments, may your BADASS strong legs rock it, and may your beautiful spirit take in all of the wonderfulness of this event.

  6. Dimity- thank you for sharing your digits with us!!! I’ve enjoyed your training posts. You are my hero! It’s your time to shine!!! I’ll be tracking you on IronTrac like I’ve done for my 3 IM brothers. Sending you strong, healthy, happy race day vibes!!! XO

  7. Much love and positive mojo sent your way. You have a tribe behind you, the wind of our whispered prayers will push you through.

  8. From one mother runner to another, GOOD LUCK! You’re not alone– CDA will be my first full IM too. Maybe I will spot you on the course! Right now I am hosting a double playdate (all boys) and trying to pack for the race, and reading your post was such a welcome treat. Thanks for being my virtual training partner for this great big race. It’s all in the bank.

  9. I’ve never met you, but am so proud of your hard work. As my best running friend says during our races, “You’ve done the hardest part (train), now just enjoy!” Prayers and strength to you!

  10. Dimity- Best of luck. You will do great! Believe in yourself! Also, one of my fav mantras during marathon running is to say in my head or out loud “a little longer, a little stronger”.

  11. Amazing times! I would be thrilled to have your time in a marathon alone – forget at the end of a tri. Just completed my first marathon in November and I decided to just enjoy it. I figured if I never had the opportunity to do one again I was going to have fun and soak it in. I loved every stinking minute of it! Sure my time was a little slower than I anticipated but I SMILED the ENTIRE race. Best wishes for a happy race!

  12. You will be amazing. I have listened to your podcasts as I prepped for my races and I cannot wait to hear how everything goes. I actually got a bit teary eyed as I listened to you talk about your prep for the race. what an inspiration!!

  13. Dimity you rock!! I love your honesty with the whole race. I think no matter how much you run or train or how much you put into it you are always thinking is it good enough can I actually achieve my A goal. Thank you for putting it out there. I know that it makes me feel better about my own races knowing that others think the same way. So good luck and I wish you the best!!! Keep those negative thoughts at bay and just be the best Ironman you can!!!!!

  14. Running my third marathon this weekend. Just not feeling as ready as I did for the first and second. This post helps a lot…. Thanks! And good luck to you!

  15. What a great post! You inspire me, Dimity, and I just know you will be great! I’ll be sending my “be strong” and “have fun” vibes your way!

  16. I am loving this series! Gotta tell you – I PR’d 3 days ago (half 1:57:28). This was basically my bucket race, a sub 2:00 half marathon. For two weeks before the race, my mind was a mess. Complete chaos. But you know what? At the start, I found the zone. Maybe I was doing what your coach said. Maybe I was just ready to stop the mental negative chatter, I don’t know. But it was the coolest thing I ever did. Every time I look at the little slip of computer printout paper they gave me at the end, with that time and my name and “half marathon” and “1st place Women 50-54” I get to feel the elation of nailing it all over again.

    No, my training wasn’t the half of what you’ve done. I could NEVER do what you’ve done. But YOU HAVE DONE THE WORK. Stay in the present. This is your bucket race. Enjoy it and savor it. It’s worth it.

    Will be thinking of you a LOT!!!!

  17. I hope that you remember to be amazed by yourself as you’re racing. You have every reason to feel incredibly proud, regardless of what scenario transpires on race day.

    Thanks for the reminder to savor the experience. It’s a good message, and I’m going to keep it in mind this summer in Boulder.

  18. You will soooo rock this race, and you have so many people cheering you on! I have no doubt you’ll kick ass in your first IronMother! I, for one, am so proud of you for doing this!

  19. I love this post. I frequently wish away the miles, and I think my mantra (I’ve never found one that didn’t seem silly) may become “savor this”–whatever part of the training/race “this” may be. Can’t wait for your race report, especially the part about the finish line!

  20. Dimity, you know you have a lot of mother runners (even ones like me, who aren’t even hardly running right now) who are sending you energy to savor the moment.

    Enjoy the experience. xo. CZ

  21. I am so excited for you Dimity – and love and appreciate your outlook, stretch marks and all.

    You will kick ass. I know it!

    Go get ’em!

  22. I’ll be rooting for you from Alberta, Dimity – and I think that having that awesome mental outlook really is going to get you to a good place 🙂

  23. This is like the preview of a movie. The excitement, the anticipation, the rooting for the hero to beat all the odds.

  24. My mind is also the weakest part of my racing body…so, I send you what little strength I have to add to yours and know you will return the favor at my next planned 1/2 in early October when I’ll be gunning for a PR.

  25. Dimity-

    Git-er-dun. I always say that to my mother runner friends, no matter what. You’ve worked hard, REALLY REALLY hard, and you’re going to pay your mind, body and soul back in SPADES for the sacrifices you’ve made all along the way.

    You’re going to be competing in MY turf….where I grew up, and guess what? It’s freaking gorgeous up there, like nothing you’ve ever seen. Every stroke, pedal and step will be in God’s country. Let Him carry you through…

    Focusing on your mental game is just as important and everything else. So when your brain tries to talk you out of doing something you know damn well you can, tell it to shove it, look at the beauty surrounding you and know you are doing what you’re meant to do, in the very moment you are meant to be.

    Just be.

  26. Dimity, I hope you know how much you and SBS have inspired so many. Through all the work you do with us BAMR, but for me, it is so powerful how open, honest and raw you have been through this IronMother journey. Body, mind and spirit, take the support of all the BAMR with you.

  27. The mind…..
    That with age is the enemy….ok and heat too….
    The mind games are so hard for me….sometimes also right at the start…..
    I tell myself….don’t go to the dark side..and I still do it…most of the time…
    I always remember your voice from a podcast I don’t remember the title…but you said “be in the moment” “be present” that helps me.
    So my friend…. Take your own great advice….
    You will be great.

  28. Love this. Savor it. Something tells me the weekend will go by so fast – soak it in. When you hop off the bike and hit T2, remember “this is where you run.” (for 4 at a time). You totally got this!

  29. I’ll be thinking of you on Sunday, Dimity. You are an inspiration to me, no matter what your finish time is!I wanted to share a quote with you that my dad shared with me. It’s by Laurence Whistler:

    “Life is a matter of moments, once-only and unrepeatable; awareness of the moment is precious… heightened awareness has the quality of a dream.”

    Enjoy every moment on Sunday… even the hiccups!

  30. So happy to see another IM post from you this week – I’ve been thinking about you all month. Can’t wait to see you ROCK this!

  31. I developed butterflies in my stomach as I read through this post, Dimity. I am both thrilled and terrified for you at the same time…..exactly as I feel for myself whenever I step up to a new starting line. Believe in your training; it will carry your body and your mind through. Good luck!

  32. You’ve done the training, you’re ready, and you’re going to KILL it. I love this post and needed it today, so thank you. I start training for my very first marathon soon and it’s intimidating and overwhelming. Listening to you talk about the Iron Mother over the last few months and reading about your preparations has given me the courage to do it though, I know my body can do it.. I just have to convince my brain. Sending lots of mother runner love and good luck wishes for Sunday!

  33. Love love this!! I wondered how you were feeling emotionally & you were awesome enough to just put it all out there! Your goals are amazing – no stretch marks or varicose veins – but a wonderfully strong, amazing mother who is gonna do great – you did your homework for this and I’m so happy you plan on being in the moment! Hugs to you girl!!

  34. Dimity,

    Sending you strength and love from Newtown, CT. You will rock it out! Many thanks to you and SBS for inspiring me daily on my runs and in life. With your Podcasts and Posts, I have been able to keep moving forward, one step at a time, since all the craziness in our little town this past year. Thank you for all that you do. Here is a quote that I love…..
    “Until you face your fears, you don’t move to the other side, where you find the power.”

  35. You’ve clearly put in the training work. The race is the celebration. (Did I steal that line from you guys? Probably.) I am definitely going to steal “I am here now.” yes! yes! yes! You’ve got this.

  36. Right after I read your post in my email, this message was the next email:

    Remind them, that a runner’s high doesn’t come from thinking about the end result; to a runner so affected, the end result is assured. Instead, they think only of the moment, one step, one breath, and one heartbeat at a time.

    Same thing for a manifester’s high.

    On your mark…

  37. Dimity, I love you for speaking your goals outloud. A lot of women I know would never do that. It all comes down to the day and many factors that are out of your control, but I believe you can get your Great Day goal or even better. Make it a point to encourage others along the way and no matter what happens, you will have played a roll in someone else’s success. You have already done that through your writing and sharing. Now you have the chance to do it on race day, too.

  38. Dimity, you will rock this race, I know it. You’ve done all the work, now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Can’t wait to hear about it next week!

  39. We all believe in you, so when you get “down”, remember that the tribe is cheering you on from around the world! Go ROCK this Ironmother!

  40. After I did all the training for my one and only marathon, ran a 3:18 20 miler, got my head in the game, Mother Nature played a cruel trick on me and gave me an 80 degree day. I didn’t meet my goal time of 4:30–did a lot more walking than I wanted to. Mile 18, I called my husband, crying, so disappointed when I knew I wasn’t going to meet my goal. He reminded me of all I had done to prepare for this and to keep going. Bottom line is that I finished. I did the work. And for months after, I had to resolve it in my mind, get over myself, remind myself that only 0.1% of the population has done a marathon. Whoever said that it is the journey, not the destination was very wise. Savor all the training that you have done, all the work…and be proud of yourself. No matter what the outcome. You are already an Ironman!

  41. I was having trouble rolling out of bed this morning for a five mile run. Thanks for the motivation and best of luck! You will rock it!!

  42. I have to say I love that sign! You will do great. I understand the mind being harder to control than the body but just think of all of your training. You are ready for this. This is just the next step after all of that training. Just don’t over think it. Just go!! Can’t wait to hear all about it on a future podcast.

  43. You will be amazing. I am no where near the point of committing to the Ironwoman- marathon distance is my stopping point for now. Don’t talk yourself out of being your very best! That being said the lead photo is not necessary and a bit off-setting to open – thankfully my kids were not around. I expect awesome advice and motivation when I open your emails not a four letter word screaming from my screen. Have an awesome race!

  44. The bike will be the hardest part! Stick with your nutrition plan and don’t worry of things don’t go as planned. The run will be the easiest because you are almost there 🙂 if this is a bucket list item don’t worry about your time just go with what feels right to your body and you will do great! Best of luck!!!!
    Ps I through some cans of V8 in my special needs bags for the extra salt and it really helped

  45. Dimity – you are strong, brave, and well prepared for this race. Although I KNOW the nerves are inevitable, keep your head up and just go for it! You have SO MANY mother runners rooting for you and we’ll be sending you positive vibes on Sunday.

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