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Yes You Can!: My Inspiration for Running IRONMAN

When someone hears that I am training for an IRONMAN a few things happen: they ask me the distance, congratulate me, and then they ask me why. The “why” is the part that usually surprises them, so I want to share two things with you today: motivation and inspiration. Almost anything you begin takes a combination of motivation and inspiration to get started and also to see through to the finish line.

In 2005, I was an undergraduate student at Slippery Rock University studying for a minor in Adapted Physical Activity. On the first day of class the professor started lecture with a video of Rick and Dick Hoyt. When the video was over the professor told us that if the video inspired us, we were in the right classroom; that our time in the class would be spent studying to help people like Rick, who had a disability. This was the first moment I remember wanting to be an IRONMAN. I was so inspired by their story and wanted to help others like Dick also achieve their wildest dreams.

Rick and Dick Hoyt are a father-son team that has completed 1091 race events over the past 34 years consisting of:

  • 252 triathlons (6 IRONMAN events)
  •  70 marathons (30 Boston marathons)
  •  94 half marathons
  • 155 5k races

Rick was born in 1962 and as a result of oxygen deprivation to the brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Team Hoyt formed in the spring of 1977 when Rick came home from school and told his father that he wanted to participate in a local benefit race for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. At the time Dick was not in the best of heath, but he agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair at the race. After finishing the race, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” From that first race Team Hoyt was created with the motto “Yes You Can!” Together, they share their inspirational story to help those who are physically disabled become more active members of the community.

After seeing the video, I called my mom and told her that I was going to be an IRONMAN. She suggested that I start out by running a marathon to build my endurance to complete an IRONMAN someday.  That next summer I decided that I would run my first marathon in honor of her as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. At the time my mother had colon cancer and unfortunately, that first marathon was the only marathon finish line she lived to see me cross. Almost to the day, a year later she passed away and it fueled my passion, motivation, and drive more than ever to continue training and make my way to an IRONMAN.

I share this story not only because I think it’s an important part of who I have become, but also because part of this journey has been to help inspire others to believe that anything is possible. I am an average woman setting out to chase down one of the biggest goals I ever have had. I definitely will not win the IRONMAN, but I will finish and I will continue to help empower others in believing that they can achieve any goal they set their mind to.

By focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t do — ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! I love hearing about what has inspired you to start your goals and what motivated you to continue. Share your stories with us in the comments section!