Yes, you can. You just have to believe. Sometimes it really is that simple. Find the will and find a way.
When you try, even if you don’t succeed, you will hold your head up high. You didn’t stand on the sidelines, you got in the game. Got bloodied, got dirty, paid the price.
And now – you’ve got a story to tell.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (154): Iron Girl
It would have been easy, so easy for Beth Bracaglia to quit – and no one would ever say she didn’t give it a try. Beth was giving it her best and even her best wasn’t good enough to keep her going, or so at least it seemed. Her left leg was hurting so bad she could barely run and the pain was not going away. This was only the training regimen. The main event was still a long way off.
But Beth had come this far and the finish line of the race was what she still envisioned in her mind. Beth was an Iron Girl and she knew it, even if she had yet to prove it to the rest of the world. The world had been waiting for quite some time now.
“I got it in my mind about seven years ago I was going to do this,” says Beth. “It’s so funny, those Facebook memories and feeds that remind you of things from years ago, reminded me I had it in my mind I was going to do this. I think because I was turning 40, I never really told too many people about my thoughts and so it went away, especially with no one to hold me accountable. Then my sister-in-law who lost her husband to brain cancer, decides to do the Iron Girl race, which happened to fall on her late husband’s birthday. I watched her on every piece of the race and I was like, I’m doing this next year. That was 2013, two more years go by and… nothing.”
“Last year I went to support my sister-in-law and her friends and I was standing there with a race shirt on to support them, when this random girl finishes the race and congratulates me too. I said, no there is no medal around my neck. I’m just supporting my friends. I said instead, congratulations to you. She said, ‘it’s my 5th time, no big deal.’ She says to me, why aren’t you in the race? I said I’ve never run a day in my life. I don’t own a bike. I haven’t swam since I was little. She said to me, ‘I just hear excuses and they are bad excuses.’ Then her friends finish and I offer to take their picture. I send it to this woman and she sends me back a note later on saying – See You Next Year!”
That was the beginning of Beth making it to the finish line. She ended up doing a Facebook Live video walking along the beach: “If anybody is watching this I want to do the Iron Girl race this year and if you are watching I want you to hold me accountable, because I don’t wanna do this, but if you hold me accountable, I will.”
Beth says the offers to help came pouring in. One woman offered up her brand new bike, others offered for Beth to come swim with them, another told her about a running group. Put up your challenge, make it real and others will come out of the woodwork to make it happen. Everybody loves a champion.
But champions are made, not born. So now it was time to get to work. Beth says her husband initially was skeptical. “He knows me very well”, says Beth. “At first it was hard for him to take me seriously, because he knows I’m an all-in-person in whatever I do. He said, ‘I will believe you when I see you start running, not just running your mouth about it. I joined the fall running group and I’d come back and tell my husband I just ran three miles. He said, ‘Three miles! That’s fabulous, go get it girl! He saw me running, cycling, swimming and he really got into it. He would tell me to go to bed early – ‘you’ve got to get up and train!’ he said.”
Did Beth want to quit during her training? You bet. Anything worth doing in life is going to challenge you physically, emotionally and mentally. What Beth didn’t expect was the mental part – the mind part. Unless you find a way to overtake your mind, to change your thoughts, they will work to defeat you. Beth wasn’t letting her brain get the best of her.
“The mental part is what really got to me,” Beth says. “There were several times/days I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore. A lot of it had to do with the running, especially when my left leg started to hurt so bad. It was not going away. I hurt me so bad there were times I could not run. I would walk instead, ice down my leg and do what I could to make it better. I thought to myself I could just quit and literally not do this. But the pure aggravation I would have with myself for not complete something, was more important to me than anything. It kept me going. I used positive affirmations:
Beth, you are an Iron Girl.
You can absolutely do this.
You are strong enough and powerful enough.
I would flip my doubts and turn them around and inspire myself.”
Think, believe, do, achieve. Finally, it was race day.
August 20th, 2017, Centennial Park in Columbia, Maryland. The Iron Girl marathon begins with a swim, then a bike race and then a run. 20 miles in all. Beth’s heat began at 8am. There were women of all ages, from teens to those in their 7th decade of life. Those women in their 70’s, there were four of them who inspired everyone says Beth: “When they started everyone stopped and clapped for them. I’ll never forget when they announced their names, like Mary Jones, who was running her 10th Iron Girl race at age 70.”
For Beth the swimming was the best part, since she swam as a child, the biking wasn’t bad, but the running almost defeated her. “The running really slowed me down,” says Beth. “But I knew going in that was my weakest part. Besides I wasn’t in it for the time. I wasn’t in it to win it, I was in it to finish it. I was just happy to see all the people there at the finish line.”
Finish she did. Mission accomplished. Iron Girl medal around her neck. This time the jersey and the medallion were real. Real good, because Beth made it happen. So what’s next?
“Am I gonna do it again?,” asks Beth. “I would entertain it. I don’t think it will happen this year, because there needs to be a different goal on the horizon for me. If somebody asked me, ‘hey do you want to be in a relay and do it with others, I might. But I could also just take a year off. It’s only been a short time since the race, I want to soak it in right now.”
While Beth is soaking it in, she’s also reflecting on the adventure. “The biggest thing is it’s all a journey,” she says. “I think so often we get caught up in the details of what we are doing and trying to accomplish, that we forget we are doing these things and you should appreciate you have the health you can do something as big as this. I was able to, from scratch, basically do a triathlon. If you have faith in yourself and put the goal out there, you really can make it happen with belief. Take a goal – any goal – if you set it out for yourself and do the work to make it happen, it’s going to happen for you. It’s really that simple. I did it with my business. I’ve done it several different times in my life. I take the goal, write it down, do the work and there it is – it happens.”
Believe it before you see it. Make an iron clad guarantee with yourself that you won’t give up. Then do the work – and next thing you know, you’re an Iron Girl.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
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