“Gratitude. Each morning when I rise, even before rolling out of bed, I pause to give thanks to God for covering my life, for keeping me clothed in my right mind, for giving me a pure heart, a healthy and strong body and the opportunity to do the things that bring me joy. These blessings are a gift that I don’t ever take for granted. On Saturday November 2, these blessings combined with a boat load of hard work helped me reach a personal and aggressive goal that I set for myself back in May. After I committed, I spent some time wallowing in self-doubt. WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING”?
People, we are back for Part 2 (of 2)! I’m telling the stories of TWO INCREDIBLE WOMEN who completed the “Ironman” on the same day in two different cities, and gave two accounts of the same race! The feat, their endurance, their journey, fascinating stuff! If you missed part 1, Funmi’s story, all hope is not lost, click here to read it. I encourage you to do so.
Let me remind you…
Ironman is a triathlon race, consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon (26.2 mile/42 km) run, raced in that order. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. Source: Wikipedia
This is Petriece Culberson’s story, in her own words.
Ironman 140.6, Panama City Beach, Florida, November 2, 2019
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” ~ Steve Prefontaine
On the heels of Ironman Florida 70.3 I knew my five-month journey would require discipline – early mornings, late nights, rainy, hot, cold, challenging and consistent workouts, trying to eat three full meals a day (my greatest challenge), get proper rest, balancing work/travel and a Doctorates program was quite the juggle. At no time did I want to quit but there were days when I felt defeated and rode the struggle bus. The question then becomes – how bad do you want it? I’ve trained for 50k runs and 50 milers but this training was different and I found myself attracted to the change yet I feared the distance and my ability to become proficient in each discipline….at age 50. I questioned whether I had the mental and physical strength to successfully complete all three disciplines/distances within the allotted time.
It takes a village…
My son… My greatest supporter. Despite living his best life he always makes time. Even at 20, he’s still watching and routinely reminds me that I can do anything I put my mind to (reverse parenting roles…LOL!). He watched me train for hours on end, reminding me that “you got this” on the days I was exhausted. He claimed my victory before I even toed the line. I think he was more excited than I was when I crossed the finish line!
He said his greatest take away from this experience was not simply being present as I crossed the finish line but to witness first-hand the discipline required to reach your goals.
No matter the age, our children are always watching and taking notes.
My wonderful and amazing training partners and friends… Natalie and John Packer. I cannot thank them enough for their support and friendship. They embraced me from day one and I could not have done this without them. Their journey is inspiring; it is a testimony that achieving Ironman is possible and to be able to share the journey with your spouse is even more incredible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
My coach, Coach Kristen Warner… From the beginning she believed in my abilities even when I didn’t. She worked my butt off and I’ll never in life forget about those 9.5 hour training days. Crazy, but effective! She knew what needed to happen to get me to the red carpet and she developed the perfect plan for me. Her coaching gave me the confidence I needed on the course and it allowed me to relax, take my time, and take it all in. Coach Kristen, I cannot thank you enough. I appreciate you more than you know. #BestCoachEver #TripleThreatTough
My Head Sherpa in Charge… Dollie Peters! When I called her she didn’t hesitate. She simply asked “when and where?” On the heels of her own training she came out and supported me from sun up to sun down and everywhere in between. We’ve been battle buddies (we are both retired from the US Army) for over 20 years and I knew if I found myself entering the Hurt Locker – a place of deep pain and discomfort – she would be the one to pull me through. I am extremely thankful that I never reached that point but I was thrilled to have her by my side.
Love ya to pieces, Dollie!
I could write a full race report but the truth is that the day was pretty close to perfect. I sang Christmas songs out loud my entire bike ride (and yep, others joined me!), I thanked every volunteer I saw on the course, I encouraged struggling runners and I listened to at least a half dozen of “my why” stories during my walk breaks. Aside from two jelly fish stings and a windy ride, the day was amazing!
I leave this last note….
Whatever you dream to be or desire to do, get out there and get after it. Clear the noise, toss out the doubt, ignore the naysayers, tune out the negative chatter and most importantly, rid yourself of excuses and complacency. Achieving a personal goal is simply “You vs You”, and YOU can win. We’ve got one shot to be the best version of ourselves…don’t let that opportunity pass you by…don’t take your gifts for granted.
Dream big and chase that dream down. Ironman was my Mt. Everest in the triathlon world.
“Sometimes life will test you, but remember this: When you walk up a mountain, your legs get stronger.” ~Author unknown
And as Robin Sharma said, “On the other side of your greatest fears lives your greatest life.” I feared attempting IM at age 50 but I beat my own fears. I made it to the other side. I AM AN IRONMAN!
Petriece Culberson is a retired Master Sergeant of the US Army with over 20 years of service. She has completed two combat tours and has served abroad in multiple countries. She completed Ironman 70.3, Haines City, FL in April 2019 and decided to challenge herself further by completing the full Ironman 140.6, six months later. She has completed multiple 50k and 50M distances, several marathons and nearly 100 half marathons. When she is not traveling for work or studying, she spends her spare time volunteering in her community and traveling with her family and friends. She is an avid yogi and loves all vegetarian Chinese food.
Ok, those HASHTAGS!! Tell the people!! And did I just see “9.5 hour training days”? Gulp! I am so so SO PROUD and HAPPY for you my friend!! CONGRATULATIONS on this major achievement!! Thank you for letting me tell your story.
That’s all folks! Sooo….what do you think? Do you have an inner Ironman? Ironwoman?!! Whoever it is that lives within you, treat them right. Keep living the good life!
Until next time.
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- Cover photo: Training swim, 2 days before the race
- All Photos and hashtag creds: Petriece