Although Ironman Arizona took place this past weekend, in 2010 it was held on November 21.
That just happened to be the day Kelly and I completed our first Ironman.
We nervously signed up a year prior, sweated for thousands of miles together, reached new distance milestones, and encouraged each other along the way.
It was a day I will never forget.
The unforgettable swim
The swim is in the canal in Tempe and I’ll never forget the nerves before jumping into that cold, black water in the dark with the buzz of thousands of athletes all around.
I also won’t forget looking up at the spectator-filled bridge and seeing our families, who had supported us on our journey and have continued to in the years since.
I remember treading water beside Kelly for 10 or 15 minutes, taking in the music and nervous chatter all around.
I’ll never forget the first open water beats I took to my head and calf at that first turn. (thanks to those I swim super wide in every race now!)
The unforgettable bike
Getting out of that water and onto my bike, I remember shivering but being so happy I survived. Seeing Kelly and my family on the various loops on the bike was incredible.
I will never, ever forget the winds on the third loop of my bike that almost knocked me over, and the other athletes I stopped beside to wait out the gust.
The unforgettable run
I’ll always remember starting that run, in disbelief that the day was going so quickly.
I still remember how great it was to see our families, hear their encouragement, and get updates on Kelly. Oh, I’ll also never forget the lady who snot-rocketed on me and then proceeded to laugh about it. (just so you know- that is never funny.)
I won’t forget walking through an aid station at mile 20 and hearing Kelly’s voice, walking with him for a few minutes, and stopping for a kiss before finishing our races.
The unforgettable finish line
I don’t think any finish line has ever matched the noise, bright lights, and fanfare. I’ll never forget running blindly to the finish and blocking everything out, including the infamous “Abby Kokolski you are an Ironman!” from Mike Reilly.
I am SO thankful Kelly talked me in to signing up for an Ironman. It was something I was terrified to commit to and uncertain I would be able to finish. I have amazing memories from the past four years, both with Kelly and on my own. I have pushed my body further than I thought capable.
It’s a great lesson to not let fear stand in your way of going after your goals.
What memories stand out most in your mind from your first big race?