3 Lessons I Learned About Obstacles Over 70.3 Miles


"If I can just get to the lifeguard and I can give up. She can haul me in." I heard the voice of doubt and failure ringing in my ears. I felt the tears build in my eyes beneath my goggles as the ocean water stung the back of the throat as I struggled to stay above the waves. I was giving up. I could feel the panic taking over. 

September 15th at 7:16 am in Imperial Beach I ran down the beach, in my wetsuit, and began to fight the waves. It was my first Ironman 70.3 Mile Triathlon, and I thought it would be my last. I had a minor panic attack shortly after getting on the brisk 68-degree waters of the ocean. It was my first ocean swim. 

I had a choice to make. Forfeit the race, give in to the terror building in my mind, and say, β€œAt least I tried.” Or give it my all and commit to at least finishing the swim, even if they had to tow me from the water. I chose to roll on to my back, take a few deep breaths, and do my damnedest to finish. 

I finished the 1.2 miles (which ended up being 1.5 miles) swim with 15 minutes to spare. I ran to my bicycle, peeled off the wetsuit, threw on my helmet, and kicked off for the 56-mile bike ride. I had 3.5 hours to sit there and recommit my mind to pushing my body as far as it would go. All the while, feeling like I had a flat tire but couldn't afford the time to check it. 

As I entered the transition area for the run, I hopped off my bike, feeling the jello that was my legs. I quickly sprayed some sunscreen on and was off. For a solid .2 miles, I was on a high; I'd successfully endured the first two parts of my race. Even if I was in the back of the pack, I was still in it. 

That's when I hit the sand. All of the built-up hope and persistence I had left drained out of me as I struggled through the soft sand, wondering how I would complete 8 miles through it when I couldn't keep jogging for even half a mile. 

For 13.1 miles, 8 through the sand and 2.5 through the dirt, my mind bounced between giving up and just committing to getting to the finish line - at any cost. With 3 miles left, the race referee told me I needed to speed it up because he didn't want to cut me. I decided to focus on the breath and my steps and not the pain in my legs and knees. 

I finished at 8 hours and 9 minutes, 70.3 miles completed, a new medal to add to my wall, and a life goal achieved. For five years, I dreamed of completing an Ironman Triathlon, and I finally did it! It was no easy feat and no matter the internal struggle, I hunkered down and bore through it. 

Here are three keys I learned about obstacles during my race: 

1. Self-talk is everything.

As I battled myself through the beginning of the swim and the run, I realized that if I focused on the negative, my body responded. The more negative I was, the harder it was to will my body to continue to push forward. When I was able to reset my mindset, the struggles weren't so hard.

This concept isn't just about the physical. What we focus on, we manifest. If you allow the voice in your head to limit you, it doesn't matter what your goals are; you will be limited. Choose to change the dialogue in your head, even if you don't feel like you can overcome your struggle, tell yourself you can, and your mind will push you to achieve your goals. 

2. Check your tires. 

When I was on the bike, and I thought I had a flat tire, I chose to sacrifice my legs and push through. When I gathered my belongings at the end of the event, I found that my front brake was half on my tire, creating the feeling of the flat tire and added resistance. If I had just taken a moment to see what was wrong, I would have lessened the struggle I endured greatly. 

Sometimes in life, we get so caught up in the goal that we don't stop to see what we're doing wrong that is keeping us from having success. Take that extra minute and do a check. Make sure that you're not adding unnecessary stress and struggle. 

3. Focus on the steps and the breaths. 

As I trekked through the 8 miles of sand (at least half being soft sand), I focused more on the pain then the breaths and keeping a solid rhythm. Final I began to recite to myself, "Slow is better than not at all." And I focused on counting my breaths and my steps. 

One of my favorite quotes is, "If you're going through hell, keep going." No matter the struggle or obstacles you're facing, pay attention to your steps and your breaths. Focus on the next task and the next task. You have the power to propel yourself to your goals and dreams, no matter how hard it gets. 

I'm thankful for all that the Ironman Superfrog 70.3 taught me, and I'm so grateful for the members of my mastermind who came out to support me as I crossed the finish line. Remember that no matter what you're facing, you can mind over matter anything. You are loved, accepted, and adored!


Casey Nicole Fox is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, Life Coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and serial entrepreneur. Casey is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Life By Design Entrepreneur Lifestyle Magazine, San Diego's ONLY print entrepreneurship magazine. She has four for-purpose businesses while also being the COO of the 8 figure empire of Stegela Partners International Incorporated, the umbrella company of Stegela Success Mastery. 

Text 'Casey' to 766-26