Ironman Chattanooga Recap

October 21,2015

We all have something that we are really passionate about, something that makes us feel complete and full of life no matter what. It’s something we look forward to and enjoy above all else. Chances are, that “something” is the source of some of your proudest moments. For me, at this point in my life, it’s my dedication to the sport of triathlon, health, and wellness and what being an athlete has allowed me to accomplish both for myself but also for others.

Ironman means so much more to me than crossing a finish line. It encompasses the lessons I have learned through training and racing of strength, perseverance, humility, discipline, defeat, victory, passion, overcoming adversity, and so much more. This passion has also connected me to Team Phenomenal Hope and all of the like-minded athletes on our team with the same mission of going the extra mile for Pulmonary Hypertension.

Ironman means so much more to me than crossing a finish line.

For me, this journey has meant finding something and pulling something from inside of myself that I never would have dreamt possible. It’s allowed me to be a role model in the community for future athletes to come after me and also others looking to get involved in an important cause. It’s become a way of life and something that I am so very proud of.

By no means am I a world class athlete with records broken or 1st place trophies on my wall, but rather an athlete that is fueled by a desire to do and be more. My view is that if I can touch just one person’s life and help them to succeed then this all would have been worth it. And in my opinion, I’ve touched thousands and it feels great and is beyond worth it!

My view is that if I can touch just one person’s life and help them to succeed then this all would have been worth it.

Earlier this year I shared my journey of how being in endurance sports saved my life and the response was overwhelming because so many people can relate to it too. Learning to balance training and still dedicating time to all of the important parts of my life has been a challenge but I wouldn’t change anything about the journey I have been on.

To recap, this year has been beyond amazing. I started out the year with a 70.3 Ironman Subic Bay in the Philippines ON MY HONEYMOON in my husband’s hometown of Olangapo City which was an unforgettable experience for both of us. Then in May I went on to race my way to a personal best at the 70.3 Ironman Chattanooga. After a summer of hard work and training, teammate Mike Bauer and I then took a trip to Benton Harbor, Michigan, for the Steelhead 70.3 Ironman. We both finished in PHenomenal fashion in this half Ironman distance race and I was proud of our success.

Then to wrap up the year, on September 27th I competed in my 4th Ironman Distance triathlon in Chattanooga Tennessee. It was 4 miles longer than the traditional 140.6 and definitely a challenge. The course was absolutely beautiful with a downriver swim which lead to a personal best for me of 1:03:44, over 12 minutes faster than my best Ironman swim. The bike was challenging and had beautiful rolling hills to help account for those extra 4 miles. I finished my ride in 6:45:49. The run was the most challenging marathon course I’ve done in an Ironman with quite a bit of elevation. It took me 6:28:15 to get through it and I fought really hard for a final time of 14:29:09 and 64th place in my division.

While out on the course I thought a lot about the individuals across the world we race for. I thought about how there currently is no cure for Pulmonary Hypertension and I thought about how grateful I was to be able to breath and wake up and do something like Ironman. I pushed through every time it got hard because I knew that most likely everyday was hard for them and that I can push harder to hopefully make a difference for their futures. I felt all the good luck wishes and support from our team, the PH community, my family, and my friends. Raising funds for awareness and contributing to the ultimate race towards a cure is a mission I have become very passionate about and I am so blessed to have all of the support of you behind me.

I thought about how there currently is no cure for Pulmonary Hypertension and I thought about how grateful I was to be able to breath and wake up and do something like Ironman.

I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you that sent positive thoughts, wished me luck, followed me virtually on race day, donated, and cheered for us! We still have a lot of work to do but it can and will be done because while it may be a long and hard road, we’ve been down a few before and we always push through to the finish!

– by Amanda Budzowski Gabarda

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