Lessons from completing an Ironman70.3 by yourself – Impulse Training

Lessons from completing an Ironman70.3 by yourself

Tim Carter | September 9, 2020

2020: What a year. What a year.

Let me start off with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Tim Grover, trainer to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and countless greats. “You have no idea what you’re capable of until it’s all on your shoulders”. Do you believe that?

Let me preface this by saying that there are a lot of harder things in this world than doing an Ironman70.3, especially by yourself. There are a lot of challenges, obstacles and hardships that everyone faces on a daily basis that are mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting. But allow me to reflect on my own experience in hopes that you can relate to whatever battle you are facing.

An Ironman race consists of 3 disciplines: a swim, bike ride and a long run. In this case, it was 1.2 miles in the water, 56 miles on the bike and a half-marathon to finish. This time, it was the craziest shit I have ever done in my life. In 2019, I completed my first IM70.3 race and this year, because of COVID, I decided to do another one by myself. No fans, no hydration stations, no historic venue, nothing.

While it was the most euphoric feeling crossing the finish line, there were a lot of things leading up to that moment that introduce you to who you are as a person.

For 6 months I put my mind and my body through absolute hell. I would spend hours training, refining what I needed from a nutrition standpoint and ultimately structuring my mind to believe I could do it. The physical part was easy compared to the mental aspect. Maybe I will write a book someday about just how taxing the training and the everyday prep was, but that is another story for a different time.

Let us skip to “Ironman70.3 Carter Edition”. 6 days before I was supposed to take on IM70.3 Muncie, I received word that it was officially cancelled, along with every other race in the world due to the pandemic we have been in.

I was hurt, I was mad and extremely frustrated that I put so much of my time and sacrificed a lot of my weekends away from my fiancé, Riley, my dog Willie and all of my friends who wanted to hang out. However, I brushed that off, knowing there are so many people in this world that have exceedingly higher difficulties they are facing versus a cancelled race.

But, again, that is not why I am telling this story. I never quite knew what the feeling of anxiety was like. You hear so much about it lately of all the mental battles people are facing and how it may seem impossible to combat. It is something that can ultimately tear you up on the inside, but also something you have to hold onto without anyone else knowing what you’re actually going through. I call it the “mental circle of hell”, for lack of a better phrase. That is what I was experiencing during the training, the actual race and something I believe that has been in my life for a long time like many others.

On July 11, 2020, I decided to put all of that aside and opt to test my limits of what I am made of. It started with a 1.2-mile swim at the Green YMCA. Portage Lakes was not an option that morning and I had to quickly adjust my mindset and race plan. From the swim at the Y, came the 56-mile bike ride on the towpath, which Riley drove me to following the swim. Finally, the towpath ride transitioned to the 13.1 mile run that had me finishing back at the Green YMCA at a finish line that Riley created by herself.

The swim and the bike ride went really, really well. I have never felt stronger from a physical standpoint and was ecstatic once I knew I ONLY had a half-marathon left to go. In my mind, I was about to breeze through the run, knowing it was my strongest of the 3 disciplines.

Before I continue, I will say this. Life will make you want to quit and break you physically and mentally. At that point, you either make the choice to rise or fall:

  • Have you ever felt your body shut down on you completely?
  • Have you ever felt so helpless and mentally drained that there is absolutely nothing you can do?
  • Did you ever breakdown so hard that you did not know what to do?

That was Mile #4 on the half-marathon. Riley was following me the whole race in my car, making sure I was safe running on the main roads and assisting any way that she could. Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do for me, as I continued to stumble, slow down and ultimately lose any intrinsic motivation that I had left. I felt defeated, as I had to stop and walk numerous times and all the negative thoughts entered my mind as my body continued to shut down.

Without this story sounding like a complete let down, I want to move it forward with letting you know what “Find A Way” really means and why I wear that wristband all the time:

Finding a way means never being satisfied. It means demanding more out of yourself than anyone ever could of you. It means being resilient, keeping your poise when it does not go your way and resolving to push through the pain you feel, no matter how much it hurts you. It means winning the mental battle between your ears and knowing that it is you vs. you and nobody else. Lastly, it means trusting yourself and who you are, digging deep and pulling the other person out of you that wants it more than you do.

That day, I walked a lot, stumbled many times, cried a little bit, and let negativity enter my mind. But, that same day, I sprinted that last quarter mile and across that finish line knowing it is not how hard you push along the way. It is having something left in you to finish the fight.

Though it was not my strongest performance by any means, it allowed me to remind myself who the hell I am and what I am capable of. It reintroduced me to the most resilient and bad ass version of myself, knowing that anything is possible. Finally, it showed me that you do not know how strong you are until being strong is all you have left.

So, here is where you come in:

⁃ What is it that you are fighting for right now?

⁃ What are you afraid of and need to take on?

⁃ What is the battle between your ears that you have been dealing with?

⁃ What is the one thing you need to do RIGHT NOW that is ultimately making you the best version of yourself?

⁃ What motivates you every day?

⁃ How bad do you want it?

You have no idea what you are capable of until it is all on your shoulders.

Find A Way.


Tim Carter

Tim Carter is a former collegiate football player at Walsh University and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing in 2015. He was a 4-year letter winner, named 3 time Academic-All American and 2-Time GLIAC All-Conference team. After graduating from Walsh, he began his professional career as an Admissions Counselor at Walsh University and Assistant Football Coach for the program. He recently earned his Master of Business Administration-Marketing Degree in December of 2017. As of July 2018, he has transitioned into the Assistant Director position within the Undergraduate Admissions Office at Walsh University.

In addition, Tim is a certified USAW Sports Performance coach and is currently working towards his CPT and CSCS. He is also heavily involved in working with youth athletes as Vice President of Beyond the Game, a non-profit organization centralized in Stark County. His personal mantra of “Find A Way” has helped him establish a resilient mindset, which he hopes to instill within others.


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