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updated 3/16/2005 6:51:07 PM ET 2005-03-16T23:51:07

You go girl! I am a 26-year-old weekend warrior currently training for my first marathon in July, and reading your occasional postings really pumps up my motivation. No offense (really!), but if an occasional athlete such as yourself can shoot for a goal as grueling and difficult to attain as an Ironman finish, I know I can do the marathon. My training journey from my first 5k, to a 10k, to several half marathons, and now finally a marathon, has convinced me that the only thing stopping most people from accomplishing things is their own unwillingness to push themselves and try. They fear failure, not realizing that the satisfaction is found in the journey — pushing yourself day after day to do something you don’t really HAVE to do. I know that even if I fail to meet all of my marathon goals this July, I will have spent six dedicated months working toward something none of my friends would touch with a 10-foot pole. Thanks for the inspiration!
— Christine, Sacramento

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I’ve never done an Ironman, but I’ve run 21 marathons, including three in Boston (implying I know what I’m doing).  I just stumbled across your article, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m very sorry about the ending — reading that you’ve got people bad mouthing you and your efforts. The fact is you are “doing it” just by trying, and I hope the masses read your journal as nothing less than inspirational and motivating to get off the couch and do something themselves. Best wishes for your training and upcoming race — congratulations!
— Jeff, Houston

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I’ve been reading your Couch Potato to Ironman series, and I’ve found them to be very interesting. At the end of your latest installment (Wednesday Night Lights), I was saddened to read that you’ve been getting some negative feedback. There are some real meatheads out there. Don’t let them get to you.

Keep in mind that those that say completing an IM is an overambitious goal are really only reflecting their own fears onto you. It amazes me the number of people out there that can’t comprehend that IM really isn’t a crazy undertaking, provided you train for it properly. Which brings me to the next set of negative comments you have received. The amount of training required to adequately prepare for an IM is a hotly debated subject. There is no one training plan that will work for everyone. That’s because everyone is different physiologically and because everyone has different goals. And, as far as being qualified to join the Ironman club — as long as you follow the rules while making all of the cut-offs on race day, that’s all it takes to join the Ironman club.

I hope you don’t feel like you are the only one getting negative feedback. I’m a four-time, BOP IM finisher and I definitely don’t look like someone who does IM. As a result, I’ve heard more negative feedback from people over the years than you can imagine. I never let it bother me, though, because I know what I’m getting myself into each time I train for an IM, and I know that they don’t.
— Cindi Hanley, Ironman since 2001

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I have tremendous respect for someone training and competing in the Ironman Triathlon.  Please don’t listen to the naysayers as the majority of them more than likely have a hard time running from their keyboards to the icebox and back. You could double your workout intensity and still have folks commenting negatively. So keep up the good work. The Tubes have helped me get through unpleasant workouts too.
— C.W., Virginia Beach, Va.

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GO FOR IT!  What you practice is what you play.  An old saying of mine doing P.T. in the Army.  “If you ain’t puking, you ain’t trying.  This week your 800 is 5:15, next week it is 5:13, the following week it is 5:10, etc. In a couple of months, BOOM. You’ll be there. You’re doing better than 50,000,000 others. Keep up the work.
— Ken Bradley, Carlisle, Penn.

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I enjoy reading about your Ironman training and I believe you will do it — I can’t believe others would suggest otherwise! The power of the mind and the goal to complete the event is what will get you there in the end. No one said you have to be a world champion — you just have to COMPLETE it. It's easier for the mind to handle and the training you are doing IS teaching the muscles and the heart the basics of what will be required. When you get to the day it is the mind that will cross you over that finish line — not the body. And that’s my say!!! Good luck!!
— M. Campbell, Abbotsford, B.C.

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I will not a nattering nabob of negativity!  I think what you’re doing is amazing and inspirational.  I quit smoking two months ago and decided, hell, if I can do that, I can do anything!  So now I get up at 5:30 and workout.  Slow and steady ... I’m right behind you ... Someday, I’ll see you at the finish line.
—Caete

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I think it’s great that you are training for the Ironman!  Once I get through this (my first) pregnancy, I’d like to try a trithalon.  I have raced mountain bikes, done one 5K cross country race, and swam competitively for 5 years (10 years ago in high school) so it’s going to take a lot of training.  Keep drowning out “the voice” and I’m sure you’ll be proving all the negative people wrong!
— Leslie, Michigan

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Denise, You are doing great and you are wise to ignore the nabobs.  My best friend has three Ironman finishes under her belt and on the second one she came in last — barely made the cut-off.  But, she finished and that’s what it’s all about as I’m sure your coach and training partners are telling you. So keep going girl, there are those of us out there who are pulling for you.

Oh, did I mention my friend is 60 years old and got a roll-down slot for Ironman Hawaii this year.  So you see, there is no Ironman club. That’s a myth. But, there is an Ironman heart.
— Rita, Matthews, N.C.

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Good for you Denise!  Tell anyone that has negative stuff to say to bite you (or me, for that matter).  They are full of crap and you ROCK! I’m training for my fourth Ironman.  I find your column inspiring, witty and dead on.  I remember getting ready for my first one.  Thinking how C*R*A*Z*Y the undertaking is.  Well, it is a bit nutty, but I’m telling you, Sister, that is what makes crossing that tape like NOTHING else in your life.  ENJOY ALL OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING ... even 800 repeats (even though they suck).  It’s just like your mom always told you, if it was easy EVERYONE would do it.  You are VERY brave. My favorite quote, “Crave the goal, but enjoy the process.”  Don’t know who said it, but they are brilliant.  YOU ROCK!
— Lara, Albuquerque, N.M.

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I can’t imagine fellow athletes would write to criticize your efforts. That is not in the spirit of endurance sport. I read once that if you have set lofty goals that it is important to let everyone know about it so that the pressure will be on you to succeed.  I did that before climbing Mt. Rainier in 2003.  The pressure I created for myself as a result of what some called self-promotion is what got me through the frightening parts of the climb. I just got back from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and am training for a half-ironman in July.
— Matt, Kokomo, Ind.

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I just peed on myself reading your story. Funny. Very funny. Good luck to you, I know you can make it, you seem like a tough cookie.  It’s all in the head. Go girl.
— Todd, Galveston, Texas

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