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Saving for an Ironman

Well babes, it happened! I officially registered for my first FULL Ironman! I've been talking about this for so long that it almost doesn't feel real. Like I'm still just talking about how I'm going to sign up "one day". I'm sure in a few more weeks it will all sink in as my training starts to ramp up and I begin to sleep like a rock and eat all the food. Perhaps I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let me back up a bit first and tell you how this all came to be, because I feel the process of getting to registration was just as important as the training itself.

I decided after my half Ironman in Austin last year that I was going to do my first full Ironman in 2016. Unfortunately, the race sold out the week before Austin (2015) and I didn't have enough time to get the money together.
Something all aspiring Ironmen should know: races sell out FAST and EARLY. Some destination races even sellout in days or hours. Be sure sure you know what to plan for when you pick a race. If you don't know anyone who has done the race you want to do, you can always find good advice on the Ironman Facebook page for that race (ie Ironman Texas).Just join the page and ask around about sellout dates for past years. You can also check the Ironman blog for past years for more details.

I promised myself that I would begin saving for the 2017 race in January of 2016. I was sure that would give me enough time this round. Well, January came and I started to save a few dollars here, a few dollars there, and it was a SLOW SLOW process. I was really trying not to take away from our set budget at all and it literally yielded little to no savings.

I've said this about a million times, but I'm a very frugal person. I have a lot of guilt when it comes to spending money on this addiction hobby of triathlon. What mother wouldn't?! You can easily drop $1,000 on a bike, $150 on shoes, $300 on kits, and this list goes on and on and on! When you have children and you're on a tight budget, it's hard to make excuses for spending that much money on anything other than your kids and bills....especially yourself.

So, with that in mind, I decided to get creative. If I was ever going to come up with enough money for the entry fee without touching our budget or having the guilt of spending money, I knew I needed an alternative source of income.

I started looking for part time jobs. Jobs that I could do on the nights and weekends that wouldn't keep me crazy busy. Traditional part-time jobs just didn't suit me. I just cant picture myself as a waitress again (something I did in high school). I was lucky enough to find my job at Nuun. I would have NEVER thought a job a like that existed.
For the record, if you ever want a fun job that pays well, look for jobs hosting demonstrations. Most beverage and supplement companies hire people to go work at events for them and give out samples and host demos. These jobs pay well for part-time work, take little time, and are just down right FUN. If you've ever been to a race I'm sure you've seen those people in the tents giving out free samples and what not. Some of those people make $20+ an hour to be there. These are companies like Muscle Milk, Zico, Sparkling Water, Red Bull, and many more. My job at Nuun was the bulk of my Ironman fund. I worked weekends here and there for no more than a few hours at time. Most days I was up early and back home before my family even woke up. Not to mention the life time supply of Nuun...winning!

I also recruited my husband to work a couple of the bigger events with me at Nuun. He made it clear when I started that he wanted to attend events and races with me to help set up tents and just hang out in general. He figured it would be something fun we could do together as a couple, but also a way to keep me from breaking my back lifting heavy stuffs. Being the awesome husband he is, he ended up donating those paychecks to me for my Ironman fund. He's such a sweet man!

Another way I made money was through my blog! Every now and then I will get paid to review products or to write nutrition plans for people. It's pretty random, I'm not one of those bloggers who makes a regular annual income through my blog. When I did have an opportunity for a paid campaign or make a little money through my blog this year, I took it and I saved the money from it for Ironman. This was the smallest part of my savings but hey, every little helps.
I also joined grocery rebate programs. Namely, Walmart's savings catcher. If you download the app you can sign up for the program. All you do is keep your Walmart receipts and enter the barcode or QRC code into the savings catcher app. They then compare their prices to competitors in your area. If an item from your receipt is found for a lower price at another store near you, they give you the difference in the form of a rebate. I had $20.00 in rebates the first month! When I saw how beneficial this could be for my Ironman fund I sent a mass text to my family asking for receipts. Don't worry, I told them how it worked and they were happy to help me by donating their receipts in order to contribute to my race savings.  Every time I had $100.00 in rebates I cashed them out for a Walmart gift card (you cant translate rebates to cash). I used that money in store in place of cash and just put the cash towards my savings fund.

Another thing I did was to STOP racing. Yes, you read that right. I stopped racing in 2016. Most smaller races can cost anywhere from $60-$150 per race. When you plan a whole race season you can easily spend several hundreds of dollars in race entry fees. I decided to put off racing until I saved enough money for Ironman Texas. This was probably the hardest part for me, but it helped that I was working for Nuun and was still able to attend races (albeit working them) and hang out for most of spring and summer.

Now, just because I stopped racing that doesn't mean I stopped training. I made this year into a sort of extended off season. I backed off my endurance training and adopted more speed work and a heart rate training plan. I focused on doing real work to improve my performance before I start my 30 week training plan for Ironman Texas. It was just enough to keep me busy, but not enough to really overwhelm me. It was definitely a distraction from the absence of racing.
Lastly, and most importantly, I received an anonymous donation in the amount of $200.00 toward my race entry.  Now, I know not everyone will have a fairy god mother out there like I did, but it could be helpful to let your friends and family know that you are open to donations. I found that my family was very willing to help me when I decided to start saving. I would never out right just ask for money, but the Walmart receipts were a great help and I ended up with almost $200.00 in rebates. Every little bit counts!

I cant begin to express my gratitude to my donor. I have an idea of who it was, but I know they would never admit it. It's funny how the kindness of others can make such a huge impact on someone's life. Last week I thought so much about how I could pay this gift forward. I've been working hard and making plans to give back during my road to Ironman. I don't want to give too much away, but know that I do have plans to pay it forward. More details on that to come in a later post!

So that's it! In case you're wondering my race entry fee was $760.00 plus my annual USAT (USA Triathlon) membership fee of $50.00. That may not be much to some people, but it was a mountain of a bill for me. Especially since I was trying to save for this race without effecting my regular budget. All of the money I used for this race came from secondary income and I'm proud of that. I will continue my savings until race day. The money I save between now and then will go toward hotel and travel costs. We have gathered quite an entourage of people who will be attending the race with us. Including my friend James Kelley who will also be racing. Whatever I save will go to our support crew so that they can have some fun while we're out there becoming Ironmen!

I can't wait to continue this journey. My offical training plan starts in late October so be sure to check back for updates. I'm hoping to post a series dedicated to each week of training. I hope you'll join me.

Happy Running!
Priscilla

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