This Will Also Change [New Beginnings]

Ironman / Ironman 70.3 / Uncategorized / Update

My professional triathlon career has been a roller coaster ride of many ups and downs. Qualifying for the Ironman World Championships (Kona) as a professional in 2019 was among the most special moments for me as I fulfilled a childhood dream. After my health difficulties in 2015-2018, I was not sure if it was possible to race at an elite level again. With all the support I received from my family, friends and sponsors, and some extremely valuable lessons I learned along the way, I was able to return to racing, qualify, and finish Kona. 


I have done a lot of soul-searching post Kona and I believe my heart is now transitioning to empowering other athletes to help them in fulfilling their dreams and goals as a coach and meditation teacher. 


I am going to step away from the sport of triathlon as a professional triathlete and step into the shoes of mentor. 


I have so much gratitude for this incredible journey and the countless lessons I have learned along the way. This has been a very special chapter in my life. Now, I hope to share the lessons I have learned with others. I would like to share one of the greatest lessons I have learned now.


“This Will Also Change”- S.N. Goenka


When we pause to take in nature’s beauty we can learn a lot from its ebb and flows and ever-whirling changes.

Just as there are no two snowflakes the same, each moment that arises and passes…is different. For years, I have been seeking to find the perfect snowflake in my racing.

My goals in racing have been circled around time, placement, and external fulfillment. The outcome of my racing and training days would strongly contribute to my happiness level. Bad training days, illness or injury would manifest into frustration, irritation and even anger. Whereas, breakthrough training days and races would lead to feeling on top of the world and in the best mood. I was in a perpetual state of craving feeling good, healthy, and strong while experiencing massive amounts of aversion to what I labeled as feeling “bad”, weakness, fatigue, and pain.


I was totally unaware of the suffering I was creating for myself.


When I had a “good” or even “GREAT day,” it was one of those workouts or races where I felt unstoppable! Those positive days only occurred when my body was responding exactly how I wanted it to and I was able to hit paces for duration I didn’t think were possible for myself. It was as if I finally found a pristine snowflake and reached out so it would land in my hand. As I looked into my hand at such a BEAUTIFUL snowflake I held onto it with such a tight grip. When I did this it almost instantaneously melted away in my hand, causing me to lose the balance of my mind. I felt very upset and frustrated that I could not preserve this beautiful snowflake’s integrity, and have what I labeled as “GREAT days” back to back to back.


Just as the season’s change, so too the body goes through cycles. Because I was determined to find the perfect snowflake, when it would “rain”, I again would lose the balance of my mind. If I was experiencing an “off week” where I was feeling abnormally fatigued or not able to hit my workouts (as prescribed) because of various reasons; feelings of frustration, irritation, and concern about my upcoming races would arise.


I constantly wanted things to be the way I thought they should be and not open to how they actually were.


The law of impermanence reminds us that EVERYTHING IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING.


Beautiful snowflakes will melt into water. When held tenderly without judgment or labeling of good or bad, the water can move freely in the palm. If held long enough it will dry up or evaporate back into the air. Just as thoughts, emotions, feelings all come and eventually change, morph and pass away. This is a lesson I am constantly reminding myself. To notice things as they are and remember to say to myself, “This too will also change,” not getting attached or having aversion to what is.


For the longest time, I truly believed that if I had a race result that was not up to my expectation of how I should perform, I had to be upset to express “how much I cared”. I needed to show my family, friends, and sponsors that I was truly devastated that I let them down and internally, I felt I let myself down as well.   


Kona 2019 was a pinnacle moment in my triathlon career! It took me seven years as a professional triathlete to qualify to race the Ironman World Championship. I dreamed of racing Kona as a professional since I was seven years old. One afternoon, my parents called me downstairs to watch the broadcast of the 1994 Ironman World Championship. I sat in awe of the athletes and I turned to my parents and said, “One day I am going to race this race as a professional!” This goal was what ignited my determination to set out to be the best athlete I could be. And for the longest time, I wanted to place on the podium in Kona!


Yet, God had other plans. In 2015-2018, I had major health difficulties and was eventually diagnosed with EILO. Many doctors told me that I would never race again at an elite level, and I too believed this. Had I been forced to walk away from the sport at that time, I would have always questioned what could I have done if I was able to stay healthy. I would have been bitter and angry.


Ironically, it was what I perceived to be the GREATEST SETBACK, that I now realize was truly a Tremendous Blessing!


It was through EILO that I met so many wonderful people who helped me along the way. It also forced me to start training differently and discover meditation. I meditated up to an hour every day. I started incorporating mindfulness of my breath and body. With these practices I realized every thought, feeling, emotion, and sensation that I was feeling would eventually change and morph. That everything is impermanent.  That it was impossible and insane for me to believe I could hold onto the “Perfect Snowflake,” expecting it to never change.


It was this lesson that changed my goal from racing for time, placement, and external fulfillment to racing while staying truly present with whatever happened that day, not labeling it as either “good” or “bad” but just allowing whatever arose to be there and view it with curiosity and openness.


On paper, my Kona 2019 was a sub-par debut as a rookie professional.  However, in my heart and especially after reflection of what truly happened that day, it was exactly what I needed to happen for me to have the insight I did upon crossing the finish line. I achieved my goal and did it on a challenging day! It is a lot easier to accept what is, when things are going well, but another story on days when it seems everything is happening out of your control. I was able to practice for over 10 hours what I have been trying to dial in all year: being present and accepting what is. I crossed the line, feeling I had truly achieved something special.


I could genuinely smile and cross with pride. I was extremely content knowing I had overcome one of my biggest fears, “that I was not enough”. I knew with great certainty that it has taken seven years of experience as a professional triathlete with the career highs and lows, and a year of practicing mindfulness every day to have the awareness and mindset to see Kona 2019 as the success it was.


I was not a failure; I had not failed!!! My body did not respond how I wanted but that did not make me a failure! I am so much more then just my result! I had succeeded; I crossed the line with joy and gratitude for the moment! I have been racing for years believing my identity lied in my result, but for the first time, I knew in my heart my identity lied in the person I am and what I have been racing (and chasing) after for so many years, was always within me!


I saw the beautiful snowflake and this time instead of reaching out, I just watched with awe as it drifted away!


I am walking away from my professional career feeling so much gratitude and contentment for the amazing journey it was and looking forward to where my path will lead to next.


Thank you so much to all those who made this remarkable journey possible.

First, thank you to God! For he has a remarkable plan for each and everyone of us and loves us unconditionally. 


Thank you to the love of my life, Jeff Mack, for being there with me every step of the way and having faith in me when I did not. Thank you to my parents: Dan and Bunny, my in-laws: Keith and Nanci, both our sisters: Krissie and Julie, my niece Brooklyn and Aaron for coming to Kona to cheer me on in what I now know was the most fulfilling moment in my career!


I have an overwhelming abundance of gratitude to my incredible sponsors who have stuck by me. It was with your belief and assistance that I was able to get back to racing at an elite level:

First Endurance, Wheat Ridge Cyclery, Blue Performance, Blueseventy, Rocket Science Sports, Stages Cycling, and Boulder Coaching.  Truly thank you so much for EVERYTHING!


Thank you to Janice Gates, who has been my phenomenal meditation mentor and has taught me so much!


Thank you to all my family and friends who have been by my side the whole time!

I love you all so much!


Danielle Mack is professional Triathlete residing in Boulder, Colorado. She found her passion for triathlons at a young age. However, it wasn’t until she turned sixteen did she really start training strictly for triathlons. Through various paths God has lead her through the years including Xterra’s and Adventure Racing she discovered her ultimate love, long course triathlons, especially Ironman’s!


  1. 11 January 20, 10:22am

    Exciting newS. I think you’ll be a great coach. Your energy, thought and enthusiasm are just what your clients need. You transferred a difficult time into new learning and growth. Found a creative solution. Way to go!

    • 14 January 20, 1:55pm

      Thank you so much Gail!

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