A few days ago I attempted my first triathlon, it was an Ironman, it was the Welsh one, yeah THAT one…
I signed up for the event nearly a year ago, my life is now very different and as much as I wish I could have crossed the finish line to hear those words, often spoken of as immortal – ‘you are now an Ironman’, it wasn’t to be. There is a list nearly as long as the event itself as to why I didn’t make it; reasons, excuses, same difference, right?
To date I’ve run ten marathons this year and you may have seen a happy me with a medal at the end of each one, yes I’ve made it to the finish line but of those ten, four were painful experiences. My second, I entered the ultra distance but so broken I could only make the marathon finish line in testing wintry conditions. The London marathon, the one I had always wanted, well I experienced the worst cramp I’ve ever had and it destroyed my race. Edinburgh, I hit the wall at mile 16 and then had to run the hardest ten road miles of my life. The following week, the fourth in four weeks, my body was feeling it, a tough marathon course in the beautiful but hilly Lake District, I ran my slowest marathon time and felt wrecked. BUT I made it to the finish line, so would think okay, that was tough but you got there, so keep it up, you haven’t been beaten, defeated yet…
Four weeks prior to Sunday I was in John o’ Groats, Scotland finishing my length of Britain cycle, it was a special moment, a proud one, a happy one, a momentous one in every sense of the word. Great. Fantastic. Are there any limits as to what is possible? NO!!!! Well, maybe, sometimes, occasionally..
It’s been a surreal four weeks, the first I was still elated and living off of probably the biggest high of my life. Ending with a camp, good people and getting me back into the wild, much needed after a week in London. It was my birthday a few days later and as fun and rewarding as that day was it feels like a turning point. Since turning 26 I’ve been stuck in a rut, I’ve lost my zest for life and it hasn’t been great in all honesty. I thought I was ‘resting’ but looking back now I was just being lazy. I lacked discipline and any sort of forward thinking, my training and attention to diet wavered, therefore lacking energy. That low you hear about sports people or adventurers getting after a high is now relate-able. 90% of my thoughts since returning to London have been about my ride and planning another one at some point in the future, rather than focusing on what I’ve already got coming up. On the state of my mind, I had concussion the weekend prior to the Ironman, I’ve never experienced that before and it certainly has knocked me in more ways than one. I’ve had headaches come and go, it’s been a tad scary when you expect to wake the next day with everything back to normal and it just isn’t.
So, enough with the excuses (reasons) – what actually happened at Ironman?
I believe the human body is capable of some incredible feats by doing two simple things; ‘train it & fuel it’ as straight forward as that. I did neither sufficiently. This year I’ve run ten marathons (including a 100Km ultra), cycled the length of Britian solo and unsupported, created a FUN-RUN series and tried to make it to Project Awesome as often as possible. An Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim (in Wales case, at sea), 112 mile cycle, 26.2 mile run. I have done very, very little swimming this year, one swim in the calm Adriatic sea off the coast of Croatia, two weeks beforehand does NOT compare in any whatsoever to the Welsh coast. I walked by the sea on Friday evening and in stormy conditions, nerves of fear shot through my body. It really hit me how awful this could be. Thankfully, skies were clearer Saturday morning, although everyone in town said conditions are changing all the time, so nobody has any idea of race conditions, great. (more…)