Monday, 10 July 2017

Triathlon | 5 Things I've learnt about Ironman

So as you may know in 2 weeks I face the biggest sporting challenge of my life: taking on my first Ironman triathlon. When I started this journey, I thought I would blog about it constantly but the truth is it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life preparing for this and writing things down just makes it all too real!

So after 9 months of training and just 2 weeks before my first (and only!) Ironman I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt while on this journey: the good, the bad and the downright hilarious.

Transformation: Running my first marathon 6yrs a go vs parkrun last weekend

1. You can physically change your body in 9 months
My body has changed so much on this journey it is quite remarkable!  I started off feeling relatively fit and over the course of the last 9 months I’ve gained muscle, lost weight (without even trying I’m 6kgs lighter) and really toned up. There are certain hilarious things about my body changing - the enormous quads I’ve developed and my super lean calves but there are some more serious things I’ve learnt. A couple of years a go I thought my body had settled where it would always be: I’d lost weight through Weight Watchers, maintained it, learnt to run and was just about comfortable in a bikini. To see what my body has become through this process and the results I have got out for the hard work I’ve put in is really exciting. 

My triathlon kit

2. You don’t need to spend hundreds to be a triathlete. 
Standing on the side of the lake in Cambridge on Friday night the man next to me was telling his friend "Oh yeah, you know I spent £10,000 easily last year on kit and that doesn’t even include race entry”.
Ladies and gentlemen let me assure you now I have not.
When I get to the start line of my Ironman race in 2 weeks I’ll be swimming in a wetsuit I got for free (won in a Facebook competition), in a trisuit someone on Twitter gave me, on a £300 racing bike from Halfords with tri bars and bike shoes bought second hand and running in kit I owned already in some snazzy new trainers which are last seasons colour so cost just £40. Triathlon doesn’t have to cost the earth. 

Cycling the Nottingham bike course: the Speedster & Paul

3. You’ll need to meticulously plan your time
There are SO many hours of training that are invested in this journey so if you intend to hold down a full time job and put the necessary 15-20 hours training in a week you need your friends to accept you aren’t going to have as much time as usual. I work roughly 50 hours a week, spend 15 hours commuting, need 56 hours a week sleep and spend 5 hours a week at church. Never mind the two hours or so needed a day for eating, washing, dressing and cleaning - another 14 hours. There are 168 hours in the week that leaves 29 hours. 20 hours training and a good 4 hours at parkrun on a Saturday and just like that you have only 5 hours left. Holding down a relationship takes some of those hours and just like that I’ve got one night a week to give to friends. It’s really, really tough. 

Friday night lake swimming with my friend Pamela

4. You’ll be shocked at how much washing is required
Flipping heck, I’ve never run the washing machine so much. It seems daft to mention but I train 10 times a week and usually at a high enough intensity or recently in high enough temperatures that every time you need to wash your kit. Suddenly that volume of kit adds up. People often take the mick out of how much kit I have but even I don’t have enough kit to get me through the week. Washing washing washing. It’s like the 4th triathlon discipline. 

Long bike ride day with Paul

5. Friends go on this journey as much as you
There are so many people who have made this journey possible and without my friends around me I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have made the start line. My friends have been on long bike rides with me, encouraged me, even helped me with the sheer volume of washing I have. There are three people in particular who have defined this journey for me: 

- My mum. She's put in hours of support through washing kit to helping out with food when I've been training all day and has even got connected in to parkrun while I've been on this journey. Inspiring, generous and selfless.

- My co-Event Director at Cambridge parkrun - Paul. He's been on this journey with me as much. He's put hours on the bike through keeping me company, helped me route plan and even driven all the way over to Nottingham so we could practice the course. He's helped support on parkrun far beyond his share so I can focus on training and he's spent a fortune on my coffee addiction on training rides. But far beyond any of that he has got me out of my head and reminded me over and over again that I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. 

- The Speedster AKA my husband. Poor man. He wanted to do his first Ironman before he turned 30 and I came along and jumped on the journey with him because anything he can do I believe I can do. I've literally stolen his thunder and he is still standing enthusiastically alongside me telling me he is proud of me. What a legend. 

So to all my friends and family and the wonderful social media community who have got me to the start-line: thank you. Now bring on becoming an Ironman. 

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