A month on from becoming an Ironman it must be the most asked question I've got: "So, what next?"
When I signed up to do the Outlaw Triathlon last September, I truly thought that this task was impossible and a hurdle so big I wasn't sure I could even comprehend how I would accomplish it. To be standing here, a month on from Ironman trying to answer that question is just so hard. Ironman was my Everest so to complete it feels not just surreal but slightly disorientating too.
What next: This year
So this year I've got a couple of 'cheeky' marathons I'm signed up for. My wonderful colleagues have started running with me and I'll be completing the Kent Costal Marathon with them in 2 weeks. I'd love to run a PB which, as I set my marathon PB of 4:42 in the marathon in Ironman must be possible! Three weeks after Kent I'll be lacing up and joining the start line of the Berlin Marathon with the Adidas Runners London crew. I'd love to run a sub-4 hour time but that might be a next year dream - it's been tough to work out the downward training from Ironman to marathon and I'm pretty sure I've not got it quite right.
What next: Next year
I've got a few challenges in mind some bigger, some smaller. I really hope that I will be successful in the London Marathon ballot. I've wanted to run London for years. Fingers crossed. I'd love to run a good for age marathon time (3:45). I think I've got it in me. It would also be nice to be able to properly train for a marathon and focus on just that.
I'm also considering saying the words I'd like to do an Ultra. Eugh, my fingers struggled to type that! I really would. I'd like to go long. I think Ironman proved I have the mental toughness and running is my first love. Recommendations for my first Ultra-marathon greatly appreciated!
What next: The next 5-10 years
I've got 5 big challenges I'd like to do and, unlike Ironman, they are slower goals to achieve:
1. Complete the London Classics
Announced this year the trio of running the London marathon, riding in the RideLondon Surrey 100 and swimming the 2km Swim Serpentine earns you the bragging rights of having completed the London Classics. Or a disjointed Half Ironman/Ironman.
2. Complete the World Marathon Majors
This is a fun game if you love marathons! Run Berlin, London, Tokyo, New York, Chicago and Boston and you enter the World Marathon Major hall of fame complete with the largest medal I've ever seen. It's hard because getting in to some of the Marathons is really tough: Tokyo ballot places are hard to get, New York is crazy expensive and to get in to Boston I'd have to run a qualifying time of 3:35. I'm not sure it's possible but it will be fun trying!
3. Walk all the Wainwright mountains
I love being in the hills. I've been slowly ticking off the Wainwright's in the Lake District over the last couple of years and I'm currently at 56 climbed out of the 214. They're beautiful, it's a great game and it's definitely on the list to get through.
4. Reach my 250 parkrun milestone
When I first started parkrunning I thought 50 seemed like an impossible milestone and here I am headed for the 250! I'm currently on 121 so nearly half way there. It will take me a while but I'm pretty determined. I'd also love to finish as first female at a parkrun somewhere. It's probably never going to happen at my home run of Cambridge: the girls are just too quick for me but there are other smaller events where it might be possible. Again - another fun long game.
5. Try for the Bob Graham round
My incredible friend Graham Nash this year became the 8th person ever to complete the Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and the Ramsay Round in the same year. I was staying with him in Edinburgh last week and he said that for him a challenge had to mean he truly didn't know at the startline if he'd be able to finish it. Well readers, I suspect that the Bob Graham round, where you run the 66 mile, 27,000ft circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the English Lakes within 24 hours is probably a step further than I'll ever be able to achieve fitness wise. But that's what makes it a true challenge. Let's see. With hard work, good conditions and great support why couldn't I?!
I guess the most important challenge for me is to continue to love living a healthy lifestyle that sees me outdoors. If I can keep finding my motivation to run or swim or cycle and stay fit and healthy - both in body and mind then I'll be happy.
On to the next big challenge!