Somehow, in the darkness, I remembered how to run…
My bones ached. My stomach was on its arse. My body was so over the relentless forward motion of the day.
My mind was also done. This was the last sport thing I’d ever do. Ever. No more exercise. I mean it. NO MORE SPORTS.
The disco-lit finish line appeared from behind the tree line like a mirage. Except it wasn’t a mirage. It was real. This time I wasn’t going to have to hobble past and start another sodding lap. No. This was it: I was about to finish my first ironman. 140.6 miles. It was done.
Nothing on earth prepares you for the elation you feel when you cross that line. This was different to anything I’d ever finished. Different to passing my driving test. To graduating. To baking the perfect banana loaf. To landing my dream job. To finally nailing the high notes of Hello by Adele. Similarly to all of those glorious achievements, it was my own hard work that got me to this point. We’re there points during the previous 16 hours and 20 minutes where I thought I wouldn’t finish? Oh god yes. (Especially the bit where it GOT OFF THE BIKE AND CRIED ON A MARSHALL) but I wasn’t backing down. I’m tough, apparently.
140.6 miles. 16:21.20.
I thought I’d never forget how hard it was to train for an iron distance triathlon. The 0430 alarm clocks. Pushing through discomfort trying to work out what was “good pain” and what was “bad pain”. The tears. The bottomless pit of a hungry triathlete stomach. I thought I’d always remember every painful detail of the race. But alas. As a wise man once said to me: “when you’re ready to do another one, you’ve probably forgotten”.
Well I must have fallen and bumped my head cause I’ve been looking at races again. Uh oh.
I’m a couple of weeks out from this year’s 70.3 which I entered to keep me fit and focused. Training for 70.3 is just as tough. It doesn’t get easier because it’s half the distance of a full. It’s still a demanding race. The training hours are slightly less daunting and more manageable with life and a full time job, but the training itself doesn’t get any bloody easier… yet still. Here I am. Browsing the Ironman website like some corporate brand-led sheep. Looking for the next place to cry on a marshal at the side of the road.
Baa. Take my money.
I’ve had a fun year of reconnecting with myself, enjoying a social life, being an Auntie and feeling fitter than ever so I know that scaling back the fear factor with races and training volume has been more than beneficial for me both mentally and physically. Apparently it’s also allowed me to be lured into a false sense of “I can do this again” as well.
Fuck sake. Am I really ready to take on a full again?
Someone once arrogantly spouted that “all you need to do an ironman is a wetsuit and a bike”. I mean…. you definitely need those two things BUT you need the whole metric butt tonne of other stuff: Lets start with the sheer balls to try and squeeze that training in around life, then there’s respect for the distance. Then the fitness. The miles in the tank. It’s all very well squatting twice your bodyweight and being able to sprint for a mile, bit what use is any of that if you’ve never ridden your bike further than 50 miles? What use is that when you get to 80 miles and you’re exhausted, mentally and physically and you sustain a mechanical? Or cramp. Have you trained for that? Do you know how your body will feel after hours of relentless, punishing movement? Have you trained yourself to push through that barrier?
Sadly I do know. I know those things. But for some reason I’ve still decided to do it to myself all over again.
I will literally never learn.