Yes it’s true; I have signed myself up to do an Ironman triathlon event! Stupid, insane or naive I may well be, but it’s been the herculean efforts of several Ironman competitors I know which have opened my eyes to the event and given me inspiration to give it a go myself. A triathlon of any distance, let alone an Ironman is something I’d always dismissed as being totally off my radar. Doing one sport is bad enough, who would want to combine three? But the lure of taking on a challenge that will force me confront my uselessness is something I have a habit of doing. I love getting stuck into new and different sports, figuring out how to get better and training to get better. If it’s something I’m no good at or averse to doing (like running….arghhh!) then I’m strangely even more drawn to it.
But why the Ironman? Well, for starters it’s the most iconic endurance event there is and I don’t just want to do a triathlon, I want to be part of a great epic event. Also, aside from the Professionals and the Age Group Qualifiers, the Ironman is not so much a race, but a personal challenge, and that’s exactly how I see it – a personal challenge. Many people of all ages are clearly able to complete an Ironman, but I seriously question if I’d be able to do it. I’ve barely done any swimming since I was about eight years old, I couldn’t possibly complete 3.8km of swimming within the 2hr cut off point. If I did I’d be so exhausted that the two following disciplines, a 180km cycle and a marathon run, would be inconceivable. Even breaking down the disciplines and doing them as individual events would be close to impossible challenges in their own right for me. Stringing them together, well that’s definitely impossible. At least, it is right now. But that’s why I’ve signed up to do it!
I don’t like giving in to my initial sensible response that says I couldn’t do it. In the back of my head a little voice says “but is it impossible, could I actually do it?” and I’ve always followed through with my thinking that if you don’t give it a go you will never know. Of cause I couldn’t do it right now, but that’s what training is about and I intend to give it a good old go.
So just before Christmas I put my entry in for Ironman UK in Bolton which will take place on Sunday 22nd July. Having no experience of open water swimming, mass swim starts, triathlon transitions and other factors such as pacing and fuelling for an ultra-distance triathlon event, I have also entered Ironman 70.3 (a half Ironman event) in Mallorca on Saturday 12th May for some experience and practice.
My official training plan for the Ironman started on December 26th giving me exactly 30 weeks until the big day. I should be competent and strong in the cycling discipline, although a distance of 180km on a time trial bike will certainly be pushing my limits, but I’m not starting in a very strong position when it comes to the swimming and running and I’ve got a lot of work to do there. My initial target is completion – to get to the start line and cross the finish line within the 17hr cut off point. As I settle into training and make progress I’ll be more able to gauge my capabilities and maybe set myself a finishing target time.
I’m aiming to be blogging regularly on my training and Ironman challenge experiences. Check back to hear more and follow me throughout this challenge. I’m actually quite excited about it!