After thinking about it for a few months, I talked myself out of doing an Ironman: a two mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a marathon.
Reasons not to do an Ironman
I said to myself:
- It would take over my life
- It would take me away from my family
- It would distract me from other life goals
- It would be embarrassing if I didn’t finish
- I might die
Then I talked myself back into it. It was a Friday night, surfing the Internet after dinner over a glass of wine decision. So on July 12, 2020, I will be doing an Ironman in Bolton, Lancashire.
Someone asked me why I was doing it and I said: “I have no idea.” That was easier than giving the real answer. Well, answers:
- I find it easier to get up early and exercise when I have a goal.
- I want bragging rights and something to talk and write about.
- I hope it will give me the confidence to tackle other goals.
- I hope it will be somehow character-building.
- It is the next logical step in my triathlon journey
- if I want to do it in a few years’ time, starting from the couch will be much harder
Things you should know about me
- Although I grew up swimming competitively, I never won a single race and am no good at sport. Until I did a triathlon a year ago, I had not run or cycled since school.
- I am not starting from scratch – I did a three triathlons (including a half Ironman) and a half marathon before entering the Ironman. However, the Ironman still feels like a huge step
- This won’t be a blog about technique or kit, although I may mention these things
- I love bullet points
I did a half Ironman two weeks ago, having worked up to it from doing Parkruns and then a 10k run a year ago. It took just under seven hours – a below average time, I think because of the bike. I have learned to love running (well, jogging) by going on one hour runs before work in nearby parks, watching the rays of sunshine through the trees, enjoying the fact there is nobody around and listening to podcasts.
Biking is my weakness.
My first experience of joining a cycling club was offputting. It was me and 10 guys in a red club kit who cycled off without me. They were mostly in their 50s, extremely skinny, as if their upper bodies had atrophied from lack of use, and talked non-stop about cycling. One told me my bike was really heavy. Another said I had my seat height wrong. I had not mastered clip on pedals and fell over twice when we stopped, cutting myself both times on the elbows and knees. “You don’t want to embarrass yourself on your first ride with us,” one of them said.
Today I went to another cycling club, promisingly called Dirty Wknd. It went well. I wasn’t the slowest.
Ten things I have learned about triathlon
- Triathlon will not help you build muscle
- You get used to waking up at 6am without an alarm. Which is annoying on a Sunday
- You can tell how good a runner someone is by their build and technique
- Cyclists say “Clear” at junctions and “Rolling” when are a group of them are starting to move
- There is no end to the kit you can buy
- Cycling shorts don’t leave much to the imagination
- You will regularly wonder what you are doing – and whether you are mad
- People in triathlon clubs send WhatsApp messages saying things like: “Going for a 100-mile cycle on Sunday morning. Anyone fancy it?” And people do fancy it
- At some point, you will find yourself buying a trisuit. Which is basically a mankini
- You decide on each day’s training based on what is easiest. On Saturday, I went for a three hour run because it was easier than going for a one hour run with the triathlon club and being reminded that I am one of the slowest. I found it hard to walk afterwards