Many weeks have passed now since I did The Bastion.
I’ve had all summer now to reflect on what now seems like quite a distant memory; almost a dream of a day, and everything that led to finish 140.6 miles in a day by wetsuit, bike and trainers.
It sounds so cliché, but doing an ironman changed me. It didn’t change my life, nor anything fundamental about the way I do things or the way I am, but I am not the same person as I was when I handed over the moneys to race my way round Kent.
It’s given me confidence, in so many ways
I’m never going to be the best at swimming, cycling or running. But I worked really, really hard to do the very best I could at each of them and actually ended up being OK. I gained confidence in my ability to just keep going, even when I thought I really didn’t want to or couldn’t. I even got a bit more confident in riding a bike and wouldn’t be afraid now to go out with other people for fear of not being able to keep up.
It’s allowed me to be proud of my body
One of the biggest things that ironman did for me was completely change the way I see my body. Me and my body have had a very difficult relationship in the past, with me trying to change bits that just can’t be changed and never really being able to appreciate everything it could do. I’ve under fuelled, over trained and overanalysed every part of me in order to fit into the box that I thought I ought to fit in. Training for an ironman gave me such new appreciation for everything my body can do and is; I’ve finally moved away from caring about what it ‘looks’ like, and been able to love it for what it does. There are parts of me that I’ve hated for so long, and yet they’re bits that have grown stronger, more powerful and worked harder I thought possible to allow me to complete the ironman. I wasn’t injured once during the whole six months, and that’s pretty awesome. I look at my body now and think how brilliant it is and how I need to care for it to allow it to do brilliant things for as long as possible.
Doing triathlon as a sport is great for body acceptance too, because there is no perfect shape for being a triathlete. If you look at the pros (I’m talking women), they all look different. So much as society wants to put us all in boxes… you can’t with triathlon. And I love that.
It’s made me want more
I’m not going to do another ironman for a while. Training for one takes up so much time, and I’m not willing to sacrifice so much family and friend time for a second year in a row. I loved it, but I’m so ready for something new and to get better, particularly at cycling. I want to be a better cyclist… and I will. Training hard, and training smart was so fun and whilst the distances won’t be as long, I’ll still be working away to be a better triathlete.
It also proved to me how much I bloody love running and swimming. Love them. And so I’m going to focus on those for a while. Big goals ahoy, in 2017.
It’s proved to me that talk means nothing and taking things too seriously is boring
Being in the world of ironman for a while proved to me what we all know is true: people talk a lot of sh*t, and the most inspirational and ones you should listen to are the most chilled out about their own awesome achievements. Much as you can spend a bazillion pounds on a bike, or have the newest everything, you won’t get faster by talking about how good you are. I was lucky enough to (virtually) share the ironing journey with Mel. She absolutely stormed her race: and yet the whole time we were training, she was so understated about how good she is.
My good friend Katie is my ironing idol. She’s the kind of person who does tough things with the biggest smile on her face and takes everything in her stride. I read her blog about The Bastion over and over and over before I did it. I might read it before every race I do – to remind myself I’m actually just there for the lolz.
I’ve accepted that I’m never going to take it seriously enough to be able to call ‘not training for a race’ the ‘off-season’ or worry too much about where I come in my age-group. I just love it for the fact that I get to do all the sports I like the most and that it’s really hard sometimes.
It’s taught me that I can do what I think I probably can’t
In all aspects of life I’m going to set myself really big goals now. Because if I put the work in, I’ll get them.
You don’t have to do an ironman – just sign up to something you think you can’t do. Doing it will change you for the better.