So I’m sitting down to my lunch of ‘Southern spiced chicken, pickled slaw, salad and vegetables’ (yum!) while I write this. It is just under two weeks out from Ironman NZ, Taupo. This will be the penultimate chapter in the last 9 months of preparation for a race that I swore 5 years ago I would never do! To give you some insight, let me take you back five years to my ‘pre-triathlon days’.
I had recently returned from a five year stint living in the UK and Ireland. I was 10kg heavier, lacking in vitamin D, severely lacking in any form of exercise regime. It was early March 2011 and I was contracted as a physio to Ironman NZ for the lead up to race day. This involved an injury assessment service, strapping ankles and feet, massage, and stroking athletes’ egos in the lead-up to their big day. Essentially this came in the form of telling each person, no matter how severe or how insubstantial their injury, that they would be okay on race day!
During race day, my time was spent inside transition between the swim/ bike and the bike/ run helping athletes change their clothes, handing out transition bags and tending to various injuries. It was a cold day out there, raining and windy. Athletes were coming in from the swim and bike with mild signs of hypothermia. At the time, it reminded me of a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie! People with cuts and grazes, white skin, slowly moving and looking for food… or just collapsing on the floor. I thought to myself at the time, I will never do ‘one of these’, who would want to put themselves through this?! Even the look of absolute relief and elation as people crossed the finish line some 10-17 hours later wasn’t enough to inspire me.
So, obviously the next question is, how did I get from ‘I’m not doing an Ironman… EVER!’ to sitting down and writing this article pre the big day? It was Christmas five years ago at our family beach house on the Coromandel. The family has just sat down to swap presents before the big Christmas feast! I get a shoe box sized gift from my sister, a pair of shoes I think. As I unwrap the gift and open the box I realize that this is not a pair of shoes… a small piece of paper rests in the bottom of the box… uh oh! I unfold the paper and read what is written on it… It’s an entry to my first sprint distance triathlon! My immediate thoughts are… I haven’t swum more than 50 metres since I was a child at the Manurewa pools. I’m going to have to start swimming. More than that – I’m going to have to be able to swim 500 metres in three months time! So this was the seed planted 5 years ago thanks to my little sis, which slowly grew into a much bigger and time-consuming ‘redwood tree’ sized goal… Ironman! To be continued….