I have been reflecting on last week’s race today. Rather than share with you all a traditional race report, I thought I’d share some of my reflections on the more unusual or unexpected aspects of training for an Ironman and being a first timer in that experience.
Maybe a few tips for those of you considering signing up for one yourself.
- No topic of conversation whatsoever is off limits. Anything related to bodily functions in particular. Any sport that requires baby oil, vaseline and talcum powder must be a little odd. Remember to re-apply all the filters that determine acceptable human conversation and behaviour though when speaking to non triathlon friends otherwise you may find yourself on your own as friends quietly sneak away. Also remember, from time to time, to talk about something other than triathlon. Otherwise you will just become an incredibly boring person for your friends to be around.
- You WILL become an early riser. Even if you have been a life long late riser. And you will really wish you could actually sleep in and not wake up at sparrow’s fart on those few mornings where you don’t actually have to get up to train.
- Your world will revolve around the weather forecast. Whereas all your friends might be declaring it’s been the best Summer in living memory, to you the lasting memory will be that it was an incredibly windy Summer.
- You will develop strong OCD habits, even if prior to triathlon you were completely disorganised or just happy to go with the flow. You will have lists of lists. You’ll pack a bag and then repack it and then repack it again. You’ll spend Sunday night planning out the logistics for the week ahead. That’s what it takes to fit Ironman around what was already a very busy life (or more truthfully fit the rest of your life around Ironman).
- You’ll develop an obsession for the Ironman M Dot logo. Yes, I know it’s just a Corporate brand and why would you ever want to display Coca-Cola or Apple or any other corporate brand on yourself? But it becomes the symbol of all that you are training for. And remember the golden rule, never ever ever buy or wear the M Dot logo until you have completed the race – the ultimate in bad karma.
- The world will not exist beyond the date of your race. For me, everything revolved around the date 24 March 2013. All other events were measured in relation to that date – you will remember your friend’s birthday as being 4 weeks before the race, a key work deadline as being a week before the race. And god forbid if anybody tries to plan anything beyond 24 March 2013, that is beyond the realms of imagination. And with entries opening for next year’s race in a few days time, provided I get in, the new date is 23 March 2014.
- You won’t remember the last time you bought yourself some new clothes that didn’t have Lycra in them. Whilst at the same time none of the clothes you do own will fit anymore. All shopping you do will be on the Internet as that takes 5 minutes and gets delivered to your door. Who has the time to go to the shops?
- Your language will deteriorate significantly. The F bomb will become an integral part of how you communicate. It will be part of how you communicate the good times – “That was f***ing awesome”, how you motivate yourself “Just HTFU” and how you communicate the shit times – simply “F***!!!”. The latter exclamation got used at the top of my voice on a couple of occasions during the bike leg of last week’s race. Fortunately the wind was so noisy and I was so far behind everybody else, that I doubt anybody apart from me heard it.
- The words that come out of your mouth will amaze you, and be perceived as incredibly arrogant by your friends. “Oh, it’s only a short race, no big deal, it’s just an Olympic Distance”, “It’s ok, it’s just a short recovery ride this weekend, only 130km”. Remember to truly absorb and celebrate where you have come from, and support all of your friends as they go through their own journeys – whether that is training for a 5km run or a longer event. Remember when to you, a 5km run was just as huge a goal and achievement as an Ironman is to you today.
- But finally, and most importantly, it will be the most incredible experience. The friendships you make; the support you provide each other; the emotional roller coaster that you go on; the achievements along the way; the number of times you do things that just overwhelm you in terms of the sheer magnitude of what you have just achieved that you wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing a few years ago; the pride you carry in supporting Tri Alliance and seeing all of your friends achieve their own goals and aspirations.Make sure those friends know how important they are to you, and that you thank all those people that have helped you – whether that be through incredible long term support and friendship, or just the volunteers out on the course. They are all so important.
Nope, wouldn’t change it for the world!
Tri Alliance Athlete and First Time Ironman Finisher,