February 2016: ‘The Boss’ (Perry Agass) and I sat down to discuss my plans for the coming 2-3 years of triathlon. The conversation went something like this:
And there, the seed was planted. Like Perry does with everything, he never pressurises, he just gently pushes you down the path he knows is right for you. It’s been a mad journey this year, one where I have questioned my sanity and his too. I have swam more miles than I care to count. There were times when I hated him for it, there were times when I was unsure where we were going with it as my times plateaued and my arms just got more tired. Another time trial in the water and another despairing look on Perry’s face! But we ploughed on and occasionally he would smile at me at the end of the lane “I think maybe we are getting somewhere” “Your swimming is tolerable” No gushing compliments but the hard honest truth, which is the only way the boss trades feedback. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t want/need someone to caress my ego, I want someone who pushes me to do the things I’m not sure I’m capable of doing, someone who makes you take the step into the great unknown.
So the season started early with a half ironman in Aiya Napa in March: a race I did not want to be lined up for. I knew I wasn’t race-ready and we’d had a heavy block of training alongside the ETE TriCamps so I came into the race utterly exhausted. The race was a grovel! I dragged my butt round cursing him the whole way. I can see now that he was setting the scene for IRONMAN, that half marathon certainly felt like the back end of the marathon the other day! The season rolled on and so did the races, 6 half ironman’s in total, many of which were raced as “training races” on tired legs and often backed up with long bike rides and runs the following week. My motto became “Just keep moving”.
So, the final show down came around: IRONMAN Italy… my first IRONMAN! As it loomed closer I started to panic, started to question whether I was ready, started to wonder if I had it in me. I was quickly reassured by Perry and a couple of training buddies that this was normal and that I just needed to focus on positive aspects and draw on key training sessions and races where I had had to fight.
Race morning arrived and despite the usual unsettled sleep I felt quite calm and ready to race. The swim actually went better than expected. I’d even go as far to say I enjoyed it! So I think it’s safe to say that all those miles of swimming might have been for a reason!! Onto the bike and specific instructions were not to go nuts at the beginning…. Not my forte when it comes to racing. So off I set ticking off the miles, asking myself “can I hold this” I backed myself and thought I could but was more than surprised when I hit 90km in 2.23! But I felt in control so kept grinding. The last 90km passed quite quickly but my legs were feeling it and my back was tight. I ran into T2 to be greeted by my mates and apparently the only words I uttered was “savage”. This left them a little worried and if I’m honest I had worried myself a little. I was totally overwhelmed with the ride I had just pulled off and was totally daunted at what came next. (Editor’s Note: 3rd Fastest Bike Split)
So off I ran, with the motto in mind…“just keep moving”. Again I tried to set out comfortably and settled into what felt like a sustainable pace. The first 17km ticked by uneventfully. Unfortunately at around 18km I started to feel the tug of it all and could feel my pace dropping…. This was it…. The moment I had so commonly heard of. It was time to dig in, time to really find out what I could do. The final 26km was a mental and physical battle of keeping moving. Everything telling me to stop, yet I tricked myself to continue. I honestly say that I have never been sooooooo pleased to see the finishing carpet. I felt a wave of utter relief, elation and could barely hold myself together over the line. I had only gone and done it.
So first IRONMAN ticked off the list in a time of 10.00.27, a performance that I honestly did not know I had in me (Editor’s Note: 1st in Age Group). It’s taught me a lot about myself and how I race and it’s taught me that despite the ups and the downs you have to trust the process and the team of people who support you. I couldn’t have done it without ‘The Boss” and my sponsors who allow me to train the way that I do. Its an amazing feeling to finish the season with a performance that I’m proud of and I look forward to planning my 2018 season…who knows what it will hold!!