A few weeks ago, I achieved something I had long thought was impossible; to complete an ironman distance triathlon. This is something I have wanted to do for the past 5 years, but had not been able to attempt due to various injuries and setbacks. With grit (and a healthy degree of stubbornness) I proved that despite this, it was still possible!
Looking back, my journey towards the long-distance triathlon began when I re-started swimming with Open Water in 2011. A Triathlete work colleague at the time challenged me to a 3.8K river swim – and he beat me. I was happy with the swim, but I wasn’t happy being beaten. He went on to beat me in 2 other swims that year.
So - I trained hard that winter and came back in 2012 to beat him in all the swim races the following year. He then challenged me to try Triathlon. We entered the UK70.3 half Ironman in Wimbleball (notoriously one of the hardest 70.3 races….) – just about completing it in 8hours. I was elated! Achieving that goal spurred me on to enter a full distance Ironman race in 2013. A good winter of training was ahead. Things were going well with my training until in the cold winter months I pushed myself too far. In hindsight, playing prop for my rugby club’s 1st team on a Saturday, followed by a drive from London to Birmingham to complete the ‘Tough Guy Challenge’ (a 13mile assault course) wasn’t the smartest idea. It was an awesome achievement – and I was starting to think my body was invincible – but it contributed to a partial tear of the ACL in my right knee, forcing me to pull out of the Ironman event I had entered.
I had pushed my body too far too soon and was gutted. After a good period of re-hab I went back to play rugby the following season, but suffered a further setback with a fully ruptured knee this time. I resigned myself to my duties on the club committee and enjoyed my Saturday afternoons cheering from the sideline. The craic at the club and working with the RFU was great for a while, but I couldn’t shake the nagging at the back of my mind – that there was still this goal I wanted to achieve. I progressed with more re-hab and focused this time on cycling. I loved it. I completed another big achievement, cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats in 2015 – a 9-day experience which I will cherish forever. This was it – I was ready.
In 2016, I entered the Nottingham Outlaw long-distance triathlon but decided to postpone as other events in my personal life took priority. I married my lovely wife, Claire, in 2017 and together we travelled round New Zealand and focused on setting up our new life together. I told her about my ambition to complete the ironman distance triathlon, but that I feared it would never happen due to my weak knee. With her support, I went for an MRI scan. To my surprise, the news was positive! I didn’t require any surgery and was assured that the ACL ligaments had somehow miraculously strengthened and healed.
The date was set for the Nottingham Outlaw on 29 July 2018. I had no more excuses – apart from being 30kg heavier than when I had last trained hard for this goal in 2013.
I guess the reason I wrote this piece is I wished, it I wanted it and I did it, no matter how long it took. What are you wishing for? What do you want? What are you going to do?
My training for the Outlaw this year and how I completed the race will be the subject of my next blog – so stay tuned to hear how it went!