We wrote this piece a little while back, then realised we hadn’t posted it, so see this as a throwback to the feels post my first half, and ahead of my first full. This makes me oh so excited for H taking on her first Half IM too. August, we’re ready for you, but for now, over to this throwback…
First of all, let’s clarify what a half Ironman or should we say 70.3 entails.
You kick (literally) things off with a 1.9km/1.2mile swim (usually in open water), before jumping aboard your trusty steed to tackle a 90km/56mile bike, finishing up with a 21km/13.1mile run.
And why? Well, it’s quite a jump up from the Olympic distance, but it’s a nice check-point on the way to a full Ironman. One way to look at eh?
It’s all well and good listing the glory numbers but what really makes it is putting in the hours (and hours and hours) of training. For me this wasn’t about getting a good time, it was about making my body strong and resilient enough to put up with the task at hand, so I could enjoy the process and the race itself. Both H and I have always been active, even from a young age, and the 3 disciplines are something that I have done for years. The tricky bit was learning to make them all a bit faster.
So, let’s break said disciplines down…
‘Water babies’ is what my grandma used to call my sister, Zoe, and I. We lived in the water as children, splashing and paddling around whenever and wherever we could find it. This sat me in a pretty good position when it came to overcoming the ‘open water’ fear. I was shocked at how many ‘good swimmers’ are fish out of water when it comes to breaking free of the chlorine pool. It’s not to say pool swimming didn’t make up some of my training, but I’d say 70% of it was done down at Shepperton lake during the early hours on a Saturday morning. This had me comfortable and courageous when it came to stepping up to that startline.
Although H and I had started to take to two wheels a little more often, it was still something I did at a very leisurely pace. I was boggled by how our friend Chloe (@chloein_motion) could maintain her high power for such a prolonged period of time. I found my quads burned out long before my lungs even began to start working. Cue Brad (@bw_commandofitness) and his evil assault bike. Now, hate is a strong word, but it is one I would use to describe this machine of total destruction (maybe a tad overdramatic). The thing is, not only did this build power and strength in my legs, it also built my mental toughness. This paired with long weekend rides, and time in the saddle helped me begin to improve speed and become at ease with the numb bum and tingling quads.
For many this is the dreaded section of the race, however, for me, I was sure it would be my strongest! Having just completed the London Marathon my aim was just to keep my endurance ticking over and build up a little power thanks to some spicy 800m track session from Brad. It didn’t quite run as smoothly as planned thanks to tight calves from the ride, but I stayed strong in my stride and settled into ‘comfortable’ rather than pushing through pain. I came here to enjoy this race, not suffer through it.
What did I learn?
Make time for things that matter – Don’t take on a triathlon light-heartedly. You need to be able to dedicate time to improving 3 different sports. Some days, that meant an hour cycle to the lake, an hour swim and an hour ride home. Other days it was a 4-hour ride followed by a 5-10km run. From an outsiders point of view, this may sound like hell on earth, but those long sessions were actually some of my best memories of training.
It’s ok to miss out – In the roles we have, we are extremely lucky to be invited to lots of fitness events, challenges and gym openings. When I was just training for a running event it was easier to be flexible with swapping out a strength session or run for a class if needs be, but once it came to 3 disciplines and race day got closer I had to be far more strict with how I dealt with the FOMO and what I prioritised. I learned to accept I didn’t need to be everywhere, and it was ok to say no!
Be proud – Throughout this whole process I kept saying ‘it’s only half an ironman though’. You know what, who cares if it was ‘only a half’?! It was a bloody long way and I loved every second. Bring on the 140.6, this girl wants the full title!