"I realised it’s never too late to learn."
I started marathon running when I gave up smoking at the age of 35. Running became my life and my work as a coach and writer. I ran my way through life’s challenges: divorce, relocation, new businesses, and grief – and good times too.
Triathlon was something I first found 21 years before, but I kept putting it off. Then at 46 I mastered the skill of skiing and realised it’s never too late to learn. After four years dabbling in triathlon, I decided to mark my 50th with the big one – and entered my first Ironman.
With a year ahead to train I felt I had plenty of time to get in shape. Then on December 30th, 2017, on a long ride with the local tri club, I hit black ice, came off my bike and went over my handlebars. I broke my collarbone, my front tooth went through my top lip, and I had a nice big gash over my eye. A week later I had the operation to fix the shoulder, and three days after that I ventured out for my first sling run. I was determined to do what I could do, enjoy it, and not think about what I couldn’t do. The scars healed and by March I was swimming again and attended the club training camp in Mallorca.
I now had six months to train and although with Ironman it never seems like you can do enough, I was happily getting on with it. I bought an expensive time trial bike, entered races, paid for coaching, booked my hotel and flights and even paid for a ‘reccy’ trip to Barcelona before the race. I cut back where I could to cover all these costs – Ironman is an expensive business.
A week after having a great race at the middle distance (completing it in 5.32), and with 10 weeks to go, I hit another hurdle when taking part in my first ever 100-mile bike time trial. I was very, very much out of my comfort zone. Lots of men with pointy hats and hi-tech bikes were speeding past and I was just one of four women taking part. But I was calm and taking the course as it came, until I reached a corner, misjudged it and once again crashed. This time I hit the grass, so no broken teeth or grazes, but I did break my left collar-bone and faced more surgery.
From rough seas, to punctures, to bike accidents – triathlon throws up many more unexpected challenges than other events – but with that comes an opportunity to learn. I’ve adapted my training (indoor turbo cycling and less swimming) but have decided I’m still going to do Ironman Barcelona. I’m the founder of the online community endurance women, where we celebrate ordinary women being extraordinary, and follow those on the endurance journey as it takes them into the unknown and asks them to challenge beliefs about what their limits might be. And now it’s my turn. Follow my progress to Barcelona by reading by personal blog.