My Not So Smooth Journey to Ironman

ironman symbol

Decision Time

Making the decision to sign up to Ironman was a scary time. I had just come off two big challenges – the Tarawera Ultramarathon 60 km run and the Oxfam Trailwalker 100 km walk so I knew I could do the training and had the mental strength.

My main concern was that I had a holiday booked for six weeks in South America and when I got back from that, there would only be five months to go. So in reality I would have only five months of training to do an Ironman – was that enough?

Pre-holiday Training

Prior to my holiday, I did keep my fitness up but minimally. A lot of training was done inside due to the weather. The pressure to train wasn’t there as the holiday loomed.

The start of my Ironman journey included spending a lot of money. Entry to the event isn’t cheap and then the amount of gear that is required is huge. You can do the basics but it also helps to have a wind trainer, wet suit, padded bike shorts and a camel back. Another cost is the nutrition – gels and drink supplements.

Training in June had work dominating with it being the longest hours and the hardest I have ever worked. I also got run down and sick so the training went out the window. I knew I was going backwards and then went on holiday till the end of September and went backwards some more.

Getting back into it, after the holiday

Astrid Gaston South America

I had a great time on holiday but ate and drank too much. I put on four kilograms and lost most of my fitness. The first two weeks after the holiday were all about getting back into moving the body and the routine of training each day again.

In all honesty it was very hard and a time of feeling negative and being mad at myself for entering Ironman. I kept asking what was I thinking??? It was a horrible feeling to be starting at the beginning again and only have five months to go. I went through a really negative buzz because everything I did was hard and I felt so unfit.

Into the swing of things

When I was three weeks back into training I felt a lot better – tired and still struggling but coping with the training. The gear was mostly sussed with only a wetsuit to go. The bike was getting more comfortable. Eight weeks until I do my first half Ironman – now that is scary.

Moaning Time!

I’m feeling really deflated that the weight is not falling off me after the travel with all the training I am doing. I wish it would just hurry up and happen – I bet I sound like all spoilt brats that want things right now! I guess I would like a little bit of progress just to keep me motivated. I feel like I am putting in the work so I should get some benefits!!!

I wish someone had told me how tiring it is training for Ironman. I don’t know how I am going to handle being tired for four months straight. It is a constant feeling of having no energy and no zing to get up and do anything else. It also zaps you mentally so you aren’t functioning in that area either. It is like you are there but the lights are on dim.

One of my training weekends, I did a three hour ride but later found out two others doing Ironman did a six hour ride so I felt really far behind them. I keep feeling everyone is miles ahead of me in the training stakes but what I need to do is concentrate on my achievements.

This is one of the things you have to learn about the training process – I am not to worry about what everyone else is doing and just focus on myself. My programme suits me and the time I have to build up.

Being Positive

I think I have been feeling so tired lately and haven’t really been looking for small goals to achieve to keep me feeling positive. I don’t even think, I celebrated achieving a quarter Ironman enough from last weekend. As really that was a first for me, doing all that distance joined together. Also a first, for me, swimming in my new wet suit. I should be proud of myself for completing it.

Injury Time

At exactly 1 hour 30 into my run, my right calf made me stop running – pain and it wouldn’t let me start again so I had a 25 minute walk home. I spent the rest of the day hobbling and I massaged my calf and my left sole as that was pretty sore too.

That night I was meant to run but my heel was still very sore, limping sore. My husband and I went grocery shopping and as we drove up the drive home I began laughing hysterically as I realised in 11 days I have to do a half Ironman and I can’t even walk properly. I can’t think about it too much as I am scared and can’t comprehend pulling out or not being able to run. I think I need therapy!!!

Saturday 14th December Taupo Half Ironman

Before Taupo Half Ironman

Up early 4.45 am and eating breakfast. Off down to get my gear into transition as it is only open from 5a m until 6 am. I taped on some gels to my tri-bars and that worked really well. For the swim, I got in amongst the swimmers and sort of second in line. I did get hit around a bit but I did plenty of hitting myself.

It was easier to judge myself off the other swimmers than look up as couldn’t really see the bouys. I didn’t really enjoy the swim as I couldn’t judge my pace and my wetsuit was only the second time I had worn it. It actually rubbed on my neck which I didn’t find out until later.

I ended up doing the swim in 33.34 which is about the same time I would do that distance in a pool. The run from the water up to the bike transition is really long and up stairs. Luckily they put down fake grass to go on. I got passed by heaps of people but didn’t care.

In transition I couldn’t get my wetsuit off the bottom of my legs. Frustrating! All else went well. The first part of the bike was hills so this was pretty hard and I had heaps of people pass me. After that though the course was awesome with lots of flat and small hills.

I spent a lot of time on my tri bars and felt like I had a tail wind out but when I turned around there was no wind so hooned back again. It was great having the turn around to see who was in front of me and who was behind. I loved the drop zone where you can chuck all your rubbish and pick up fresh water or sports drink. The volunteers are great, running beside you.

Probably in the last 10 km of the cycle I noticed my legs but could still push it.  I was really happy as I ended up taking 3 hours for the 90 km. I thought I would do 3 hours 30.

Transition 2 went smoothly and I was in and out within 2 mins. I found I was puffing heaps and couldn’t get my breathing under control. It was quite stressful. I managed probably half a kilometer and then my right calf felt like it was going to go ping. I stopped and walked and it was painful and felt like I was going to do damage.

I made a tough decision and hobbled back to tell officials I had pulled out. Felt yuck! Hard to walk after that and hard to deal with the emotions of not completing.

I did learn a lot in what I did do though so have to be thankful for that.

Saturday 4th January Tauranga Half Ironman (time to improve from the last one)

Up at 4.45 am which is hard work. I got transition sussed, joined a port-a-loo cue and then put on the wetsuit. The swim was salty and I caught up to the men so had to swim through them. I kind of cruised a bit and didn’t have any rubbing of my wetsuit this time. Same time as the last swim 34 minutes.

The transition went well and I got my wetsuit off ok. The cycle leg I went out fast and kept above 30 km/hr and kept it up. There were a couple of turn around that slowed things. I enjoyed the drop zones again. I pushed hard and went under 3 hours just – 2 hours 58 and then only a couple of minutes in transition.

Now for the run….oh no! The pain in my foot was straight away so it was trying to run normally and then run through the pain. It was hard, I wont deny it but I focused on keeping moving and walking the fuel stations and the hills around the mount. It got me through and I ended up doing 2 hours 22 which isn’t that bad for my running.

So all together I did 6 hours and 19 seconds. It would have been nice to go under 6 hours but who really cares, I had made it.

Half Ironman Medal

Long Training Sessions

On Sunday 19th January I did a 5 hour bike ride. There was some good wind which has been normal for cycle training. I got a sore butt and everything else held up. I didn’t have enough food but drank plenty. I played mental games the whole time and did congratulate myself at every mile stone. Like wicked 50 km, yeah 2 hours down or sticking to 30 km/hr. Time does eventually pass but it is such a long time on a bike.

This is becoming my most common thought: I don’t feel like I got much done today! The days go so fast and fitting in training takes so much time and energy. I find it hard to concentrate as I am so tired sometimes.

Four weeks to go until Ironman. Holy Moley!!!

Oh no! Not more injury

On Friday 7th February I started off with a 1 hour 30 mins bike ride. It was windy as usual but ok. Then I got in my running gear with camel back and headed to the forest. I felt terrible to start with and had my sore foot but then got into it and chugged along at a good pace.

I had done about 6+km and all of a sudden I was flying and had a long fall to the ground on rocks and dust. I didn’t know it was coming at all, not even sure what I tripped on. I rolled over and saw a big gash in my right shin. My hands were burning but not cut up and my elbow was grazed. I grabbed a tissue to mop the blood – not much as it was a dent wound. I was completely covered in dust.

Two ladies walking their dogs came across me and one gave me a ride home. I managed a shower and got Mum to take me to Lakes Care. There was a long wait there but eventually I got cleaned up by a lovely nurse. She had to localise numb the area so she could scrub the wound with a brush and get any dirt out. She then gave me stitches and bandaged me up. I hobbled out. It was couch time for the rest of the day.

Melt Down Time

I got very upset about not being able to walk and having Ironman in just over 2 weeks. I really have taken on a hard challenge and now it is harder because of my sore foot and harder again from my stitches in my leg. I felt emotional as I’m finding it hard enough training for Ironman without the need for extra setbacks.

Two Weeks To Go

I had a four day celebration for my 40th birthday. My brother and sister-in-law visited from Australia so I ate heaps and drank lots of alcohol and got not much sleep. Not the best in the lead up during tapering time.

Into the last week

I have spent the last two days feeling terrible and have a can’t be bothered feeling. Something happened on Tuesday though that made me realise I had energy and some zing to me. I really needed this boost.

Reading through the race guidelines has got me amped. Ironman is getting really close now!!!! Three days to go and I’m heading to Taupo tomorrow. All focus is on Saturday and I am looking forward to enjoying the day.

I am also looking forward to Sunday when it is all over (I don’t think I’ll be walking much) and hopefully I will have achieved my goal of completing Ironman.

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