I’m sat scrolling through my Strava, trying to remind myself of all the things I’ve done to get to this point. It feels so surreal sitting here with just days to go before I line up in that cold water waiting for a mass start that I’m sure will fill me with fear. I’m mostly consumed by the memory of weeks where training didn’t go to plan, in my case that was most weeks. Yet my brain sparks up with lofty excitement every-time I scroll over a day I did something big. As if it has forgotten that I did any training at all. The brick sessions, or cycling 100 miles. The Half ironman, or the long distance swims. And isn’t that the truth that our brains naturally drift to the places and days where everything went wrong, every moment that could derail us. Rather than linger in the moments that might just see us through, that might just be enough.
It feels so strange to be in a place where I’m about to do a thing I’ve never done before. The nerves are building and my mind is starting to race away with the endless possibilities of what can happen over potentially 17 hours of racing. The thought that I’ll be starting as the sun rises and ending in darkness, makes virtually no sense. The thought that I’ve done all the elements but never together, never to the extent that will be asked of me makes no sense. The thought that a single mechanical error could ruin the whole thing makes no sense. I keep running the words trust in the process over and over in my head, crossing things off my to do list, and then adding something I’ve forgotten on to the bottom.
I have a transition bag now that is slowly filling up with trainers, cleats, wetsuit, trisuit, goggles, spare goggles the list goes on. My brain is full with everything I have to remember. My stomach is full of pizza and butterflies. My legs are full of aches and pains that I know do not exist. One of the things i’m most sure of after 20 marathons is what is real pain and what is not.
Ironman training is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I feel like I need at least 6 more weeks to be ready, and probably then when we got there i’d say I need another 6 weeks to be ready, and in fact I’d just never be ready. I would recommend running to everyone, triathloning to everyone, but this… I’m not so sure. It’s another level, it breaks you down in so many ways, and although the highs come. I’m still not sure how I feel about all the scrapes both physical and mental that I’ve been through in the last 6 months.
The thing I am still most scared of is getting pulled from the bike, the cut off times seem so close to my capability, with little room for error. But I keep reminding myself of everything I’ve done to get to this point, that has to be enough, oh gosh I hope it’s enough.
I keep thinking back to that day I sat bloody and bruised and covered in chain oil on the side of the road, so ready to pack it all in. The tiny speck of hope that was left in me that day has grown over recent weeks. I think it’s what’s kept me driving 45 minutes to a lake every week to practice in open water. Which has equipped me with a good strategy for when my panic sets in in the water, and if I can just get out on to the bike with a bit of a buffer… the glimmer of hope starts to grow as I think about it more. It has to be enough.
I remember riding over to Brighton marathon in April and then setting off at a ridiculous pace, of course not being in any position to hold it, but loving every minute of that run. The thought of marathoning off the back of 112 miles, whilst scary AF, is kind of keeping me going, I know 26.2, I can do 26.2, that bit can’t fail me. Surely it has to be enough.
The believer in me is fighting to be heard right now, maybe because the sheer volume of stuff going through my brain drowns her out, or because there have been more downs than ups (unless we’re talking about hills and then I’m fairly certain there has been many more ups). But oh my I hope she finds her voice come Sunday morning.
I keep telling her to remember all the swims, rides and runs. Remember every time she’s had to get up and dust me off. Remember the tears, the sweat and the blood. Remember crossing the line of the half ironman. Remember falling off time and time again. Remember the friends we’ve made. Remember the adventures we’ve had. Remember the fights we’ve won to be here. Remember everything we’ve sacrificed. Remember when the pain sets in you just have to keep going. Remember this is your moment. Remember you have nothing to prove. Remember that this is for us.
You are the bravest and most beautiful part of me. Thank you for pushing me to the end of my possibilities, for never being satisfied, for searching, and fighting, and living, and breathing, and speaking up, and being bold, and brave and oh I’m so proud of you little one.
There is nothing more to do.
It has to be enough.
The challenge of a lifetime awaits