I never said I wouldn’t do it. But then again, I hadn’t exactly expressed a burning desire to complete an Ironman. Too many times, I told myself 140.6 miles was too long, too far, too much. I was content with the challenge of the half ironman distance…or was I? Truth was, after four Ironman 70.3 races, including one World Championship that was one of the most amazing race experiences I’ve ever had, I wasn’t completely satisfied. I watched many friends and acquaintances complete Ironman distance events and started asking myself, “why can’t I do this?” And the more I asked that question, the more the answer began to change.
When I met with my coach after the Ironman 70.3 World Champs, I mentioned that I was thinking about doing a full Ironman, but had read (yep, I always do a lot of research!) that I needed to increase my training for the next full year in order to be fully prepared, and so was thinking about signing up for a 2017 event. His response was, “If you want to do an Ironman, just sign up and stop thinking about it so much!”
I’m stubborn so I still thought about it…for a few more weeks. I already knew what race I wanted to do for my first 140.6: Ironman Mont Tremblant, in Quebec, Canada. Many people look for an easy course for their first Ironman, one that has, for example, a downstream swim if they’re a weak swimmer, or a flat bike and run course. I didn’t want to do that. Not that I was looking for a hard course, but I knew I’d be happiest racing in beautiful surroundings, as I was in Austria. Mont Tremblant is my favorite place to ski – the slopes are long and the views magnificent – and I’m pretty sure it’s equally impressive in summer. Of course it’s hilly, but I’d rather take a hilly bike over a flat one any day. Before I made my final decision I did talk with a friend who had raced it and she confirmed that I would love it. It also fits into my schedule nicely; it’s a late August race and, now that I’m teaching, I’ll have the summer off for the more intense training. Yay for career changes that make me able to pursue my love of triathlon!
In October I pulled the trigger. Ironman is expensive, but I paid in Canadian dollars and everyone knows the Canadian dollar is weaker than the U.S. dollar so I actually saved a few bucks. 😉 Even better, last week my coach announced he was signing up, and just the other day my roommate from the World Championships in Edmonton last year told me that both she and her boyfriend will be racing! Ah, misery loves company. And I’ll have plenty of people to train with, as several friends are racing Ironman Chattanooga a month later in September.
Am I afraid? Of course. 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running is one heck of a long way. But I’m ready to tackle it head on. I know it won’t be easy, and the training is going to be brutal, but, after six years of triathlon, I think I’m ready!
Ironman veterans, any advice for a first timer?