Extreme Ironman

Why anyone would enter an ironman would have been completely beyond me just two years ago. And yet, entries to popular Ironman events sell out in minutes. It looks like there are quite a few semi-crazy people out there who don’t mind the odd 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike ride and 42.2 km run.

And I am now one of them. About 5 weeks ago, I signed up for my first full Ironman. But because I couldn’t just leave it at that and love solitude and mental challenges, I picked Norseman Triathlon. One of the most extreme Ironman events I could find with the added benefit of being held in beautiful Norway, a place I’ve always wanted to visit.

In the lead-up, I signed up for Comrades, an 89 km ultramarathon in South Africa and my first running race longer than 42.5 km. Ahem. No, I’m not mad. No, I do not have an exercise addiction. Why would I sign up? Well, I love travelling. I love challenging myself. And love seeing what my body and mind are capable of.

Cue: One week into my training I get a bone bruise and then a stress fracture in my foot courtesy of some bad shoes I was fitted with. Now the mental challenge really began. 12 weeks to go before my first ultramarathon and only 4 months out from my first Ironman. Not the best training aid.

I spent a few weeks in limbo. As it was initially able to keep cycling without too much pain (relatively at least), I was still upbeat. I massaged, mobilised, meditated on my foot. When it broke, you would have expected my spirit to break. And it did at times. But really, I found out a whole new strength my body possesses: to bounce back and respond to training in a way that makes me blush to think about. Days spent cooped-up in my room with an ice pack on my throbbing foot alternate with days of shorter rides, some teaching and Pilates and not much else. I felt pretty much like a caged tiger while my foot was undergoing various stages of distress and pain.

Green, black, purple –  not exactly colours you’d like to ever see your foot turn. Pins and needles under the sole of my foot, pain shooting up to my brain and making me lightheaded, hot throbbing pain waking me up at night. For four weeks, I got used to a constant state of being under duress. Then I discovered Schuessler Tissue Salts for babies’ teething and strong bones. The pain subsided. Two days later, I forgot to take my bottle with me and didn’t even think about it once until that night as I carefully peeled my throbbing foot out of its bandages. It was so painful I shed some tears.

The next day I was back on the tissue salts and also got myself an amber wristband to promote pain relief. Amber has been used in Europe for centuries as an analgesic. Read more here.

On the upside, I swam 4 km at Iceberg’s on Monday!  I’d barely been swimming – maybe once a week -, as it was so hard to get into the pool on my broken foot, so the feat took me by surprise. I ended up blue from the cold, shaking badly and barely able to walk once I reached the edge of the pool after 80 laps. But what surprised me was that I wasn’t even tired. And yet, I’d already done 45mins cycling, 1 hour Pilates and went back on the bike straight after. The full resting must be agreeing with my body more than I would have ever thought.

And so, my broken foot is teaching me.. about rest, focus and pain.  And my ability to adapt. If a big rock turns up in the flow of your river or a wall comes your way, don’t hit it! What’s the point?! Just go around it and find another way. I’ll be turning myself into a keen swimmer (I now wanna see how far I can go before my arms fatigue!), an enthusiastic cyclist (as a former bike courier that one is almost a given but I normally do prefer running) and the best aqua runner in Fairlight!

My foot is giving me ample mental preparation time for my Norseman. And it has helped me just not care about my Comrades time at all. At this stage, I’ll be looking to get through it without collapsing. That’s all.

If you’re looking for some excellent advice on how to mentally prepare yourself for your first Ironman though and haven’t got time to break your foot, head here: http://www.endurancesportsinstitute.com/ironman-mental-preparation-3/

It’s a fantastic post!

Now, just for fun and giggles, check out what I’ll be doing in August below. Awesome much?!

  • Swim leg: 3,8 kilometers in the Hardangerfjord. The water temperature is expected to be between 15,5 to 17,5 degrees Celsius.
  • Bike leg: 180 kilometers from Eidfjord, up Måbudalen, highway 7 over Hardangervidda to Geilo, highway 40 down Numedalen and over to Tessungdalen.
  • Running: 42,2 kilometers from Austbygde, via Rjukan and up to the top of Gaustatoppen. This means 25 kilometers fairly flat and 17,2 kilometers with an extreme climb up to 1.850 meters.

Total distance: 226 kilometers. (140.4 miles)Image


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