Introduction: From Marathoner to Ironman
Embarking on significant challenges has been a hallmark of my milestone birthdays. From becoming a marathoner on my 30th to conquering Ride London for my 40th, the celebration of turning 50 called for an Ironman. Inspired by my husband’s Ironman feat in Montremblanc, our destination of choice was the picturesque Vitoria GASTEIZ in the Basque Country.
Training and Preparation:
Months of swim, bike, run and strength training ensued, demanding dedication amidst work and social commitments. Recognizing the need for comprehensive preparation, I enlisted the help of a friend and nutrition coach to ensure a flawless performance, addressing previous concerns of stomach cramps during longer races.
Logistics and Teamwork:
Navigating the intricacies of race logistics became a joint effort with my husband. From bike transportation, securing flights and car rentals to acquiring the right insurance that covered the bikes wherever they may be, our collaboration played to our strengths, setting the foundation for a seamless journey.
As July 2023 approached, final preparations saw us in Vitoria GASTEIZ, bikes assembled and race numbers collected. A pre-race day at San Sebastian beach added to the excitement, marking the calm before the storm.
Race Day Eve:
The eve of the race brought the customary bike drop-off at the lake, allowing a preview of the stunning course 20 miles outside of Vitoria at Landra. A plain and simple pre-race meal at a nearby café, and early night, set the stage for the monumental day ahead.
Race day dawned with a 4:45 am wakeup call. We had to be on the buses to take us to the lake by 6.30 am. Trying to eat breakfast at 5 am wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but we managed. All other food to be consumed that day was already safely stored on the bikes and in our run T2 transition bag. Carefully calculated tried and tested nutrition to help fuel a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, followed by a 26.2 mile run!
The picturesque bus journey to the start of the race helped calm the nerves, I kept repeating to myself, it’s just a full day of activities of things I like to do. Suppressing thoughts of, I’ve been training for this for 7 months, don’t mess it up!!
The swim, a one-lap course in the calm waters, proved both scenic and never-ending. I have swum over the distance before, but this did seem to go on forever. The temperature was perfect, and the lake clear, so it was a lovely swim. I was extremely glad it was over and pleased with my 1 hour 16 time.
Transition to the bike leg was deliberate, taking time for necessary fueling and adjustments.
The undulating extremely windy bike course, despite breathtaking views, posed
unexpected challenges, as my stomach rebelled against the proven nutrition plan. I missed my goal to complete the bike in 6 hours 30, going just over 7 hours.
My strategy from the outset was to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, grind it out, and walk the aid stations. The crowd showed incredible support, my first lap they were vocal, encouraging and shouted from their positions at the many cafes around the town. The second lap a noticeable volume increase, slightly more rowdy. The third lap the crowd were extremely merry, with offers of large gin and tonics, and beer along the way!! I dragged myself around in 4 hours 14, with many walk breaks and a toilet stop, I wasn’t too disappointed with the time.
Crossing the Finish Line:
Hearing the race director scream Elizabeth Ferguson You Are An Ironman was amazing, and replicating the emotions I felt 20 years earlier when completing my first marathon.
Post-race, the anticipated fatigue wasn’t as draining as expected. With stomach issues aside, the pride of achieving a sub-13 hour finish without injury was overwhelming. As I reflected on the months of training, the phrase “one and done” crossed my mind, but the satisfaction of the accomplishment left room for contemplation of future endeavors.
The Ironman journey was more than a race; it was a testament to dedication, teamwork, and personal triumph. As I savor the achievement, the notion of exploring further challenges lingers, proving that the spirit of adventure knows no age.
If you’re looking for guidance on your fitness journey, whether it’s strength training, race planning, or personalized programming, I’m here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for advice or to discuss how we can work together to achieve your goals. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org —I look forward to being part of your adventure!