You’ve gotta have faith

Faith is an interesting thing.  Some people have an abundance of faith, be that religious faith, faith in humanity or simply faith in themselves.  Others have relatively little faith.  I definitely belong in the latter group.  I do not prescribe to any religion, tend to have a fairly negative outlook on humanity as a whole and can be very hard on myself and my own abilities.  “A man of faith” is not how I would be described.

L-R Bushy, Me, Mike and Bruce

Despite outward appearances, I have never really “believed” that the Ironman was possible for me.  It was a thing.  A thing that was a long way off.  A thing that I had signed up to do when I was blissfully naive of quite how hard it was going to be.  

After starting my training I very quickly realised just how hard any triathlon is, let alone an Ironman.  The realisation of what I had signed up for hit me like a tonne of bricks and I immediately doubted that I would ever get it completed.  I was convinced my body would break down, that I would be incapable of continuing, that I would have to give up at some point during the race.  This belief, or lack of belief if you prefer, has stayed with me for almost 18 months now.  I have tried to maintain a brave face and tried to stay confident in front of others, especially my wife who is naturally worried about what might happen to me during the Ironman.  Deep inside I just couldn’t shake it off.  I didn’t believe that I could actually make it round the course.

After all, an Ironman is a very long way.  2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and then a marathon (26.2 miles).  Legend has it that the first ever person to complete a marathon was a Greek soldier called Pheidippides.  He ran from Marathon to Athens to pass on word of the Greek victory over the Persians, then proceeded to drop down dead.  He hadn’t even ridden 112 miles and swum 2.4 miles beforehand!  What a wimp!

For me, people who complete Ironman triathlons are some sort of super humans.  They have no body fat.  They train for 5 hours a day and never get tired.  They are as far away from me as a person can get……………..or are they?

Finally I have started to believe.  Finally I have faith.  Finally I actually think that the Ironman might be within my grasp.

There is no single reason for this.  Like most things in life a combination of factors have come together to start a spring of faith bubbling up inside me.

This is most likely a culmination of increased training, better knowledge of how training affects my body, better knowledge about nutrition and that I just “feel” fitter.  This feeling is not quantifiable; however I just feel more fit than I ever have before.  I must admit it is a great feeling.

On Sunday I took part in a Sportive cycling event.  These Sportives are organised cycling events of set lengths.  Bushy, Bruce, Mike and I had a choice of either 44 or 100 miles.  Naturally we did the 100.  A year ago we cycled 100 miles on the Isle of Wight and it almost killed me.  I felt terrible afterwards and took days to recover.  It was awful.

Top of a huge Cat 3 climb

On Sunday we cycled 100 miles in just over 6.5 hours.  I made myself some rice cakes to eat on the way round, got my nutrition and my water intake almost spot on and other than constant hayfever and a bout of serious lower back cramp at about 75 miles I felt good throughout.  I had awarded myself a day off of training on Monday for my Sunday efforts, but I didn’t need it.  I felt great.

This is why I have started to believe.  This is where my faith is coming from.  There is no doubt I am creeping towards Ironman competence.  Can I swim 2.4 miles?  Yes I can.  Can I cycle 112?  Absolutely.  Can I run a marathon?  Yep.  Can I put all three of these things together, getting my nutrition and water consumption spot on, pacing out my effort and making it round in less than 16.5 hours?  You know what, for the first time ever I am going to say………………


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