When most people say they’re going to do a triathlon, you think they’re pretty awesome. As if one sport isn’t enough us triathletes have to factor in swimming, biking and running and just being generally awesome. But when we heard Bambi had not only signed up for her first triathlon….but that it was an Ironman Event we thought she was a bit (a lot!) mad! This month all of her hard work, dedication and commitment paid off as she did indeed become an Iron-Woman! Read about her journey here:
1) What made you decide to do a triathlon?
After completing a couple of ultra marathons, I’d always had the thought in the back of my head that an ironman was the next thing I wanted to achieve. However, I’d always made excuses about it like “I can’t really swim, I can’t afford a bike and I haven’t got time to train for it”. But last year I really struggled to motivate myself to do any running training and had some poor marathon times, so I saved a bit of money and bought a bike in November and decided to just go for it!!
2) You jumped straight in at the deep end entering an ironman! Did people tell you that you were mad?
Most people already knew I was mad so it didn’t really surprise anyone! The original plan had been to do a 70.3 this year then the full next year, but once I started the training I did’t want to do the 70.3 then lose the training momentum and risk never actually bothering to do the full distance.
3) How did you set about your training?
I bought the bike and a turbo in November, then realised I had no idea what to do with it! So after staring at it for about 3 weeks a friend recommended going to see Jamie Jenkins at Success Cycling. He set me up on the bike and put me through a FTP test (potentially the most horrendous experience in my training life) and from then on I’ve trained with him every week and he’s structured all of my cycle training (and answered all my novice questions and fixed the bike when I’ve managed to break it). Not long after I tried to start the swimming training… and realised I couldn’t really swim either! So I booked in for some amazing sessions with Tri Energy which really helped. With the amazing coaching from Tri Energy and Success Cycling I was able to set out a training plan for myself and crack on with it.
4) What warm-up events did you do along the way to help you?
I did a couple of sportives and Ludlow Aquathlon this year, but the main warm up event I did was Deva middle distance. It was my first triathlon and I LOVED it! Even though the thought of swimming in the river scared me. I made plenty of little mistakes but it taught me how to pace and fuel better than I had been and finishing it was the first time I really felt like the ironman was going to be possible.
5) The day itself…..how did it go?
The day itself went ok! The only place I had any real problem was the bike leg. I had a bit of a problem with my brakes straight out of transition 1 and then the fuel bag attached to my bike fell off so there was a massive amount of faffing to sort that. Then at about 50 miles I started to struggle with my stomach (I swallowed quite a bit of water in the swim) and had to do an unplanned toilet stop where I had to queue for quite a while. After this I lost my head a bit, around 70 miles I started to think it wasn’t going to happen, I had about an hour where my legs felt horrendous and I just couldn’t see any way that even if I got to T2 that I’d ever be able to run a marathon. But after chatting to a poor man who’d had 5 punctures and taking on some gel I pulled myself together and once I was up Hunter’s Hill I knew it was still possible.
My plan for the run had always been to run everything except when I was fuelling but keep my heart rate in zone 2 all the way round until the last 5km. It was a tough run course but sticking to the plan kept me fresh all the way round and my fastest 5km was actually my last! I was bit disappointed with the time at first, but the major thing for me had been to not give up when things went wrong and I started to feel a bit rough. With running I’ve always been quite mentally weak, I’ve got a habit of having infamous ‘deva strops’ and giving up if everything didn’t go according to plan, so just making it over the line was a huge thing for me.
6) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to take up Tri?
Do it, it’s awesome! Definitely get involved with some of the Go Tri stuff and beginners sessions that Tri Energy put on. It makes you realise that it’s a really social sport and that it’s definitely not the case that everyone else is a pro. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you want to go, there’s something for everyone and I love that everyone’s achievements are celebrated.
The other thing that definitely helped me was having a training partner (Bod!). Even though Bod and I were training for different distances, having him with me made the training so much more enjoyable and definitely made me stick to it more. We weren’t even always the same speed on the bike or with the swimming but it was so much more motivating to have someone else out there with me and someone to enjoy coffee and cake with!
7) What have you loved and hated most about your journey so far?
I don’t think I’ve hated any of it! There were tough times with it, starting the open water was really scary for me and I spent a lot of time being absolutely shattered or feeling a bit down after the occasional bad session but I never thought “I hate this”.
There’s been so much I’ve loved about it. I’ve loved actually not being good at it. I’ve really enjoyed having to train really hard, because every time I train I see little improvements and that’s really motivating. I’ve definitely loved how much of a community it is, it’s so amazing to have met so many incredible people and it’s really inspiring to talk and train with everyone and see what challenges they’re taking on.
8) Whats next? Retirement? or another ironman?
Definitely not retirement!! I’ve signed up for a 70.3 in September so I’m excited to be back training and hoping to beat my time from Deva. I want to do something bigger in the next couple of years, I’ve got my eye on an event called ‘Monster Triathlon’, a 7 day event which involves swimming across Loch Ness, cycling from there to London then doing an ultra (I’ve just got to convince Bod to do it with me 😉 ). I’d like to do the ironman distance again next year to better my time, but I’d like to do a different brand maybe Lakesman or Outlaw. Ironman was amazing and definitely a must for the first time just for the atmosphere, but next time I want something a bit less stressful!