From Zero to Hero? Training for #IronMan 70.3

10 things I’m learning along the way.

Training diary - Week 20

“There’s not a single winner on Earth that took it easy” — Gary Vee

Stats:

Start Date, April 1: Run 10km, Swim 200m, Cycle 0km

Today, August 25: Run 15km, Swim 2200m, Cycle 60km

Major ‘Hooray’ moment: My own mini Triathlon (2000m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run)

I use the term ‘Hero’ in the title lightly… its more of a ‘Hero’ in my own head if I manage to pull this off.

Its been over 4 months now since I set my sights on IronMan 70.3 Bahrain in December 2016. When I began, I had no clue what I was getting myself into, let alone the fact that I didn’t know how to swim or cycle. I knew I had to train and I believed in my heart that I could do it. I was surrounded by an amazing family and incredible friends who encouraged, supported, helped and guided me and up until now, it wasn’t that crazy. I managed to learn how to swim and cycle. I got myself back into running and I took it easy. Now, however, I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I am running out of time and I have no idea how I’m going to do it.

I’ve woken up feeling exhausted and unable to get the energy to train and I’ve travelled and been outside of my routine and comfort zone and done my best to get by.

September is around the corner and that leaves me with 2 months left to go. Add onto that, I’m climbing Mera Peak in the Himalaya’s in October and will be out of training for a few weeks and you can understand why I’m getting nervous. But, I’ve got myself a training plan and it looks like it’ll get the job done. Here’s a look at some of the things I have learned over the last month.

September training plan.

1.Traveling takes its toll on training: Summer vacation is a fantastic time of year. You get to take some time off, relax, even if you’re working full time (like I am), the pace slows down a little and the overall vibe is relaxed. Except if you’re training for IronMan70.3 and you don’t have any triathlon experience and you need to get into shape etc. So, I was in Jordan over the summer and travelled while there and it took so much effort to make sure I still trained and found a place to go cycling and running no matter where I was. It worked (barely), but it definitely didn’t help my overall training. Next time around, I would reconsider travel plans so close to the race.

Back home with my baby, Chuck the bike.

2.Music can make a huge difference: When I am tired and not feeling super motivated, somehow I manage to get the workout done by playing a few songs on repeat. Literally. This month my two songs were Hall of Fame https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk48xRzuNvA and Lose Yourself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Yhyp-_hX2s. I would listen to both songs interchangeably for 3 hours at a time. I think I need an awesome playlist and any motivating songs with fun beats… all recommendations welcome :)

3.There’s a real sense of accomplishment: Every day its like winning a small battle with yourself. Whether its reaching that 2000m swim, losing 2kgs, cycling in Jordan’s hilly terrain, running 15km. Each milestone, each day, each check mark as ‘done’ on my schedule makes me feel like a winner. When I get to the last km on my run, I am tired and keep giving myself pep talks in my head about how awesome it will feel when I say I’ve done 15km (rather than the 13km I wanted to stop at).

The first time I hit the 2000m mark in the pool. Happy days.
My first ‘attempt’ at my own personal triathlon.

4. Don’t get too confident (aka arrogant): One of my mentors on this journey and a good friend/ coach/ guide for my training has done 7 (!!) IronMan races. He was doing one a few weeks ago and I decided to track the race and watch the finish line. He is an incredible athlete. He’s one of those sub-12 hours IronMan finish time kinda guys. He swims 4km’s in no time. His race? He had challenges. From people kicking and punching in the water, water being extremely cold, he had issues with the bike because of the weather, the terrain, the storm that hit, loose wheel… He did it with a smile, enjoyed the journey, considered just letting go of the race… in the end he did it and he walked the finish line with a smile. I watched as they said at the finish line ‘You are an IronMan’ and in my mind he was more of an IronMan because of all that he endured and his attitude towards it. It made me realize that I need to stay grounded and although I need to be confident (and happy) when I get certain milestones done, I need the resilience and strength to overcome any challenge I face if I’m going to go to the next level and do the full IronMan in 2017.

5. For the girls… your hair will always be in a bun: Always. So, first of all, I’ve lost the majority of my hair, my curls are kinda deformed and my hair is brittle and weak. Maybe its because I have to wash it too often because of the training, maybe its the chlorine from the pool, not entirely sure. All my blood tests say that my vitamins and minerals are in order. So, the only thing I can do these days is have my hair up in a bun. On the rare occasion when I get it done at the hair salon, I feel like a fashion model walking down the catwalk, wind blowing through my hair and all that fun stuff. It feels special. I’m now a collector of hair ties, I wear them as bracelets, have 6+ in my handbag at any given time and my hair is always in a bun.

6. Its OK to be scared: I’ve had nightmares of swimming in the open water (people kicking, someone pulling me down and having a panic attack!). A friend of mine fell off his bike a few weeks ago and had to have major surgery and and that scares me too. I’m too scared to use cycling shoes (clip ons) because I feel like I might not have control when/ if I fall. Plus, I’m scared of jelly fish and the open water in general. I went Scuba diving to work with that fear and I’m a lot better, but still not entirely comfortable with the idea of open water swimming. But its ok. I’ll get over it and it’ll be fine.

7. Nutrition is key: I’ve always had an issue with my weight, even when I was very slim with lines on my stomach and well toned arms and legs. So, when I decided to do this, one of the underlying and unspoken ‘wishes’ was to become super skinny and fit. What that meant was that I was counting calories, getting excited when my Garmin said I had ‘burned 500Kcal’ etc. So, I didn’t eat as much as I should. I didn’t lose any weight either. It hit me over the summer that I was doing more damage than good and that I really need to get my protein in and eat a more balanced, nutritious diet. That I needed to fuel my body if I wanted to perform. Since I actually started eating properly, I have lost 2kgs and been able to train harder, better, recover faster and I’m going to go ahead and admit that I was wrong when I started and I need to make sure I keep myself well nourished.

8. All your pictures will be in gym clothes! Once upon a time, I used to want to wear trendy outfits, or cool jeans or a funky dress. Now, I’m always in gym clothes. I’ve either just finished with my training and running a quick errand, or running to an appointment right before I have to go for a session at the gym. Now, if only they’d make gym dresses and cute shoes, it’d be great.

Please note that everyone is dressed in normal clothes. All my summer pictures look like this.

9. So many tips and tricks the books don’t teach you: I keep raving about the support of friends and it becomes even more important when they teach you small tips and tricks that make everything easier. One such awesome trick is the freezing of water bottles when going out for long rides. Riding in the heat of Dubai and for a few hours, no matter how insulated the bottles are, they get hot and yucky. One day, a friend at the end of a ride handed me a bottle of water as I had finished mine. It was the most beautiful water I have ever tasted. It was cold, refreshing… sigh. He then told me, just freeze one of your bottles overnight and you’re good to go. I never leave home without my frozen bottle now.

10. You become a role-model to your family and friends without even realizing it, and with that comes a lot of responsibility: Both my husband and I work out, he takes the girls to CrossFit with him and to CrossFit Kids, we have a relatively fit/ healthy home, so they are exposed to this life style and I can see how they look at both of us when we come back from the gym, I go out for a run, they see my bike and know I am planning to do IronMan. They’ve asked me to explain what it is and I’ve shown them videos. I have had two things that happened that made me realize the impact of what I am doing has on my girls:

One morning, as I was dropping my daughters off to summer camp, I was feeling a little down/ tired. They asked me what was wrong and I said that ‘sometimes, mama gets tired and today is one of those days’. They asked if they could sing a song, of course I said yes. It was ‘Hall of Fame’ because they always hear me play it. They’ve watched the IronMan ‘Anything is Possible’ video and they know that it makes me feel better.

Here’s the other… A ‘work out’ plan that my 8 1/2 year old did, that her and her 5 year old sister later completed for entertainment.

Gianna (8 1/2 yrs) and Jasmine (5 yrs) workout plan.

When I see friends, many tell me they’re following my journey and I have had 4 people say they want to either attempt a triathlon, swim the Bosphorus, do IronMan70.3 next year… just in general accomplish things they have always thought impossible. It gives me that extra drive and motivation to accomplish this goal when I see that its making others want to achieve theirs.

Overall, I’m enjoying the challenge, the journey, its getting closer and more real. It freaks me out some times but also gives me the desire to commit more, work harder, focus more and achieve something I’ve been dreaming of.

Like what you read? Give Helen Al Uzaizi a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.