“Pain was inevitable, suffering was optional.”
So, let’s rewind 2 years. I made a huge personal decision to walk away from a part of my life that I had been struggling with for a long time, a relationship that I never thought I could leave behind.
I was utterly miserable, no self confidence or self esteem but fuelled to keep going by a love of fitness and a hope that there was something bigger and better just waiting. That hope came in the form of an Ironman 70.3.
Maybe I was having a quarter-life crisis. Maybe I was on a sugar high from the endless Ben and Jerrys I had been soothing myself with for the past fortnight. Maybe I just need a good distraction but maybe, just maybe, I had found the perfect challenge to test myself physically and mentally and had an opportunity to feel incredibly proud of everything I had accomplished. All I knew was that I was as petrified as I was excited. It was the beginning of a crazy adventure that proved I could achieve absolutely anything I wanted to with some self-belief and letting go of the things that held me back!
Now the journey wasn’t that easy!
A month later, my bike arrived all shiny and new and I soon came to realise I wasn’t very good at riding it! My first bike ride in London is far from entering my top ten life experiences! In fact, I would put the time I had to wear a panda costume and do Tai Chi in Leicester Square as part of a terribly paid dance job above this! (True story!).
Over the next few months, life became about change, focus, progress and moving forward.
I finally moved house and for me this symbolised letting the past go and starting a new and exciting chapter in my life. It was been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, sitting with the person I once thought would be a part of my life forever and separating everything that was once ‘ours’ into two separate piles. But this process really made me consider what was important. What do I really need and what is just ‘stuff’ that I will throw away to make room for the future?!
It gave me closure, clarity, an appreciation of my own strength and an appreciation of those around me who offered nothing but love and support.
That first ride home on my bike had massively knocked my confidence and rather than persevering, I let fear and self-doubt get in the way of doing what I wanted and, to put it quite simply, that was not ok. I could either give up, give in or give it all I had. I chose the latter and started training as hard as I could.
Pain was inevitable, suffering was optional.
I eventually made it my half ironman. I turned up to the athletes briefing in my Zara playsuit and Topshop sunglasses to meet an army of people head to toe in Rapha kit as I tried to suppress the anxious thoughts of ‘What Have I Done!!’
And then I was at the start line, all I could do was think where I wanted to get to and, no matter what, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
4 months later I entered my second Ironman 70.3 with more confidence this time. I took nearly an hour off my time which I found out a few months later had gained me a place in the Great Britain Age Group Team for the European Championships.
Obviously I was crazily happy about this but there was another part of me which questioned HOW?? How had I, the girl still a little wobbly on her bike who thought a cassette was an tape with music on it make it to Team GB! I’ll take some credit and say that I pushed hard for those 70.3 miles but I think another factor was that there are so few women my age competing in these events in comparison to men. I started to consider why this was and what I could do to change it.
My aim is to show you that there is more outside those gym walls! There’s an adventure playground of mountains, lakes, cities and wilderness waiting to be explored. More often than not I end up as a mixture of bike grease, sweat and mud with my hair looking like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards but it’s all part of the fun! The more I immerse myself in this world, i’m less concerned with what I look like and more interested in how I feel which is stronger, truly inspired and excited to run, cycle, swim and generally explore the world around me.
Let the adventure begin……