Sunday, 15 July 2007

Tom's first post...

Welcome to my first ever post on our new blog. This photo was taken at the finish line of the Lanzarote Ironman 2005 and little did we know that in just over two years Sam (one from left), H and I (far right) would all have earned our very own mdot medals! The four of us (including our mate John - far left) had been in the middle of a surf trip to Famara when we noticed that there was an Ironman race on the other side of the island. Seeing as the swell had disappeared we had nothing better to do than check out all these crazy fools who were attempting to cover 140.6 hot and windy miles by swimming (2.4 miles), biking (112 miles) and running (26.2 miles).

If you've ever watched an Ironman live you'll know all too well what an inspirational experience it can be and seeing nearly a thousand athletes cross one of the most exclusive finish lines in the world was just the lightbulb moment I was looking for... flying home from that holiday I knew it wouldn't be long before I was on the start line.

Later that year we watched our good friend Ian at Ironman UK (his first) and with a week I'd signed up for Ironman Austria on July the 16th 2006. Having never owned a road bike or been taught how to swim (properly) it was time to enlist some help. I'm not sure what Jack (my coach Jack Maitland - thought of our first ever meeting in September 2005 but it was certainly an eye opener for me... apparently I needed to be swimming 160 lengths of the pool in single training sessions, not to mention riding for 5-6 hours in a Yorkshire Dales winter! A long hard winter of training followed but thanks to fantastic support from H, my friends and family and a bit of financial help from the best office interior company in England ( I came out the other side and in to the summer feeling great. Another trip to Lanzarote to watch Ian do his (second) Ironman topped up the motivation a little and I was good to go and two months later crossed the finish line of Ironman Austria in 10 hours and 34 minutes.

At the time crossing that finish line was probably the greatest moment of my life and I had finally achieved something that for a very long time I thought was reserved for super-human elite athletes. The more time I spend around Ironman however, the more I realise that with enough determination and drive anyone can do it. That isn't meant to devalue the achievement but just my way of explaining how once you free your mind anything is possible.

Anyway, here I am another year and another Ironman later. Crossing the finish line in Austria was something that for a long time I though impossible but as soon as I did I wondered what other 'impossible' things were actually within my potential?? Ironman is probably the ultimate single-day test of human endurance and the Hawaii Ironman as the world championship is the pinnacle... but you have to qualify and that is a big challenge... but impossible??? Every Ironman race has a small number of 'slots' for the world championship which are allocated to each age group, my age group 30-34 men is probably the most competitive and will normall require a time under 9 hours and 30 mins. In Switzerland three weeks ago I managed to dip under ten hours (9:56) which has given me the belief that just maybe, with a bit of luck and a good tail wind, I could secure myself a coveted world championship slot at Ironman Germany on July the 6th 2008.

The next 50 weeks will need to be the most focused, motivated and driven of my life. Once I've sat down with Jack I'll let you know a little more about the kind of training volume I'll be targeting but 5am starts and cold winter bike rides will no doubt once again become the norm. Since Switzerland I've had three weeks of laziness and junk food, tonight H and I had our 'final' chip butties and tomorrow it's hammer time. The alarm is set and 100 lengths of the pool followed by a weights session with AKJ await. The goal is to be sat in the awards ceremony in Frankfurt on July the 7th 2008 with a chance of hearing my name but as long as I give it my absolute best I can only win.

As the great Mark Allen said - "when you go for it 100% without the fear of 'what if I fail' that's when you learn. That's when you're really living".


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