Competing in an Ironman distance events is expensive, time-consuming and I don’t even enjoy it all the time, especially when during the race, fatigued and broken, I painfully slow move towards the finish line.
So why do I even bother racing them? I know at least a dozen easier and more relaxing hobbies… What’s wrong with fishing?
It’s not the first time I’ve tackled this question. And I’m sure it is not the last one. I’m still are to find the answer.
Ironman triathlon is like a drug, it lures you in, promising a significant challenge and the bragging rights.
Once you are in, there is no way back. It goes like this, in a random order: what bike should I get, what wetsuit?, should I upgrade, now or later, am I ready, more training hours is apparently better, better quality efforts, who is the best coach and should I employ him, should I do a strength training as well, Fell running vs chi running, will I be ever ready, total immersion swimming, open water vs pool, sightseeing in open water, how he can go so fast? Pilates or yoga, which tri camp to do, I want a better bike, I want more expensive equipment, aero gains, marginal gains, nutrition, FTP, which power meter, do you even use hr? Take salts otherwise cramps, ironman brand or challenge, or something else, training plan or self-coached, Kona dreams, Kona qualifications attempt…
This never ends and there is so much to learn.
Training is hard; long hours and you feel tired, often.
However, racing is even harder: you push all day, first in cold water, dodging the other swimmers, their fists, the jellyfish and the other demons, for a long 3.8km.
Then you hop on the bike, stomach revolting after too many gulps of the salty water but you know you need to start eating, right now! Otherwise, you may bonk on the run.
You will bonk anyway.
It’s a long 180km in a cramped aero position. It’s hard to breathe and you can only see a tiny bit of the road in front of the front wheel. When after 5-8 hours of cycling, you eventually jump off the bike, you need to use it as a very expensive walking stick, otherwise, you would collapse.
How on earth do you want me to run a marathon now?
But you do, one feeding station at the time. You eat your gels, drink warm, flat cola and naively you tap all the signs promising you instant power, hold up by little kids who think that you are their dad. Everyone looks the same.
And then there is a red carpet, and a music, and the crowds. But you just want to finish, sit down and have a little cry, you feel sorry for yourself, a little bit or a lot.
And then, suddenly, at the finish line or 10 days later, the massive sense of achievement hits you, when you realise that you did it.
You are now officially hooked.
See you soon at the start line.