ANOTHER MILESTONE REACHED. . . .
Last year I was determined to compete and complete in my first ever Triathlon event. After a few years of running marathons and other adventure races I wanted a bigger test. Triathlon combines 3 sports namely swimming, bike and running. For me and for many like me, one of the major challenges within this event is the swim. Last year I could swim a maximum of up to 50 metres, so if I wanted to achieve my goal I certainly needed to overcome this challenge.
Fast forward 15 months and I have now taken part in 5 different triathlons in the Sprint distance category. This is a 750metre swim, 20km bike and 5 km run - a great event. On Sunday past however I was attempting my first Olympic distance Triathlon in my home City of Belfast. This comprised a 1500metre swim, 37km bike and a 10km run. The challenge of swimming over a mile was pretty daunting for me, however what I have come to accept and understand is that with the right approach and work ethic, you can achieve any goal you put your mind to. In the last 6 weeks I have trained as much as I could to make sure I got through Sunday and achieve my goal.
I arrived down on Sunday morning running behind on time, which is not a great start, and before I knew it I was swimming up Belfast lough alongside the Odyssey complex with hundreds of other competitors. 35 minutes later I left the cold water and headed for transition. A quick banana and out of my wetsuit, on to the bike and away I went fro the 37km challenge. The bike for me is now the most challenging aspect of triathlon as quite simply I don't get out training on it enough.
I found the bike tough but did make it back to transition some 70 odd minutes later. I got my Nikes on and knocked back a quick gel and away I went again on my 10km run. The weather and the crowds were great and encouraging all of us on which is another unique part of the triathlon culture. The run was quite good and the longer I went the stronger I got. After 2 hrs and 45mins I crossed the finish line, and got my medal. A tremendous feeling of achievement overcame my body.
Looking back over the last 15 months I am very satisfied with my achievements in terms of my fitness goals. I am even more satisfied with the fact that it looks like my body is continuing to repair and heal itself. My Multiple Sclerosis has been stopped in its tracks and its a great feeling. I remember saying solidly for 3 years form 2007-2010, that I just wanted to feel normal again - even for a day. In the last 6 months with my diet adjustments and exercise regime, I have noticed that my symptoms continue to settle and my energy levels have grown. It really is an incredible feeling, which I never thought was possible.
So taking all this into consideration, I think that with 15 odd weeks left of 2014, I am now looking at my fitness goals for next year. Ironman France is the ultimate and if I can complete that course in June 2015, I will be extremely proud and hopefully my story of recovery, healing and perseverance will continue to help others believe that everything is possible.