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Monday Morning Motivation: Ironman 2017

4 Dec Kona podium 2017

Watching the coverage of the Ironman World Championships is inspirational… but most people don’t have 17 hours to spare, so this highlights video that focuses on ‘ordinary people’ may provide motivation for you within 10 minutes.

The island may not care who they are or why they came. Its currents can wash away resolve. Its winds are known to blow away hope. Heat and humidity – they can be a cruel and unforgiving combination. Yet the island provides strength. It is a mystical place where incredible things happen. Where a movement began and the spirit of Ironman was born. It is in this ocean, among these lava fields and along Ali’i Drive that what began as unimaginable has become so much more.

Swim 2.4 miles; bike 112 miles; run 26.2 miles; brag for the rest of your life.

It began with some words. An idea on the back of a napkin. For thousands, it is now a calling.

“The waves may crash upon us, but we will push through.”

“The winds may howl on race day, but so too will we.”

“The sun will beat down upon us, but we will rise up.”

With the spirit of Aloha, they are unified in their belief that anything is possible.

Music: “Be brave. Go face-to-face. What will become of you? Is everything you need beneath the armour and the rivalry inside, I’ll stare it straight in the eye. I’ll rise up above the fight; up above the fight, cause I believe in making dreams come alive. I’ll put up a fight.”

“Go Ironman! Wooo!”

“Awesome! Fantastic swim!”

“Just a little bit left to go!”

180 km/112 miles: this World Championship bike course can be cruel, especially on the long climb to Hawi, where the heat and potent combination of unforgiving winds test your commitment.

“I’m on my honeymoon, so it’s a great place to be!”

“I ride for a charity called Imerman Angels – we match cancer survivors with somebody who was just diagnosed with cancer.”

“I’m riding to find the limits – I think I’m gonna find them!”

“We’re so fortunate and lucky to be here. You just have to be into it and smile the whole day.”

Music by Pinkzebra: “See the light of a new day dawning. Feel the love from a beating heart. You catch a ride to the top of the world. This is where we start. No, we can’t make it last forever. We got to use all the time we have. And you know that we’ll never say never, if we ever get the chance and it’s good to be alive. It’s good to be alive. This feeling’s running high. Life is calling and the world is beautiful. There’s a winding road we’re choosing. Looking for a brand new day. And up ahead there’s an open door. Now we’ll find our way… and it’s good to be alive. It’s good to be alive. This feeling’s running high, life is calling and the world is beautiful.”

Music: “City of Heroes”

There is just one discipline standing in the way: 26.2 miles/42.2 km. Not all will make it, but all will give it everything they have and that is a victory in itself. As always, this is when it becomes mind over matter.

For those who care to dream, anything is possible. For those still on the course, their finishing time is secondary. It is midnight, 17 hours after their race began, that is now their focus.

“You are an Ironman!”

What sporting event inspires you?

Monday Morning Motication – Rick and Dick Hoyt

27 Nov

In 1962, Judy Hoyt gave birth to a son with spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy. Judy and her husband Dick were advised to put Rick in an institution, but they decided to fight for his inclusion into a normal life. At 10 years old, they managed to get Rick his first interactive computer, which allowed him to communicate with others.

In 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralysed in an accident. Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

Since then “Team Hoyt” have competed in over 1000 races, including 6 Ironman triathlons as well as marathons, duathlons and other triathlons. They also completed a 3735 mile/45 day cycle/run trip across America in 1992.

You can read more about Team Hoyt on their website: http://www.teamhoyt.com/

Monday Morning Motivation: Iron to the Core

20 Nov Sebastian Kienle

Decorated long-distance triathlete Sebastian Kienle gives an inside look at what it takes to be an Ironman. From preparation to race day, it’s a life spent enduring gruelling trials, but every small success makes the arduous journey worth it.

Iron to the Core video

IRONMAN World Champion! The man in the focus right now!

SEBASTIAN: My name is Sebastian Kienle. I am the IRONMAN World Champion 2014. I want to have this title back!

NARRATOR: The Ironman World Championship Hawaii. It is the greatest endurance race on planet earth! A 2.4 mile swim in Kona harbor. The bike track, crossing the lava fields. It’s a 26 mile run. No man ever did it in less than eight hours.

SEBASTIAN: You seem to run against this wall of humidity and heat. It’s raining pretty much every day in Kona. Sometimes I guess the drops don’t even reach the ground. They just turn to steam before that. You have this idea of yourself running and kind of flying, you know, and there you are not flying. You’re not flying. In the race you are sometimes crawling. You think you are super fit. You did all those crazy sessions before you go there and then you arrive there and your heart rate is, like, ten beats up at the same pace. Ten, 15 seconds slower per K.

The bike is definitely my strongest discipline and I just love the speed on the bike. It’s amazing how fast humans can go just by their own power. It just seems like the right amount of speed you need to cover a big distance, a big area, but it’s still slow enough to be able to look around and inhale the atmosphere of the place. I guess that’s why a lot of people ride their bikes, right? Even if they are not able to win IRONMAN Hawaii.

I’m a strong biker, I have definitely some talent with biking, but I take progress in biking for a given, you know. It gives you so much when you make this little progress. It’s just very rewarding when you have to work very hard for a very small progress and you finally make this progress.

Swimming is definitely not my strongest discipline and I have to invest a lot of time. Lubos is always with me the whole time. We spend pretty much six weeks there, prior to the race. It definitely takes a lot of trust in each other. Lubos is not only my coach, but he has to be the psychologist and friend and everything in one person.

SEBASTIAN: It’s a pretty intense time there. It has some really, really tough days where you doubt everything. Lubos is pretty good in shifting these roles as a friend and as a coach. He has no mercy when it comes to hard training sessions.

SEBASTIAN: He also knows me well enough to see when it’s too much and that’s very important because at a certain point you lose the feeling of how hard you have to go and how hard is too hard. So, you need somebody that is able to realize what the limit is and we are working at the limit there. I have 100% trust in him and that’s very important. In the early morning, before the race, we have our routines. My coach Lubos, Christine and me, we are a great small team. Of course a lot of focus is always on the guy that wears the number one.

ANNOUNCER: Race day at the 2015 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii! This is the dawn we’ve been waiting for.

SEBASTIAN: You work so long and so hard and now you have to show the world what you have got.
(EXCITED CHATTERING)

ANNOUNCER: The battle between reigning champ, Sebastian Kienle, and fellow countryman, Jan Frodeno!

SEBASTIAN: The iron war, that was what everybody was hoping for.

ANNOUNCER: And off they go!

SEBASTIAN: My swim was absolutely great, coming out just a little bit under two minutes behind the leaders. That was what we were dreaming of.

ANNOUNCER: Sebastian Kienle, on his bike now!

SEBASTIAN: I was so excited after this great swim. It just set this positive mindset at the beginning of the race, which is absolutely important. That could make or break your race! I was really aggressive at the start of the bike. I wanted to close the gap as fast as possible!

ANNOUNCER: Kienle is flying through the field!
SEBASTIAN: You could definitely break the other guys on the bike, dominate the race, dictate the others your race.

ANNOUNCER: Kienle passes Frodeno, he leads the field!

SEBASTIAN: If it’s hurting me, it’s killing them.

ANNOUNCER: Such an intense race!

SEBASTIAN: Usually that’s the way it is on the bike! Not this time. I probably killed myself this time.

Sebastian Kienle

Yeah. And I was trying and I was attacking and I was prepared for the fight against him. The iron war. That’s what I was trying. It was this small doubt at the end… especially at the end of the bike. It started to get bigger and bigger. There already I realized that I probably don’t have the day I need to beat a guy like Jan. When your body is weak, you can’t fight against these negative thoughts any more and then it’s game over. Every step is just pure pain and it’s so difficult not to quit. When you have the goal of winning the race and you start to realize that this is probably not going to happen, then it’s very difficult to find reasons why you should keep going. But yeah, I am absolutely happy that I finished the race, because I know the relief only stays there for a couple of minutes and then it’s the worst thing in life for the next month.

ANNOUNCER: Kienle crosses the finish line, 8th place for the German. One hell of a day for last year’s champion!

SEBASTIAN: For me often it’s better to have this sensation of losing. It motivates me way more than the sensation of winning.
(SOUNDTRACK DROWNS THEM OUT)

So, I try to keep that as a positive thing from the race and that I was still able to finish the race. Even when I didn’t win a race, and I’m a professional, so I have to win races, I have the feeling of… I’ve done it, you know? I succeeded, I crossed the line, I finished the race. And that already gives you the sensation of a great achievement and that’s what separates this sport from a lot of other sports.

Sebastian Kienle

Fuerteventura, Las Playitas. This is probably my third home. I guess it’s definitely one of the best places for me for training. Where I put in all the base miles you need to get into race shape later in the year.

Even if triathlon might be a very self-centered sport and you have to race for yourself, training in a group is always way better. You have to use the sort of competition you have in a race, also push yourself in hard training sessions. I like to surround myself not only with good athletes, but also good people, of course. It’s great to call most of them friends. Those are the guys that push me to the limit.
(DISTANT ROAR OF CROWD)

ANNOUNCER: The IRONMAN European Championships! The biggest race in Europe.

SEBASTIAN: The whole race was just a rush. Messed up the swim and came back on the bike. I wanted the victory so badly.

ANNOUNCER: Sebastian Kienle makes it! He wins the race! A true IRONMAN!

SEBASTIAN: The pain is over, there’s like an explosion in your head. It’s pretty emotional. (CHUCKLES) Yeah.
(CHEERING)
Lubos and I, we are on track. The goal is Ironman Hawaii. It’s this spark that starts the fire, you know, this positive thought that gets bigger and bigger and it’s getting better and better. You start to do things you are… you don’t think you are capable of. That’s where the greatness happens. I hope for greatness this year.


In 2016, Kienle came 2nd behind Jan Frodeno and in 2017, Kienle came 4th. Maybe 2018 will be his year again.


Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

Monday Morning Motivation: Island House Triathlon

13 Nov Island House Triathlon

The 2017 Island House Invitational Triathlon will take place at Highbourne Cay in the Bahamas on 17th – 18th November. It will be staged as three events over the course of two days, awarding $500,000 in prize money.

There are four British women taking part: Leanda Cave, Rachel Joyce, Holly Lawrence and Emma Pallant. Sadly, the only British male entrant, Tim Don, has had to withdraw following an accident a short while ago.

The format of this event is really interesting with a super sprint time trial and an enduro race (run, swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run) on the first day and a sprint pursuit on the second day.

I think it’ll be really inspiring to watch… does anyone know if it will be possible to see it live in the UK?


Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

From Blind Man to Ironman – review and giveaway

22 Oct Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

It’s been months since I’ve been able to read a real book, but Baby M is finally sleeping spending night time in her own room, which means that when I get into bed, I can have a light on and can read. There are lots of things from the last year that I want to catch up with, but I thought I’d start with a book that appeals to me on several levels. From Blind Man to Ironman is a book that fits my aim as it’s an autobiographical account of how a visually impaired man became a record-breaking triathlete.

“My story is about triumph over adversity,” explains Haseeb Ahmad. “From becoming blind in my teens I would never have dreamt that almost 35 years later I would break the World Blind Ironman Record.”

From the start, you know that Haseeb has broken a world record, so the drive of the narrative is about how he got there. I really enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies as you get to know about people whose lives are different from your own… and Haseeb’s life couldn’t be more different than mine. Initially, he discusses his life as a young Pakistani Muslim living life in London, the Midlands and Pakistan. I expected to hear about his talent for sports as a youth, so it was interesting that there was little mention of it, which gives hope to anyone else who hasn’t been a gifted athlete in their youth (or at least has not discovered their talent at a young age).

Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

Ahmad’s style of writing is fluid, which gripped me and made me read far later into the night than I should have on several occasions. Not only is the book well-written and beautiful printed, but I’ve not found any errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar, which is the kind of thing that keeps the former English teacher in me happy!

Obviously, I have an interest in triathlon, but I am also an advocate for inclusivity in sport. I was interested in the details of how Haseeb worked with his guides. I have been a guide runner with a great chap, Khalid, and have great admiration for anyone who manages to guide successfully – I blogged about my experience and still feel bad that I caused Khalid to stumble into a ditch. I had offered to ride a tandem with him, but he survived that as I found out I was pregnant and thought I’d better not!

Another element of interest for me were references to Chris Goodwin, a Southampton-based paratriathlete who trained with Southampton Tri Club for a number of years. It was interesting to hear about the (friendly) rivalry between him and Haseeb.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was inspirational.

“I want to give hope and inspire anyone who may be struggling with life’s challenges to never give up. Every time I have fallen in life, sometimes literally, I have got back up and kept running – and that is my message to everyone out there… keep on running!”

If you want to learn more, please check out Haseeb’s blog.

I’m offering two lucky readers the chance to win a copy of From Blind Man to Ironman. If you want to be in with a chance of winning, just click on the link below:

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

The giveaway runs from 12:00am on Monday 23rd October 2017 to 12:00am on Monday 6th November. Full terms and conditions are available at the link below:

Fat Girl to Ironman ‘From Blind Man to Ironman’ Competition’ TERMS and CONDITIONS

No purchase necessary. The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter and announced on this blog by Friday 10th November.


Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

Monday Morning Motivation – Crying in the Rain

4 Sep Norseman triathlon
Norseman triathlon

© Agurtxane-Concellon

I liked last week’s motivational video about Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon so much that I went hunting for another one and found this one from 2014 – enjoy!

“The tears stream down my cheeks from my unblinking eyes. What makes me weep so? There is nothing saddening here. Perhaps it is liquefied brain.”
― Samuel Beckett

Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is considered the ultimate triathlon on the planet, and the race that any hard core triathlete should do at least once. http://www.nxtri.com

Everybody who has done Ironman, I think it’s on the bucket-list to do.
It’s probably the most iconic, tough, ironman-distance race and there is such a mystique about it and a beauty about it.
You don’t know if you’re going to finish. You don’t know if you’re going to be able to do anything at all.
It is a true challenge, whereas an Ironman is more a parade where people are just clapping and cheering.
The process of getting ready for a triathlon is the hard part.
Coming here is the party.
It’s the combination of something I have worked so hard for to accomplish.
This is a good day, an easy day, I’m eager to get going.
I’ve got butterflies going crazy at the moment, so I keep trying to just think about my day rather than worry about all these very tall, athletic Norwegians.

Monday Morning Motivation – Ain’t no mountain high enough

28 Aug Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2016
Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2016

©kai otto melau / nxtri.com
#NXTRI2016

Earlier this month, some tough triathletes took on the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, which is one of the hardest triathlons on the planet. Here’s a video about last year’s event.

If you’d like to find out more, visit the event website.

HOWL aquathlon 2017

14 Jul Finish of HOWL aquathlon

This evening Stu and I took part in HOWL aquathlon. It’s the second year that the event has taken place and it was my second time taking part. Last year, I was pregnant when I took part, so I was grateful just to be able to do so. This year I was hoping that I would make it through the swim and would put in a good run leg.

Our lovely friend, Jez, has offered to babysit for us several times, so we decided to take his up on his kind offer. We figured that we shouldn’t be away from M for too long and if she was having a bad night then several of our other friends would be around to help out… plus Jez is a sporty guy (and amazing runner), so we thought he might like watching the aquathlon.

Tamsyn and M

We registered at 6:30pm and the event wasn’t due to start until 7:30pm, so there was

Waiting at the start of HOWL aquathlon

As well as the individual competition, there were also team prizes up for grabs. We had assumed that the first two men and two women from each club would count as a team, but were told that we had to pre-register as specific teams. This proved to be a little challenging as no-one was sure of their rank within the club – especially as many people are significantly better at one of the disciplines. In the end, Stu and I were registered in STC’s team 2.

STC at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

STC at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

Most of my clubmates were representing Southampton Tri Club in their club lit, but I only own an STC gilet and I wanted to wear my lovely kit from The Athlete’s Palate.

I set up my stuff in transition and then had some more time to chat with friends. Before long it was time for the race briefing. I should have been fully focused, but I suddenly realised that my swimming hat was missing. Panic! Panic! Jez kindly ran over to registration and picked up another hat for me, so I was able to start thinking about the race. [As an aside, it was great that women were given blue hats and men had the red hats – such a refreshing change!]

After the briefing, we were straight into the lake for a deep water start, so there was a bit of a warm up. To my dismay, wetsuits had been banned. I really feel the cold when swimming (because I am sooooo slow) and I also appreciate the extra buoyancy, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just got in.

Getting in the water at HOWL aquathlon

Getting in the lake HOWL aquathlon start

I positioned myself towards the back, but was almost in line with the buoy as I didn’t want to swim any further than was necessary.

Start of HOWL aquathlon

I found the swim challenging, although I managed to get into a rhythm. I had forgotten how much I enjoy open water swimming as it’s so peaceful. I didn’t see anything strange out of the corner of my eye – usually, I spy my hand a lake monster and get freaked out, but not today.

I knew I wasn’t going quickly and this was confirmed when I got clopped in the head by one of the leading ladies heading towards the end of their swim.

I acclimatised to the water temperature fairly quickly, but was disarmed by some of the extremely cold patches that we had to traverse. I had thought that the water would get stirred up a bit by all of us swimming, but that didn’t happen.

I didn’t have a very quick transition. I tried not to faff, but I did exchange a few words with spectators.

My running is significantly better than my swimming, so I was pleased to see some other runners up ahead who I was able to hunt down. I haven’t seen the splits yet, but I think my run was quite good.

Running at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

On the second lap, there was a lady in a yellow top up ahead. I chased her for a significant portion of the second lap. In the end, she beat me by about 6 seconds and was 3rd V40 lady. Maybe next year, my swimming will be back on track and I’ll be able to chase her down!

Finish of HOWL aquathlon

Last year, I managed:

Swim time: 21:47

Transition time: 1:16

Run time: 30:06

Overall: 53:09

Here are my (provisional) results for this year (based on my Garmin):

Swim time:  21:12

Transition time: 01:05

Run time: 24:30

Overall: 00:46:44.274

So, it was a PB 😀

I was 16/21 senior ladies and 19/35 women.

It was also great to learn that Stuart was first V40 finisher – well done, Stu!

Stuart finishing HOWL aquathlon

What Valentine’s Day means to triathletes…

7 Feb

swim bike run Valentine

There are several challenges for non-triathletes who are dating triathletes…

The first challenge is buying the right gift. Typical Valentines gifts include:

  • underwear
  • shoes

Then of course, there are the activities. You’re thinking you might need some lube to get your pulse racing, whereas we want a HRM (or some body glide)!

Anyway, there’s no reason why you can’t fall back on these Valentines favourites for the triathlete in your life. There’s plenty of sports specific underwear available – if your partner is female then there are lots of gorgeous crop tops and sports bras available and either gender could appreciate some Runderwear.

When it comes to shoes, there are so many options:

  • swim bootees (especially useful if you live somewhere where the water is cold!)
  • cycling shoes
  • trainers

Remember that your triathlete partner may be on a strict training schedule, so a late night out or a boozy meal may not appeal to them… but some healthy treats and a massage would probably be appreciated.

What I’ve been reading this week:

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Monday Morning Motivation – Bad to the bone

30 Jan

If you have 10 minutes to watch this video of Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2015 then you’re bound to feel inspired (and in awe of the athletes who take part).


“If you’re looking to test your personal limits and find your mental and physical boundaries in a single day event, I think this is the only place you can come.”

“It is unique to jump in the cold water, to climb the mountain, to share with all the family. That makes it unique to share – to know that we’re not alone”

“This is the coldest water I’ve ever swam in in my entire life. There will be a time when I’m warm again, it might be tomorrow or tonight, but a time will come in the future and just put your mind on that – this is temporary, you just have to work through it. I think you’ve got to be strong up here!”

“You know it wasn’t bad in the beginning, it got cold once we got into the bay.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“How was the water?”

“Freezing!”

“That was awesome!”

First 160 athletes allowed up to Gaustadtoppen checkpoint known as Zombie Hill.

“But we are ahead of time. You said like 14 hours and 30 minutes…”

“But there are 160. That’s our safety cut off!”