My journey training for my first ironman
Bec Dunn – busy working mum
I like a challenge basically. If I am truly honest, IM as an achievement in and of itself is an amazing physical feat. But let’s be honest. You pay a lot of money for an entry, then the gear, then the coaching etc. etc. . You do what you need to do. And then you race. You hopefully make the start and finish line and are given a medal and a towel and are told you’re a legend by Mike Reilly. In the work I do, I see people suffer horrific things they did NOT sign on for. There is no finish line for them, nor support often or recognition for the hard work they put in day in and day out to meet their challenges. I don’t mean to take anything away from any athlete attempting this challenge, but let’s be honest in order to do it we are healthy well beings and we get a nice reward at the end!
I watched IMOZ a few times before signing up. I so enjoyed cheering on friends and club mates and the whole IM experience. I especially loved watching fellow MSCer and longtime buddy Renae cross that line. A single Mum, study, works. Seriously, all my valid reasons not to try one seemed pretty lame really!
I did need a reason to do IM though as I saw firsthand the hard work and consistent commitment required to do one. Once I had my reason I then had to find my race! My reason was solely to show my 3 daughters (5, 8, and 10) that you can do anything in life you want to do even if it scares you and is hard.
I asked Jess which race I should do. Whilst I generally always do as she says , I followed my gut instinct on this and chose IMNZ as my first IM. The look on other people’s faces was priceless when I told them I had signed up for this as a first. It just added to my determination to do it! I loved the unpredictability of what the day could be. To me IM is like life in general – have a plan but be flexible and ready to adapt at any point. ! I am a firm believer that life unfolds as it should and we don’t have as much control over things as we may like to think we do. So for me, if IMNZ were to be cancelled / become a 70.3 like in other years well, what would be would be. Could easily happen at any other IM - take Melbourne for example the year the swim was shortened.
Having an individualized IM program was gold. It was tailored to my life, my curve balls (of which there were MANY in the lead up). Triathlon in my life is third, with family and work always number one and two. No exceptions. Cadel Evans or Anna Meares could of called to join me for a ride and unless they would have been happy to fit in with my family and work they would have been told sorry but no! This meant that for much of my IM training I was solo. I thought I would find that aspect hard, but to be honest I really enjoyed the down time. I was always able to break it up with company say for 3 hours of a 6 hour ride, doing a swim squad, cycle squad etc... So I didn’t go too loopy! We also had a great week in Thredbo with club mates and babysitting arranged and I was able to do MSC Long course camp in the October to kick everything off. I had only been riding a bike for 2 years prior to this. The first camp I did with MSC I had poor Jan babysitting me on the bike showing me how to work my bloody gears. I had no friggen idea. But I just loved this camp ( and long course camp) and meeting so many great likeminded girls and of course Jess, Nick, Jan and Bardie
The hardest part of IM training for me personally was being tired all the time and NO chance to rest. You peel your bum off your bike after 160km and you’re straight back into being Mum! No nanna naps on the couch, perfect recovery food etc. So it required a lot of forward planning in order to be able to do it. It also required a VERY understanding hubby. I did struggle with mother guilt a lot and feeling like ships in the night with my hubby. So often if I had the chance to ride on the road I would do a WT session instead so I could still supervise homework, Phil could go for a swim or ride etc… My approach to training was at times quite unique! It was great being coached by Jess as she knows EXACTLY what it is like to juggle kids and work and be creative in how it gets done. I never felt bad / guilty when I did my feedback, Jess was very adept at being supportive and giving you a kick up the backside when needed !I have asthma and sports induced asthma so Jess was also able to tailor things around that and work in with the Sports Med doctor too.
There were many times I had every reason in the world to just stop. So many valid and invalid excuses to say “you know what, this is just too hard”. For me that is where it was essential to have a value behind my goal to do IM. If not, for me personally, I would have stopped. It is also one of the greatest gifts IM has given me: to just keep going no matter how hard it is, get the job done. It permeates every aspect of my life now and has given me an inner resilience and strength I knew I had but was dormant. IM held a mirror up to all aspects of my character good and bad and I have learnt a lot about myself, my values and with whom I chose to spend my time. Especially when it was so scarce towards the end!
So all in all, my lead up, like most other athletes toing the start line was not smooth sailing by any means!! But… I had the right people in my corner and was able to keep going at times when it just would have been easier to say stuff it. They know who they are and know how grateful I am to them for having my back the entire way through. It also allowed me to develop that inner mental tenacity that is required for IM and life in general really.
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