Tuesday, May 25, 2010


CAVEAT: This post sets out my personal opinion on what’s right for me. I’m not meaning to criticise anyone else’s decisions, but if you feel as if I’m being rude, please feel free to let me know- nicely!

Once or twice (ok, ten or twenty times) every season, and a few times every off season, I get a flash of the “should I?”s

Should I just bite the bullet and do Ironman? (well, an iron distance race… I’m a Wanaka girl at heart…)

Why not? I know it’s on my bucket list, I’ve built up a decent enough endurance base, I’m financially secure, child free, and working fairly predictable, ordinary hours. Now’s really the best time for me to take on that challenge…

But deep inside, I feel like Ironman is something that (for me) has to truly be earned, and I don’t think I’m anywhere near earning the right to race yet. I’ve always felt a little uneasy when non-runners or non-triathletes take the plunge from couch to marathon, or mini-tri to ironman. No disrepect to them- everyone chooses how they want to challenge themselves to achieve their goals, they put the hours in, and their ironman is as much of an achievement as anyone else’s, but that journey is not for me.

For me, respecting the distance and respecting the sport go hand in hand. I did 8 half marathons, and took over ten minutes off my time before I ever considered doing a full, and I think that’s the way I’ll approach Ironman too. I didn’t want to be a marathoner- I wanted to be a runner. And now, I don’t want to be an ironman- I want to be a triathlete. It’s not about how slow or fast you complete it, it’s about how seriously you take it. And for me, in my endurance sport journey, completing an ironman for the sake of striking it off the bucket list, just isn’t taking it seriously enough. I’ve said to Phil before, and I’m saying it *out loud* now:

I will not do Ironman unless or until I am fit enough to aim for a sub-13 finish (*or I turn 49, if that happens first…)

I don’t care if my first Ironman is sub-13 or not. But at this stage of my fitness, I want to know that sub 13 (or even sub 12:30) is in my reach, because that’s when I’ll know I’m ready. Does that make sense?

Stay tuned for my non-Iron race plans for the season later this week!


Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean :) IT is on my bucket list too - but I want to wait until I have the time and mentality to commit to the training and to the race :)

Rachel Harris said...

Oh yes, I hear what you're saying!

Having said that, we have a local, well known coach down here who strongly believes you must have 3-4 years of racing Olympic distance before you should commit to an iron distance. That raises my hackles - it implies that you must first serve some sort of apprenticeship in triathlon, which I don't believe is always necessary.

I don't have a bucket list - I find my mood and desire changes from year to year. I did Wanaka because I wanted a break from the Coast to Coast, and learning to swim gave me a new challenge - recharge the batteries, whet my appetite... that sort of thing. I remain totally disappointed with my crap time from Wanaka and I openly admit that. But I'm convinced I'll return one day - it won't have been a one-off and hopefully I'll be stronger and learnt a few lessons along the way.

The president of the local Tri Club once said to me "Oh, anyone can do an Ironman". That almost put me off my quest, but she's right (okay, with the odd exception). Anyone can, it's how WELL you want to do one that is the challenge.

You've got a good head on your shoulders so it'll all happen for you when you decide the time is right. :-)

Kate said...

Rach- crap time my nono! I don't think it's about rules, as such. And I definitely wouldn't criticise a multisporter jumping straight into IM (Mr Ussher and you are both good by me...!) It's more the once-off, anyone can do it, attitude that irritates me.

Unknown said...

Good on ya Kate... a very good attitude I think. I see so many people doing IM because they 'feel' like they should rather than because they actually want to. They spend there whole time moaning about the training and keep going on about how they can't wait for it all to be over... ????? It's like 'You chose to do this!'
Someone with a good back ground in endurance sport (Richard, Rach, Graham etc) can jump into IM and do relatively well. You're wise to just do it when it feels right Kate... all the training you do between then and now will be helping.

Lucinda said...

I guess I'm one of those couch to marathon people, but not in a bad way, just i needed something to aim for but in my limits, like the half i'm training for, yeah its leading to a full one, but i've never ran more than 10km before, so its about being sensible for me at this stage.

I guess do it when you want to do it, don't push it, its on my bucket list too, but so is a marathon before 30, which is more pressing.

But for an IM I would like to get a good time as well.

Kate said...

Lucinda- you definitely don't fall into the couch to marathon category to me- not with all the running you've done, and the sensible steps you're taking on the way!

E-Speed said...

makes complete sense and I wholeheartedly agree! I feel the same way about it, I know I will eventually want to do one, but for me doing it in over 12-13 hours means that I am not really dedicated to the training and the effort to do it "properly." I'm a firm believer that anyone can train to finish the ironman, but that in my book you should train to race it!

Captain Cactus said...

I think you're wise to go on your own feel. You'll know when you're ready. What bothers me about the "couch to marathon" type people is that they so often get injured from not having adequate base and then speak poorly of the sport because their experience was negative. That's the best reason to wait until your body tells you it's ready.

Running Kiwi said...

Well we all know I "accidently" went from couch potato to marathon runner in less than 18 months :) BUT I totally agree with your thoughts, even though I did it fast, I did it sensibly in stages ... 5k, then 10k, then trained and ran 2 halves THEN started the marathon training programme, and followed all the programmes faithfully (others, like my sisters, would say anally). I had a few raised eyebrows from the experts when I said I wanted to break 4:30 because I saw that as being a "real" runner's time ... but I did it!

Anyway, enough about me ... if you WANT it, do it - I believe anybody can do something they put their minds to! (and believe me when I say it will be easier now before kids, than after!)

Kingsland Martial Arts said...

"It's more the once-off, anyone can do it, attitude that irritates me."

Did you know to quote wikipedia: in 2005, the average marathon time in the U.S. was 4 hours 32 minutes 8 seconds for men, 5 hours 6 minutes 8 seconds for women.

I reckon for an average that's pretty slow.

I suspect a number of years ago the average for men was down between 3:30-3:40. Not sure if it was more elitist back then or if people did more training?

Kate said...

Exactly!! It's becoming a bucket list item- something to have FUN doing, instead of the ultimate physical challenge! (ps- Aaron??)

Captain Cactus said...

Just to play Devil's Advocate, why shouldn't a marathon or an Ironman be something that anyone can work towards? I don't advocate just jumping straight into either, but I would encourage anyone to work towards being in better shape and if a big event like that is something they want to check off their list, I don't see anything wrong with that. In fact, my mom is a great example - last year, she decided that she wanted to challenge herself to do something big. Having done lots of walking both in short events and just for general exercise, she ultimately settled on walking a marathon because it would stretch her limits, and also because Pants and I could join her and have some fun out there. Our race time was certainly one that pulled up the average for marathons since we were walking rather than running, but I'll be the first to tell you that being out there for as long as we were was harder than running one in a couple less hours. I don't imagine my mom ever wanting to do another marathon having now checked it off her list, but the fact that her time isn't competitive isn't going to stop her (and it shouldn't) from continuing to walk in shorter events.

Kate said...

Cactus- I don't know! And I really am amazed by non-runners' marathon achievements. I would be absolutely awestruck if my mother decided to do one! Selfish runners jealously guarding their territory, I guess. Which is why I started out with the "it's me, not other people" comment... but I guess it's a little of both.

But it is funny that my *pinnacle* is someone else's bucket list goal- we don't get that in too many other areas.

Captain Cactus said...

You're totally right Kate that it's funny to see how the same thing can have such different meanings for different people. I just wanted to throw both sides out there. I agree with you completely though, that it's something that should be worked towards and prepared for rather than attempted hastily in an effort to check it off.

Aaron said...

I think its partly to do with personality type. I suppose there isn't anything wrong with entering a challenging race for fun but I feel it is "cheating" yourself not to stretch (and train) to your potential. (Yes that was me posting under KMA - sorry!)