Where to post-Ironman?

“And then you ran a marathon!?”

This is what people ask me when I tell them I did an Ironman last September. And I’m still telling people, because that’s what you do, once you’ve become an Ironman. It’s amazing how you can shoehorn it into even the most unrelated conversation.

Yes, and then I ran a marathon. Well, ran/walked it. But, still, to those who don’t run at all, it does sound pretty epic.

“Are you going to do another one?”

And that’s the killer question.

I know people who immediately rushed out and entered the same race next year, to better their time. Either the conditions weren’t great, as at Ironman Wales, or they are now a little bit wiser in the ways of long-course triathlon and know where they can improve.

I don’t like repeating myself. Ironman Barcelona (Calella) was an incredible experience, my first long-distance triathlon, and it will always hold a special place for me because of that, but I don’t want to do it again.

I know other people who, champing at the bit to regain that finish line euphoria, immediately entered another race, still an Ironman, but in a new location. I’m far too poor to do that, thankfully. I had one mad moment over Christmas when an advert for Ironman Wales came up in my Facebook feed and I actually thought about doing it. Then I remembered I don’t like cycling up hills (certainly not for 112 miles) and have actually tortuously trundled around that 112-mile ride once already, at Long Course Weekend 2017. Believe me, it’s really hard.

I would never say never again, though. I have ideas about doing Challenge Wanaka, in New Zealand. But that’s far enough away, geographically and mentally, that’s it’s still currently just a pipe dream.

So, what am I going to do next? Where do you go post-Ironman when you’re not aiming to be the next Ironman World Champion or so blessed with time and money that you can just keep entering these things for the buzz?

There is no single answer.

Instead, for me, there are three. Three events in 2018 will provide me with very different challenges and experiences, and, financially, the entry fees add up to about one Ironman.

First, a fast, middle-distance triathlon. My middle-distance experiences have involved running up Ben Nevis, at the Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon, and avoiding donkeys in the New Forest, at the New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon. So, it’s time to try a fast one. In May, I face the Outlaw Half (Nottingham). Now that May is here, this actually, weirdly, fills me with terror. I have to remind myself I am an Ironman, surely half that distance should now be a breeze? Tell that to the great British weather, though, which has not exactly encouraged my general dislike of cycling outdoors and has meant that I’ve only been back out swimming in open water for about three weeks (with gloves and booties, which aren’t allowed on the day), so fingers crossed someone’s left the hot tap on at the Holme Pierrepont lake this weekend.

Number two is a swimrun. This is going to involve a lot of new kit, an extra dose of bravery, plus some additional teamwork. In July I take on the Brecca Swimrun (Gower) with my pal L. You have to do it in pairs, because it’s that bloody hard and scary you need an equally nuts friend there by your side. We’re both pretty experienced open water swimmers and trail runners and this was a decision we both thought pretty hard about. However, having seen some race reports and Brecca marketing videos since entering, we’re now both freaking out a tad. Shit, it looks hard. Epic, but really hard. Fingers crossed the Welsh weather behaves itself and the barrel jellyfish aren’t out in force come July.

And, finally, a marathon swim. In September I will swim 10 km (just over six miles) down the River Dart in Devon. I’ve never swum more than 4.5 km in one go, so this is going to be challenging. I’ve also spoken to people who have done it in the past that have been pretty sick after with a spot of open water lurgy. Fingers crossed that after a summer of sea swimming it’ll be, not so much a breeze, but a long, potentially quite arduous, but ultimately very satisfying challenge, and that a can of Coke post-swim really does kill off all the crud you’ve inadvertently swallowed along the way.

Wish me luck people, I’m going to need it!

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