Training for Kona…and more (T-122 days)

» Posted by on Jun 12, 2012 in Ironman, Training | 0 comments

122 days, that’s the time left for the biggest Ironman race on earth, the Ironman World Championship in Kona (Hawaii), I will be there.

Training for an Ironman requires hard work, mental strength, support from your relatives and faith, a lot of faith. It also requires fun, yes fun. You better enjoy this journey otherwise you’ll end up hating this.

Few years ago I was struggling with myself. I had a great job, a wonderful family, very supportive friends and all my needs covered. I was not happy. Even worse, I was suffering an overwhelming anxiety disorder. At any moment – while working, driving, having dinner with friends – a panic attack might strike. My heart would race, my body flushed hot and cold, and nausea would sweep over me. The attacks felt like that split second before a car crash, when the adrenalin whooshes through your body and you think you are going to die. So from the outside, I was looking fine, but on the inside, I was thinking, “If only you knew.”’

There’s this misconception that anxiety is associated with mental illness and that it is a sign of weakness and lack of control, WRONG. Anxiety and panic attacks are very common, problem is nobody likes to talk about it.

After facing this terrible condition for more than 2 years I decided to ask for professional help, I needed to sort that out and recover my life. After a very discouraging journey trying to find the right person (lots of charlatans and miracle cures, be careful) I ended up meeting a wonderful psychologue specialised in anxiety. She made me work very hard (so if you meet someone that promises you a miracle cure, do not trust), but together we overcame anxiety and panic attacks. If you are reading this and you are going through something similar do not hesitate to drop me an email.

Why am I writing about all this?, well, let me explain. During my therapy I decided to go to the Himalayas, I wanted to do something extreme, to demonstrate myself that I would be able to overcome any challenge…I wanted to be isolated, in a remote place without mobile phone or assistance by my side. I needed to recover my confidence. I was not an athlete at that time, I was running a bit, but not yet a triathlete.

I ended up choosing a very tough trekking in Leh, climbed 10 mountains over 5.000 metres in 3 weeks and met wonderful people, but you know what?, I was so focused on the final peak (a 6.000 metres mountain that we were going to climb at the end) that I did not enjoy the journey. I was obsessed with that peak, the rest was not important, the other achievements were not the real deal…very sad. The morning I was in the base camp of the Stok Kangri I decided not to go up, not because of not feeling ready and prepared to do so (on the contrary, I was feeling strong) but as a punishment to myself because of forgetting that the journey was at least as important as the final goal.

We have a Spanish saying that I am going to translate (mind, rough translation ahead!): the man is the only creature to trip over stone twice. In 2010 I won the lottery to go to Kona, I just couldn’t believe my luck. As soon as I knew I became obsessed with training to the point that I arrived in pain to race’s week. I forgot to enjoy the journey again, but this time I raced, I crossed the line…and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I am 100% sure that I couldn’t have done it without the full support of my wife (and believe me, I can become a real ass-hole when I am close to a competition) and the great advice from fellow athletes like Alain (I keep all his emails).

I am going back to Kona, I have 122 days in front of me to enjoy the journey. I will work hard, you bet, but I also intend to laugh at myself and don’t take myself completely seriously. I am going to get it right this time.

Just for the fun, I intend to post pics from the places I train in. This was taken this morning, a very uncomfortable bike from my hotel in Zurich where I spent 90 minutes. Technogym Bike Med. Stinky Index: 70/100

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