Let me precede this by acknowledging the fact I do not have a competitive bone in my body. The likelihood of me ever even wanting to do an Ironman event is pretty much zilch. Not even pretty much, it is just none.
Let me also say that I have the utmost respect for those men and women who do choose to undertake an Ironman event. All of the training followed by the event itself just blow my mind. My non-competitive self cannot fathom the desire to swim 3.8kms, ride a bike for 180km and run a marathon (42km), when there are perfectly good functioning cars and boats available to take you these distances in a fraction of the time!
My husband is currently in training for this years Cairns Ironman in June. I always try to relate to what people are going through, however as mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, I'm unable to fully empathise with what he is undertaking....or can I?
It occurred to me that my version of an Ironman - in which case I have completed two - is pregnancy and childbirth.
No, no, seriously, let's think about this for a second. A triathlete trains for months beforehand swimming, running and riding in preparation for 'race' day. Whilst mothers grow a child for months beforehand in preparation for 'delivery' day, our training also consists of three legs: reading books, ante-natal classes and pregnancy yoga! We do this, only to realise the only real training of any benefit was the yoga because no book or class prepares you for the truth of parenthood adequately enough!
Nutrition is of the utmost importance in both camps. Both triathletes and mothers are mindful of what we put into our bodies because of the job at hand: we are preparing bodies - the triathletes their own, the mothers their childs. I do admit, whilst the triathlete may consume protein smoothies, my equivalent was the chocolate milkshake! Gaining a good amount of sleep and having 'rest' days are on the agenda as well. A triathletes sleep is shortened by the early training sessions, a mothers by her growing (and perpetually moving) bump and seemingly smaller bladder.
Then comes race day.
Labour can last just as long, if not longer, than the duration of an Ironman event. Both triathletes and mothers allow their bodies to be tested like never before, pushing ourselves beyond normal everyday limits. We convince ourselves to keep going even when we want to give up (a harder prospect for the mother of course), swearing we will never do it again (and then we do), to finally cross that longed for finish line.
We are both congratulated at the end with our prize: the Ironman medal or baby (don't confuse your event and take the wrong one home!) We kept our eye on the prize the whole time we undertook the event and it was knowing we would accomplish that prize that kept us going. That, and remembering our why. The 'why' for completing an Ironman is different for everyone. Suffice to say though that for many, it is something on their bucket list. Many women long to become mothers, though the why surrounding this is often questioned during the process of labour and on occasion in the years following!
I do confess that both of my births were by caesarian section. I did however endure labour with my first child for a period of time. I take my hat off to women who 'do' labour, and especially mothers who I then see doing an actual Ironman event. Wow! I cannot contemplate their threshold for pain. My only pacifying thought is that they have the benchmark of childbirth and figure they can get through anything!
As for my husband and his lead up to Cairns, I get it. I've done two Ironman events. My prizes talk to me everyday. I love it. They have been worth everything that you give up and sacrifice in order to say "I did it" come race day!