The motivation behind my first Ironman

I have practiced sports my whole life. I started with soccer and moved to MTB. However, I wasn´t a big fan of the uphills. But things started to change in my city and most of the people that used to do MTB, swapped it for road bikes and it became harder to find partners to go out with. So, what did I do? Five years ago I bought my first road bike.

For me, it was a completely new experience and it became the beginning of a new life. I changed my habits and started waking up earlier to go cycling, slowly starting to increase the distance traveled and thus becoming stronger. 

One of the best things about going alone on long rides is the possibility to think about anything and really think about what’s next for you. In one of those rides, when I felt unstoppable on my bike, I made the decision to sign up for my first Ironman 70.3. What I never considered was the running and swimming I had to do as well. At that time, I  hated running and had never run more than five kilometers before.

 I had exactly eight months to prepare for the race. The first week was harder than I thought. I always believed that I knew how to run and swim until the first week of training. I honestly thought that I was going to drown and finished my training having only achieved 300 meters in 20 minutes. I remember sitting at the edge of the pool with my heart beating so fast and thinking, what am I doing here?

I started to realize that sports are not that different from life. With hard work and discipline, I started to improve and I found myself enjoying my runs. One month before the race I almost felt ready. Food is a key element, so deciding what to eat during the race was very important. I had to experiment until finding what worked for me. I ended up with a combination of Cliff bars, Gu gels, and gummies, everything looked perfect.

Race day arrived and I had my breakfast three hours before the race; some eggs with rice, nothing different from what I used to eat during training days. Nothing can go wrong.

The scariest part for me was swimming, so in my head, as long as I made it through it, the rest was a piece of cake. I really had no idea what I was saying. The first half of the swim was hard, but then I got into the rhythm and finished the swimming section better than I expected. In the transition zone, I took the first gel and prepared for the 90 km cycle.

My plan was to eat every 45 minutes during the cycling course, so 45 minutes later I opened my Cliff bar and bit into it, and immediately I felt something that I had never felt before: I could not swallow. I decided to wait and give it a second try but the same thing happened. No more Cliff bars. I gave the gummies a chance and then the gel, but nothing changed.

 My nerves started to work against me. How was I going to finish without eating?

 

My time during the cycle section was 20 minutes slower than my plan. I was sure that things would become harder so I decided to save strength for the running course. No going back now.

 As I mentioned before, sports are no different than life. You should be prepared to recover from adversity and change your plans at a moment’s notice because sometimes things just don´t go the way they should.

I went to a hundred scenarios before the race. Thinking the best and the worst situations. But none of them was even close to what I experienced that day. I started running at almost 11:00 am and the temperature was nearly 42 degrees Celsius, I wasn´t prepared to run a half marathon without fuel and at a very high temperature. 

 After running ten kilometers, I started questioning my decision of doing an Ironman and promised myself that I would never do it again. Toward the end, it was a battle against myself. And thanks to my family’s encouragement, I was able to cross the finish line. 

It was a battle of 6:05 hours. I felt emotions that I cannot describe. It was stronger than the pain I was feeling. It certainly wasn’t going to be my last Ironman.

That day I realized there are no limits to what we can do. We are our only barriers to achieve what we want in life. We need to get out of our comfort zones and GO, without hesitation. 

Since I started using atlasGO, I have a bigger motivation; knowing that every activity I do can make an impact. Every time I am training for a new competition, it is not only about achieving a goal but to know that every kilometer is making a difference to this world.

 

Julian Restrepo

atlasGO ambassador

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