I can't begin to explain what an amazing day it was, a day that now seems like a dream.
It all began with a bundle of nerves, wiggling into my wetsuit, looking down at the beach as 1899 other athletes started to find their place on the sand. Ready, set, go, we were off. The swim was glorious: crystal waters, fish all around and toes left, right and centre to follow and cruise behind. The highlight, a voice from the peer calling my name. Somehow, amongst all the black suits, George had found me. A quick wave and I finished leg 1, with a smile on my face, ready to roll.
Onto the bike, as the sun rose in the sky. Time flew by. Whizzing through giant woodlands and along coastal roads, tracking faces, knowing that when familiar ones started to come the other way, I was close to a turning point. Eat, drink, smile. Keep on cycling. Repeat. Battle with the flies clattering on your helmet. Eat, drink, smile. Keep on cycling. Back into town at the end of the second lap. Push into the head wind. Time to run.
10km into the run. Picking off people. Keep smiling. High-five supporters, dance to the music, one foot in front of the other. 20km into the run, picking off people. Still smiling. Feeling strong ….
And then it hurt. Legs like lead. Stinking hot. Fatigue. Keep smiling. Try not to cry when you pass your loved ones. Keep positive. One foot in front of the other. Eat vegemite. Drink coke. Don’t walk, the flies will get you. Keep on going. One foot in front of the other. One more lap and you will be an ironman.
2km from the finish, the pain goes away. You feel like you are flying again. Emotions soar. I will be an ironman. Accelerate down the finish shoot. Loved ones all around, supporters cheering, and then those glorious words “Georgina Symes, you are an Ironman”.
And more good news, thanks to Google, who have matched everyone generous donations (!), I raised $4,772 for Smiling for Smiddy. Thank you all for your huge generosity, and a particular thank you to George for being the most amazing husband, friend, cook and supporter, Sarah Anne from Karmea, for her inspirational coaching, and Tammy, the best little sister in the world, who inspired me with her year of challenges, and who made it all the way from the UK to yell and scream me along and then to help me walk again the next day! I would never have made it without you, and by that, I mean just having the best time whilst also giving it a pretty good shot.
So what’s next? Well George has is wife back, but she’s back to her social ways, and he’s not sure if actually Ironman training was better! I am mainly hungover (from sugar or booze), sleep deprived, and antsy to start moving again. I expect the next challenge won’t be far away. But what will it be?
To anyone out there who is thinking 2015 could be the year when they go beyond their comfort zone – do it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Life is short, so make it count.