First Ironman for Michelle Curran

Race Day Tips, March 12, 2015

Conquering a fear of the unknown

‘What next?’ is the question I am left pondering after Ironman New Zealand (IMNZ) 2015.
Here I was thinking I was headed for retirement and spending my spare time at the beach or brunching … but no.
Ironman has left me wanting another challenge to conquer … I am just not sure what yet.
Last July, I signed up with coach Brendan Erskine having decided to do my first Ironman – I was unchallenged at work, so thought ‘why not?’
Fast forward to the start of March 2015, a week out from IMNZ and I was thinking ‘why am I doing this?’
While I embraced most of the training, when it got to the long, long rides, I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of having to do what I had just done, plus the other two disciplines. 
Heading into IMNZ, I was a little freaked out to say the least.
While I trusted Brendan had prepared me well, I had no idea of how I would feel, how my body would cope, how quickly I could change a puncture if it happened – I had a whole lot of ‘what ifs’ swimming around in my head, and I felt a little fragile at times.
Enter coach Brendan, training buddies and family who sorted me out with a few good pep talks, coffee and reminders about mindfulness.
When I finally got to Taupo on Thursday, my nerves were (mostly) settled and by Saturday morning, I just wanted to get going.
The weather had been a bit hit and miss, but Saturday morning was dry and calm – as was Lake Taupo.
Starting the swim with 1200-odd athletes was a bit like being in a washing machine but once I found my rhythm I headed for the edge of the pack, sticking close to the buoys and I had a lot of clear water.
I was pleased with my swim time (1:09:39) and got through transition one relatively quickly (for me – I probably would have had a coffee if I could of) and got away on the bike.
The first 90km lap was great, the wind played nicely, but during the second lap, there was a gnarly head wind on the way back out to Reporoa.
Randomly I developed hay fever, and it was not a pretty sight. I apologised profusely to all around me as I sneezed and snotted my way home to transition two.
I waited in transition for a medic to find anti-histamine, but after about five minutes I decided to start running without it.
Relief was the overriding feeling when I started running – I had survived the ride intact and now I just had a marathon to do.
The run was really enjoyable although it was raining and got quite cold later in the day – my amazing family, friends and coach spread themselves around the course, and it was such a lift whenever I saw them.
It was also a boost seeing coach Sue Brewster and the CTC athletes on the course, doing so well achieving their goals.
I managed to run the whole way except aid stations, where I chowed down oranges and potato chips (not on my nutrition plan) but they looked pretty tasty at that point.
Brendan’s advice of “walking is like heroin – very addictive” played around and around in my head and I was pleased I was able to keep plodding to the end, despite the blisters and sore feet.
Running down the finishing shute to cross the line in 13:08:20 answered my question about why I had chosen to do an Ironman nearly nine months ago – it was such a surreal feeling with some real feel good factor.
I had set a goal and ticked the box, as well as facing and conquering my fear of the unknown.
I could not have done it without great people backing me throughout the whole experience.