Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 40

MULTISPORT MY STORY An Ironman At Last! an Ironman, and on 1 December 2019, after nearly four years of dreaming, training, and one failed attempt, I finally became one! In becoming one, I made history by becoming the first South African female hand cyclist to cross that famous red carpet finish line! It means I swam 1.9km, cycled 90km and ran 21km, in a time of 7 hours and 32 minutes – and by crossing that Ironman 70.3 finish line I not only made history, I also earned myself a spot to go to the 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand later in 2020! Nervous Energy I did not sleep the night before the race, because my nerves were wrecked. The pressure was on, and I was feeling just a little overwhelmed, worrying that I would once again fail. The cut-off time for the bike part of the race the next day was five and a half hours after your official start time, and last time I just did not make it. My workings made me know that I had to do my 1.9km swim within 45 minutes, and at least keep up a speed of 22km/h for 90km with my arms... and because it is a flat course out there, this meant that it was non-stop cycling with no downhill breaks. My swim was amazing – 45 minutes, and I even got to see a stingray swim below me. I got out the water feeling strong, and I pushed hard on that cycle with one goal in mind, to “make that cut-off.” Four hours 16 minutes later and I had made it, with nearly half an hour to spare. My team back at transition had all been stressed out, but when they saw me coming in, I know for sure they breathed a huge sigh of relief, and so did I! Onto the run leg, and now to just push through for another 21km in my wheelchair, and I knew I had this! With every single push, no matter what my arms were screaming at me, I knew was getting closer and closer to finishing this thing, and after seven hours and 32 minutes of racing, I rolled across the line to meet my team, who put the medal over my head and a towel around my shoulders. We all had a few tears as we moved into the finisher’s area, because we had just made history, we had just pulled off something that had not been done before by a South African Female, and we did it as one team, my Dad, my wife Petro and I. My dreams came true when I finally succeeded in officially finishing an Ironman 70.3 event in December, at the Ironman Western Australia in Busselton, and to my great surprise, I am now training to go do it all again in New Zealand later this year! – BY CATHERINE VAN STADEN O ne of my favourite quotes comes from American writer Elbert Hubbard: “Dreams can come true, but there is a secret. They’re realised through the magic of persistence, determination, commitment, passion, practice, focus and hard work. They happen a step at a time, manifested over years, not weeks.” Now I sit here, two months later, a little stiff and sore in my shoulders and arms, as I have just begun training again after a two-month rest from training. I have started with my build-up to the World Champs in November, and the first few weeks back into training are the worst, but while I was swimming this morning, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness and awe that I am privileged enough to do what I love. And not just in sport, but in work, too! You see, in the end what really does matter is that we pursue our dreams, even if they take a few years. It’s not just about the achievement of the dream, but the journey to get there that makes us who we are, and what we can do. As legendary LA Dodgers baseball coach Tommy Lasorda says, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” I, for one, never dreamed of going to World Champs this year, but I did dream about finishing an Ironman. One never knows what lies beyond the dream. Well, I had trained, persevered, committed myself, dug deep into my passions, focused on one thing and worked hard, with a touch of determination, to become Restarting the Process 40 ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 /